On Life and Love

Geetars and fruit

I decided a few days ago that I would finally make good use of my guitar. Call it a New Year’s Resolution, since the decision happened to fall on New Year’s. I have a wonderfully cheap little Fender that I got probably my freshman year of high school. I tried half-heartedly to learn at the time, but had trouble forming calluses due to excessive contact with water. Combine that with the fact that the book I had was a folk-song-oriented guide full of songs I’d never heard and using complicated-ass finger picking techniques in lieu of strumming, I gave up pretty quickly.

I haven’t done much serious with it since, except lament the fact that I don’t know how to learn how to play guitar.

That’s really just silly. I should be able to teach myself anything, right? So I found a guide at About.com (of all places!) and have set about it.

The plan? Simple. A session usually includes chromatic scales to get my fingers and wrist in shape, practicing several chords and switching between chords, and using a song or two to practice the art of strumming. Right now, I’m using a couple of Cranberries’ tunes. Progress is equally simple: more chords and more complicated songs. Probably also Cranberries’ songs.

I loathe strumming with a pick. I almost wish I had my folk music book back and could learn the finger plucking style again, because this pick shit is for the birds. Impossible to hold on to, impossible to strum consistently with, and impossible to make sound right (like it does in real songs, in other words), no matter the thickness or sharpness of the pick I try. I just keep hearing each individual string twang horribly and unevenly (even on a well-held chord), particularly on the upstroke. More practice and experimentation is evidently needed.

If I could just grow out my right thumbnail, I’d be set for life! …Probably.

I’m also curious as to how long it will take for calluses to form, and I haven’t been able to find an estimate online. De sooner de better, quite frankly, because my fingers hurt all day now.

Class resume tomorrow at 08:00 (boo–I had an amazing break), but I should still be able to squeeze in half an hour five days a week to practice. Now I just have to hope my roommate won’t mind.


  • Luke

    Yo. Now the pick can create a better sound in my opinion. Plus, do you really want to have a long thumbnail that is slightly weird looking?

    Calluses will build up depending on just how often you practice and how long it takes you skin to die off and build up. It’s different for everyone. Good luck.

  • Arka

    Of COURSE she wants to have a long thumbnail that is slightly weird looking!

    If you’re practicing 5×30 minutes a week, you should *start* to see a change between 2 and 4 weeks out. If not, you may not be able to form calluses (but it’s more likely that my estimates are skewed by years of teaching primarily students under the age of 10).

  • Lissa

    You guys are insane. *laugh*

    I’m really doing Cranberries songs, but they don’t sound much like songs right now, of course. I’m mostly just working on recognizing and mentally associating the chords as being parts of the songs I love.

    Thanks for the callus-formation time estimate, Arka. Even if you’re not quite right, I’ll know to be more patient than expecting something to change within the first week or so.

    I am tempted to try to grow out the fingernail. I think the sound would be more… organic. Less plucky and plasticky. Or something. I could be wrong.