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Sat May 11, 2013, 10:13 AM

I bought an electric guitar. I can't play a note.

I bought an electric guitar. On impulse. At Costco. I can't play. What on earth possessed me?

I suppose I could try to learn how to play the damn thing, but my track record in this area is not stellar. My musical education began and ended in primary school, with my biggest success being a tinny performance of Frre Jacques on the xylophone on parents' night, which was met with polite, if muted, applause. At least I think I struck the majority of the notes nearly correctly that night. A nasal-sounding rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star failed to achieve a passing grade later that year and my version of Fr Elise is still spoken of in hushed tones when elderly retired educators foregather to swap stories over a pint.

I tried choir, but was thrown out when the teacher figured out where the noise was coming from. I wasn't interested enough to learn the lyrics of songs either. Well, of clean ones at least.

My parents attempted to engage a music teacher privately, but we didn't really hit it off. The man simply had an odd prejudice against lazy, untalented smartarses, and he gave up quickly trying to teach me the piano. He thought that rhythm might be more my thing and suggested the drums, possibly as a form of revenge against my parents for inflicting me on him. That ended when my first drum solo was likened to the sound of a painful bowel movement. As an aside, fuck you, Mr. Holzheimer. Shame on you for humiliating a 10 year-old to get a cheap laugh out of the other kids. Bastard.

I've got to face it, I'm never going to learn how to play and this impulse purchase is just a vainglorious attempt at recapturing lost youthful dreams. I've become a sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard whose dreams are now behind him. Buying this guitar confirms it.

3 votes, 1 pass | Time left: Unlimited
Yes, you really are a sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard.
1 (33%)
Boy, are you one sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard.
0 (0%)
I don't often agree with you, Ron, but yes, you really are a sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard. There's no hope.
0 (0%)
Stop moaning, you sad, pathetic middle-aged bastard. Others have it worse and you're lucky to even be alive, you creep.
0 (0%)
Go away, you sad, pathetic middle-aged bastard.
0 (0%)
Costco has excellent return policies, you sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard. Take advantage of them before making a fool of yourself any further.
1 (33%)
Anyone else catch this whiff of "old man smell" in here today?
1 (33%)
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Arrow 54 replies Author Time Post
Reply I bought an electric guitar. I can't play a note. (Original post)
Ron Obvious May 2013 OP
hunter May 2013 #1
RevStPatrick May 2013 #2
Ron Obvious May 2013 #9
RevStPatrick May 2013 #16
Ron Obvious May 2013 #23
Tom Ripley May 2013 #24
mulsh May 2013 #29
dimbear May 2013 #52
Iggo May 2013 #3
Chan790 May 2013 #4
Ron Obvious May 2013 #10
pipi_k May 2013 #5
Ron Obvious May 2013 #11
AsahinaKimi May 2013 #6
Ron Obvious May 2013 #13
Flashmann May 2013 #7
Ron Obvious May 2013 #14
Flashmann May 2013 #15
Flashmann May 2013 #18
Ron Obvious May 2013 #20
Flashmann May 2013 #30
HappyMe May 2013 #8
Ron Obvious May 2013 #39
Generic Brad May 2013 #12
Ron Obvious May 2013 #22
GoCubsGo May 2013 #17
Morning Dew May 2013 #19
Ron Obvious May 2013 #21
Lionel Mandrake May 2013 #25
Ron Obvious May 2013 #38
Lionel Mandrake May 2013 #50
MiddleFingerMom May 2013 #26
Ron Obvious May 2013 #36
arcane1 May 2013 #27
SwissTony May 2013 #28
Ron Obvious May 2013 #33
Xyzse May 2013 #31
Ron Obvious May 2013 #34
Xyzse May 2013 #46
MADem May 2013 #32
Ron Obvious May 2013 #35
MADem May 2013 #37
Ron Obvious May 2013 #40
MADem May 2013 #41
KurtNYC May 2013 #42
Ron Obvious May 2013 #47
struggle4progress May 2013 #43
Doctor_J May 2013 #44
panader0 May 2013 #45
dawg May 2013 #48
Ron Obvious May 2013 #51
Rabrrrrrr May 2013 #49
olddots May 2013 #53
Ron Obvious May 2013 #54

Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 10:35 AM

1. Unlike an acoustic guitar, you don't have to annoy the neighbors.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 10:41 AM

2. Here's my suggestion...

 

Tune it to an open G chord.
That way it sounds good just strumming it.
Then, you can play it with just one finger.

