Topic: Some "simple" questions

Howdy all,

I own a Johnson JG-100 student guitar with Martin extra light strings. I got it for Christmas and started lessons in January of 09. I stopped my lessons in July and may or may not go back in September. I have never played guitar before. My basic goal in January was to learn about it well enough to be able to pick it up and strum a few songs. I have accomplished that. I know some basic chords and can play a handful of tunes by my favorite band The Old 97’s. But of course I would like to learn more.

If I go back to lessons my instructor can continue on with teaching music theory(not such a bad thing) plus help me with basic questions and be a supportive coach/trainer.

Anyway, here are the simple questions:

When we play acoustic guitar I understand we are strumming the tune and we are not the lead guitar. Are there any lead acoustic guitar players out there? It seems like it is more satisfying to kick out some chords and sing along to your favorite songs. Later on when I get a lot better can I try to throw in some cool lead guitar tricks to make the tune pop?

Is there a way to play an acoustic guitar soft and quiet but still get vibrant sound? Last night I was trying to play soft as to not wake up the house and found I could hear the pick hitting against the strings sort of muffling the sound. Am I doing something wrong? I would like to try to be the quiet playing guitar at the campfire instead of the loud overpowering guy. Not sure if this is possible.

Am I holding my pick the wrong way? I usually hold it loose but last night I was holding it tight and making a hard connection against the strings. That’s probably wrong. I remember my instructor telling me it should be like a boat going across the water. But again I was going for a soft sound and it just didn’t sound right.

Thanks for listening.

Re: Some "simple" questions

We I'll tell you I've been at it for about 3 - 4 yrs now, practicing some almost daily, and I can still not play anything that would be considered "lead" guitar. So I can't help you there.  As far as playing softly... try just using your fingers. It will sound dull at first, but soon you will not even notice. I almost never play with a pick, beause.. I can never find one when I need it, It drops out of  my hand all the time (often into the sound hole) and its very slow, meaning its very hard to pick individual strings quickly with a pick (unless you are a really good player). I just hold my finger and thumb together as though I had a pick in it. Your index nail then gives a bit a brighter tone, and you can alternate hitting the Low E/A and D strings as needed to accentuate the base line as you play. It also frees your middle finger to pluck the higher strings as you see fit. I really like this psuedo-finger picking style, and it keep the house from being awakened in the night with too much volume.

Re: Some "simple" questions

hi try to pick out some of the strings when you are playing a chord, arpedgio ?, it will give you a lead like sound under your chord, also try some quick up strums.
It is possable the play any guitar alone, but you will have to fill out the sound to make it interesting, it is only trial and error, if it sounds right to you it is good.
Lastly regarding sound levels, I moved to an eletric guitar, and the next day my wife got me a set of headphones, now when I play it is only me who hears it.

man is the dream of the doliphin

Re: Some "simple" questions

I think lessons to those that can afford them are very worth while because you learn so much more. Music theory is very useful and needed to understand all of the aspects of playing guitar. Now as for the lead playing. There are many lead pickers that play acoustic. Alot of fingerstyle players are concidered as lead players. Playing scales up and down the neck helps to gain the "lead" style of playing. As for the volume of play try using a thinner pick like a .50 or smaller for strumming and even picking to lighten the volume. Just hold it with a firm but not too firm grip and use a lighter attack and you should be ok not to wake anyone.

Re: Some "simple" questions

To this question: "Are there any lead acoustic guitar players out there? It seems like it is more satisfying to kick out some chords and sing along to your favorite songs. Later on when I get a lot better can I try to throw in some cool lead guitar tricks to make the tune pop?"

We had a little jamm session at my house a few months ago with Jets60, Detman101 and I.  We all had very different style of playing.  I fingerpick and use the bass notes to drive the music (I'm a reformed bassist), Jets60 strums softly and sings softer and maintains a wonderful rhythm, but Detman101 played just exactly the way you asked about.  He was pulling lead licks out on songs he'd never heard before, just by getting into the chord progression and applying his knowledge of scales, arpeggios, and inversions over the chords in the structure.  He did it all by ear, and did it all the first time through on the songs.  So, if you want advice on how to do what you ask, I'd suggest that you learn your scales well and how to pick a melody out of the scale just as Detman101 did it. has a video lesson on that very thing on his web-site.  I just started using the lesson this week (I'm a slow learner, should have done it the very afternoon Detman101 showed off the versatility of this style of playing), so I can't really speak to how well it will work over time.  But it's out there, and it's free, and Justin is a terrific instructor.

- Zurf

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Some "simple" questions

I'm a newbie... but from all the WATCHING I've done, you certianly can put a few "lead tricks" in there.  Here's an OVER THE TOP example.
Now mind you, this guy is a classical guitar player (absolutely beautiful music)... but if you look up Eric Clapton you'll see that he's just strumming along in his concerts and someone else is playing the melody... then come back to this classical player, he's doing it ALL at once.  So certianly you "could" find a way to add a little finger picking melody into your strumming.  But... again, I don't know what I'm doing yet... I just think this is an awesome example of what could be done.  And, I found this guy yesterday and became just awed by his playing.

I'm just starting out, but I like the sound of my fingers on the strings more than the pick... however when practicing to learn my chords with my son next to me picking out notes (with a pick) I find I can't hear past his volume... so... fingers deff more quiet than a pick!!  smile

Art and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.
What constitutes excellent music is in the ears of the listener.