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Everything posted by JanVigne

  1. JanVigne

    string gauge

    If you just want a string retailer's name, don't take anyone's advice on strings. Try several out and decide for yourself. Strings are cheap and most everyone goes through the process of finding the strings they prefer. Keep a log of what you buy, when you install them and what you think of them when you take them off. That way, there's no confusion about what you've heard, what you like and what you don't and you can return to any set with ease. I use Ernie Ball Slinky's and Martin Retros but I can see a lot of people preferring different strings. Pearse makes great stuff but his products are difficult to find in a shop. I had used Pearse strings for years until I switched to the Retros. "tone in your hands , 🙄" The more you learn and the more you accomplish, the more that will make sense. Basically, don't get caught up in buying gear. A good player sounds like a good player because they understand how to play well, not how to buy gear.
  2. JanVigne

    Guitar for 11 year old?

    Talk to the instructor. They may have some ideas they wish to explore with the student and they might ask you to look at a more specific model of instrument. Otherwise, I would say begin with an acoustic guitar. Some people prefer to begin with an electric though I find the additional noise picked up by the electronics to be a distraction and, possibly, a reason for a new student to avoid playing if they always hear their fingers scraping on the strings. IMO good electric players use their picking hand to mute out these extraneous sounds. That makes for a lot of learning and a lot of hand coordination for an 11 year old to master. Try a shop that handles some smaller bodied guitar but not 3/4 or 1/2 sized guitars. Take a slow weekday afternoon to go in and explain to the shop what you want. Ask for the manager and ask who their best salesperson is for student level guitars. Don't shop on a busy weekend or holiday unless you want to feel rushed into buying something. A "parlor guitar" or a "travel guitar" should be well suited to an 11 year old's hands and their ability to hold an acoustic guitar. A parlor guitar was a standard size guitar for many years though as the demands of an orchestra grew, so too did the body of an acoustic guitar. Dreadnoughts are "full size" guitars and they are what you will see dominating the walls of most shops. Call ahead and ask about the shop's supply of smaller bodied guitars for an 11 year old. Eventually, electronics were added to the guitar and amplification made any guitar loud. Therefore, the actual size of the guitar a student plays is just a matter of what fits and not what can play the loudest. Technically, a "short scale length" has slightly less string tension than does a long scale length guitar. Shorter scale lengths go with smaller guitars in many cases. There's no need to pay several hundred dollars for a guitar but you do get what you pay for when you buy a guitar; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Dtct1Xdfgk There should be enough money invested to buy a guitar that is relatively easy to play. Don't buy a guitar that is going to need technical adjustments to make it playable. While there are several lines of guitars built overseas which IMO are standard issue recommendations for a student level instrument, there are also guitars built by American companies which are worth looking at. Yamaha owns the student level guitar market though they don't really build a parlor sized guitar. They prefer to call their small bodied guitars the 3/4 and 7/8 size. Several other lines to consider would be Fender, Gretsch and Alvarez, all of whom build actual parlor sized guitars. The Gretsch Jim Dandy parlor has a very short 24 " scale length and is probably the easiest to play guitar I've come across. It sells for $169 or so and can be found in numerous retailers' demo rooms. It has a bit of a funky sound compared to, say, a Yamaha but it's a sound I tend to like for many styles of music. Taylor sells several small bodied "travel guitars" what would be slightly higher priced but, if you consider many students grow to dislike their cheap first guitar, Taylor is a name brand guitar that has a certain Mojo to it. It is also a guitar that, should the student not continue with their studies, will return you some money on your purchase as a resale item. Or, possibly, the student who doesn't continue today will see their rather nice Taylor guitar sitting there and get back into the swing of things at a later date. There's a lot to be said for the value of a name brand guitar at this point. Martin builds a line of travel guitars that also share the Mojo of the Martin name. Ed Sheerhan plays a small Martin and is quite popular with younger listeners. Their "Little Martin" (https://www.samash.com/martin-lxm-little-martin-acoustic-guitar-mlxmxxxxx) is an even shorter scale length than the Jim Dandy making it an ideal student level guitar for a younger student IMO. Built with what Martin calls their HPL materials, the guitar is rugged and can withstand the occasional knock or being left outside on a hot/cold day and not suffer any damage. Both the Taylor and the Martin have been favorites of the US military when they are deployed. That should give you ample opportunities to look for a pre-owned instrument. If you are buying from a quality manufacturer, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a used guitar. Buy from a reputable retailer and ask them to check the guitar out for any problems before you buy. No matter what you buy or where you buy it, always understand the return policies before handing over your cash. Most shops are very generous but you don't want to find yourself with a damaged guitar two weeks in and not have a dealership standing behind you. I would mostly tell you to go with a fairly well known name in guitars to have something worth having. Buying a pre-owned guitar gets you lots more for lots less. If you go electric, IMO buy a Fender Squier and look at the pre-owned market. In either case, buy a digital tuner, a capo and a new set of strings to keep on hand in case a string breaks. Have to shop demonstrate how to use the tuner. But discuss this with the student's instructor first to make sure you don't show up with a guitar they hadn't planned on teaching.
  3. JanVigne

