Week 2: Days 7 to 13

Day 7: Friday 19th March 2021

Practice Time – 10 mins

So today is the first day of my official commitment to GFS – Guitar From Scratch. I’m still using my son’s ¾ electric guitar, but I have a spare (right-handed) acoustic guitar at my parents house that I intend to use for this project (by turning it upside down and restringing it so that it plays left-handed). 

Today I continued practising the good old G to Em to D chord progression. I’m still only strumming down once with my thumb though as I don’t feel like my chords are good enough for a strumming pattern just yet. 

I also tried the Am and C today, but these chords are definitely too much too soon right now. Especially the C chord, which feels super difficult. 

Day 8: Saturday 20th March 2021

Practice Time – 1 hour

Today is Grand Slam day (please don’t remind me). There’s rugby on TV all day and I practised quite a lot, albeit with the rugby on in the background (not usually recommended). I picked the guitar up around 4 or 5 times which in total added up to an hour. Today was a good practice day. 

I’m also questioning whether I should be practising in front of the TV as I wouldn’t recommend this to students. But it seemed to work. The TV was like having the radio on in the background, and it seemed to prolong my practice efforts. The TV didn’t seem to influence the practice negatively either. Interesting.

Day 9: Sunday 21st March 2021

Practice Time – 20 mins

I Practised Em to G to D again today. I notice that when changing to the Em from the G, my hand needs to perform a little shift.  

All chords are feeling a little better by the day which is a nice feeling. 

I also tried the A chord today.

The Old School A Chord

I started with the old-school A chord. When attempting this, my fingers didn’t seem to fit inside the one fret (fret 2). But if I attempt the same chord right-handed, my fingers fit quite easily. This is really interesting. When I look a little closer, I notice that when I play the A right-handed, I’m able to squish all three fingers together a little more snugly than I can when I play the A left-handed. Because I can do this right-handed, I think this is something that I’ll be able to train my left-handed fingers to do over time. 

My left-handed A chord. I can’t quite get the fingers to snuggle as tightly as when I play it right-handed.
My right-handed A chord. It’s not much, but it seems that the 3rd finger is able to snuggle in a little closer to the other two fingers. I can’t do this at the moment left-handed, but I do think it’ll come.

Another tricky thing with the old-school A chord is it’s very hard to get the first finger note to sound. This is because the first finger is placed right at the back of the fret. So this finger really needs to press down harder. For this, it needs to build up more strength.

On the plus side, to play this version of the A chord, my fingers don’t need to do anything extravagant. My fingers seem to fall quite naturally into the correct shape. The shape feels natural.

The New School A Chord

I also experimented with the new-school A chord. 

This version of the A has become quite popular in recent years, I think mostly due to popular teachers teaching it on YouTube. The argument for playing this version of the A chord is that you get anchor/glide fingers going to both the D and the E chords, and you’re also able to fit your fingers into fret 2 a little easier. Also, the first finger isn’t placed really far back in the fret. All good things!

However, playing this version of the A felt like I was tying my fingers up in a little knot. It just didn’t feel as natural as the old-school A. 

I’m not worried about anchor fingers as I’m focussing on Jump Changes, and I’m also not concerned with fitting my fingers into the fret as it seems to me that I just need to condition them to snuggle in together a bit more tightly to make it work (I know I can do this). I also know that the strength of the first finger will increase.

So, all in all, I decided that the more natural feeling old-school A is the route for me.

This is subjective though, and I think this will differ from person to person. I know different people who prefer playing the A in different ways. 

Strumming With A Pick Please?

Not quite! I tried some strumming today using my regular heavy picks, but it felt so awkward and clunky. Just holding the pick feels vulnerable. It sounds loud and brash, and I keep snagging my fingers on the strings. It also slips around everywhere and drops out of my hand quite a lot too. Oh, and did I mention that my watch also gets in the way?

I instantly decided to buy some super-light picks to help, and continue with my thumb for now. 

Nails too Long?

My nails are cut quite short, but for some unknown reason, they’re getting in the way and I can feel them digging into the fretboard. I think this has to do with the way I’m fretting the chords (over curling the fingers maybe?) as I’m very sure the nails are short enough to play comfortably. Interesting stuff!

Sore Fingers

So my fingers are feeling sore today. To be honest, I really don’t mind this, and I’m happy to keep practicing. I’ve gone through lots of sore fingers in the past.

I’m Starting To Get Bored! Eeeeek!

Ok, so today I noticed that I’m starting to get a little bored with practicing my chord changes. 

When I play/practice guitar right-handed I like to retreat to the music room, turn the amp up, and just get lost in the experience. It’s always a very positive and musical experience for me. 

But learning guitar left-handed from scratch feels very different. It’s not musical (at least for me).

It seems that these very early stages of learning guitar are all about conditioning the fingers physically to be able to do what they need to do to create some music. But any physical change in the body takes time, so I need to dig in and be patient.

For now, I just need to continue putting the reps in until my fingers develop more strength, dexterity, independence, and flexibility. When this happens, I think the process will become more fun and more musical.

This said I feel like I’m making a little bit of progress each day, so this is keeping me motivated and fulfilled.

Day 10: Monday 22nd March 2021

Practice Time – 15 mins

Just continued onwards practising the Em, G, D, and A chords today using the same learning method.

Feeling progress again which is nice.

Progress after 10 Days of Practice.

Day 11: Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Practice Time – 10 mins

Just spent 10 mins working on something a little different today – Highway To Hell by AC/DC. I think probably just to vary things up a little. It felt like a nice way to keep the fingers working and improving whilst practicing the A chord. 

Day 12: Wednesday 24th March 2021

So I didn’t practice today. 

My entire day was spent setting up my Guitar From Scratch experience online (via this website). 

Today, I also decided that I’m going to set myself mini-goals for certain playing milestones while on this journey. 

The first mini-goal I’ve set is to reach the level of Campfire Guitar Star. Bit of a cheesy name, but it’s basically the level where you’ve nailed all of the open chords and learned a number of songs that you’re able to blast out around the campfire or at a BBQ (or just to yourself at home). 

Once I’ve reached this goal, I plan on creating a beginner’s guitar course using the information I’ve picked up through this experience.

This course will be uploaded and free for my students via this website.

Day 13: Thursday 25th March 2021

I realise today that I can’t use the right-handed guitar that I have at my parents house for this project without replacing the nut (I should have known this). If I attempt to replace the nut myself, I’ll probably mess it up. I also realise that the guitar is an electro-acoustic which means the controls (volume/tone) would be digging into my leg. 

My Dad’s old Electro-Acoustic that I was going to use for this project. It also has a rounded back which always made it feel uncomfortable to play for both my Dad and me.
The nut that I’d have to replace if I decided to use this guitar. I didn’t fancy my chances of doing an accurate job.

So if I want to continue with this project, I need to BUY a new left-handed guitar. Eek!

This really asks the question of whether I’m really committed to this experience. Do I really want to spend upwards of £100 on a new guitar? What if I quit? 

Well, I also know that if I do spend money on a new guitar, it gives me even more reason to pursue and nail the adventure. So I bite the bullet and order a brand new concert-sized, left-handed, Fender acoustic guitar.

I’m all in!

Total Practice Time During This Period

1 Hour and 55 Minutes