Picking up my Own Guitar

Category : Guitar
Date : September 4, 2023

When I first started learning guitar, back in January 2022, I started playing with a very old Ibanez. It felt ok and, really, I wasn’t sure that I would stick with it so using that old thing was a low risk way to see how far I could go. I was tempted to get a new one but I just promised myself that if I was still playing and enjoying it after a year, well then I could justify getting my own guitar.

It turned out using that old guitar actually held me back a little. So, yeah, I probably would not have started playing without it but, on the other hand, I probably would have gone farther faster with a better guitar. As I mentioned in my last post, I managed to borrow a Fender Tele when I figured that out after about 8 months. That was a great guitar to practice with and by then I knew that I was going to keep at it. So over the next few months I researched what guitar I would get when I hit that 1 year mark.

Elvis Costello - My Aim is True album cover

I ended up getting a Fender Jaguar.

I’m still not sure why I landed on getting an offset guitar. I think (although TBH I’m not sure) it’s because I’m a big Elvis Costello fan and he has played a Jazzmaster since forever. You can see it front and center on the album cover for “My Aim is True”, his debut album. I guess somewhere in the back of my brain that offset shape imprinted on me early. I didn’t even make the connection until someone pointed it out and then it was, well duh, of course he did.

Fender Squier Contemporary Jaguar guitar
Squier Jaguar

So yeah, around mid-January 2023 I got a Jaguar. More specifically I got a Fender Squier Contemporary Jaguar HH ST in Skyburst Metallic. I did look at the Jazzmaster but the whammy bar seemed like too much and I’d heard that they tend to make it hard to stay in tune.

I ordered from Sylvan Music, a music shop in nearby Santa Cruz that is a Fender dealer. They seemed to be really knowledgeable and friendly. And by friendly, I mean that they did not laugh at me when I asked stupid questions. What? You need a strap to play? Oh, you didn’t bring a pick? No problem; here you go.

They just handed me the guitar and let go off to a small quiet room to play with it for as long as I needed to. That was different from the experience I had when shopping at the massive Guitar Center in San Jose. Just walking around looking at that wall of guitars and having to play in the middle of dozens of other people that seemed so obviously much better players that I was, was just too intimidating for me. I walked out without having touched a guitar.

The Jaguar is a great guitar. I love the sound. I love the feel. I love the look. I leave it on a guitar stand in my home office so that it’s always ready for me to pick up and play. I wish I did that more but I do it enough that I feel like I’m making progress.

Picking up a decent guitar

Category : Guitar
Date : August 6, 2023

In my last post I mentioned that that my son didn’t think that his old Ibanez guitar was really worth much. I was fine with that. I promised myself that if I kept at it for at least a year then I’d buy myself a new guitar. I kind of ignored what my son told me about the Ibanez needing a fret job. I could see that the frets were worn but in my mind I figured that, as a beginner, it didn’t really didn’t really matter. I mean, when you first start playing you’re not supposed to sound great, right? I plowed through the Justin Guitar beginner course and started to be able to play a few chords. I could hear the chords didn’t sound great; there was lots of buzzing. I didn’t mind.

And then in September 2022, my wife and I visited my son and I got a chance to play his new guitar. It was a super low end Epiphone Les Paul (like a $150 guitar) but it shocked me. It was just so much easier to play that one than it was to play the old Ibanez. I think I had been pressing down on the strings much harder than was needed in order to compensate for the worn down frets. That made it harder and more painful to play. I think it also slowed me down a bunch. It took me just a few minutes to realize that I had been working a lot harder than was really needed. It seemed obvious that I needed to replace the Ibanez.

When I got back from that trip I asked Zack, a good friend of mine, who has been playing guitar for years if he could lend me a guitar for a few months. I still wasn’t sure if a different guitar was going to make a big difference and I wasn’t ready to go out and buy new one yet. Zack came through; he lent me a Squier Telecaster. A sweet looking one in Butterscotch Blonde. It sounded great!

When I started playing the Tele it became pretty obvious that I had missed stuff while struggling to learn on the worn Ibanez. I skipped back a few lessons in the Justin Guitar course. It never feels good to do stuff over but this was different. Stuff that I had struggled with got a little easier. Lesson learned! don’t play shitty guitars.

Picking up the guitar

Category : Guitar
Date : July 30, 2023

About 18 months ago I started learning to play the guitar.

I’ve wanted to learn how to play since I was a kid but I could never justify to myself buying a guitar, as it always felt like a whim that I would get over. And then, when I quit, I’d have a guitar sitting in a closet mocking me every time I noticed it.

Ibanez RX-20 guitar
Ibanez RX-20

My son visited us in December 2021. He drove down from B.C. in order to grab a bunch of his stuff to take home with him. He had left a couple guitars with us when he went off to college and when he left this time he took the acoustic guitar with him but decided against taking the electric. He asked that we give it away as he felt it was not worth much.

And that was it. I had a free guitar. A guilt-free guitar that I could use. The guitar he left me was a Ibanez RX-20. It’s a nice looking guitar; basically a Fender Stratocaster knock-off with dual humbucker pickups. Using the serial number I was able to figure out that it was built in Korea by Cort in 1994. None of that mattered. What mattered was that it was enough to get me going.

I did some basic research online and with friends and found many mentions of Justin Sandercoe’s excellent justinguitar.com. So, since sometime in early 2022, I’ve been working my way through the free guitar course there.

It has been slow going and I’ve had to reset a couple of times but I’ll leave that for future posts.

Start your own guitar journey here: https://www.justinguitar.com

Posting again

Category : Guitar, Personal
Date : July 30, 2023

I haven’t posted on this blog since 2015. I recently started learning to play guitar and this feels like the right place to post about that. So kind of a learning log of sorts.

So, yeah, there’ll be more posts here but they will not be technology focused.