    string gauge

    Due to injuries and age, I've dropped down to 10's and 11's on my acoustics. I have 9's on my electrics.. Tone is more in your hands than in your strings. I can't say I've ever encountered a "good jazz tone" without the work of the player. Buying a modeling amp can send you in the right direction but that's only a very broad concept of what one person - the designer - thinks jazz should be.
  4. JanVigne

    Hello, everyone!

    Welcome. Tell us a bit more about yourself, your guitar(s) and your musical interests.
  5. JanVigne

    finding chords in a song

    The first thing you should do is learn a bit of music theory. There are several good music theory books written with the guitar player in mind. The authors focus on what would be termed "practical music theory for the guitarist". They dispense with the most dense parts of theory (which is best understood on a piano) and give the reader usable facts they can put into practical usage. Most modern guitar theory books will focus on the "jazz" player's needs. Learn how to harmonize a Major scale; https://www.google.com/search?q=music+theory+how+to+harmonize+a+Major+scale&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=music+theory+how+to+harmonize+a+Major+scale&aqs=chrome..69i57.9372j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 Obviously, if you don't know how to create the Major scale for any given key, then you need to begin at the beginning. Everything you do in music, and certainly everything you can do on a guitar, starts and ends with the Major scale. That's your framework for locating the most likely chords you would find in any one key. It is though, just a framework and "jazz" is a very large house to build. For example, a harmonized G Major scale should (according to music theory) have an E minor chord as a very possible choice for any chord progression in the key of G Major. If you know your pentatonic scales, you'll recognize E minor as the "relative minor" in the key of G Major. That Em chord though may be altered to be an E7, E Maj7, Em7, E6, E sus2, etc. Your starting point is, the chord is likely based on an E minor possible choice. From there your ears have to guide you to the right chord choice, though knowing a bit more theory about when in a progression you might want to use a 6th chord, a sus chord, an aug chord, a diminished chord, etc will help you narrow down the possibilities. A thorough understanding of the Circle of Fifths would very likely help you here; https://www.google.com/search?q=the+circle+of+fifths&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=the+circle+of+fifths&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i65.5217j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 As with any learning process, you should start by deconstructing fairly easy/simple songs that do not test the limits of music theory. "Jazz" covers lots of ground and more recent compositions can move through several key changes within any one song. Hopefully, you have a well stocked local public library and a card which allows you access to their stacks. Check the materials available in the library first. Everyone who writes a book on practical guitar theory will write with their own interests in mind. The theory does not change but the presentation and the direction of the writing will. If you just want to buy one book that will give you most of what you should ever need, just buy this book; https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=5XMGAQAAQBAJ&source=productsearch&utm_source=HA_Desktop_US&utm_medium=SEM&utm_campaign=PLA&pcampaignid=MKTAD0930BO1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsq23l8na2gIVD77ACh2lZgRtEAYYASABEgLhlfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJqfsazK2toCFQOEaQodqoMF4w Woody Mann's book is less dense and will give you most of what you need to play blues and simpler jazz forms; https://www.amazon.com/ART-ACOUSTIC-BLUES-GUITAR-FRETBOARD/dp/082560348X/ref=sr_1_10/143-4353904-9845939?ie=UTF8&qid=1524836916&sr=8-10&keywords=woody+mann While not a substitute for book knowledge, IMO Andrew Wasson is the best on line source for answers to questions regarding guitar theory; https://www.google.com/search?q=andrew+wasson+guitar+theory&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=andrew+wasson+guitar+theory&aqs=chrome..69i57.11424j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 As always, since you are here, check out the lessons provided on this site.
  6. For better or worse, I have a rather terrible memory for musical lines. If I haven't played it recently, I'll need to look at a TAB or notation for a run through before it's in my fingers and bouncing around my head. Therefore, while I wouldn't really call myself an improviser by nature I also seldom stick to the set script. What I do more than anything is based on the context of the note I'm playing. In other words, what came before and what I'm hearing will come next. I tired for a long time to learn patterns and boxes and diagonals, etc. before I finally realized I could learn better by what I am hearing. Riffs and licks escape my memory quickly so I would be unable to string together one, two or several unless you gave me time to play them first before you said, "Go!"
  7. JanVigne


    Play the note that sounds right. If the first string, fifth fret doesn't sound right, try the second string. If the second string doesn't sound right, try the third. Etc. I assume you can't read notation to check for a more accurate version.
  8. JanVigne

    Hello World!

