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TecDragon

Noob - Looking for advice

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I had never picked up a guitar till about two weeks ago, when my son and I decided we wanted to learn to play the guitar. Not master musicians but enough to serenade the ladies, perform at camp outs, etc. I bought him a junior guitar and I had a poultry 200.00 left over so I bought the Epiphone Hummingbird Artist. (because it looked nice, remember I am a noob) the problem is that his junior guitar plays better and sounds better so we both tend to play it. My Hummingbird does just that hums and buzzes, so I spent the first few days figuring out why and adjusted the action by a quarter of a turn till the buzzing went away. However, now the guitar has become very unforgiving about exact finger placement, strength, etc. Resulting in notes that just go flat, unless nearly perfectly played.

 

The questions - I like the guitar (it looks nice, remember)

 

1. Should I buy extra light strings, such as the elixir 80/20 Extra lights? I have heard that lighter strings make learning easier.

2. What other advice would you give to a new player?

3. I thought about returning it and buying the Epiphone Pro-1 as it states it is for beginners, I looked at it before buying the Hummingbird but the Pro-1 says it has shorter scale length and a slimmer neck, as an adult with semi-chubby fingers I was worried that my semi-chubby fingers wouldn't have enough room to play, so I bought a full size. Should I return it and get the Pro-1 or should I stick it out with the Hummingbird and hope that some of you advice will resolve my issues?

 

Also, I did buy us lessons, and I am going to have our instructor take a look at the guitar tonight as well. Learning is going well, both of us have learned to play a kind of blue-sy beginners song, so we are enjoying it.

 

Thanks

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As someone who started teaching myself to play shortly before my 49th birthday I'll give you my 2 cents worth.

 

Unless there is something intrinsically wrong with your guitar I wouldn't bother changing it now, if however you really feel you must then IMHO you can't go wrong with the AJ-220S, I've been playing one recently and it actually struck me that it would have been the perfect guitar to learn the basics on.

 

Adjusting the truss rod is for adding or removing neck relief not adjusting the action, although it can be a side effect. The action is governed by the height of the saddle and depth of the nut slots, perhaps your guitar needs a good setup? Hopefully your teacher can point you in the right direction.

Unless your fingers are really suffering, light strings (11's) should be fine, the extra lights will make it much more difficult to get a decent tone from your guitar.

 

Chubby fingers? Take a half hour tour round YouTube and you will see people of all shapes and sizes playing all manner of guitars - it really is just a matter of technique and practice. Don't be disheartened, I spent a good deal of the first year thinking "What's wrong with me?" But if you stick with it, it will eventually come together.

 

You may find this site useful http://www.justinguitar.com, all free (except for his songbooks, of course) no need to register or any other BS - I'm not affiliated in any way, I just think he's the best teacher on the internet.

 

So, get your guitar checked out, keep practicing and, most of all, enjoy the journey [thumbup]

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IMHO you can't go wrong with the AJ-220S, I've been playing one recently and it actually struck me that it would have been the perfect guitar to learn the basics on.

 

So, get your guitar checked out, keep practicing and, most of all, enjoy the journey [thumbup]

 

+1 on the Epiphone AJ220 - I don't think there's a better guitar on the market at this price (it outshines more expensive guitars too). Very easy to play as well and full and rich sounding.

 

AS IR says there will be times when you feel like giving up but if you stick with it it's the best hobby and maybe more

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I had never picked up a guitar till about two weeks ago, when my son and I decided we wanted to learn to play the guitar. Not master musicians but enough to serenade the ladies, perform at camp outs, etc. I bought him a junior guitar and I had a poultry 200.00 left over so I bought the Epiphone Hummingbird Artist. (because it looked nice, remember I am a noob) the problem is that his junior guitar plays better and sounds better so we both tend to play it. My Hummingbird does just that hums and buzzes, so I spent the first few days figuring out why and adjusted the action by a quarter of a turn till the buzzing went away. However, now the guitar has become very unforgiving about exact finger placement, strength, etc. Resulting in notes that just go flat, unless nearly perfectly played.

 

The questions - I like the guitar (it looks nice, remember)

 

1. Should I buy extra light strings, such as the elixir 80/20 Extra lights? I have heard that lighter strings make learning easier.

2. What other advice would you give to a new player?

3. I thought about returning it and buying the Epiphone Pro-1 as it states it is for beginners, I looked at it before buying the Hummingbird but the Pro-1 says it has shorter scale length and a slimmer neck, as an adult with semi-chubby fingers I was worried that my semi-chubby fingers wouldn't have enough room to play, so I bought a full size. Should I return it and get the Pro-1 or should I stick it out with the Hummingbird and hope that some of you advice will resolve my issues?