If it's good enough for Keith Richards...

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Response to RevStPatrick (Reply #2)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:33 AM

9. You lost me at 'tuning' and 'open G chord'....

I think I'm tone deaf.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #9)

Sat May 11, 2013, 12:40 PM

16. Ah, I see. In that case, I've got another suggestion...

 

You should "Townshend" that bad boy!

I had the opportunity to do that once at a gig, and it was one of the happiest days of my life!
I still have most of the pieces. The ones that the audience didn't grab...

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Response to RevStPatrick (Reply #16)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:37 PM

23. I'll make sure to video that and post it on youtube.

Lucky man, seeing Pete Townsend in person!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #9)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:40 PM

24. Tune it like this: DGDGBD...low to high...you can even take off the lowest string...

and be just like Keef.
There are also many other great open tunings.
I have been playing for 25 years and only use open tunings. Standard tuning is for suckers who want to work too hard!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #9)

Sat May 11, 2013, 04:19 PM

29. buy a snark clip on electric tuner. they're only around $9.00

clip on to your head stock and are very easy to use. I have one each for all the guitars and mandolins I regularly play with.
here's a link:

http://www.zzounds.com/item--SNASN5

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Response to mulsh (Reply #29)

Mon May 13, 2013, 01:54 AM

52. This is the correct lowdown. Don't have to be clipon, can just sit there too.

I found that they come in really handy if you ever modify your bridge or anything like that, too. Mine is a Korg.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 10:50 AM

3. Did someone tell you musical talent was a prerequisite to learning the guitar?

They lied to you, brother!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:03 AM

4. Great! You're already qualified to be a punk rocker!

Not only can't you play...you've got a great name for it, Mr. Ron Obvious.

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Response to Chan790 (Reply #4)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:36 AM

10. That's true!

I've often thought that if I were ever to start a punk rock band, I would name it 'Anal Leakage', after a medical side effect I read on a prescription bottle once.

Now, in concert, it's Ron Obvious and Anal Leakage! They've got three chords between them, but at least they're loud!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:07 AM

5. Guitars make

pretty neat wall decorations.

I have one here. Mr Pipi decided some years ago that he wanted to learn to play it.

Unfortunately he got intimidated when I told him my favorite guitarists were people like Carlos Santana, Jimmy Page, etc. I guess he figured he would never get to their level of proficiency. Plus he used to whine a lot about sore fingers.

So he gave two of his smaller ones away and kept one, which is gracing the wall in our living room.

Mocking him.

But at least he can play an instrument of some kind. He used to play the trumpet in a band years ago.

Me...forget it.

I love music and have enough of an "ear" for pitch and all that to know that I can't sing, and I should never be allowed anywhere near a musical instrument. Except maybe a drum made from an empty Quaker Oats container.

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Response to pipi_k (Reply #5)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:44 AM

11. Not a bad idea...

My favourite guitarists are Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and also Carlos Santana (I had dreams of playing 'Samba Pa Ti' when I bought this thing).

I think I might potentially be aiming too high and should perhaps aim for Fred Santana who used to mow our lawns.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:11 AM

6. I have a suggestion ...

get a bold black magic marker, scribble something that looks like an autograph. Tell everyone it was signed by Jimi Hendrix, and hang it on your wall...

just kidding

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Response to AsahinaKimi (Reply #6)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:50 AM

13. I could do that!

I'm useless as a musician but a halfway decent forger, actually.

