I Love My Guitar


At 17 I was given an old guitar. It was a beautiful object with a carved headstock and a rich, mellow body and I longed to play it. Alas, I hadn't a clue... I was a musical klutz. I knew nothing about music and didn't even know how to tune it. Although a couple of guitar-playing friends tried to help me out I couldn't seem to get my head or fingers around it and there just wasn't enough teachers with the patience to spell things out for me.Plus In those days I was into instant gratification...and so it languished in the corner of my bedroom for a few years gathering dust until I finally passed it along to someone who could play.

Now, many years later I've taken it up again but with a new sense of commitment, an electronic tuner and a host of youtube teachers. I took it up because I was worried about depreciating brain cells and thought I'd try to forge a few new neural pathways by learning something new...and perhaps that early sense of failure had never quite left me. After some web research I decided on a Tanglewood TW 28, made by an English company ....from their low end range but not too cheap. I was advised to buy the best I could afford. From the moment I took it out of the box it was love at first sight and I knew I was in for a long-term relationship....

That smooth creamy body and pale laquered maple head-stock; those art deco inspired machine heads, the stylish black logo, the shimmering phosporo bronze strings....[chills]

Fired by enthusiasm I lashed out and bought an online teaching program called Jamorama which was okay but completely unnecessary as there is enough free information out there to get started. For the first month or so my fingers ached to the point of bleeding...those acoustic strings are murder on soft finger pads but through grit and determination I crashed through the pain barrier and developed some great calluses. The suffering only bonded me closer to my guitar...we were going through so much together.

Yes...I can

Before too long I was thrashing away and playing songs, singing along... even writing my own stuff , not to mention boring everybody to the point of inertia with guitar talk and impromptu concerts. I still had brick walls to overcome, such as the dreaded barre chords which seemed to demand an impossible stretch of fingers. For the first few months I resisted the monotony of stretching exercises, reasoning that I would only learn if I enjoyed the process and while I did learn a lot from continuously trying to play the songs I enjoyed, in the end I did succumb to the tedium of repetitive exercises and it did help me with developing dexterity and getting those barre chord shapes out.

It's been 12 months now and while I'm not sure about the brain cell development, my guitar has opened up a new and wonderful universe for me. Being able to play music has proved a powerful emotional release and allowed me a new creative outlet. I never thought I could do it and perhaps I couldn't have without the incredible resource of the internet which allowed me to learn at my own pace, whenever I wanted. I could rewind and pause over and over again, choose my own teachers, find chords and tabs and observe a wide range of inspiring guitarists. So if there's anyone out there with an unfulfilled hankering to play guitar, without hesitation I say go for it. Amaze your friends and acquaintances. All you need is the commitment and as the saying goes, 'if I can do it, anyone can...'


Some recommended youtube teachers:

There's quite a few out there and I'm sure I haven't seen them all, nor have I checked out the teachers at the hub which is all new to me but these are just a few I stumbled across that have been really helpful.

Justin Sandercoe -not only is Justin completely adorable but he's also a very accomplished guitarist and a terrific teacher. He's got some great tips for beginners and is easy to watch and listen to. He also has a good vid on how to change strings.

Goldhat -ah Goldhat. An old-fashioned, self-taught guitarist from the sixties...not as hep as Justin but his skill and love of guitar shines through. Teaches some great Beatles classics...as well as the usual beginner fare..Leaving on Jet Plane, Wonderwall etc. and his signature line is "have fun with that one". His singing will amaze you, though perhaps not in a good way and he has some very distracting wallpaper behind him in his videos.

Marty Swartz - Love him. He has over a 100 lessons on his youtube channel. Check him out.

Bobby Crispy -has a quiet, mumbling voice that makes him sound likes he's talking into a rolled-up sock but he knows his stuff and offers patient instruction. He taught me to play Don't Worry Baby, which is quite an achievement, for him and me.

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Comments 21 comments

Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

Commitment is the key. Guitar takes plenty of practice and plenty of grit, not to mention brain power.

Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

Great hub! My wife bought me one & I still haven't learned to play....

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

I to took up the guitar at an early age and my acoustic has been my companion ever since. I play for my own enjoyment and also sing along. It gives me pleasure and helps me relax. Keep plucking away, its a wonderful instrument.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

It is indeed Saddlerider...thanks for the comments guys.

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faithfulpen 6 years ago

I love guitars! I taught myself with my Momma's guitar...a Spanish style guitar that later disappeared to who knows where. My Momma was crushed. I think I was fourteen at the time, as I struggled through gaining the callouses and the cords shown only to me through a book. Pictured of course. Fingering, etc. But, I never mastered the bar chords. I taught my brother how to play, and well...sorry to say, he plays better than I do. He kept up with it. I didn't. But, you made me think seriously of taking it up again. I play the keyboard by ear to guitar sounds. Thanks for sharing your story.

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logic,commonsense 6 years ago

I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar and the drums, having envied those that could. Figured it made it easier to impress the ladies! :)

Never made the time available to do so and regret it!

