Topic: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hello all, my name is Tony and I am a new member.  I retired this year and I am 62 years old and trying to teach myself to play the acoustic guitar.  Being on a limited budget I bought a $100 guitar to learn on.  I have had my guitar for about 3 weeks.  I would like to learn a few simple songs to at least prove to my wife that I'm not totally crazy trying to learn to play at my age.  I have also wasted money on two EZ-Chord guitar plastic slider things.  One screws onto the neck and the other slides up and down the neck.  After trying them both I realize that I am not really playing guitar using these things.  My problem is changing chords.  I have tried some simple two chord songs.  ( Tom Dooley and Ring of fire )  I can't seem to get my fingers to change cords without getting dead sounding notes.  I have been reading everything I can get my hands on that's free on the Internet about playing guitar.  I found your forum doing a google search.  I was wondering if my problem could be because my guitar has steel strings.  Should I change my strings to nylon to learn?  I live in a small town and we don't have a music store close by.  I was wondering about adjusting my strings lower so they will easier to press. 

Can someone please help me and suggest how I can speed up my chord changing problem?  I know I have asked a lot of questions in one topic and I'm sorry I just want to learn to play something that sounds like a real song.


tonyespo / 63 year old NEWBEE

I better learn to play fast, I'm already an old fart.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hi Tony,

Welcome to the great Chordie community!!!!

We were all in your shoes when we started. How do I get this "thing" called a guitar to make pretty sounds?
It sounds like your looking in all the right places, but you won't find anything to advance your playing except for PRACTICE. If your having trouble with chord changes then that is what you need to focus on right now. Pick 2 chords like the ones from the songs you were trying out. Start slow and keep repeating the change until it rings true. Then speed up a little at a time. It doesn't come overnight, but the more time you put in, the faster you should advance.

As far as strings, steel strings are harder to learn on, but will toughen up your fingers quicker. Try changing to light or xtra light strings, these will be easier to fret as you don't have to push down as hard. I don't have any experience with nylon strings.


Keep Rockin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Keep Rockin!!!!!!!!!!!

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Welcome Tony and congratulations on the best decision youve ever made ( well maybe ,nearly )
yes practice , practice practice and at about 6 months you will go wow Im playing a tune. Just push through the early times and the days where you want to wrap it round a tree, ( I still have them occasionally ) and you will get exponentionally better and the better you get the more you want to play ..but keep at it ..please!!! smile

A five yr old could understand this. Somebody fetch a five yr old !
Groucho Marx

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

When you fret a note, make sure to press down just behind the fret. Not in the middle of the frets or closer to the tuning pegs. Get right behind the fret. thats the sweet spot. Another thing you can do to ease your pain on the finger tips is to tune your guitar down a half step. That way there is less string tension. As the callouses form on your fingers start to bring it back up to pitch. Its hard at first but keep switching between your two chords, the more you switch the stronger your fingers will get, the harder your callouses will become, and your muscles will start to remember where the notes of the chords are. Hold the guitar neck with your thumb centered on the back of the neck. That way your fingers will curl around and come straight down onto the fretboard. If you are holding the neck like a baseball bat, with your thumb resting on top your fingers will come across the neck and mute strings that you want to ring out.  Good luck, don't give up! It is very hard but it is very rewarding. Welcome to Chordie, let us know how you progress.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Thank you so much for the FAST and detailed replies.  I have no intention of giving up and I know I will get a great deal of knowledge from this forum. I look forward to the day when I can give advice to a new member, as you all have been kind enough to do for me.

tonyespo / 63 year old NEWBEE

I better learn to play fast, I'm already an old fart.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Welcome to Chordie Tony!

  Hang in there, stick with it and you will get a lot of enjoyment out of the journey.
This is a good bunch of folks to get to know with valuable advise and encouragement to share.  Don't be a stranger!

  There is a good collection of members right around the corner from you there in NC that I'm sure you'll get acquainted with shortly.

Take Care;

"what is this quintessence of dust?"  - Shakespeare

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Welcome Tony.

What the others have said is spot on...we've all been where you are now. If I can add my two cents worth; be prepared for the 'plateaus', in other words those times when you don't feel you're making any progress. This happens to most of us at various stages, just stick at it and work through those times  and all of a sudden you find yourself moving forward again.