Convincing people that Jimi would have signed a 2010 guitar from Costco might be more problematic

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:20 AM

7. 13 months ago,I was you...58 year old beginner

I'd picked up a $25 elcheapo Washburn at a garage sale,got myself a $30,15 watt practice amp at a pawn shop,and was silly enough to think that somehow,just buy having and playing around with it,I'd learn to play it.Of course that didn't happen and after a few months I got on the Google machine and looked at what sorts of online,DIY lesson were available.Turns out there are a bunch.

I narrowed it all down to a few,the best is: ]http://justinguitar.com/ It has over 500 free lessons and a well planned,structured beginners course,with chord charts and diagrams,text as well as minutes long videos for each lesson.It's a 9 stage beginner course,with each stage having 6-8 individual lessons.Stage 1,for example will teach you the A,D and E open chords and will even detail how to use those chords to play a handful of really simple songs.The Beatle "Love Me Do" being one.Figure 2-6 weeks on each stage,give or take,depending on how much time you put in,which at first won't be much.Your fingers/wrist and even forearm won't take much at first...Personally,it took me 6 weeks just for stage 1.My fingers just wouldn't make the shapes to sound those 1st 3 chords without going through contortions.Right when I thought I'd never be able to do it,I DID do it.

Now,13 months later,I've done the 9 stages of beginner and am midway through the intermediate 5 stage course,(also free),while at the same time going through both the Blues Rythmn and Blues Lead courses,(free again),and studying Practical Music Theory,($15 for an E-Book and well worth it).
Besides playing a handful of very simple basic songs,I'm playing with chord progressions of my own making and even single not runs,solos using the notes within 1 of 4 different scales,I've learned.

If I can do it,ANYone can...Here's a little something to start you off,assuming your guitar is in standard tune.Without even touching the strings anywhere on the neck,pick the top and the bottom strings.The fattest and the thinnest.There's your first note.Both of those are An E.Press either at the first fret,it's an F.Now you know 2 notes in 4 places!

Feel free to PM me if you wnat to know more,or even ask me here.

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Response to Flashmann (Reply #7)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:57 AM

14. You're encouraging me!

Thanks for the words of confidence and the helpful suggestions! I'll definitely go check out that website.

Things might not be as bad as I painted earlier. Just a few hours with this thing, and I can already do the first three notes of Smoke on the Water. I may well be mixing up sharps and flats, because it still sounds a bit off, but it's fun at least.

On the plus side, my wife's totally fine with it and has not yet pointed out what else we could have spent that money on

Cool username, btw. Because of the double 'n', I suspect it wasn't inspired by one of my favourite fictional characters, Sir Harry Flashman, but it's still cool.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #14)

Sat May 11, 2013, 12:06 PM

15. wasn't inspired by one of my favourite fictional characters, Sir Harry Flashman

No,'fraid not.Flash is a nickname I acquired in early grade school.Mann is my surname.

BTW,I have a link for an online tuner,in case you lack one.Your guitar probably didn't come off the shelf in tune.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #14)

Sat May 11, 2013, 01:50 PM

18. On the plus side, my wife's totally fine with it

Mine was too,at first.It was actually HER idea that since I was retired,I should learn guitar as a hobby.She badgered me into going to that garage sale EXPLICITLY to buy that guitar,which she'd seen while driving by.

Then,once I'd started seriously trying to learn,she got a bit snippy about it.I'd explained to her in detail,having read up on the subject,that it takes much time and repetition,paraphrasing Joe Walsh,who said you'll do each thing 10,000 times before it really takes.That you only ever get just SO good,and afterward you merely raise your level of horribleness.

I explained all that to the wife as forewarning that it'll be ugly for some time,but that at least it's recommended that you spend no more than 5 minutes at a time on any one thing,to which she nodded in agreement and understanding and expressed encouragement.

Almost immediately upon beginning 5 minute,even 1 minute exercises,such as changing between an E and an A chord,she would,after 30 seconds start whining WHY do I have to do the same thing over and over,it's ANNOYING...Yeah...No shit...That's why I took the time and trouble to forewarn you.

Of course,this is from a woman who screams bloody murder if I so much as draw a glass of tap water while she's in the shower but who thinks nothing of running the clothes and or dishwasher when I'm in the shower. That's a topic for another day,another thread.

