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Learning Guitar From Scratch

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by mansbestfriend, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Miller67

    Miller67 Strat-Talker

    Sep 1, 2016
    Ive been playing for a few years, my step dad a few months. He's had regular lessons, I've had youtube. Already, he knows and understands more than I do!! He has also laid out a lot more £££ than me.

    Kids have it great these days. Children in my class can learn the latest Ed sheeran song in a few weeks which is amazing. That is down to a good guitar teacher (I'm a school teacher, not a guitar teacher!).

    They are picking up the guitar and sticking with it rather than giving up.
    s5tuart likes this.
  2. Rudi

    Rudi Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 19, 2016
    If money is no problem, start with a. , followed by b,c,and d.
    If time is an issue as you mentioned,
    ( meaning can’t commit to 30min. lessons)
    don’t bother getting a guitar.
  3. RaySachs

    RaySachs Strat-O-Master

    Jun 25, 2017
    Philly area
    Really depends on a person’s goals for learning guitar, their stage of life, etc. Learning to read music is very important to some people and maybe or maybe not critical to get past a certain point. But a lot of people have had a WHOLE LOT of enjoyment from an instrument never learning how to read a single note of music.

    My parents tried to get me to learn “the right way” when I was a kid and expressed an interest. After 2-3 lessons, all of those fundamentals bored the crap outta me and I quit. But I still really loved the whole guitar thing and when I was 18 (about 10 years after my aborted attempt as a kid), I bought a cheap pawnshop guitar and taught myself to play with just a couple of friends helping me out by showing me some basic chords and the pentatonic scale. I’ve never learned to read music - I’ve never learned theory beyond some really basic stuff I picked up along the way.

    I’ve been playing for 40 years and it’s been one of the activities that’s given me a great deal of joy and enjoyment along the way. I’m not very good in a lot of ways but I’ve vastly exceeded the goals I had when I picked up the instrument in the first place. And if you’d told me when I started that I’d be able to do the kind of stuff I was doing even six months later, let alone 40 years later, I’d have been ecstatic! And I am! If I’d been good enough to want to be a pro or just hit a roadblock that learning to read music would have helped me past, maybe I’d have needed to learn it at some point, but I never have and it’s not something I’ve ever wished I’d done.

    My only point being there are as many ways to approach music (or any other activity) as there are people. Saying there’s only one single RIGHT way ignores all of the people who’ve spent lifetimes happily doing things the “wrong way”. In fact, most progress comes from people disregarding the standard rules and going off and doing things “the wrong way”... Robert Johnson never knew how to read a note of music, he played all wrong by any standards of his time. But where would we be without him?
    Ebidis, davidKOS and Rudi like this.
  4. Malurkey

    Malurkey Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 28, 2016
    Well, I can’t commit to 30 minute lessons in the flesh as there are no teachers in my neck of the woods willing to work around my (admittedly crazy) work schedule.

    I use an app. And it works, to a certain extent. I do have a sneaking suspicion that given the fact that my back hurts after half an hour, and that my wrist hurts after a couple of minutes of playing power chords my posture is wrong. No app is going to correct that.
    s5tuart likes this.
  5. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    Lessons from someone that will actually teach you instead of some guitar store flunky that only wants to teach you some riffs like I had.
    Colnago1, Stratoskater and davidKOS like this.
  6. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musical Hermit Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    1. Robert Johnson is not very important in my musical life. Lonnie Johnson played well, correctly and was a far more interesting musician.

    2. You are right that many people have had both great fun with music and some have had world-class careers without knowing how to read music.

    3. You are honest in admitting you don't feel the need to be a music reader nor a pro.

    4. In the rock and blues world (country too) reading music is not a needed skill. Very few rock and blues bands work from sheet music.

    5. In the studio, classical, jazz, Italian Ballo Liscio, and other guitar worlds, reading music is a must.

    6. Reading music allows you to access hundreds of years of music in many traditions and genres. If you are happy with only playing rock or blues, you may be quite successful as a musical illiterate.
  7. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musical Hermit Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012

    Of course the reverse is true. I had students that quit lessons because I wouldn't just teach them the riff of whatever was the latest song they wanted to learn unless I also taught them some ear training and theory to go with it.
    Rastus and fezz parka like this.
  8. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musical Hermit Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    One other way to learn to play with others - called "ensemble skills" - is school band.

    I am a big supporter of school music education.
    fezz parka likes this.
  9. fezz parka

    fezz parka Do you Reach? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    Right behind you...
    There are 168 hours in a week.
    You spend an average of 56 hours a week sleeping.
    You spend an average of 40 hours working.
    That leaves you with 72 "spare" hours. Divide that by 7, and you end up with roughly 10.5 hours.

    If you spend one hour a week with a teacher, you have 9 to spend practicing. You spend 90% of your time teaching yourself. We're all self taught. :)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    Ebidis, Rastus and davidKOS like this.
  10. ultrahedgehog

    ultrahedgehog Strat-Talker

    Jan 14, 2015
    I definitely think an instructor is the right way to start, but man I wish we had the level of online resources available today when I first picked up a guitar.
    Synapse2k likes this.
  11. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    Wish I had spent a few more years with Mr Price. The man who taught tenor banjo. 1 year through the 9th grade was not enough.
  12. RaySachs

    RaySachs Strat-O-Master

    Jun 25, 2017
    Philly area
    Absolutely - I don't argue with any of that. As I said, it depends on your goals and why you want to learn to play. And a lot of people, probably the vast majority, don't know that initially, they just know they want to start. Those who find they don't have a lot of talent for it and/or aren't trying to become a studio pro, a jazz artist, a classical player, etc can have a lifetime of fulfillment and enjoyment without ever learning to read music. Those who have or develop those ambitions obviously need to learn, but don't necessarily need to start out there, but they'll no doubt find a need to in the fairly early stages of their playing lives.

