Serious help needed from any guitarist

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gwaithcoed

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I am 85 years old and my daughters decided that i need to keep my brain going so they bought me a guitar. WHY ? Well you listen to country and western and we thought it a good idea. Because I am left handed they bought me a left handed guitar. I have to much arthritis in my right hand so that was a no no. I got the bits and pieces off the net and changed it to right hand but still cant get my fingers to do as they are told.
I looked on the net for a device to play chords called a chordbuddy but it does not work. I've watched professional guitarists demonstrate it and it seemed to be ok. The price I paid for this device was only a few pounds so I think it is poor copy.
Has anyone used a genuine chordbuddy? Does it work? and where could I buy a genuine one. I would love to be able to strum something just to prove I'm not yet senile. :unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure:
Alan
 
I am 85 years old and my daughters decided that i need to keep my brain going so they bought me a guitar. WHY ? Well you listen to country and western and we thought it a good idea. Because I am left handed they bought me a left handed guitar. I have to much arthritis in my right hand so that was a no no. I got the bits and pieces off the net and changed it to right hand but still cant get my fingers to do as they are told.
I looked on the net for a device to play chords called a chordbuddy but it does not work. I've watched professional guitarists demonstrate it and it seemed to be ok. The price I paid for this device was only a few pounds so I think it is poor copy.
Has anyone used a genuine chordbuddy? Does it work? and where could I buy a genuine one. I would love to be able to strum something just to prove I'm not yet senile. :unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure:
Alan
Just google guitar chords there's thousands of free offerings, no need to pay for anything.
Easier to get started if you just look at 4 string chords at first on 1,2,3,4th strings. Leave the bass strings until you are ready.
Perhaps stick to C, F, G7 for starters and find tunes to match - there are thousands! Don't try too hard, stick with making simple stuff sound OK before you move on.
Country& Western means plectrum in your right hand so that should help with your arthritis. Being left handed might even be an advantage as the left hand work is more complicated
85 good age to start learning guitar, it's never too late! I'm only 78 and have just started on trumpet and cornet, coming along nicely!
This looks good The Easy Country Fake Book - Over 100 Songs in the Key of “C” Hal Leonard Online
 
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If you've never played guitar before I'd suggest trying to follow along to some songs with just a single note at a time as though you are playing the bass guitar, rather than full chords. It will help you begin to get you moving and playing along with some songs faster which will hopefully inspire you to continue.

Something simple like 'Knocking on heaven's door' (prob the only country song I know) is just G - D - A then G - D - C so you can just mute the other strings and play those notes along with the music and work on timing etc

I've never used a chordbuddy type thing so can't advise on that sorry.

Something I have never tried myself but might be something that works for you is slide guitar. If you find you are having trouble holding a chord shape I wonder if this would be a way around it. You need to tune the guitar differently and have a 'slide'. Might be worth a thought.

This guy is really good and has loads of lessons (not just slide)

 
I teach guitar so am biased but nothing will beat one to one tuition with a teacher who understands your needs, youtube is not an ideal way of learning an instrument, a tutor can read you like a book in real time as you actually play and correct mistakes.
 
Thankyou for your quick replies but my problem is that I cannot physically get my fingers on to the strings. .The guitarbuddy is a gizmo that clamps on to the neck of the guitar and allows you to press colour coded buttons to play G,C,D,and Em chords by just pressing the correct coloured button. I know I will never be able to play a guitar as it is meant to be played but I would like to get a tune out of it that doesn't sound like I'm killing the cat. :):):)

Alan.
 
Maybe look at lap/pedal steel guitar, or failing that, there are alterntive tunings that could allow you to play with much simplified fretting. Django Rheinhart played with a fire-damaged left hand, but managed to work around it to great effect. If you literally can't get your fingers onto the strings, then a slide or steel playing style might be the only solution.
 
If you Google 'guitar playing and arthritis' (without the quotes), there are lots of suggestions. Browse a few of them and see if any appeal. Some of them are probably more useful for someone who knows how to play and has developed arthritis rather than a beginner.
 
I don't know about the Chord Buddy, but similar devices I've seen still require pressing down. And none have ever worked well!

Can you use one finger to hold down all the strings at a fret?

If so, tune the guitar to an open chord, D G D G B D works using the existing strings. Your standard country song has three chords - open (unfretted), 5th fret, and 7th fret.

