Confession #20

The word "caress" makes me feel uncomfortable.

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Progress Report

Here's an update on my progress of learning the guitar:

I haven't quit yet, so that's good.

When I first got my guitar I went online to learn some chords on my own, but realized there were a couple of different ways to explain guitar chords through tablature (apparently there is an incorrect tablature people post as well), ways to express finger positioning, multiple ways to position fingers on each string, etc. So I decided to just see what the Shin's song Those To Come looked like, because it wasn't a chord - rather just picking strings with fingers situated on certain frets...I can't remember what the name of that is off the top of my head (but in describing it, it sounds jsut like I'm referring to playing a chord. Hmmm...). Now that I'm sure I haven't lost your interest in reading my post, I will continue. It was in playing Those To Come that I learned some songs don't necessarily play a full chord. It was an easy song for me to figure out the fingering (at least the beginning part); but it was difficult for me to stretch my fingers from the 5th and 7th frets, though, as well as move from the A string to the low E string. It's still VERY difficult for me to move from one string to the other, however, it's not as difficult for me to stretch within three frets - four is another story.

I started out learning the G, D, and A chords. I tried playing Harvest Moon by Neil Young, but was uncertain that these were the right chords because actually I wanted to play Elliott Smith's version of this song (so maybe I just need a capo). Here I learned that people's tabs can be wrong and that the internet isn't necessarily the most reliable source for tablature. However, it still remains my number "go to" place.

After I got my guitar I made my friend, Adam, play all 40 songs I want to learn and we went through each one to see which would be the easiest to begin with. That was a big help. I was able to write down chords of songs I wanted to learn and see the relationship of certain chords with others (even if they were only his interpretation of the chords used). People have mentioned this chord triad thing, so I think I'm picking up on what that means.

Next up was introducing the Em and Bm chords. I tried playing Fade Into You by Mazzy Star because there are only three chords, however I couldn't really play the barre chord (Bm) so I decided to put this song on hold. Whilst playing this song, though, I realized that I like the sound of the Em chord a whole lot!

I decided to go back to sticking with the G, D, and A chords as my foundation so I found tabs for Muzzle of Bees by Wilco. I think the tabs are incorrect (in that it sounds too high pitched), but I went with what I found online anyway. It is with this song that I learned finger picking is not so easily done. So I just strum the chords. I still cannot transition from each chord fast enough yet. I wonder when I will be able to play a song in real time. Everyone keeps telling me, "you've only been playing for two weeks." Still, I want to be able to move around faster than I am. Maybe my method of learning isn't conducive to that of a beginner - I mean, if I knew what the easy chords were and played those first, perhaps I would be better at switching from one chord to another - but I had to just dive in. If I waded, I would get bored and jump out.

I still haven't mastered the Wilco song, but decided to incorporate other songs as well. Songs such as The Boy Done Wrong Again by Belle and Sebastian. It's kind of fun looking at songs and seeing what chords are used, which chords I know, which tabs look the most correct and easiest for me to play. I tried playing Arthur & Yu's Half Years (despite it having an F in there). I did learn the C chord, so I moved on to the Shins' Gone For Good. It too has an F chord. At some point I will have to learn barre chords...I know this.

While listening to some music the other day, I forgot that I wanted to learn Bulletproof by Radiohead. So I looked at the tabs for it and totally knew all the chords (well, I added the Cmaj7 to my repertoire, but that's an easy one)!

A couple of nights ago I started playing I Became Awake by the Great Lake Swimmers. While this song is primarily the G and C chord, it's difficult in that it shifts back and forth between the two over and over again. I guess it will be a good song for me to practice going from the G to the C. I could also learn their song Changing Colors so perhaps I'll try that. I thought they might be a good band to learn some songs from because their music is slow, so we'll see.

Last night I started learning The Guitar Man by Bread. When I was looking through the tabs I was proud of myself for recognizing half of the chords (with the exception of the E/G#, D/F#, Bm7, Am7, and whatever a C6 G is). I love this song to pieces so I'm going to concentrate a lot of my time on it in the next week.

Hm, looking over my list of songs I should be able to play Anecdote by Ambulance Ltd. I'll try that right now actually.

Well, that went...alright. I know I'm all over the place, playing this song and that, but it's how I roll. By the way, Anecdote has an F in it. Son of a...

So these are some of the songs, parts of songs, and chords I've been working on over the last two weeks. I'm hoping to get good enough by the summer so as to play in the park - that is without annoying people with my slowness or repeatedly playing sections of a song over and over again until I've got it.

Hopefully one day I'll look back at this post and think, "wow, I remember those days when the F chord used to be difficult." Or hopefully someone else who is learning the guitar will find solace in knowing they're not the only one's who can't shift from chords very well. Hopefully I'll get better at that. I just don't see how or when at this point.

Lastly, my nails have never been shorter in all my life. My fingers look stumpy. Hmph.



Okay This is the LAST 80s Video I'm Posting for Today

This is hands-down my favorite video from the 80s. It's by A-Ha entitled Take On Me I love every aspect of this song and video: the singer, the girl, the shift from illustration to real life, and especially the sweatiness at the end...morphing from drawing to human is an extremely stressful process.

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While I'm Perusing Youtube...

I might as well share another video from the 80s that I always liked as a kid. It's George Harrison's Got My Mind Set On You.

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Vampire Weekend? More like Paul Simon Weekend!

Reghan just bought the album Mansard Roof by Vampire Weekend and they remind me of this Paul Simon song from the 80s - You Can Call Me Al. Here's the video starring Chevy Chase...what kind of name is Chevy anyway?