Welcome again to Chordie and may I say you've come across a gold mine here. Stacks of very knowledgeable people with lots of good information.



We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an is a habit.        Aristotle

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Heya Tony and Welcome,

Your never too old to take on a great relaxing, stress relieving hobby like guitar. Once you get your chord changes down you can start making music and enjoying yourself.
Most folks start with 3 chord songs so first thing you need to work on is chord progressions. Practice your G C D chords and you will have to be able to go from G to C  and G to D    D to C and  C to D   when you can make these chord changes move on to another key.

Key of     G    Chords G C D        relative minor chord  Em
Key of     D    Chords D  A G        relative minor chord  Bm
Key of     A     Chords  A D E        relative minor chord  F#m
Key of     C     Chords  C F  G       relative minor chord  Am

A lot of songs have a minor chord added and the relative minor of the major chord is most likely where they will show up in a song.

A 72 year old lady contacted me recently and had some questions and let me know she had just taken on guitar and she is doing very well after a couple months smile

Later, Wayne P

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Welcome to the forum Tonyespo!  I picked up the guitar in the end of August 2009 ... I found Chordie within my first few days.  Clearly, you know you'll get a lot of value from this site... everyone here is AWESOME, and we're like a little family.  I started with my husband's steel string and after a few weeks of practicing he saw I had some potential... our anniversary came and he bought me  the nylon string (classical) guitar that I picked out in the store.  I will say... those steel strings HURT my fingers... but I did build up callouses very very fast.  Now that I've been playing my classical a while, I still have callouses.. BUT I can feel thru them (they are not HUGE callouses like I was getting with the steel).  Now... I'd say offhand that nylon is easier... BUT, I've picked up a few steel strings that were really nice and easy to play.  So in my opinion, the cheaper the steel string guitar the harder it might be to fret.. but you CAN DO IT!  It does come down to action, strings, fret height, etc... but if I could do it on a crappy wal-mart bought guitar with soft girlie hands, I'm sure you can with some practice.  smile

What all the guys said is true of course.  Grab those two chords and just practice going back and forth.  You will eventually get faster and more accurate as you continue to practice!  Also... for starting out, I highly suggest checking out - it's a free video tutorial site that will lead you through the beginnings, beginner chords, and practice exercises (including finger stretching... which I think was helpful for me in the beginning).  He's got a ton of advanced stuff on there too, but absolutely led me thru the beginnings of picking up the guitar in a way that other's could not.  Of course you can donate if you like, but everything is free with no need to give out your contact info. 

Good luck... and soon you will be giving out advise too!  smile

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

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hey Tonyespo!  I was pretty much in the same place as you.  I retired and decided it was something I always wanted to accomplish, so I picked up my 30 year old Fender accoustic and started learning chords.  Doning internet searches brought me here where I found the music.  Got the fingers toughened up, moved to lighter guage strings and spend some time each and every day with the guitar.  I just recently ordered myself a brand new guitar and can say I am having FUN with my music, (or at least my version of it)  Good Luck, stay with it!  Once I realized it was for MY enjoyment and quit worrying about what others thought I have progressed.  I still am thinking about taking some lessons to learn a couple of things I struggle with, but this site provides alot of info and some pretty supportive people.  I don't post much, but I sure like to read the posts of others as reinforcement.  Wish you well!

Find a Path or Make One    This is a motto I have been following my entire life and one I am currently using with my music.
Big Jim from Ashville Ohio

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hi Tony,
welcome to chordie. Keep at it. It wasn't until i got my new guitar recently and the man in the shop changed the action on it for me that i realised how hard my 2 previous guitars were to play and i have been trying to teach myself for the last 10 years!! Slow progress is better than no progress at all. As well as chordie i have also found justinguitar videos very helpful.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hey Tony.  Welcome bud.  You're never too old.  I am almost your age but started much earlier.  As everyone says, practice, practice.  In the beginning it is two things:  hand and finger strength is what holds the strings down hard enough so the strings don't sound dead or vibrate, and finger memory is what you get with time that allows your fingers to automatically hold down the right strings in the right frets to form a chord.  Both of these things will get better in time.  Start with your two chords and practice moving between them and when that gets easier, add other chords.  Lots of practice.  Good luck and let us know as you go.  We'll be rooting for you.

