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Decided to learn guitar at 48. Been lent a Tele. What should I know?

Discussion in 'Welcome Wagon' started by timbo1972, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. joelontheroad

    joelontheroad NEW MEMBER!

    Age:
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    I picked up a cheap, used squire bass at 50 and decided I was finally going to get serious about music. That was seven years ago. Before coronavirus hit I was in three bands and enjoyed going to blues, country, and cajun jams around town. Here's what I learned and what I would have done differently that I don't think other people have pointed out.

    1) Learning music taught me that I can still learn. This was, oddly, a revelation for me.

    2) I learned how to learn. There's been A LOT of brain science since I was in college and there are plenty of books on learning that are really helpful. "Make it Stick," by Peter Brown is a good one. You'll find that learning how to learn can be applied to many different aspects of your life.

    3) You know that awkward feeling you get when you try something new? Your brain is fuzzy and your fingers just don't do what you want them to do? That's called learning. Instead of feeling frustrated, recognize that as the first step in you progress on that particular skill. Be kind to yourself. After a few times, you'll get a sense for how long it typically takes you to get over that hump and get better. I have a friend who used to train astronauts. He said if you're not failing half the time, you're not learning. No that failure is part of the process. Be patient with yourself, but stick to it.

    4) I got some of the best advice from a drummer after one of the first blues jams I went to. He pulled me aside and said, "You sound great. Can I you give you some advice? Always practice with a metronome." He was right. I sucked. You will too. That's OK. You can get better. He told me to put the metronome on 40 beats per minute and just do that for a long while. 40 bpm is really slow. But anyone can play fast. It's really hard to play slow. You'll get better, faster playing slow.

    5) Embody the beat. Tap your left foot. Stand up and move your feat. Dance a little. Simply clap along to the metronome. Getting your whole body to feel the beat will not only help you play music, it'll help you become a better dancer, if you're into that. Women love guys that can groove, either playing or dancing, and groove is all about the beat. it's not about fancy moves. Practice on quarter notes. Then eighth notes. Then the 1 and the 3. Pay special attention to clapping on beats 2 and 4. That's called the backbeat and as Chuck Berry said, "You can't lose it."

    6) Learn a little music theory. A little goes a long way. Learn the Nashville Numbering system so you can communicate with other musicians. "The Nashville Numbering System: An Aid to Playing by Ear' is a great book.' Understand the relationship between the major scale and the minor scale. (Relative minor scale, the one built from the sixth note in the scale.)

    5) I wish I had just learned the major and minor scales and not learned the pentatonic scales, first. I took me a long time to realize that the pentatonic minor (or major) scale is simply the minor (or major0 scale with two notes deleted. The purpose is to make it easier on musicians. It wasn't easier for me because I didn't grok what a pentatonic scale really was.

    6) I wish I hadn't spent any time with TAB notation. For me, it's a waste of time. Time was better spent learning by ear and by chord progressions. I like iReal for learning chord progressions. (www.irealpro.com)

    7) As time goes on (maybe six months from now, maybe a year from now, maybe more), memorize the Circle of Fifths (or fourths, depending on which way you go around the circle). Know the major and minor scale and the Circle of Fifths helps explain ALOT of songs.

    Good luck. Keep at it. That first time you realize that people are actually dancing to what you are playing is a thrill. I've found that backing a woman singer and having people dancing makes me really, really happy...which is kind of the point, isn't it?
     
    RichCuellarPDX likes this.
  2. SouthAustinite

    SouthAustinite TDPRI Member

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    At 48, obviously aside from technique and practice, you would benefit from the Nashville Number System.

    That way once you have basic theory and open chord and barre chord capabilities, you can learn the system and get right to playing with other people or jams.

    That way you hit the ground happily running. Many guitarist or bassists wait too long to learn the NNS, myself included.
     
  3. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    Play along with records. Obviously, pick something simple (and on the slow side!) to begin with, and with as few chord changes as possible (or note intervals if it's riff 'Sunshine of Your Love' style). The beauty of doing this is that you're playing along with professional musicians and it's a brilliant way of learning time-keeping. When I was a beginner, I did this as soon as possible, and the first time I played with another guitarist (who had also learned the piece the same way), I started playing one part of a twin harmony riff, and he joined in with the other part. Because I'd been playing with the record, the result was spot-on and very pleasing! Also, other band members can't hear your mistakes or judge you when playing to a recording.
     
