Start of the new year seems like a good time to start a new blog about a new hobby, for this is the year I decided to finally properly learn how to play the guitar.
See, I’ve had a bunch of different guitars in my possession for over the past 20 years, from a starter no name archtop to an Epiphone Casino, then a Jag-Stang down to a Squire Strat, but I never really learned how to play any of them. I could do parts of Layla, a few Beatles and Pearl Jam songs, a few various other songs plus a few things I made up of my own, but I never really knew what I was doing…
Now I’m 44 and a proper old man, but rather than the typical mid-life crisis of a divorce and a sports car, I decided to do a blog about learning guitar.
Yes, this is probably leading up to a couple large (for me) mid-life crisis purchases, but rather than just wasting money on gear I still don’t know what to do with I’ve set myself some milestones in order to justify to expenses!
First, the gear: I currently have a red Epiphone Dot that looks like it’s been modified by the previous owner, and a sunburst no name Esquire I bought off eBay for $89 that I modified by replacing the pickup with the Brad Paisley Tele pickup. Both of these purchases, as well as the original Casino, were inspired by my love of Paul McCartney and the Beatles. Paul in particular since I am left handed (hence also the Cobain Jag-Stang) and could not get the hang of doing anything right-handed. I also have a Fender Frontman that a friend gave to me when he outgrew that amp, which I hardly ever plug in to since I’m constantly playing the same riffs over and over and don’t need to broadcast to my poor wife how bad I am with the instrument. Lastly, I have a FuzzFace pedal which I bought to try an learn how to play Paul’s solo from Taxman!
Continuing with the gear for a moment, I mentioned my inspiration being Paul McCartney, but I’m also at the point in my life where I want something that is mine, that I picked out myself and did because I liked it, not because of someone else. So, the first gear purchase I would like to make first is a Fender Strat in Tidepool blue. Why? Cause I like the color, and over the years I’ve decided I like the sound of single-coil pickups best, plus of course the Strat is versatile enough to play everything I want to play! One day I’ll go to Guitar Center and try one out, but not until I can rip off a decent Guitar Center riff!
The second purchase I’m looking to make is a proper amp. I’m thinking a Marshall for that, because again they are the most versatile, and I saw a YouTube video saying they are the best value for my budget…
Now, you must be wondering what exactly is the end goal for all this? Obviously it’s not to join a band—No one wants to be in a band with grandpa who just learned what he’s doing, unless of course they are underage and need someone to get them beer, but honestly it’s just for my own enjoyment. I want to be able to sit down and play along with some blues songs and just lose myself in playing. Everything else I do has some other purpose, like drawing or painting is more work than anything and I don’t do those to relax, but I do want the guitar, and music in general, to be an outlet to relax and just have fun.
So yeah, thank you for checking out this first post! I’ll update the page here as there is more to talk about, a technique I’ve learned or a scale or something that I now understand, or a song I’ve learned from YouTube videos until I can start taking proper lessons!
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
My wife and I were watching music videos on YouTube and came across the all-star version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps where Prince just goes off and plays the hell out of a solo and we both commented about how much we like that song. So, I figured I would go upstairs and try to learn it.
No, not the Prince part!!!
I found a video from a guitar instructor I’ve followed for years, Marty Music, and he broke it down very simply (as I would need it to be) but there was one thing bugging me. There’s this “walk down,” (some descending notes) in the very beginning over an Am chord. For the first note you have to use your pinky, which despite mine being broken I was able to do, then there’s this sort of complicated move to re-form the Am chord with your fingers while you put one finger on a new string. Then, if that wasn’t hard enough, you have to do it again for the final note of the walk down. And, as you could probably infer from this being something that actually has a name, you’re supposed to do it fast.
“Nuts to that” I thought “why not just use my thumb to do the walkdown?”
So I tried it and wouldn’t you know, in the end it was much, much easier. All the same notes played, just a little differently than the instructor was showing how to do it.
Well, I say easier, but this is the first time in my 20 years of putzing around with the guitar I was able to play notes with my thumb! It’s something of an advanced technique to be able to play with your thumb so I was, and am, both surprised and rather proud that I was able to pull it off.
Now, there’s another part of the song where I’ve been playing it with my thumb, cause I’m now something of a guitar god, but I can’t seem to get the transition down to playing the next chord in the sequence, which of course puts me back in my place…
I’ll get it eventually, with practice, it’s just going to take time.
Sometimes, practice is hard…
Sophie doesn’t always join in, but when she does she really gets in there!
Not much to say in this update, but I didn’t want to go too long without updating the page here. The next update though, we’re in for a treat…
I have been playing around with a couple Eric Clapton songs in my continuing quest to master the Layla album, Bell Bottom Blues and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, which brings me up to three whole songs from said album that I can play! One of my big hurdles is remembering the chords, then my wife suggested I actually write them down which did seem to help! As always, don’t argue with Moogie…
It also doesn’t help that I get distracted by other songs too. While listening to a Clapton concert on YouTube he played a song I’ve had stuck in my head for days now, I Got the Same Old Blues by J.J. Cale. This one was easy enough to learn, it’s only 4 chords, but it being a new song to me I don’t “know” it yet, ya know? Got to put it on repeat and really let it sink in.
OH! and after years and years of, well, not knowing how the play it all the way through, I’ve finally gotten down The Wind Cries Mary! That’s another big one to cross off the list 😀 Well, I’ve got the chords down, I just need to get down how to Jimi them up… Again it’ll come to me, it’ll just take time…