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OT - First Time Playing A Note On Guitar Question

WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 6,340
Waayyyyy off topic but maybe someone can help me out. My buddy moved out of state for the winter and he left me his acoustic guitar to play around with. I know absolutely nothing about guitars. I picked it up for the first time tonight. I sat down and tried to figure out chord "D". Thank you Youtube! 

My issue is that I'm pressing down super hard on the strings that it's leaving a mark on my fingers to get it to sound right. I'm guessing that isn't correct. My wife has a cheap $40 guitar with smaller strings and it's much easier to play. Night and day difference.

Do I try and learn and play on a piece of crap guitar or do I keep pushing down and fighting these strings to get the correct tone. Why would the strings be so hard to push down? My friend even says that it can be challenging.

$40 crappy guitar or $300+ (guessing) hard guitar?

Thanks!

Comments

  • DMWDMW Posts: 12,467
    Keep at it, you build up calluses. Been almost 20 years since I fooled around with a guitar, but yeah, it hurts for a bit when you're getting started.
    My Facebook Page where I document my cooking
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  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 16,485
    Keep at it.  You can learn on either one.  Your friends guitar probably has a higher action requiring more pressure.  Left thumb position is also important.  Should be on YouTube.  You'll develop callouses and increase finger strength over time.  Stay with it.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,663
    edited December 2017
    Electric and classical guitars are much easier on the fingers.  

    Although if you learn on a steel string acoustic, once you switch to those it's like taking off cement boots.
    ______________________________________________
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  • If you want to restring it, you can buy different types of strings that require less pressure, but you should just keep at it and develop the calluses.  You're likely pressing too hard anyway. Try an easier chord like c or g.  E is probably the easiest.  Also, adjust your distance between the frets to see if you find a more comfortable position. 
    Jason NW GA- home of carpet and Mexican restaurants
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  • SpaightlabsSpaightlabs Posts: 1,891
    I'll take a different tack on this one.  give it up - stop it.  you aren't going to get laid because of the guitar and that is the only reason anyone has ever started playing one or spent time getting better at one.


  • blastingblasting Posts: 5,502
    I'll take a different tack on this one.  give it up - stop it.  you aren't going to get laid because of the guitar and that is the only reason anyone has ever started playing one or spent time getting better at one.



    ^ sounds like a solid thought to me, lol
    Phoenix 
  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 6,340
    I'll take a different tack on this one.  give it up - stop it.  you aren't going to get laid because of the guitar and that is the only reason anyone has ever started playing one or spent time getting better at one.



  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 6,340
    Thanks guys for the push! I'll keep going with my friends guitar. 
  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 16,485
    If you want to restring it, you can buy different types of strings that require less pressure, but you should just keep at it and develop the calluses.  You're likely pressing too hard anyway. Try an easier chord like c or g.  E is probably the easiest.  Also, adjust your distance between the frets to see if you find a more comfortable position. 
    The only chord easier than D is A11.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • GrateEggspectationsGrateEggspectations Posts: 1,944
    edited December 2017
    As others have noted, the culprit is quite likely the action on your friend's guitar. It may also be the result of the string gauge your friend's guitar is set up with. 

    "Action" is the distance between the string and the frets, which translates into the amount of travel the string has to go for you to successfully fret a note - with the more travel significantly increasing the amount of pressure you have to apply to make a given note ring out. It sounds like the difference in energy you are having to expend in order to form the chords on the two guitars may be due to the difference in action between the two instruments. 

    Action can can be adjusted by a guitar technician. Unfortunately, it's slightly more cumbersome to adjust action on an acoustic guitar than it is on an electric, with the former generally requiring filing to the saddle and/or nut. The neck of the guitar may also require adjustment via the truss rod, but (contrary to popular belief) this is undertaken to achieve correct neck curvature, which has only incidental impact on action and is a prelimary step that must be completed before correct action can be set. 