 

Also, I did buy us lessons, and I am going to have our instructor take a look at the guitar tonight as well. Learning is going well, both of us have learned to play a kind of blue-sy beginners song, so we are enjoying it.

 

Thanks

 

"adjusting the action by a quarter turn" I expect you mean the truss rod. The action on an acoustic can only be adjusted be removing material off the the bottom of the saddle at the bridge.

 

Adjusting the truss rod is going to set neck relief, and this is not really going to get you there in regards to "action" (which is usually measured by the distance of the bottom of the strings, to the top of the 12th fret. like the botom of the Low E string should be some where around 5/64 ~ 6/64s, with the hihg E @ somewhere around 4/64s as a standard factory spec etc..).

 

The action translates directly to how easy the guitar is to play. Neck relief will make a difference, too much relief means too much of a bow, it will be harder to make notes in the middle registers. Too much of a back bow, the notes will not ring out in the lower registers, if it';s sever enough, even open strings can fret out. Normally, the neck should appear relatively straight, with a very slight bow visible in the middle sections of the neck. (4th to 14th fret for example) there are ways to check this, but I don't advise you do much more as a DIY project.

 

the take away is Neck Relief not the key to setting the action.

 

At this point, I suggest you stop what you're doing and get a proper setup for the humming bird. If you're the noob you say you are (not trying to be snarky) than setting neck relief and action as well as doing all the little things that make a big difference is just technically speaking, beyond your reach at the moment. (regulating the nut, ensure proper intonation, etc)

 

If you bought this at a local store (mom and pop, or what ever..) they probably have a setup tech on hand that will provide a setup for you. If you didn't purchase from a local store, then just find one, call and ask if they can recommend someone to do a setup on a new guitar. And,, I'd bet your teacher knows someone as well.

 

This should not set you back much more than 50/60 bucks give or take, and you'll probably find it plays and sounds 20x better than it does right now.

 

Good luck!

 

/Ray

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Thank you all for the replies, I have pretty tough skin so my fingers aren't hurting (yet) I was thinking of the lighter string for the note ease. Also it was my teacher that said adjust the truss rod to change the action, but he probably knows that anything beyond that is out of my league at this time. I was kind of wanting to figure this out on my own, because... but for under a hundred if I could get it fixed up locally that would probably be best.

 

Wife wouldn't let me throw more than a couple of hundred at it, as in her opinion it might become a closet artifact, I looked at the AJ-220 but the local store has it at over 300. They gave me a 'deal' on the hummingbird :). I like the guitar, I just want it to play right (or more probably, to play it right) but I can make my son's junior guitar sing like a... hummingbird.

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300 Canadian? If not that is outrageous! You can pick them up for €140 here.

 

Anyway, a basic setup is very simple, but at this stage in your journey I really would advise leaving it to someone who knows what they are doing, a couple of years from now you won't think twice about pulling the strings off and sanding down the saddle but right now you're probably not even sure exactly what is ideal for you.

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Could be the smaller guitar may just be a perfect fit for your hands and where you're at right now.

 

Not every guitar you buy is going to be "the right" one. The humming bird might look pretty, but there's no real guarantee it's the perfect one for ya.

 

The rule of thumb with a truss rod is, is not to adjust it unless you have to. The truss rods job is to keep the neck as true (Straight) as possible while at the same time allowing for some relief to avoid fret buzz.

 

Only way you know, is by sighting down the neck from the headstock, using the string as a straight edge, and from that eyeball the neck to see how much bow there is, there should be "Some" bow but honestly, it should be almost unnoticeable to an untrained eye

 

If you press the LOW E string at the 1st fret then at the 14th fret, now tap the E string at the 7th fret with your thumb, you will then more acutely detect the bow.

 

common symptoms:

 

too much forward bow, the guitar will feel very spongy at the 5th thru 9th fret, (this is where too much forward bow has position the strings the furthest from the fret board.) Tighten the truss road about 1/4 turn, check it in a few hours, even overnight

 

not enough relief or back bow, strings fret out on the first 2 or 3 frets, you don't have enough relief, and the truss rod has actually introduced a bit of back bow. loosen truss rod about 1/4 turn, and re-check it in a few hours, even overnight.