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Breedlove AC 200/SM

This is how I look playing my new Breedlove guitar.

This is how I will look onstage playing my new Breedlove guitar.

I bought my first acoustic steel string guitar and it arrived on Thursday night! It's Christmas in March for me. I did so much research, people. I know everything there is to know about vintage Yamaha FG acoustics (who they were modeled after, what type of wood was used, which years the "red" label was produced, which have the easiest action, etc., etc., etc.). I could go into detail, but thinking about it tires me so I'll just tell you about the one I now own.

It's a Breedlove AC 200/SM. That means it's from the Atlas series and it is a concert size (has a smaller body than a dreadnought; although this one is slightly larger than most concert-sized guitars). 200 is Breedlove's method of labeling it as having a satin finish, non-cutaway, laminate back. Lastly, SM stands for Sitka Spruce top (solid) and Mahogany (laminate) back and sides.

In terms of appearance, I think this guitar has the prettiest body with a simple abalone rosette around the sound hole, black binding, and a non-cutaway top - I'm not the hugest fan of cut-aways (I know, I know, but you can reach the upper frets easier). I like how clean it looks without a pick guard, however, I probably need one on it. It has a pinless bridge and chrome Grover tuners (which I prefer to that of gold).

I found the sound quality to be the best in considering other new guitars in my price range (I also liked the sound of a Fender CD140S).

I've heard the action is good with no setup necessary; however, it all feels difficult for me right now because I'm just learning. The neck isn't as wide as I thought it would be. Supposedly the nut width is 1 11/16th of an inch, which is on the narrower side for a guitar. It is difficult for me to not press other strings while playing cetain chords, but that could be one of two reasons: I'm just a beginner so am learning how to position my fingers or I have fat fingers. I tend to think it's the latter. Maybe a 1 3/4ths or 1 7/8ths inch nut would be better after all. Regardless, the tips of my fingers hurt and my nails have never been shorter.

Acquiring a guitar has been a very long process for me including many late nights on Ebay, Craigslist, Harmony Central, Guitar Center, Musician's Friend, Youtube and dozens of other sites and stores reviewing guitars and talking to anyone who knows anything about the guitar (thank you brother/Brooks, brother-in-law/Clay, Adam, Kim, Dave, Ronnie, and everyone I emailed on ebay).

To tell you the truth, now that the guitar is here, I'm a little nervous. I think it's going to be even more difficult than I initially thought it would be. I constantly start things and never finish them. I either get bored, distracted, or frustrated when things become challenging and I don't want that to happen this time. I'm going to really put some effort in to learning - even if that means playing 10 minutes every day - which I have been doing.

You know, I've wanted to play since I was 13, but my brothers learned first so I just let them do it - it became their thing and they were/are really great at playing the guitar. Well, over the years I've put my efforts into learning and doing other things - namely excelling at school - and forgot about how much I wanted to learn the guitar. Well, I have a terminal degree so school is dead for me at this point. I have time to do other things like figure out a career path, play the guitar, maybe date. I guess I could have done all of those things while in school, but for some reason when it comes to managing my life, I can't really multi-task. I'm trying to pursue the things I've always wanted to do and not use the lack of money as an excuse to not achieve something. I'm a believer in the phrase, "where there's a will, there's a way." I only hope that my will is finally strong enough to pave the way.

So I've been learning chords at the moment. I have a list of 45 songs I want to learn and have been looking at the tabs for each online (beginning with the songs that sound the easiest play). I'll slowly have to build my way up to Iron & Wine, Wilco, Elliott Smith, and Led Zeppelin. Basically I'm learning how to play on my own with the help of the internet and friends - like Adam, who showed me the Bm chord (Adam I know I said I could learn a barre chord if I wanted to, but maybe I was wrong). I've mostly been practicing the G, D, A, E, Em, and Bm chords. Shifting from one chord to another es muy dificil. Hopefully the more I practice, the more instinctual it will become. I've been learning parts of songs from Harvest Moon by Neil Young, Those to Come and Gone For Good by the Shins, Fade Into You by Mazzy Star, The Boy Done Wrong Again by Belle & Sebastian. As soon as I can play a song, I'll record it for you and upload it to Youtube. Until then, I'm just figuring things out, toughening up my fingers, going to purchase a capo and tuner and rockin' as much as a beginner can. Forget Bread's The Guitar Man, this is The Guitar Woman!

So begins my life as a rock star. Wish me luck!

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Funny Quotes

I saw these two quotes on a guitar forum thread thingy:

I'm such a big fan of ME that I signed myself to an exclusive 7 album deal. Of course since I'm both the artist and the label, I promised myself the world up front and then I totally screwed ME in the fine print of the contract. I'll never see sh*t as the artist, but I'm gonna make a killing as the label...
- posted by someone named gtrbass

The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I'm left with is the memory of having learned something very wise that I can't quite remember.
- George Carlin

The interesting thing about that last one is that it explains me to a tee. I'm sure at some point today I'll try to explain to a friend a complicated concept I've heard or read about and won't be able to articulate myself well because of my poor memory. Then in an attempt to pardon my lack of memory to said friend, I will try to quote George Carlin and of course will fail miserably at that attempt due to an inability to remember it as well.

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Adultz Like It Too!

Once I discovered this cereal while babysitting and have looked forward to babysitting for this family ever since because they always have it (sure the kids are cute too). Do yourself a favor and buy Gorilla Munch for $2.49 a box at Trader Joe's (I think Whole Foods sells it as well).

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