    Changes in temperature and humidity can cause guitars to expand and/or contract, thereby serving to wreak havoc on guitar setups. I'd hazard a guess that your friend's guitar may have had its neck bow over time and may therefore be in need of a setup. I've seen guitars rendered almost unplayable by being exposed to dry conditions. The difference between playing on a well set up guitar and one that is not could be likened to taking both a Ferrari and a Model T for a rip around the track - the former feeling quick and effortless relative to the latter. 

    Guitar setups by qualified technicians generally run in the neighbourhood of $40-50. If you were in my area, I'd offer to give it a complimentary tweak for you. 

    As others have also noted, the development of callouses helps ease the initial discomfort of guitar playing. You will naturally develop callouses on the areas of your fingers making contact with the strings over time as you play. This is a reality of playing guitar and you will have to play through the pain. Using a smaller string gauge will help ease this discomfort, but I'd advocate with using the biggest string gauge you can handle (both for the development of finger strength and for tonal qualities of thicker strings). If you'd like to quicken the development of callouses, use your thumb nail to press into the fingertips of each fretting finger whenever you're able (e.g., while watching t.v., in meetings, etc.). This will simulate contact with a string and will help you develop callouses even when you're not playing the guitar. Once you've got the callouses, the pain disappears entirely. 

    Finally, don't listen to @bgebrent with respect to the A11. The A chords appear to come naturally to him - especially the ASuS chords.  ;) 
  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 16,485
    As others have noted, the culprit is quite likely the action on your friend's guitar. It may also be the result of the string gauge your friend's guitar is set up with. 

    "Action" is the distance between the string and the fretboard, which translates into the amount of travel the string has to go for you to successfully fret a note - with the more travel significantly increasing the amount of pressure you have to apply to make a given note ring out. It sounds like the difference in energy you are having to expend in order to form the chords on the two guitars may be due to the difference in action between the two instruments. 

    Action can can be adjusted by a guitar teachnician. Unfortunately, it's slightly more cumbersome to adjust action on an acoustic guitar than it is on an electric, with the former generally requiring filing to the saddle and/or nut. The neck of the guitar may also require adjustment via the truss rod, but (contrary to popular belief) this is undertaken to achieve correct neck curvature, which has only incidental impact on action and is a prelimary step that must be completed before correct action can be set. 

    Changes in temperature and humidity can cause guitars to expand and/or contract, thereby serving to wreak havoc on guitar setups. I'd hazard a guess that your friend's guitar may have had its neck bow over time and may therefore be in need of a setup. I've seen guitars rendered almost unplayable by being exposed to dry conditions. The difference between playing on a well set up guitar and one that is not could be likened to taking both a Ferrari and a Model T for a rip around the track - the former feeling quick and effortless relative to the latter. 

    Guitar setups by qualified technicians generally run in the neighbourhood of $40-50. If you were in my area, I'd offer to give it a complimentary tweak for you. 

    As others have also noted, the development of callouses helps ease the initial discomfort of guitar playing. You will naturally develop callouses on the areas of your fingers making contact with the strings over time as you play. This is a reality of playing guitar and you will have to play through the pain. Using a smaller string gauge will help ease this discomfort, but I'd advocate with using the biggest string gauge you can handle (both for the development of finger strength and for tonal qualities of thicker strings). If you'd like to quicken the development of callouses, use your thumb nail to press into the fingertips of each fretting finger whenever you're able (e.g., while watching t.v., in meetings, etc.). This will simulate contact with a string and will help you develop callouses even when you're not playing the guitar. Once you've got the callouses, the pain disappears entirely. 

    Finally, don't listen to @bgebrent with respect to the A11. The A chords appear to come naturally to him - especially the ASuS chords.  ;) 
    Clever.   I can suspend all day. ;)
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • @bgebrent: What you do in the privacy of your basement on weekends is none of my concern. 
  • vb4677vb4677 Posts: 433
    This guy has great stuff for beginners:

    https://www.justinguitar.com/

    I use his approach on a few things when I teach my beginner's class...
    Kansas City: Too Much City for One State - Missouri side
    Large BGE, Instant Pot, Anova Sous Vide, and a couple of gas smokers...
    Barbeque, Homebrew and Blues...
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,940
    A note regarding calluses. The late great Stevie Ray Vaughn had immense callouses, as he liked the heaviest strings available, and he played for hours at a time. According to a story, he had to stop one night because a callous tore off. He went backstage, and superglued it back onto his bleeding finger, and returned to playing.
  • GrateEggspectationsGrateEggspectations Posts: 1,944
    edited December 2017
    gdenby said:
    A note regarding calluses. The late great Stevie Ray Vaughn had immense callouses, as he liked the heaviest strings available, and he played for hours at a time. According to a story, he had to stop one night because a callous tore off. He went backstage, and superglued it back onto his bleeding finger, and returned to playing.
    Yes, I've also heard this anecdote. I'm wondering if it was in the bio I read. 

    SRV's gauge was custom - roughly 0.013 - 0.060. But he also tuned his guitar a half step down, thereby relieving some of the added tension of the strings. 

    For years, I strung my guitar with .013 - 0.060 in standard tuning. My fingers became incredibly strong, as did my calluses. The downside was that the large string gauge absolutely ate my fretwire, especially where I was bending. The other downside was that strings that size really slow down your playing speed. 

    SRV was truly an incredible player. Not the fastest nor the most versatile, but the best at channeling emotion through his instrument, in my opinion. 

    One of the the best compliments of SRV I've heard - Zakk Wylde said that SRV's cover of Little Wing was proof that God existed.
  • TeefusTeefus Posts: 603
    Most medium gauge acoustic string sets are .012-.058. Combined with the longer scale and higher action of a flat top they can be like playing cable. Get a set of extra light bronze wound strings. They're usually .010 to .046. You could go to .009-.042 but you'd need to use electric strings (nickel wound instead of bronze). They're a bunch easier to fret than heavy acoustic strings. As others have mentioned, practice makes for stronger fingers and tougher fingertips. I've been playing about 35 years and heavy strings/stiff action isn't a big deal anymore. It will still wear you out after a while and I prefer an easier playing guitar, but  it's not a show stopper.
    Michiana, South of the border.
  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 11,954
    @bgebrent: What you do in the privacy of your basement on weekends is none of my concern. 
    He’s got to stay busy since Nichole is doing all of the cooking. 
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,940
    Yes, I've also heard this anecdote. I'm wondering if it was in the bio I read. 
     
    Probably was. I had a friend who was briefly a roadie of SRV before he got big. He sent a demo tape to some other friends' who had a night club, but they couldn't offer enough to make it worthwhile for him to come up from Texas to north Indiana. Sounded kind of like Johnny Winters.

    Some time later, he was home visiting, and brought along an early demo album, which I believe was never released. I wasn't much impressed, as my friend said "the kid sounds like Jimi." It reminded me of a punkier style of Fabulous Thunderbirds. But a few months later, he brought along a cassette, and played Voodoo Child. Jaw, meet floor. Except for the voice, I would have thought it was Jimi.

    I still kick myself. Stevie was playing on Wednesday night in a nearby town, and my friend called and asked if I wanted to go to the show. Being too responsible, I passed 'cause it was a week night/work night. My friend ended up partying w. Stevie till 3 a.m. I asked him how it was. He said it was great, but really couldn't remember anything much more about it.
  • Keep at it but don’t overdo it - burnout stops a lot of people from learning a very rewarding activity. 

    My first chords I teach new players are D - C - G
    you can play a lot of songs with those. 

    Then E - A - B
    you can play a lot more with them. 

    Pick a song you love to sing. One that has guitar as a main instrument. If you want, I’ll post the chords here and you can learn it. Playing what you like is a great motivator. 

    Every song is  is easy to find on the Internet too. 

    And remember to practice
    your guitar face. 
    Very importtant. 

    Rock on!!!
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!


  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 6,340
    Truly appreciated everyone! Thank you!!! 

    Should I be overly concerned to get each cord to sound just right alone or should I focus on strumming the whole note together? I can tell it doesn't sound right when playing the note so I go back to picking each chord and do it over and over. Is that bad or should I keep playing the note over and over even though it's not correct?
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