    "Call me an old cynic but I'd be sceptical of a person who was willing to take my money with nothing to go on other than 'I want to play the guitar'. It would also be unfair of me to expect certain results from lessons without giving any indication what those results might be ahead of time." Happens all the time with instructors. Most students come to an instructor with the explanation being they want to "play guitar". Therefore, most students all start at the same point and learn the basics of music and how those rules relate to playing a guitar. I have no idea what you'll know when you find an instructor but I do know it's much more difficult to change bad habits someone has developed on their own than to teach correct habits the first time. Your idea of "certain results" is sort of Rumsfeldian, how do you know what you need to know when you don't know what you don't know? That's why you turn to an instructor, to lay out a plan where you learn what you need to learn in a proper order and with the guidance of someone who hopefully knows what you should know next. I'd be a bit wary of anyone who only teaches what's in a book but, on the other hand, I'd also be somewhat concerned about someone who threw the book away on the first lesson. There are lots of ways to learn how to play the guitar, several are rather poor IMO as they do not take into account how the student learns. An instructor should be there to somewhat tailor a lesson plan to each student. Of course, most students come to an instructor with the sole desire being they want to "improvise" and "solo". As with most things, you have to get the basics before you can move to geometry.
  9. JanVigne

    Hello World!

    https://www.google.com/search?q=guitar+how+to+set+goals&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=guitar+how+to+set+goals&aqs=chrome..69i57.7319j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 https://www.google.com/search?q=How+to+keep+a+musician's+practice+journal&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=How+to+keep+a+musician's+practice+journal&aqs=chrome..69i57.16776j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
  10. JanVigne

    Hello World!

    Welcome. I doubt learning one song is going to achieve much in the way of teaching you about music or the guitar. Learning is essentially taking on those values which are somewhat difficult to achieve not just repeating those values we have already achieved. Once you've accomplished those goals, you have other more complex goals to move to in a successful lesson plan. You can continue just learning songs but then you will never be capable of doing anything more than parroting what another player has already accomplished. Sort of like trying to design a house by only looking at other houses from the outside. Your mistakes are, as you say, rookie mistakes. They will occur no matter how much training you have received because you are presently unfamiliar with the territory. So, if you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, would you prefer to have a map of the terrain or just stumble about until you find your way out? What if you have a map but you never learned how to read a map? Learning how to play an instrument is largely a tradition of learning from others. Learning how to create music is mostly a tradition of knowing what's in your head and how to translate that into what comes from your instrument. Timing mistakes are a matter of knowing a bit more than "I want to play this song". As you learn more, you make fewer mistakes because they've already been eliminated from your mind and your skills. Lesson plans are successful when they build today's lesson on last week's accomplishments. Let's say you learn to play this one song well enough to satisfy your desire to play one song. What then? Do you have a plan?
  11. JanVigne

    Hey guys and gals

    "I was having a rough time making my fingers move in all of the right directions to try and play a chord. We have now decided to focus on playing scale to get a better feel for the instrument. Does that sound like a better idea?" You've really not given me enough information to form an opinion on this. I would find a highly rated lesson plan and stick with that. good luck.
  12. JanVigne

    Hey fello guitar players

    If you hold the guitar as illustrated on pg 2 of the book, you will have a difficult time, IMO, getting your fretting hand fingers in the correct position to play clean notes. Try this more classical position for now; https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+hold+and+acoustic+guitar&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=how+to+hold+and+acoustic+guitar&aqs=chrome..69i57.8270j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 If you don't have a foot rest, just raise your leg slightly on any short stool or place your left leg over your right. You can adapt your playing later after you become more accustomed to playing clean.
  13. JanVigne

    Hey fello guitar players

    One week in is pretty fast to be playing chords. I have to assume you are not holding the guitar properly and therefore not allowing your fretting hand to be positioned properly on the neck of the guitar. Just what else your posture and the position of the guitar might entail I can't say from your post. If your thumb is positioned too high on the back of the neck, you have a difficult time arching your hand enough to get your fingers to come down on the fretboard at anything less than an ideal angle. While some styles of play, and some well known players, use a very high thumb which actually wraps over the top of the neck at times, this is poor technique for a student to learn and a bad habit to develop when you goal is to first play clean individual notes. What book are you using that introduces chords first?
  14. JanVigne

