I have been documenting my guitar progress on YouTube for the last 3 months and it has been such a joy to learn guitar so far. Yes, there have been some ups and downs already but there always is when it is part of a good story.
This month has seen me go through 2 more stages on the Justin Guitar Beginner Course but when I got to Stage 8 this slowed down a little as it was getting more difficult for me. That is all ok though because breaking down my learning and moving the needle forward little by little is what it takes to progress sometimes.
It would be great to have you along on the journey so if you would like to join me then please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here and sign up for my email updates here. I won’t spam you, I just want to keep in contact with like-minded people and provide you with some updates, tips and any recommendations that you will benefit from along your journey.
So let’s get into my progress for this month.
What I Learned In My Third Month Of Playing Guitar
Below is what I have learned this month but my running total of hours learning to play guitar including this month is: 70 hours
I wrote an article at the beginning of this journey called How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar? This was an article based on a book I read plus online research and I am measuring my progress against it.
Once I finish Justin Guitar’s Beginner Course I will give feedback against this progress but in the meantime, it is well worth a read to understand what the projections are based upon the research found and whether the timescale is realistic.
Summary Of What I Learned / Did / Recommend This Month:
- Total of Hours of Guitar Practiced this month: 30 hours
- Chords: Rock G, Big G (G5), Folk G
- Learning the Notes On the 6th String (Low E)
- Recommended Product: Best Guitar Capo Under $20
- Songs I have been learning:
- Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
- Mad World (Fingerstyle version) – Gary Jules
- Hey There Delilah – The White Tees
- House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
- Before You Accuse Me – Eric Clapton
9 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 7 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
In my quest to avoid quitting the guitar and building a habit of playing I have been trying to move quickly through the course. For me, this is a good way of operating but I should have started slowing down a few weeks ago, not just now.
I say this because often by moving quickly I avoid getting a detailed understanding of what I have been learning for the sake of keeping momentum. I also don’t think my approach to recording myself on YouTube hasn’t helped.
For some underlying reason, I felt that I needed to show progress in leaps and bounds. Maybe because I think YouTube is a competitive arena when it comes to guitar progress but at the same time maybe that is because it is a filtered reality like the rest of social media?
Whatever the reason, I have become more aware of it during my self-analysis so I have made an agreement to myself to just take MY time and not some made-up self-designated expectation in my head.
A big part of this to reflect on where you have been. In doing this I have realized that so far ‘I have had a ball’ and that I have learned so much, it is incredible to think how far I have come in this short space of time.
All I have done is follow a course and anyone one of us can do the same but I guess I had put up a barrier before I started learning. I was unconsciously thinking that I was too old to start learning guitar but in reality that simply isn’t the case and it led me to write an article on this because I want to help others who may have felt this way also.
It is an article to help those of us learning to play guitar as adults and I wrote it to inspire us as well as show you why learning later in life actually means you have some advantages over someone who is learning in their youth. You can read it here 17 Reasons Why You’re Never Too Old To Learn Guitar.
Learning The Notes On The 6th String (Low E)
I can now pretty much work out any note on this string. I have been using the Justin Guitar Note Trainer which I talked about in last month’s guitar progress update. It is actually really good and I use it when I am at work or when I get 5 minutes of downtime.
The main notes I know are the major notes on the string and using the ‘note circle’ (talked about this in last months’ progress also) I go up a step and down a step, therefore, I know what each note is. It is not 100% perfect but I can work out the note so it is a start.
This is really good for power chords on the 6th string as each power chord derives its name from the root note and the root note is your finger on this string.
Power Chords / Sus Chords / Alternating bass line
These are getting easier to play but I think I am gripping the guitar too hard as my wrist really begins to hurt during the process of trying to play them. It is mainly at the base of the wrist but also between my thumb and index finger.
My Sus chords are now at 60 changes a minute but they have been one of the easiest to learn to date. The real application of them though is going to take some time. The idea is to use them to help embellish songs that you are learning or know how to play. They add a little something to provide interest, they are particularly good to use, I find, when playing songs with a small number of chords and a lot of repetitive strumming.
I haven’t really played the alternating bass line in a song but have been practicing as Justin shows in his videos. I still tend to get caught up in the strings that I shouldn’t be playing even though I am looking at my strumming hand when playing.
Playing Scales With A Metronome
I find it hard to hear the metronome when I play. I have been trying to play the Am pentatonic alongside it but I often drown out the metronome when I play. Maybe I need to set the volume louder? I will try and experiment with this to see what works best for me as I know it can really help with your timing.
The target with playing the Am Pentatonic is 160bpm and I’m actually around 120bpm at the moment I think.
A song I Have Been Learning
I mentioned in month 1 that I bought both of Justin Guitars Beginner Song Books and that they are well worth buying as they give you strum patterns and help you work around any areas on the videos.
This week I have been learning Fast Car by Tracy Chapman and it has proved to be a great one to learn for moving your fingers around the fretboard. It took me about 2.5 hours to get it to stage I play in the video, jump to 7:44 to see it.