 

you also cannot exclude the nut as a key factor for a good setup, the nut slots need to be cut to the proper depth to ensure proper intonation in the lower registers, and wide enough to keep the strings from binding up during tuning.

 

if the action needs to be lowered, you have to accomplish this by carefully taking material off the bottom of the saddle. (there are a number of how to videos on youtube, it's not hard but you have to be careful, pay attention to details and above all, take ones time... once you shave off too much, you can't put it back on. so it's good to go in very small degrees - like 1/64s at a time.) The down side of lowering the action too much will be loss of tone and output. the reduced down pressure across the saddle from lowering the action, is going to reduce the amount of vibrations to the top, this in turn reduces the output, and could drastically alter the tone of the instrument.

 

 

The best bet, clearly, get a setup guy to take a look at it and see what's required.

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The action actually needed to be raised (maybe) the 6 string (only the 6th - E i think) would buzz when strummed with a pick. So I turned the truss rod a quarter turn till it stopped. It very well could have been an uneven fret or something. I will have the instructor look at it tonight. Make sure I didn't screw it up, etc.

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Hi Noob; more advice(you asked!).As mentioned by others already the truss rod adjustment probably isn't going to help with the playability issue-the nut and saddle would be more the culprits.Have your teacher measure the relief of the strings off the fretboard; if it's way high and the nut is fine it could be the saddle needs to be lowered.It's not a big deal- I just did mine and the difference is night and day. Puts the pleasure back into the act and removes a lot of pain and frustration. Your guitar should be fine after the proper fix and it shouldn't cost the world.Good luck and don't despair!

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I agree that having a professional do your setup is the best way to go. Here' a thought, though, that might help in the meantime. Since you've already tweaked the truss rod and say that brought the action down (not a good idea, as other responses have mentioned),try a set of medium strings. They might help eliminate some of the problems you've mentioned.

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Lots of good advice, but might add, being a "noob", it's likely too much to take in.

 

Learn how to play a little more, and most of what is posted here will make more sense. You will "learn" it, so to speak. You likely don't want or need to learn every in and out of set-ups and how the thing works just yet.

 

Lighter strings WOULD be a good idea to try. Lighter=easier, for sure.

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Lots of good info here for you hell I have been playing 45 or so years and some of it is even new to me. Take it to a good guitar tech get a set up down ( 50 60 bucks stay while they do it) now you got it the way you need it for you have fun. Like I said 45 or so years and still learning. Mik

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My two cents is to see if you and your son can find an experienced teacher to help you with your questions and your playing. I started playing 1.5 years ago and knew almost zero about it, and my teacher has been very helpful in guiding me. You don't have to continue with lessons if you don't want, but just having a few sessions with someone in person and the opportunity to ask questions is priceless.

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By all means if you want to put lighter strings do it, you will have to re adjust the truss rod though. I think us Canadian players get robbed when it comes to pricing. Good luck with the bird I hope all works out.

 

P.S. I have a dr500mce with D'Addario lights and a dove pro with elixir light nano webs both sound great.

 

 

 

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...(because it looked nice, remember I am a noob)...

 

The Hummingbird Artist is definitely a cool looking guitar. [thumbup] As others have mentioned, it sounds like you just need a setup, which is not uncommon for new guitars. Truss rod adjustment is only one aspect of a complete setup, which includes saddle height and nut slot depth, and they're all "interconnected." Changing one may require adjusting the others. Find yourself a luthier or good guitar tech and have him do your setup. Should cost 50-60 bucks. Tell him you're a beginner so you want pretty low action, but with no buzzing of course. (Experienced players may want it set up to their personal taste depending on how they play.) I'd keep light strings on her (.012-.054), which will give you more and better tone than extra-lights.

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I know this thread is ancient but for what its worth at this point...

 

I was surprised someone didn't immediately comment to your original post that if you was a beginner guitar player, what gave you the notion you could be your own guitar tech and adjust anything but especially your neck?

More new players should learn to stop before going the DIY route, turn around walk right back into that "guitar depot" and get their guitars inspected by the places resident professional tech/luthier. Such professionals can be rare in many of the discount or chain music stores but if nothing else their tech knows more than the DIY usually.

Or hey they could at that point return that ill-fitted poor sounding guitar for a better situation.

You don't fail at DIY and toss it and buy a new one.

After getting the "right" guitar and a professional set-up and the perfect string match to your beginners fingers, you've then given yourself, the hobby and that guitar a fair chance and you'd be playing requests at the beach or campsite and serenading your WIFE by now!

But.. anyways.. so .. what happened?

 

Rich

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