    Hey guys and gals

    I have very mixed feeling about Suzuki instruction but one of their interesting concepts is of the parent and their child to both learn to play the instrument of choice together. I would think the two together will have more motivation than one alone. Forty five is fairly young for some of the forum members here. What sort of problems are you having? Anything specific? Are you using an instructor to learn the basics?
  15. JanVigne

    About Elixir 013-056 and YAMAHA LL16

    No extra stress from Elixirs but I'd stay with the string gauge which came with the instrument.
  16. Add three items to the above post. 1) Always tune your guitar when you pick it up to play. Get in the habit of checking and correcting tuning before you begin to play any song or exercise. If you don't already own a clip on digital tuner, put an app on your phone or other digital device. When tuning your guitar, if a string goes sharp, tune back down to the point the pitch is slightly flat and then raise the tuning back up. Don't trust your tuning if you only bring a string down from sharp to in tune. The string will continue to relax and end up being too flat to be in tune. So always tune up to correct pitch. If notes and chords don't sound in tune, check your tuning. Strings will continue to gradually change pitch after you've first tuned them and you need to know whether it is the string that has drifted off pitch or whether it is your finger that is bending the string out of tune due to poor technique. 2) Warm up with a few simple exercises and songs before you begin playing or starting a lesson. This is simple stuff that a lot of people ignore and it will slow your progress if you just jump in thinking all is well. A few minutes taken at the beginning of every playing session should be devoted to just warming up your hands and muscles and getting yourself into a frame of mind to play well. Mental preparation is probably even more important than physical prep. Turn off the TV and all other distractions while you study, the same thing your mother told you to do when you were in high school. (There are times when you will want to play "mindlessly" while watching TV or some other simple activity. This sort of mindless activity with your guitar can be used to set fretboard patterns and techniques such as alternate picking or fingerstyle playing into your muscle memory. Learn and establish the difference between creative doodling and learning a lesson.) You might find it helpful to use the process of tuning your guitar as a talisman. In other words, repeating the same functions over and over will become your mental prep and eventually a signal to yourself that you need to be prepared to study and to play at your top level. Arranging study materials and setting up are also a part of this when you pay attention to what you are doing and not just going at this by rote. Finally, learn how to establish and keep a practice journal. Set realistic goals for your practice and do so for each day, each week and each month. Saying you want to play better is not a realistic goal. No one sets out to play worse than they did before they picked up the guitar. Use the practice journal to gauge your daily progress and success, what elements of playing/learning you should work on and to track your long term development as a player. Journals are one of the most helpful items a student player can have as they give the encouragement many students lack when they hit the inevitable leveling off points which come with combining comprehension and ability. A quick look at where you have been vs where you are now will confirm you are making progress even when progress is inevitably slow but steady. You might even take some time to record your playing every now and then to have a more permanent reminder of what progress as been achieved. https://www.google.com/search?q=musician's+practice+journal+how+to+set+up&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&oq=musician's+practice+journal+how+to+set+up&aqs=chrome..69i57.15901j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1CAACAY_enUS754US756&q=music+practice+goals&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBh5G19rTaAhUDm-AKHZ7sCG8Q1QIIlgEoBQ&biw=911&bih=451 (I apologize in advance for anyone trying to sell you anything on any of the above sites. Find a lesson plan you like and stick with it. Don't bounce around from one shiny thing to the next. Remember, a successful lesson plan builds from one lesson to the next and doesn't just chase what sounds interesting this afternoon.) Good luck.
  17. Meeting other student guitarists with the same level of experience as you will be somewhat difficult. There are many group lessons being provided by music stores and local performing groups. Check around your area and ask at your local shops for more information. Guitar Center offers some group lessons which will put a good number of beginners together. Otherwise, take your guitar out to a local park and begin to doodle. You will have people come up to you to talk about their experience with learning an instrument. I would mostly advise against youtube lessons. First, there is the matter of anyone with a guitar and a smart phone thinks they can give a lesson, which means you can find a lot of very bad information on youtube. If you wish to learn a specific song, then find a well known and recognized instructor and pay attention to their video while filtering out most of the rest. I would though warn you about learning songs by way of youtube. Good lesson plans are designed to build your skills and proficiency by teaching songs that are appropriate to your level of learning. Taking on a song that is well above your pay grade can, at best, be frustrating and, at worst, get you thinking you will never be as good as your favorite player and cause you to put down the guitar instead of encouraging you to learn by way of a well laid out plan. So be aware or biting off more than you can chew when you click on youtube. IMO as a beginner, you would benefit from face to face lessons with a qualified instructor. Face to face lessons provide the opportunity for lots of instant feedback in both directions. If you are developing poor habits as a student, it's best to correct them now before they get too deeply set in your memory. If you have a question about music material or theories and practices, you can't get an answer from a video. And the worst thing you can do is spend time running through other videos looking for an answer.
  18. JanVigne