As I have progressed on this course it has become clear to me that I like fingerpicking and this song has helped confirm it. I want to explore more fingerpicking I think when this beginner course ends.
Reflection on my Week of Learning
I say it in the video but I actually have come to really enjoy the process of learning on guitar. It is seeing that direct result that has me hooked. Yes, 99% of the time it doesn’t work out straight away but as time goes on I can see hints of this percentage lowering and some elements of learning new songs, for example, becoming easier.
10 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 8 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
This week on the course was all about blues and fingerstyle guitar.
As I have talked about before, keeping momentum for me helps me make progress when learning to play guitar. I don’t want to move on to something when I haven’t really grasped a previous concept but sometimes I may move on too soon. For the sake of building a habit and passion for playing guitar, I have chosen to take this route where necessary.
Case in point, Stage 7, I had been practicing this for 2 weeks and I probably could have learned a few more songs to really get to grips with some of the concepts being taught. However, I have decided to move on and this week I am focusing on two areas of the guitar so far that I really like which are blues and fingerstyle.
I am also still practicing power chords and notes on the Low E String, and also I am using the Justin Guitar note trainer to help me learn all the notes on the fretboard. The way I have picked up most of the notes so far is by knowing that there are 12 notes in western music and every 12 notes = an octave.
So on the guitar, on the thickest string for example which is the E string. When you play it without your finger on it is an ‘open’ string and it is the note ’E’ and then if you place your finger down on the same string at 12th fret then this is also the note ‘E’ just one octave higher.
Then using the ‘note circle’ which I have loosely in my head I am able to work out the notes in between. I am sure there will be better ways of navigating around the fretboard once I learn some other systems down the track.
I have learned some alternatives to the normal G chord that I play, which is really cool. You can see them on my video at about 2 minutes. There is the ‘Rock G’, ‘Big G’ and the Folk G and Justin talks about Cadd9 which is just the ‘Big G’ but you move your top two fingers down. Once you can do this then it is worth trying to learn Wonderwall by Oasis as these two chords are in that song. You can check his tutorial out for that here.
Power chords on the 5th string or the A string are what I have also been learning this week. It has been ok learning this as I was introduced to power chords previously. The main struggle I have is when I move higher up the fretboard where space is more cramped and my biggish fingers have less margin for error.
12 Bar Blues Shuffle
So this is the first thing I have ever attempted in my life to do with the blues. It is a staple of the blues and is an important one to know but my knowledge of blues music is very limited, to be honest, but I am looking forward to exploring more of the genre.
This is one great thing about learning to play the guitar and that is that you become more open to other genres and you get to explore them with a little understanding. Doing this gives me a great understanding and appreciation for music that I may have dismissed previously. The sphere of my musical appreciation is growing, and I like it!
The ‘chunka-chunka’ sound of the 12 bar blues is cool but I just need to get into some songs that use it and also learn to use a palm mute with it which I find really difficult at this stage. It is not that I can’t mute the strings but that I tend to mute them too much or too little, so it takes me a while to find the sweet spot, haha.
So fingerstyle is definitely one I one to explore at a later date. I love the style of playing and there are a number of iconic songs that I would love to learn how to play, one of which is my project song Anji by Davy Graham which I talked about in 1 Month Guitar Progress article. Over the last 3 to 4 weeks I haven’t really practiced this song because I have been really engrossed in learning through Justin’s course but I intend to explore this and fingerstyle when I complete his course.
I have revisited the song Mad World by Gary Jules which I previously learned how to play using simple strumming from Justin’s tutorial video and I am now learning to play fingerstyle. You can see it on the video from here 5:23.
One of my subscribers, Will Nixon, on YouTube recommended learning House of the Rising Sun by The Animals in fingerstyle and I am going to work on this after watching Justin’s tutorial. He has different ways of picking which also included a ‘raked pick’ style which I wasn’t aware of until I saw this.
Am Pentatonic – Alternative Picking
So at this stage of the course, Justin is recommending trying different picking styles. So previously I was using down picks to play each note. Now I am learning how to down pick while going down each string and up picking while going back up. A minor change but it takes some getting used to.
One mistake I had been making was going too fast which is silly really given that Justin always advises ‘Practice makes permanent’ so if you play it wrong and keep practicing it that way then you are just going to embed it and then later down the line it will take longer to correct.
Best Guitar Capo Under $20
So I released a video and an article this week on the Best Guitar Capo Under $20 (click link to read it and watch the video). The reason I did this was that at the beginning of my guitar journey I didn’t know which capo to buy and what the differences were and if they affected the tuning of the guitar.
So I bought three different ones and tried them all out and compared them, I tried the three most popular capo’s at the time some of which have been popular for decades. The results might surprise you as one of them detuned the guitar and is a huge brand. So if you are looking to purchase one then have a read, you will be glad you did.
