Last night was kind of sad because I told my guitar instructor that I was too busy to take guitar lessons anymore. I leave for Utah in a month and have a ton of school work to do before then, I have to take a final next week and I’m really busy at work. It has been hard to find the time to consistently practice and I know things are only going to get more hectic in the next few weeks.
I got my guitar last year for my birthday and decided to take guitar lessons because I was having a really hard time teaching myself how to play. I think part of the problem was that I have played piano and clarinet in the past and I was stuck in the mentality of playing those instruments. Things like tabs, strumming patterns and playing chords on a string instrument were foreign concepts to me and hard to understand.
Guitar lessons were not cheap but I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took them. When I started in January I could hardly play a chord but now I’m comfortable reading music and learning new things. It was so helpful to have someone show me little things that would make playing the guitar easier: how to hold the guitar, how to hold my hands and fingers, techniques to make things like bar chords and hammer-ons easier, etc. Granted, these are all things I could have eventually taught myself by searching the internet and sifting through YouTube videos but it was just easier for someone to show me how to do them.
I’m not sure if I will continue to take lessons when my internship is over but I’m hoping I will be able to pop in to the guitar shop every once in a while. I definitely feel like 4 months has been long enough for me to build a solid foundation to continue to improve on my own.
I’m no expert, but here are some tips I’ve found helpful if you’re thinking of getting a guitar…
The guitar: This advice is based on acoustic guitars since that’s what I have…. Several of my guitar-playing friends advised me to “try out” several guitars before purchasing one and I agree with this. Look for a guitar that feels right in your arms and ‘fits’ the size of your body. Pay attention to the guitar’s action (the distance between the strings and the fingerboard). If there is high action then you are going to have to work harder to press down the strings- this can be frustrating and even painful.
I wanted a guitar that was for beginners but that I could grow into if I decided to stick with it, so I ended up getting a Yamaha FG700s. I felt like this was a pretty good quality guitar for the price. However in hindsight, I wish I had picked out something smaller. I am pretty small and have short arms and now I feel like this guitar is kind of big for me. This is just the kind of thing that I didn’t even know how to look for when I was picking one out but understand now that I consistently hold/play the guitar.
Make adjustments: Don’t be afraid to adjust some things to make the guitar work better for you. The shop where I take lessons shaved down the saddle on mine to lower the action. I also changed the strings almost immediately after I got it and put on strings that were a little lighter.
Accessories that I found to be essential for me….
Picks (obviously): I started out with a light pick but ended up preferring medium. I have a pack because I lose them all the time.
Tuner (you can tune your guitar by ear but if you’re just starting out then you probably want a tuner)
As a side note, I purchased a lot of my guitar accessories in a bundle online. Looking back, I wish I had purchased them individually to get better quality products. And one website that is especially helpful in finding music to play is Ultimate Guitar.
And the beat goes on…