Luckily,being retired I have all day,weekdays to practice while she's at work. Weekends,when she's home,gives me recovery time from soreness and muscle fatigue.

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Response to Flashmann (Reply #18)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:32 PM

20. I'm retired too...

Fortunately my wife's passion is in gardening, so that keeps her outside and away from the awful noises I'm making.

I think the indulgent smiles have already been giving away to strained, forced smiles, though, and it's only been a day. A headset is probably in order.

Ooh, I know! I'll learn to play 'Happy Birthday' and play it for her on her birthday! That sounds just like the sort of fake, insincere gesture I would make and that always goes over well. I could say that learning to play that for her is my gift to her! That'll be a lot cheaper than an Olive Garden gift certificate or a fancy Cubic Zirconia ring or something.

I've got 5 months...

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #20)

Sat May 11, 2013, 04:28 PM

30. That'll be a lot cheaper

than an Olive Garden gift certificate or a fancy Cubic Zirconia ring or something


That's assuming you don't rush out and buy a new Telecaster and a bigger amp,with which to play happy birthday.

I started with the el cheapo Washburn.Within a month I'd upgraded to a Squire Stratocaster and am now looking at Made in Mexico and Made in America Fenders,flip flopping between whether I want another strat or a Telecaster. ,either of which automatically provokes the need for another bigger amp.

Haven't yet learned to properly play,can only handle one at a time,yet,suddenly,I need 3 guitars...

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:28 AM

8. Well, do what Flashmann suggested.

Or take it back.

edit to add - I did think your OP was pretty funny.

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #8)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:25 AM

39. Sure...

Laugh at my pain. Ever thought this self-deprecating humour might be a cry for help and a way to ask for validation and a group hug, huh?

I bet you didn't.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 11:47 AM

12. You are awesome!

Take lessons and go for it!! We are never too old to follow our muses.

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Response to Generic Brad (Reply #12)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:35 PM

22. You're too kind!

Actually, I'm self-indulgent and I refuse to dress and act my age, or so I've been recently told.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 12:59 PM

17. Never say "never".

One of my biggest regrets is that I never got to continue the few guitar lessons I had when I was in high school. If I could afford a guitar, I'd try to teach myself now. Loads of lessons on the Internet. Maybe if you find the right instructor, you might find a way to stick with it...

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:04 PM

19. One solution -

Drums are better for this but you could give it to the child of someone you don't like very well.

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Response to Morning Dew (Reply #19)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:33 PM

21. Good idea!

Together with a St. Bernhard puppy!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:40 PM

25. This is a great thread.

Your OP and other comments are really funny.

Seriously, if you want to find out whether you have musical aptitude, there are psychological tests for it.

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3344372?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102201595761

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Reply #25)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:18 AM

38. I once had aptitudes...

But I lost them in a bad fall.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #38)

Sun May 12, 2013, 04:09 PM

50. I used to have a bad aptitude,

but now I show more respect.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:46 PM

26. Our drummer, Happy Sweaty Jimmy, lived in a large 3-story rowhouse with...

.
.
.
... 3-to-4 housemates. One day, he saw a used steel drum on sale and snatched it up.
He just LOVED playing that thing. Though he was a pretty good drummer, the onliest
thing he learned how to play on it was "Three Blind Mice" -- which he could play for
hours at a time.
.
Far as I know, he never learned how to play anything else... but he loved playing
THAT so much that he became Happier Sweatier Jimmy.
.
Oh... and his housemates called an emergency house meeting and it was resolved
immediately and to infinity and beyond that he would NEVER again play that steel
drum whenever there was the slightest chance that there might be another one of
his housemates in the house.
.
.
.

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Response to MiddleFingerMom (Reply #26)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:04 AM

36. I could see that!

Such a happy sound, steel drums, making one think of Rum & Caribbean vacations, dancing girls & sunshine. Having to live with it though... My sympathies definitely lie with the housemates.