Thanks for sharing and stirring up the desire to play once again!

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

I amazed myself by doing it logic! Not that I'm that hot at it...but I can string a few songs together.

faithfulpen, you've already got a head start then and there's so much more out there now in the way of tuition.

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Miss Bovary kudos to you for following your guitar until it relented! I have had an onagainoffagain affair with guitars, bass and accoustic/electric for years, so I can empathize. When I was a kid in college I played for a short time with a guy who has had some success in a band called Deerhoof, his name is John Dietrich. His guitar playing is sublime, jazz influenced and Beefheart marinated. I would be interested in hearing your music I hope we can look forward to you publishing a recording here on hubpages.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

No way! I'd be massacred..

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Bah! Go for it! Listen to Deerhoof and free your ears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jj200 profile image

jj200 6 years ago from My Bedroom

Hey there, just dropping a line on your hub. Great story, I always love to hear others' "learning to play" experiences.

You're right about youtube: inspiring, educational, instructional, FREE. Between that and tabs sites you don't have to spend a dime on learning to play anymore, and they make it a whole lot easier than sitting in your room alone with no guidance. Bravo to this hub and I echo Ben on hearing your songs. How about *posting* on youtube instead of just watching? It would be good youtube karma...

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi JJ...great to see you here. I have secretly thought about doing something on youtube but there's some pretty harsh critics out there...I don't think I'm ready yet! Do you have anything there...?

jj200 profile image

jj200 6 years ago from My Bedroom

Posting on youtube is not for the faint of heart. I sort of think you have to be a certain type of person do to it in the first place. I record myself privately for historical and educational purposes (it's nice to see how you've progressed over the years), but I don't post publicly. I don't feel the need for strangers' approval and criticism. If someone wants to hear my music, I most likely have their email address and can send it to them.

That said, if you have been thinking about it, I'd say, give it a shot. It seems like when someone shows some humility at the start of the video or in the description (i.e. "I'm just learning how to play," "I just posted this for fun"), it tends to deter comments from the jerks and music snobs, and inspires those who either liked it or were lukewarm about it to take a moment to post words of encouragement instead of just moving on to view the next video.

And if you post the link here, you'll get some HP love on your video!

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author


I agree with you...you do have to be a certain type of person and I really couldn't do it unless I thought I was sh*t hot on the guitar..and frankly I'm not! But thanks for the encouragement...it's appreciated.

jj200 profile image

jj200 6 years ago from My Bedroom

Well give it time, I find myself improving all the time, even when I think I've hit my ceiling. Practice makes perfect, and if you like playing, it will come.

Oh and thanks for the Hub Love. After your tutorial, I've managed to reciprocate.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thanks for that jj. I do do a pretty mean version of The Kinks, Ape Man. Do you think that would go down well on youtube...no, perhaps not!

Practice for sure...I find too, if I don't play a song for a couple of weeks..I forget half of it. In guitar terms I've really only being playing a short time. I've heard it takes about 3 years to really call yourself a guitarist and a lifetime to master, because it's a continual learning process.

TheMusiconomy profile image

TheMusiconomy 5 years ago from New York City

I enjoyed reading your personal story about learning the guitar. It reminded me of the good memories I have of when I started. I'm a little envious, because I wish I had YouTube when I first started 20 years ago.

There is so much free info out there, it's overwhelming considering how already overwhelming learning the guitar can be in the beginning.

How do you know you're on the right track when learning guitar on YouTube? Definitely, YT provides some great tips and should be used as a supplement to more formal training. Formal training sounds like a boring term, but the truth is that anyone that learns solely watching YT videos will hit a plateau sooner or later. It just depends on your personal goals. Again, if I was a beginner, I would definitely be checking out YT, so I don't want you to think I'm trashing it completely.

When and if you reach a plateau, and you feel like you're not getting any better even though you're practicing, you might want to consider private lessons. The trick is to find the right one that can actually help you achieve your goals. Just some food for thought.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

TM..I don't think I could have done it without YouTube but yes, I understand about the formal lessons. A YouTube teacher can't tell you where you might be going wrong and it's easy to pick up a bad technique, which then becomes a habit. Ideally, formal lessons would be great, although I'll probably never be a *serious* guitar player.

My teenage son and I starting learning at the same time..but earlier this year he began having lessons through school and now he's leaving me behind. Still, I'm getting some good second-hand tips. Thanks very much for the comment...I appreciate it.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Jane , You are so talented , I can't personally imagine a better friend or even lover that to be gifted with a talent like this! Awesome for you!!

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thanks so much for that way to flattering comment ahorseback...oh and the cheque's in the mail!

Mano 3 years ago

Kab:You lost interest bsaucee you were not getting the sound you wanted.On the guitar you will loose interest bsaucee you can't do something.Get lessons. Class or private. Free or pay for them.Learning to play an instrument is like learning to fly a plane. It can be done, but it is dangerous. Flying you are taking your life in your hands. On the guitar, you might just wind up loosing interest or learning a lot of bad habits.References :

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