You can see all my video covers on [url][/url]
I have finally found happiness in my life.  Guitars, singing, beer and camping.  And they all intertwine wonderfully.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

You'll get there. 

Pick out a song you like, and then learn all the chords in it.  Then, learn to get from on chord to the next.  Then, once you've got that, try doing it in time with a steady beat.  Slow the beat down as slow as you have to to be able to make the chord changes in time.  Then, as your fingers learn the muscle memory and grow in strength, you will get faster.  It takes a LOT of times of repitition at first.  But, after you get the first three or four songs down the next ones come easier.  I don't think it ever gets easy, except for some fortunate few. 

Have fun and enjoy yourself. 

- Zurf

p.s.  I've got a $100 guitar too.  It plays just fine.

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: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hey Tony.

Good for you to start a very fun (and it has to be for fun) activity. We all went through the dead sounding chords the sore fingers and the streched out muscles. The only way to get good at the axe play is to Practice practice practice. I have been playing in bands and in church for 30 years and I still have to practice everyday.

The responses you  have received are all dead on. You can't give up. When you do find the right position and the right feel the rest will take care of itself.

After thirty years I still use my first guitard (hand me down) to practice with. after that I when I use a good guitar it seems easy.  (seems Easy) it never gets easy. butit's always fun.

Rock and/or Roll.  :Cool:

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Nothing to add, just want to welcome Tony and Sttickman to the forum.

Like others have said, hang in there and practice, practice..... If you can get past the finger pain and develop some callouses, you are already ahead of the vast majority of beginner guitarists that give up because of the finger pain.

Rule No. 1 - If it sounds good - it is good!

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hiya Tony

Lots of good advice above and I'd add my little bit to this - it might help

The first thing I've found it really helpful is finding other people to play/sing with. Lots of help and mutual support and much more fun than hours of practice alone. If you don’t like to sing, find someone who likes to sing but can’t play anything.

Secondly, try using other tunings. I know that sounds scary because nearly all the books and instruction DVD’s play in a standard tuning. A good one to start with is a “Drop D† tuning. You lower the bass E string down to D. You can then try playing any three chord song using

D - the standard chord shape and you get a great sounding bass note  0 0 0 2 3 2
A – play an A7 instead    X 0 2 0 2 0   The X means don’t play the D bass string
G – use just two fingers at the 5th fret    5 5 0 0 0 0

You can also use a capo to change the key. Lots of folk songs use these chords or how about Eddie Cochrane’s - Summertime Blues. There are thousands of songs based on three chords.

My thoughts are that I want to use the guitar as a backing for playing songs and to do that, I don’t need or want to be a great guitarist, After all, Chordie is full of songs not guitar pieces.

If you want a bit of support, feel free to email me via the website
Good luck and keep at it. It does get easier.

My acoustic trio Website

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

First I want to say that this Chordie forum is fantastic.  I can't believe all the feedback I have received in such a short amount of time.  I am reading every reply and taking notes.  I don't intend on giving up.  I don't have a problem with it taking a long time and some pain to learn.  I promised myself that I would play Silent Night by next Christmas.  That is my goal and I plan on doing it and video recording it.  Thanks so much to everyone who offers advice and encouragement.

tonyespo / 63 year old NEWBEE

I better learn to play fast, I'm already an old fart.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

That is another important aspect of learning you mentioned there, Tony.  Do set a few goals once in awhile.  If you notice, we all tell a story a little differently, some you may comprehend, some you may not so well.  That is the beauty of Chordie, listen to everyone and use what advice suits you.  You will learn and you will be playing Silent Night before next Christmas, if you don't get tired of it before then.  When I try to learn a new song, I usually do get tired of it by the time I have it down, but just take a break for a few weeks and it will come back naturally when you are ready.

You can see all my video covers on [url][/url]
I have finally found happiness in my life.  Guitars, singing, beer and camping.  And they all intertwine wonderfully.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hi, Tony.  I'm a relative newbie myself (< 1 year).

