I’ve been more or less trying (mostly less) to learn the guitar for, oh, five or six years now. I bought a basic steel string acoustic I affectionately dubbed Big Bertha and signed up for lessons from an ex-rocker, but was having a lot of trouble reaching things on the acoustic (I have short arms). The instructor suggested I get an electric guitar to learn on since they are so much smaller, so I bought a pretty little locally-made one and took a few more lessons. Booooring!
I don’t want to be a rock star. I really just want to be able to strum some chords and sing along at campfires, maybe pick out some fun folk songs that would horrify my teenagers. The lessons were not keeping my attention and I did what most people would do: I quit. The guitars have been hanging out ever since; now and then I would tune one up and strum a C chord (the only one I could remember), but mostly they gathered dust.
Saturday I took a one-hour class at a Girl Scout event on campfire-style guitar. Super simple, no metronome or complicated fingering exercises or reading music – just some familiar songs with easy chords. Now that’s what I’m talking about! I also realized that an electric guitar is fairly lousy for camp songs, so I pulled Big Bertha off the wall and dusted her off. My fingers felt gross after just a few minutes, so I picked up a new set of string in an extra-light gauge (my fingers were still sore from Saturday) from Emerald City Guitars. Got her all strung up and tuned.
(old, corroded strings on top and shiny new strings on bottom)
I strummed along very, very slowly to a couple easy songs, working my way through A, C, E, and D chords before trying G, F, and Dm. I printed out a basic chord chart, and tonight I will find the music books I bought years ago and see which songs catch my eye.
My fingers aren’t as sore today, and I think if I can give it ten or fifteen minutes most evenings I can accomplish what I was looking for all along. I do think I need a smaller acoustic (still have short arms, plus those pesky female frontal protuberances) and I think I will sell the electric guitar to fund one. There’s no shortage of beautiful made-for-women guitars out there.
Who knows – by summer maybe I can lead our scouts in a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.