    Guitar Fret Buzzing Despite Adjustments

    Take the guitar to a qualified tech for a set up. This should cost about $50. If you are out of answers, don't mess with the guitar any further.
  19. JanVigne

    strap locks

    Why do you need strap locks? Are you jumping around while you're practicing scales?
  20. JanVigne

    VOX amplugs

    I've owned the Vox "Classic Rock" plug-in amp for several years. Best I can say is, it's OK for the price. The controls are the weak link, they are small and they are not linear in their action. So "here" you get a little response to movement of the control and "there" you get a lot of response. They are also noisy when in use which is just an annoyance when wearing headphones. Once you key the amp into your preferred settings, the controls are forgotten though and the amp functions as intended. The sound is about what you'd expect from any set of earphones. Not that much different IMO than using a small battery powered practice amp that you could clip to your belt or set next to you in a chair; https://www.amazon.com/Danelectro-N10B-Honey-Tone-Burgundy/dp/B000B6DHB2 The controls are the problem on the Danelectro too. The parts list for these inexpensive portable amps do not include expensive controls so they don't operate as if they did. The earphones determine your sound and I'd say it's never going to sound like anything more than your earphones. I've only tried the "Classic Rock" Vox amp but I really can't imagine that much difference between the various models. These amps are all built around output chips and they all pretty much sound alike IMO. Depending on the impedance and the electrical sensitivity of your earphones, any of these can get loud enough to damage you hearing if all you want is screaming loud volume. But it does allow you practice time with minimal disturbance to the rest of the house. If you're running scales or practicing bends or so while watching TV, the rest of the family can watch without being disturbed. Though, if your present amp isn't huge and it has a headphone output, I'd not spend the money for any of the micro-amps. Just put your present amp by your couch and plug in. If you buy a micro-amp, buy from a source with a good return policy and save all of your packaging in case you change your mind. These amps are what they are and no more.
  21. Somewhat depends on where you are in your lesson plan. I can't think of a fingerstyle or Travis Picking lesson book that doesn't begin with the assumption the student has already covered their bases by learning, knowing and fairly well mastering the basics of guitar and music. That would include learning how to keep steady time with a set rhythm at a decently fast tempo. If you consider music is built from the three basic elements of rhythm, melody and harmony, then you should have your answer. I'd guess you can't name a non-classical fingerstyle player you admire who didn't begin by learning good timing through playing rhythm guitar. Of course, classical players do not learn how to strum a rhythm as classical style is more melody based than chord based. Flamenco, on the other hand, is more chord based than melody based. So there are lesson plans which do not focus on strumming the guitar. Classical style however will demand very strict timing skills which will be developed through several years of timing exercises developing sight reading skills. IMO you cannot separate out only the certain parts of learning that appeal to you just to keep yourself motivated to continue learning. IMO learning why a C Major chord is constructed of C-E-G and why C Maj.7 is C-E-G-B but a C7 is C-E-G-Bb is a lesson any player should get. More so the fingerstyle player. Such lessons give the player the ability think on their feet rather than simply repeat by rote memory what you've read in a TAB. There are players who have never taken a formal lesson and they will tell you they play fine. I'd say they are the exception and not the rule and that they have had lessons, just not from a book.
  22. JanVigne

    Old timer

    Give it a try, welcome.
  23. JanVigne

    reading music

    I was taught how to read music notation when I first started guitar lessons over fifty five years ago. No one used TAB in those days. Back then schools had a scheduled "music" class which also taught the basics of music theory. I don't see "playing by ear" as being opposite playing from notation or TAB.
  24. JanVigne

    percussion on mini guitars

    Add a tambourine? Obviously, striking a resonant cavity will produce a sound. The larger the cavity, the louder the sound and the lower in pitch it will be.
  25. JanVigne

    Hello from Canada

    " ... I have more spare time ... " I envy you. Good luck. Are you going to take lessons or go on your own? It's very difficult for most people to contend with the certain frustrations of learning a new language (music) and how to adequately express themself in that new thought process. The job of an instructor should be to find ways to keep the student motivated and moving forward.