Those chords are G, C and D.

A song in C, F, G needs frets 5, 10 and 0 (or 12).

That could be most country songs in major keys (minor you can't do).

If the song has 4 chords, as some do, if you learn the chords at each fret you can work out where to fret.

In this tuning, from frets 0 (open) to 12 they are:

0 G
1 G# or Ab
2 A
3 A# or Bb
4 B
5 C
6 C# or Db
7 D
8 D# or Eb
9 E
10 F
11 F# or Gb
12 G (again)

You can also tune D A D F# A D, which makes the open chord a D. However, your C chord is now up on fret 10, which can be hard work.

If this works, have fun!
 
Right. I didn't know what a Chord Buddy was! Looks a very dodgy gadget to me!
I wouldn't bother with guitar - if you can press keys why not go for a keyboard? - electric piano etc which come in all shapes and sizes, some with guitar sounding chords, all sorts of effects and facilities, built in lessons even.
 
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I have all kinds of guitars, probably the easiest to play is a classical one as it's lower tension and not as hard on the hands but has a slightly wider fretboard which for some people means there's more room, esp if you string it with low tension strings, that could be another option.
 
Maybe look at lap/pedal steel guitar, or failing that, there are alterntive tunings that could allow you to play with much simplified fretting. Django Rheinhart played with a fire-damaged left hand, but managed to work around it to great effect. If you literally can't get your fingers onto the strings, then a slide or steel playing style might be the only solution.
I concur with John - a lot of arthritic guitarists move to lap steel / slide guitar, and it's perfectly suited for country music. You can buy a nut raiser for a few pounds from the usual ecommerce sites - it goes over the nut on your guitar to raise the string height to make it suitable for slide playing, and will allow you to use your guitar left or right handed as you prefer. Also, lots of instructional videos on slide playing on YouTube.
 
Slide is the way to go.you play without tying fingers in a knot .some of mine will not do what their told😀.
Tony
 
Hi Alan,

Just my 2 cents as somebody who played for quite a while and is interested in musical pedagogy.

First of all, congratulations on wanting to learn something new, that is always a great start.
Of course, your fingers are not the same as they were in your youth, however even if you were 15 and strong as a bull, I would expect you to be putting way too much pressure on the strings, way more than required.
In other words, there is a chance that your fingers might be after all strong enough to form chords, but you might lack the technique to use them properly.
As a beginner, or even as an experienced player who never thought of doing it otherwise, the most logical thing is to put pressure on the back of the neck with the thumb, and then a bunch of pressure on the strings with the fingers. Essentially a death grip.
This is not the most effective way of playing though.
The pressure I put on my thumb is generally little, and I pull my arm back gently, which allows my fingers to put enough pressure on the strings without straining my tendons. At least, when playing the kind of chords you would need to play for your style of choice.
However, this works if you are holding the guitar well, so that it rests against your body and requires no help from your fingering hand to stay where it need to be.

Also, even as a young beginner, you would be putting lots more force because you would not know how to apply it precisely. The required point of contact between fingers and strings is in reality very small, and the smaller the area, the more a small force will achieve. Essentially it is the same difference between using a blunt blade or a very sharp one in woodworking.

There are examples of guitar players with severe fingers issues, such as Django Reinhardt, who managed nonetheless to do stuff that most young people with perfectly working joints will never achieve. So, with patience, there are ways. And patience is a requirement for anybody wanting to learn to make some music.

Also, there are a few points worth nothing:
- The open strings chords which are normally taught for country styles sounds big but are actually the same three notes repeated twice on 6 strings. This means that it is possible to play them partially (on less strings with less fingers) and still get a similar, or sometimes better, result.
- There are way to play enough chords for a full song by essentially only moving one or two fingers at time, rather than removing all fingers and reposition them, which is the bane of beginners.
- As pointed out in another answer, some guitars are easier for playing simple chords. The easiest guitar is generally an electric guitar, because the neck is narrow and the pressure required on the strings is very light. Classical guitars are easy as for finger pressure required, however the neck is also typically quite wide and they do not sound great when strummed with a pick, acoustic guitars are a bit more challenging as for string pressure required, but again with the right technique it is not a dramatic obstacle.
Another approach is playing slide guitar, which essentially require limited fingering and relies on sliding a metal or glass tube on the strings, placing it where the frets are to play that notes. It can make for a beautiful, haunting sound, it requires tuning the guitar in alternative ways but also it requires very good ear to produce well tuned notes, unlike normal guitar playing.
- Becoming able to play does not happen overnight, neither at 83 nor at 38. Our brain and body needs to get it, and that happens with constant, if not necessarily intensive, practise. So, if you can keep your guitar at hand somewhere where you can grab it for 10 minutes whenever you have time and feel physically fine, if you manage a total of 20-30 minutes , 5 times per week, you should see results relatively quickly. But you need to be patient with yourself, your skills of today are not a reflection of your skills of tomorrow.