  4. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    @barfly69: I discovered Adrian in March and found him to be such an amazing resource. I've learned all of his country licks and his SusieQ riff (ala James Burton). All of the stuff I learned from him are now a constant in my daily practice/warmup stuff. It's really rich stuff. I just noted you built the website! That's awesome! Hey, let him know that StevesBoogie says hello, I've left him a couple of very warm compliments on YouTube. He is one of the best out there.

    And for the original OP, yes, I highly highly second this advice from barfly69.
     
    RichCuellarPDX and barfly69 like this.
  5. Ekdguitar

    Ekdguitar TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Fantastic! Great lifetime of pleasure (and pain!). I like all the comments above. Don't worry that we all have different opinions: you'll find your way and what works for you.

    YouTube is amazing - most of us old timers like me started with vinyl and diamond and wore the grooves out. Now you can easily find cheap or free software that will slow a song down and keep it in tune! Who knew? My 2 cents is listen listen listen and copy the record-oops - you tube video. Learn a few chords; learn a few scales and listen some more - try to get your fingers to sound as close as you can to the record. You won't get it at first but the training is in the struggle. In my opinion ear training is the most important activity.

    I don't see that anyone has mentioned a metronome. Please get a simple metronome app or a cheap standalone and when you practice scales USE IT. And chord progressions. It will show you very quickly what you need to work on.

    Also I recommend as a brand new beginner to get the Berklee Leavitt Guitar Method Vol 1 with the CD. Don't spend all your time with it but a few minutes a day goes a long way. The fantastic thing about this is it's the real deal and it assumes you have never played so you get started with some technical things correct from the very start.

    Finally don't get overwhelmed. There are so many rabbit holes and some of my advice and much of the advice above can lead to that.

    As many others have said do not be discouraged. If you pick up the guitar every day and do something on it - whether it is what I suggested or someone else or you find your own way - it will happen and you will be amazed. In a few short months of every day practice you will be playing and you will not believe it but you will be playing well! Guitar has enriched my life in ways I never imagined and I wish the same for you. Cheers!
     
  6. Ekdguitar

    Ekdguitar TDPRI Member

    Age:
    63
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    Location:
    Savannah
    Fantastic! Great lifetime of pleasure (and pain!). I like all the comments above. Don't worry that we all have different opinions: you'll find your way and what works for you.

    YouTube is amazing - most of us old timers like me started with vinyl and diamond and wore the grooves out. Now you can easily find cheap or free software that will slow a song down and keep it in tune! Who knew? My 2 cents is listen listen listen and copy the record-oops - you tube video. Learn a few chords; learn a few scales and listen some more - try to get your fingers to sound as close as you can to the record. You won't get it at first but the training is in the struggle. In my opinion ear training is the most important activity.

    I don't see that anyone has mentioned a metronome. Please get a simple metronome app or a cheap standalone and when you practice scales USE IT. And chord progressions. It will show you very quickly what you need to work on.

    Also I recommend as a brand new beginner to get the Berklee Leavitt Guitar Method Vol 1 with the CD. Don't spend all your time with it but a few minutes a day goes a long way. The fantastic thing about this is it's the real deal and it assumes you have never played so you get started with some technical things correct from the very start.

    Finally don't get overwhelmed. There are so many rabbit holes and some of my advice and much of the advice above can lead to that.

    As many others have said do not be discouraged. If you pick up the guitar every day and do something on it - whether it is what I suggested or someone else or you find your own way - it will happen and you will be amazed. In a few short months of every day practice you will be playing and you will not believe it but you will be playing well! Guitar has enriched my life in ways I never imagined and I wish the same for you. Cheers!
     
  7. oldgofaster

    oldgofaster Tele-Meister

    Posts:
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    Location:
    Ohio
    1. Get the guitar set up by a professional for the lowest possible string action. It makes playing and practicing so much easier.
    2. If you're practicing a song, sing along...doesn't have to be perfect singing, but get in the habit...it's a bear to do it later.

    Have fun. Playing your favorite songs is easier than it sounds, and most are only 3 minutes long...lol
     
  8. Jerry J

    Jerry J Friend of Leo's

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    NoVa

    This is a GREAT post and I learned a few things from it. I'm going to check out the Peter Brown book on Amazon. And your post on TAB notation, while not a total waste of time, I have finally learned to fall back on it ONCE I can't figure something out by ear of if I get tired. Finally, after years I can hear things by ear.
     
    ayjaydee likes this.
  9. Jerry J

    Jerry J Friend of Leo's

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    NoVa
    BTW, that is a sweet guitar. If it's a MIM you have a very nice first guitar to learn on.
     