Fortunately, Frau Obvious and I live in a fully-detached house in the suburbs so there will be no complaints!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 02:48 PM

27. Two words: Power Chords!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 03:47 PM

28. "Yes, you really are a sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard"

Not like me who has 3 guitars (one electric, one acoustic, one classical), two flutes, a tin whistle and a harmonica.

Can't play any of them.

I think I've got a piccolo somewhere too.

So, I'm worse than you.

I too am a sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard. Just more so.

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Response to SwissTony (Reply #28)

Sun May 12, 2013, 12:53 AM

33. We could form a club

The sad, pathetic, middle-aged bastard society. We could bring our instruments and swap lies about our lives.

I see healing in this.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 05:07 PM

31. Well then... Once you finally figured out how to tune it.

Head to Youtube for tutorials on pretty much any song you could think of.
Still, if I were you, I'd return it for an acoustic.

Good luck!

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Response to Xyzse (Reply #31)

Sun May 12, 2013, 12:57 AM

34. Youtube's great isn't it?

I hooted in derision about its chances of success when I first heard about it, but youtube's been fantastic. I've learnt how to do plumbing projects and fix a LCD tv through soldering capacitors, and now it's going to turn me into a rock God!

I wonder how I'll be able to cope with all the groupies?

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #34)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:07 PM

46. Don't know...

I finally learned how to play "My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the Ukulele.
Not well, but passable.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 05:12 PM

32. Stop whining, get cracking. Set aside a half hour every day.

It beats playing with matches or in traffic.

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Response to MADem (Reply #32)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:00 AM

35. Bookmarked!

This is aimed exactly at my level of expertise! So that's what those dots are there for!

Thanks!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #35)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:17 AM

37. Before ya know it, you'll be firing up your own garage band!!!

You'll be like those guys in the Viagra commercial, minus those "knowing smiles~!"



Go for it! It's never too late to learn a new thing!

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Response to MADem (Reply #37)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:30 AM

40. I'm keeping it!

The joy and fantasies it's brought me have already justified the purchase price!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #40)

Sun May 12, 2013, 03:34 AM

41. Hurrah!

Just do a little every day--I think you will surprise yourself. You'll definitely have fun, and playing a musical instrument keeps the cobwebs at bay...!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2013, 07:24 AM

42. Take a couple lessons and soon you'll be living the dream...

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #42)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:16 PM

47. LOL

At least I'm already married...

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2013, 08:35 AM

43. Different people play differently, but it's possible to get a smashing sound without practice

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2013, 08:53 AM

44. Here watch these

They will inspire you to either become Albert Lee or David Hidalgo, or go get your money back

&list=PL935EBB146C292F06&index=20



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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2013, 10:08 AM

45. Eleven guitars here and a mandolin.

Also a band shed filled with all the needed equipment. I'm 62 and still learning. One thing I've learned is that Jeannie doe not want me to buy another guitar.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:25 PM

48. You mean you're supposed to actually *play* them?

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Response to dawg (Reply #48)

Mon May 13, 2013, 01:54 AM

51. That's what I'm hoping for!

I was relegated to the triangle in school, an instrument well-known for its powers to not attract nubile groupies.

These are the dreams I was talking about.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2013, 01:38 PM

49. The first thing you need to learn to play a note on a guitar is a guitar - step 1 complete!

Congratulations on getting a guitar!!

As others have said, now all it will take is some playing around on it.

Find someone who can help you tune it, and then go play! Not so hard, really, once you get into it. However frightening it may seem, you will get past that fear very quickly and be making music - and having better health because of it. Unless you become a booze addled rock star succumbing to hard living, but that's not a fault of the music.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Mon May 13, 2013, 02:34 AM

53. Instead of guitar picking consider nose picking

When I finally got good at picking people wanted to pay me to pick at parties ,dances and night clubs . Now I pick my nose in front of huge crowds and " the chicks dig me "

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Response to olddots (Reply #53)

Mon May 13, 2013, 02:51 AM

54. That's a skill I've already mastered...

I've had to beat them off with a stick, I tell you. Go away, you van-loads of nubile cheerleaders who wish me to satisfy them carnally I tell them, but they keep coming.

It's exhausting.

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