11 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 8 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
This week on the course was all about fingerstyle and is something I am really beginning to enjoy. As well as this I have been practicing my 5th string power chords which seem to have got worse. I have felt like this a few times on the course but have found that just by working on it it does come right in the end. In a weird way, I am actually beginning to enjoy it when things like this happen as it is clear what I have to work on.
As I have talked about before, I find guitar is all about 1% improvements, so often it doesn’t feel like you are making big leaps and bounds in progress but then suddenly you will have a breakthrough and often it is because of an accumulative effect of all the little things that you have been learning.
I have done so more 12 Bar Blues and that is going ok but the main thing I have been practicing is fingerstyle.
I have been learning to play Hey There Delilah by the White Tees this week and it is a fun song to learn and I have found it doesn’t too long to get the hang of it. You can watch me play for 2 minutes on the video. It does have an F chord so that always slows down the pace of the song as I still don’t have a fluid transition between it and other chords. It has got better but it still isn’t smooth enough.
I have received a few comments about trying to sing whilst playing and to be honest, I haven’t even tried. I really can’t sing and when I do my family complains haha, I am not lying about this. I would like to learn to sing one day and I used to hear that it was a talent you were born with.
However, recently I have seen a few videos about learning to sing and from what I understand it is all about training your muscles, breathing correctly and other techniques that can be learned.
So one day I am going to commit to learning to sing. I think it will be a few years down the line once I have really gotten into guitar playing.
The other song that I have been learning is the one that I mentioned last week which is House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals. You can watch it from 3:57 on the video. Again it has an F chord so it is good practice and it is a really great song so it is fun to play.
I have been working on Fast Car by Tracy Chapman again, this time trying to involve my pinky finger which you have to do during the song. I have found this really hard and concentrated playing on this bar to really try and get to grips with it. The trouble I have is the reach and the strength in the finger itself to hold the string in place so that the note rings true.
It has got easier but I spent a lot of time on it.
Ready To Move On To The Next Stage?
I have been on this stage for two weeks and I still think it is going to take a few more weeks to move on to the next one. As the course goes on it is getting harder but that is good because I have begun to like a challenge as it is the place where you learn the most.
Onwards and upwards!
12 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 8 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
So this week I have been working on the Blues part of this stage but I have had a really crazy week at work. The work that I do can often mean that there is a deadline that just can’t be changed so sometimes this can mean some early starts and late finishes.
This was one of those weeks so it has been hard to get some practice in but I have managed to do some. I have mainly focused on two areas, one is the 12 bar blues and the other is a song.
Oh, and I have been listening to a lot of Blues music this week. I saw a documentary about the Rolling Stones and the influences they had. It was really interesting to see how they basically reintroduced some great blues artists back to the USA who had seemed to have been forgotten about.
Some of the artists I have really enjoyed listening to are Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Elmore James, Freddie King who had a big influence on Eric Clapton from an early age and also I have been listening to Robert Johnson.
I have a growing appreciation for these artists as I begin to understand the genre of music a lot more.
12 Bar Blues
As I mention in the video, I just can’t get the consistency with it yet. It appears so simple yet when I come to play it feels really awkward. Also, I appear to not be playing it correctly when I watch the video back now and I know what I am doing wrong. Again, a work in progress! I think the whole thing is! But it’s fun!
On top of this, I have been trying to play it with a palm mute and while I have been learning this in the past (when I was learning to play Dakota by the Stereophonics) I definitely haven’t mastered it. Some days are definitely better than others.
A song I Tried To Learn
I have been working on Before You Accuse Me by Eric Clapton which incorporates the 12 Bar Blues and there is a cool riff type thing in it. Apologies I don’t know what the name of it but whatever it is called it has taken me 2 to 3 hours to get used to playing it.
You can see me play the riff from 6:03 in the video, it is in no way fluid but you can recognize it a bit haha.
What Next? 4 Month Guitar Progress Breakdown
I hope you can join me on my journey, so if you would like to keep updated then please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here and sign up for my email updates here. I won’t spam you, only provide tips and recommendations along with updates on my progress.
I would love to hear from any of you learning to play guitar and if you have any questions, comments or want to tell me how you are getting on then please leave them in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer them and provide any help, feedback, and encouragement I can.
All the best, good luck on your guitar journey and don’t forget to check out my other guitar progress posts below.
Look forward to seeing you there.
Links To All My Guitar Progress Posts
If you are learning to play guitar or are interested in seeing my progress updates then please use these links below
If you are learning to play guitar or are interested in seeing my progress updates then please use these links below
1 Month Guitar Progress – Getting started on The Justin Beginner Guitar Course – Stage 3
2 Months Guitar Progress – Stage 5 Through To Stage 7 Of The Justin Guitar Beginner Course
4 Months Guitar Progress – Final Stage Of The Justin Guitar Beginner Course
5 Months Guitar Progress – Justin Guitar Course Complete – 10 Songs Showcase
6 Months Guitar Progress – What Next? and Learning My Most Complex Song Yet.
7 Months Guitar Progress – 25 Hours To Learn This New Song But I Love It!