  10. ayjaydee

    ayjaydee TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    High Wycombe, UK
    I thoroughly endorse Justin as a teacher, follow his beginner program and progress from there. Don't just search YouTube for general instructional videos, you'll have a job to sort the wheat from the chaff (do you say that in the USA? I'm a Brit). Obviously new strings, I vote for a 10-46 set but if you are going to get a luthier to do a set up for you let him/her (not many females in this line?) put the new strings on for you. Different gauge strings require slightly different setups. A luthier can also check the electrics for you and sort out any problems. Then it's all about perseverance I'm afraid. Have fun!
     
  11. sidestyle

    sidestyle TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Earth
    Justin Guitar. Absolutely free, better than many in-person lessons I've paid a lot of money for. It's not just how-to videos on how to play Oasis songs; it's an entire structured program. I still can't quite figure out why it's free, but it's an incredible resource.
     
  12. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Holic

    Age:
    69
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    Mar 20, 2019
    Location:
    Three Rivers, CA
    You are never too old to learn and you are going to have a ball doing it. Warning: Once this gets in your blood, there is no going back.

    From the pictures, the guitar looks in pretty good shape, you can take it to a good repair guy, he can spec it our for you, most likely needs strings and they can adjust everything if needed.

    If possible, I would sign up for some lessons. A good teacher can help get you on your way and relieve you of some misconceptions about the instrument. I don't consider myself much of a teacher, but I know I have helped at least a couple dozen players get going. The rest lies in their individual talents. Remember, it all about the practicing. Try to master some songs, it's a good stress reliever as well. If you have any musical abilities, it won't be that much of a struggle.
     
  13. Homebrw

    Homebrw TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Indian Land, SC
    Congratulations! I started in mid 40s too. One of the best decisions I have ever made. I'm still not great, but it is hugely rewarding and relaxing for me. Lots of great advice here already. I would reiterate and add my experiences:

    - do the string change yourself. Anyone can do it. Watch a video from a manufacturer to learn how: Fender, Taylor, Gibson, etc. Save the "set-up" stuff for a pro (in the beginning at least)
    - online lessons are great. I used Justin a little. Marty music is awesome for breaking down a song you want to learn. I may be the only one so far, but I got a lot better with Fender Play lessons.
    - as soon as you can, get in-person lessons from a real teacher. Nothing like the homework and demo with feedback from a real pro. Accountability.
    - as soon as you can, start to learn theory. I wish I had started sooner. I would be much further along. My brain works best if I understand the "how something works and is put together." I am mechanical that way.
    - learn arpeggios or scales, or other theory things that train your ear. It is amazing to me how much arps have trained my ear and when a note is off it is like fingernails on a blackboard to me now.
    - when you practice, have a plan. Do the exercises first. Do the songs, noodling and riffs last as a reward. That way if you get interrupted you have already done your homework that will make you better faster.
    - do fun stuff. Learning a song you like makes it real fun. I started with Mel Bay stuff which may be fine for some people, but I have no desire to learn "Hot Cross Buns & Yankee Doodle." I stagnated hard when I wasn't learning music I like.
    - be careful watching guitar videos online. I no longer watch TV, but prefer to digest something instructional on YouTube before bed, but it can be a time-suck if you let it. That time is better spent practicing actual guitar.
    - I too like the Yamaha THR10 as a practice amp. Small, quiet if you need it, easy to operate and very pleasant sounding...tube-ish. I like that my phone can connect to it via Bluetooth for backing tracks, etc.

    Good luck and enjoy the journey, not the destination.

    Chris
     
  14. Chuck berry

    Chuck berry TDPRI Member

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    Hey! Welcome to the guitar world. Its a bit late in time. But if you have the will you can do it. If the guitar hasn't been touched for some time the strings are or almost dead. Your fingers are going to hurt for a while until they've harden. But easier then an acoustic. Behind the headstock you'll find the serial number. It will say if its american or mexican. But today people are lucky. With the internet now you can find good tutorials how to begin. In my time,which was about 45 years ago,you had to self thought. And you catch bits and pieces from other musicians that were around. So yeah go ahead you've got nothing to lose but having great fun.
     
  15. Cloodie

    Cloodie Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    UK
    Justinguitar is a great site to learn from. I just got back to the guitar last year after a break of many years and wish that site had been around when I started. Genuinley learnt more in a year there than I did in all my previous years of 'playing'.
     