I am not familiar with the gizmo you mention. I guess it could work, but with patience, and the right approach, your fingers might to.

Well. if you are determined playing the instrument you were gifted, this is pretty much all I can suggest.
All I can offer, if you think it might be useful to you, are one or two lessons in videochat, free of charge of course, to help you figure out how you could proceed.
They would be about the things I mentioned above, to see which ones might apply, and what would work best for you. Ideally, you would need a webcam you can move around so to allow me to see exactly what you are doing with your fingers, the placement of the instrument and so forth.
If you wish, send me a private message. I am mainly available late afternoons and evenings, because of my daytime job.

Aldo
 
Take the money you might spend on a chord buddy and get a cheap first lesson. You might be surprised the advice you will get from that one lesson. They will see right away if you have a chance of playing, or should go to slide, or if you are trying to do a death grip. Etc.
 
Alan I'd suggest you go to a local music shop if there are any in your area and ask them for advice, ask about any local guitar teachers near you, don't expect a guitar teacher to work for free either, they have bills, kids and mortgages just like everyone else, pay them the full price and it'll be worth what it costs.
 
Can I thank you all so very much for your suggestions, you've certainly given me plenty of homework to last for a while.
I promise to do my best and will not give up at the first hurdle.
Thanks again, Keep safe, Have a good day

Ala.
 
Rather than standard tuning ie: E A D G B E try an open G tuning where the strings are tuned from the thick 6th string down - It plays a chord when when strummed with open strings :)
  • D (lowest string, tuned down a whole step from E)
  • G (tuned down a whole step from A)
  • D (stays the same)
  • G (stays the same)
  • B (stays the same)
  • D (highest string, tuned down a whole step from E)

There are lots of famous songs that have been written in open G

Here's a link I found that demonstrates open G tuning. Open G Tuning on Guitar

Best wishes and good luck :)


 
I came late to music and got talked into starting on ukulele about 11 years ago. Only 4 strings to worry about and with a shorter neck there is less finger span required so making chords is easier. Its also very social and there are uke bands all over the place where you can learn as you go. Check for a group near you. I then started making cigar box guitars and ukes. Even easier would be a 3 string cigar box guitar tuned to an open G like others have said. One finger or a slide on one finger will get you thousands of rock, blues or country tunes on one of those. I get pleasure making them and then some more fun being an instant rock god. I just followed this guy's free online lessons.
Sweet Home Alabama Lynyrd Skynyrd lesson pt. 1 on your Cigar Box Guitar easy beginner - YouTube
He has hundreds of clips from very easy to quite complex.
Dont know if music has improved my brain function but it gets me out of the house and its great fun.
Regards
John
 
Great advice from all above members. One is never to old to learn! 'Music makes the world go round' as they say--
As suggested try the ukulele for the following reasons: A lot smaller fretboard (strings and frets closer together)---Nylon strings (Easier to press down than steel strings.) The ukulele is very popular here in the UK, so finding a teacher or ukulele club should not be to difficult--learning from someone who plays is the best way to go. Even 5 minutes a day practice is way far better than 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon and non the rest of the week! Check out Youtube--search on 'Ukulele' and up will come loads of videos.

As mentioned above: Django Reinhardt. They say that Django is the most copied guitarist ever. Django had a deformed left hand--very little use of fingers 3 & 4. Oh! what a guitarist and musician! Google up 'Django Reinhardt'.

As mentioned in above post: Lap steel. No pressing down of strings. If you search on: 'Steel Guitar Forum' scroll down to: 'Steel Without Pedals'. There you will find out all about the lap steel guitar. A great website. Worth joining especially to ask questions--someone out there will know the answer.
 
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