One thing I've found useful that I don't think anyone else has mentioned is that there are thousands of guitar lessons on  Pick a song you like, then type the name of the song and GUITAR LESSON in the search engine and odds are good that somebody has posted a video of how to play some version or variation of that song.  There are also loads of tips for beginners, which you can find by searching for something like BEGINNER GUITAR LESSONS.

Another good youtube site is Justin Sandercoe's channel.  It's a gold mine: … p;rclk=cti

Ditto everyone's comments above about practice, plateuas, practice, toughening your fingers, practice, fretting, practice and practice.

Before you know it you'll be playing and singing love songs to your wife, and she will think twice before calling you crazy.

Peace out,

"Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." - Despair, Inc.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Welcome to Chordie, Tony - you've found a good place!
My only tip to add, is that if you don't already have an electronic tuner, then get one asap! Use it every time you practise - your guitar will sound so much better, & you will find that you can play along with music on CD's/radio.
Best of luck - the more you practise, the luckier you will get!

" Old Guy is Rocking"
Simon & Patrick Pro Flamed Maple (mmm, nice...)
Norman ST68 acoustic

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hi thing I don't think anyone has mentioned...sometimes the cheaper guitars people try to learn on are set up so poorly that even someone who's been playing for awhile may have trouble making chords sound good without buzzing etc.  You may want to have a luthier look at your guitar to see if the action is too high, or if it can be set up so that it's easier to play.  If you are able to buy a better beginner guitar you might look at the Zager EZ Play.  They are no longer in production, but sometimes you can find a good deal on one on ebay.  They are very nicely made guitars and are set up specifically for the beginner.   Keep strumin!

22 (edited by steve donegan 2010-02-02 20:04:17)

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hi Tony.  Post 21  Lovemymartins advice is spot on.  The action on some of the cheaper guitars is set up terrible.  The strings are too high above the fret board, which causes the muting of other strings when forming chords. Once set up properly you will learn a great deal quicker guaranteed (no more muting).
i have adjusted the action on two friends £80 guitars recently and they now play sweet.  it is something you can do yourself, the info is on the WWW and its really simple.  Or a visit to your local shop and they should sort the problem out for under £30.

As to the other advice, practice practice practice, totally correct. I am a newbie myself and totally enjoying the experience. would like to stay in touch and swap experiences if you are interested and any other newbies who are reading this.

My biggest problem to date is the strumming.  I am left handed but my wife purchased a right hand guitar so i stuck with it.  the only reason being if I go to a party and there is a guitar there, the chances are its a right handed guitar.  it feels totally alien but im sticking with it.  first song House of the rising sun.

Good luck and hope to hear from you.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Steve, if you check this topic in Guitars and Accessories you will see a whole page of comments about the guitar setup that I am attempting right now with the help of PIX a forum member.  Thanks for your reply.


tonyespo / 63 year old NEWBEE

I better learn to play fast, I'm already an old fart.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

How great is this forum???  I posted my info about learning to play and teaching myself.  I have received so many great replies and emails.  PIX has sent me many emails to help me set up my guitar so I can learn without getting so depressed.  I sent an email to Mekidsmom asking her for the names of a couple of songs that she found easy to learn in the beginning.  I was not prepared for the reply MEK sent me.  I got a well written, detailed, email with song names, the reason they were chosen, links to them, and more.  I know it has taken PIX a long time to just email me all the help he has given me.  ( and we aren't finished yet ).  I know it took MEK a long time to compose her thoughtful, detailed, email.

I belong to a few other forums, but NONE of them is of the quality that I have found at Chordie.  The members here are the best and I am honored to be a member of this forum.  I also pledge that when I learn and have something of use that I can share with a new member that I will return the favors that have been given to me.

Thank you everyone for all you do.

tonyespo / 63 year old NEWBEE

I better learn to play fast, I'm already an old fart.

Re: 62 year old trying to teach myself Guitar

Hi again Tony, any chance of forwarding that e-mail from Mekidsmom to me.  Im in a similar situaton to yourself when it comes to help, everybody here speaks German lol.  ive sort of got the chords of to a pattern, just now need some songs to bring it all together.

Hows the guitar action now, mine is so much easier to play after i adjusted it?

Thanks in anticipation