  16. ChickenFingers

    ChickenFingers TDPRI Member

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    It’s a lot of muscle memory to start. Practicing 2x/week for 2 hours won’t help. Dedicate yourself to practicing 5 min/ day. That’s not too bad of a commitment right? That way your fingers will remember and you won’t be daunted by “I need to set aside 30 minutes every day.” Thing is, many of those 5-min sessions will become 40-minute ones. And then, on the busy days, at least you’re keeping your fingers remembering what they’re doing for just 5 minutes :)



     
  17. va3dg

    va3dg TDPRI Member

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    Oro - Medonte ,ON
    My Tele came with 9-42 strings, which I believe is standard issue for Telecasters. I've used Elixer 9-42 strings ever since the original Fender strings 'died', some 13 years ago. The lighter gauge is really kind to my fingertips and great for bending, plus the Elixers stay vibrant for ages! They have that classic Tele twang, (I play mostly real country rocka-billy stuff)!
    I use Elixer 10-46 strings on my Gretsch Tennessee Rose mainly because of the unpinned 'floating bridge' needing the extra tension to prevent it from moving around.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  18. Muttlyboy

    Muttlyboy TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    I just thought of something...

    If you are bored at the moment and want to start bonding with your guitar right away...

    Look up how to tune your guitar on you tube.

    When I got my first guitar, a family friend gave me a guitar exercise.

    He asigned numbers to the strings.

    Fattest string E is the 6th string,
    The next string (slightly thinner) A is the 5th string.
    D is the 4th string
    G is the 3rd string
    B is the 2nd string
    Skinniest string E is the 1st string

    He assigned numbers to the fingers on my left hand...1 for index finger, 2 for middle finger, 3 for ring finger, and 4 for pinky.

    He called it "spider drills"...

    With your guitar in playing position, place your left hand on the neck with your fingers in line with the first four frets of the guitar.

    Finger #1 lined up with the 1st fret, #2 lined up with the 2nd fret, 3 with the 3rd fret, and 4 with the 4th fret.

    Get your fingers ready to work on the 6th string (the fattest string)

    Basically play each fretted note in order of 1,2,3, and 4 on the 6th string.
    Then do the same, 1,2 3,4 on the 5th string,
    Do that 1,2,3,4 sequence on every string.

    When you get to the 4th fret on the first string, then do the whole exercise backwards 4,3,2,1 until you get back to the 1st fret, 1st finger, 6th string.

    Move the whole group of 4 fingers up one fret (now starting on the 2nd fret to the 5th fret.

    All the way up the neck, and back down.

    He told me when I could do that without making any mistakes, I could have a 2nd lesson.

    I was doing that every day for a month, because it was the only thing that I learned.

    I actually didn't get bored with it.

    It helped with the physical aspect of playing guitar, and made it easier to actually be able to do the things easier when I started to learn real things.

    "Spider Drills"
     
  19. midnight340

    midnight340 Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    No time to read all of the posts today but:

    1) You couldn’t have a better guitar to learn on!!!! Yes, you need a good amp (look up best beginner amps?)

    2) I started at age 66. I am now about to be 74. Age has little to do with, other than you should be be more patient with yourself. Don’t give up.

    3) I got good advice. I started by purchasing JustinGuitar’s Beginners Course (with accompanying books which help a lot for visual oriented beginners!) I found his steady sequential and encouraging lessons to be better than anything I’ve seen since!!! He is gentle, sincere, and so dedicated to helping.

    4) Don’t get overwhelmed!! There are so many YT videos, so many good teachers, so many approaches that I’m not sure it’s helpful to start that way. Having a single teacher, single method is probably better.

    I started in part because there is so much Alzheimer’s in my family. Studies have shown there is nothing better better for the brain than learning an instrument. It lights up more parts of the brain at once than any other activity. Uses visual, aural, kinesthetic, logical, intuitive, mathematical, areas all at once.

    good luck!!!
     
    tubegeek likes this.
  20. ketar

    ketar TDPRI Member

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    italy
    Do you have an amp? :) That thing needs to be plugged into something. Buy a nice small tube amp: producing a nice sound will help you to love it. People thinks that beginners just need crap thing, but at the opposite: you need something that sounds good.

    Learn two chords E-, A. Whistle or sing a lot on them, trying to find melodies. Learn to change those two chords in time. Keep on whistling or singing. Then try by ear to find on the fretboards the simple melodies you were singing. Do this, have fun. Playing [guitar], is just like playing [a game]: the funny side must ALWAYS be kept alive.
     
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