    I think I'd have found not being able to read and write the english language would have been an immense hinderance in my day to day life, no matter what I chose to do with it. With guitar, I can learn a lot of guitar from a combination of tablature (which has been available since I started playing) and youtube videos (which a relatively recent godsend). Enough to satisfy my limited ambitions. Maybe that's the equivalent of signing my name by placing an X on the signature line, but I've been able to meet and exceed my original and evolving musical goals that way.

    I'd never argue against the idea that lot's of musicians should learn to read music and many probably even absolutely NEED to. My point was just that not EVERYONE who wants to learn to play guitar needs to, so it may not be the best first step in learning. Maybe learn just enough to start playing (i.e., basic chords and a scale or two or three) and see if you enjoy the process and whether you have any sort of feel for it. If you want or need to learn to read, you'll probably know that before you get too far down the road and certainly soon enough to be able to still do it and get the full benefit from it.

    davidKOS likes this.
  13. nederemer

    nederemer Strat-O-Master

    Oct 25, 2017
    Somerset, Kentucky, USA.
    I think above all else you need to learn music that you like. What difference does it matter if you learn Mary had a little lamb by teacher or by yourself if you don't ever practice because you think the song is stupid.
    Miotch likes this.
  14. Vjerilood

    Vjerilood Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 30, 2017
    A teacher is important at the beginning so you’ll know the physical mechanics of how to play and hopefully prevent bad habits and injury. Whether to learn scales and theory right out of the gate depends what too want to do. If you want to be a jazz guitarist or a classical guitarist you might as well get in that mindset right away. If you want to play blues or rock, a mobile minimum of theory is good just to know what chords you’re playing, but that can go either way.
    davidKOS likes this.
  15. fezz parka

    fezz parka Do you Reach? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    Right behind you...
    Lets say you you want to fly an airplane. Do you want to be able to take off, fly and land? Or just fly? A teacher can guide you through the process, learning all three. Learning how music works, that's all three.

    Or you can get a program and fly on your computer. ;)
    Rastus likes this.
  16. Synapse2k

    Synapse2k Strat-O-Master

    Nov 13, 2015
    I think a combination of all that the OP mentioned is the best approach. Making sure you’re always having fun and enjoying what you’re doing is really the key more than anything else. Lessons can really help you progress when your stuck but they’re not absolutely necessary. These days there are so many free online lessons and tutorials it’s simply not the same as it was when I was younger and lessons from my teacher was one of the only ways to visualize your learning . At the very least lessons from an instructor should be used to supplement what you’re learning and teaching yourself on your own. Ultimately, most of what you will play will be self taught regardless of how many lessons you take
  17. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 28, 2011
    I'm gonna go out on a limb here: everyone is different and there is no "one-size fits all."

    On lessons: depends on the teacher and depends on the student and the student's goals and motivations.

    I took years of violin lessons. Quit soon as parents would let me. The reason: the lessons, the practice, and the crap they had me playing. The only time I excelled and got first chair was when I got to pick the song for the audition (Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in D I translated from piano music to violin--my greatest musical achievement happened at age 15 and it's all been downhill since !!)

    I took piano. Quit soon as I was allowed to. The reason: the lessons, the practice and the crap they had me playing.

    I started guitar 40 years ago with friends showing me the chords and I still play. I did take a semester of lessons recently to help me learn to sight read, but hated it.

    Maybe if I'd had different teachers. Maybe if any teacher would have given me music that interested me. Maybe if I was an adult (with more free time than I have) rather than an adolescent or teen. Maybe maybe maybe.

    But I think a huge part of all of it is student input in to the "what" and "why" of the music. As soon as possible, the student needs to get in front of some music they actually want to play. And old-school, traditional teaching they did when I was younger, didn't cut it.

    While I understand lessons may the "best" way to go to be technically proficient, my experience and those of my children seem to indicate that you'd better give the people what they want if you want them to continue.

    Desire and curiosity have always been the biggest motivators for learning.

    I know I would be better with lessons and I'm not going to argue against that.

    But, I am curious: How many of you actually learned to play the guitar from lessons? And how many of you took lessons on other instruments that you no longer play?
    davidKOS likes this.
  18. fezz parka

    fezz parka Do you Reach? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    Right behind you...
    I did both. I started at 5: 10% lessons (from a great teacher who understood what I wanted to do) and 90% working on my own.

    I can take off, fly, and land the plane. :)
    heltershelton and davidKOS like this.
  19. heltershelton

    heltershelton BANNED Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    duzie, davidKOS and fezz parka like this.
  20. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musical Hermit Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    I learned as we all do by sitting down and teaching myself in what we call "practice".

    But I also learned from other guys that played a little better than I did; I learned from wearing out records; I learned from watching bands live and on the rare TV shows where they didn't lip-synch.

    I learned from books, from school band, from gigging for decades, from music school, from great teachers, and from anyone i could steal a cool lick from.

    What lessons taught me were very concentrated skills, things I would have spent a lot of time learning had I tried to figure them out for myself - if I even could have at that early stage of my musical development.

    A teacher can also help you realize what you don't know; many guitarists need a much better (or at least knowledgeable) player to open up doors that you may not even know exist.
    Ebidis, Thrup'ny Bit, Biddlin and 2 others like this.