The 'Embarrassing Questions' Page

On the basis that there are no 'Stupid Questions' merely questions that someone was brave enough to ask when everyone else was too afraid to look stupid.....I am posting answers publicly (but anonymously) here for the benefit of all those who were too afraid to ask!

Finger Picks
Q. My biggest challenge right now is to decide if I want to finger pick with
fingers, like you, or use plastic finger picks.  I think the fingers might  win out if I get the nails good enough to give the volume I would like.  I  can seem to feel the strings.  You fingerpick quite well, any ideas?

A.If I were you I'd try a plastic thumbpick prepared like this:
And keep the nails 'just long enough' to sound the strings. This stops them breaking and forces more 'intimacy' with the strings.
Loads of volume AND good control!

Q.I think it's me who's a bit thick, Mike.  I know how to read simple tabs that, for example, a lead guitarist would read.  I realise that the 6 lines mean the 6 strings and that the number on the strings refers to the fret picked.  I know how to read chords (though I can still only play a few).  But when I come to Puff the Magic Dragon, which looks sooooooooooo easy on your video, I'm stumped.  For example, the first bar has a G chord (played with a capo on the third fret, I think you said).  But.... what do the two 3s refer to?  What would I play if I've already got my right hand (I play left-handed) tied up with a G chord?  I realise that I'm really showing myself up - but I'm too old to care now.  At one time I would have kept quiet and given up but I really want to learn to play this sort of song. I just can't believe that all these years I've looked at guitarists playing a "simple" folk tune and thought it was a doddle. Please forgive me all you guitarists out there.

A. The 3's mean a note is played at the third fret and it means 'the third fret from the end of the guitar'.........the capo that we clamped on at the third fret IS the end of the guitar as far as tabs are concerned. So a 3 on the first and sixth strings lined up one above the other means....hold a 'G'  chord and pick the 6th string with your thumb and the  1st string with a finger (probably the middle finger) . These are both fretted at the 3rd fret if we are holding a 'G' chord yes?

Playing Faster
Q.Hi Mike,I am after a little help if possible.I prefer to play solos rather than rhythm. I can improvise blues solos (Although very basic), however, i really struggle with playing fast!   I know what I want to play and how to play it, but i just can't move my fingers fast enough. A perfect example is 'Sweet child o mine'. I struggle with the intro and the middle of the solo. I realise that the solo is a tad advanced and even pro's might struggle at first, but that is the kind of thing that I would eventually like to play (And then from there maybe some SRV Scuttle buttin').So my question is, how can I train my fingers to move faster?!  Everything I have tried so far seems to make no difference.Thanks,Laurence.

A.I'm just guessing here.
Your brain is thinking...'there MUST' be something I'm missing'
Some technique, trick, system, just some way of playing quicker.
Because you don't know what the short cut get I right?

There is no shortcut. The people you listen to who are playing faster, better, spent hours and hours and days and months going over it again and again and again and again.

If you are playing say 5 hours a day and have been doing that for 6 months with NO improvement...that may be the time to worry.

Just keep at it........and as if by magic it'll come.

Slide Guitar
Q.Mike I really need some professional advice!
Im looking to get another acoustic guitar to start learning slide  guitar on but i cant afford a really good one because my main guitar  cost me quite a bit. i don't want to constantly alter the tuning on my  guitar because i feel over time it will damage the neck.
I've had a look at the resonator type guitars (and the national's that Son House used to play mmm) but it looks like you hav to pay quite a  bit to get one that's worth having so im thinking on a pretty standard  type acoustic that will enable me to play slide.
i was thinking of a 'Washburn' because they seem like great guitars for the money and possibly trying to get one second hand so i get more  for my cash, is this a good idea or should i buy new? I dont really  want to pay more than £250 but if i could find a second hand one for  that it may be pretty decent to start with? i know the strings have to
be a bit further from the fret board to play slide which could be a problem (most reasonable acoustic guitars i have seen have the strings very close) are there any other considerations i need to take into accout, do i need a cutaway?
I'd really appreciate it if you could give me a few hints or things I need to look for when getting a guitar primarily for slide playing, I've had a look on the net but the information i've found is rather  contradictory. i hope you can help

A.Spookily good timing for this question.
This is only my opinion!
I have just made my first slide video and commented that I'm using a £20 guitar because the action is better for slide i.e high action and it has a more authentic sound i.e. a bit 'dead'

I spent nearly as much on the slide as I did on the guitar. Brass, and make sure it is a good fit on the little finger. Bash that slide around and get intimate with the guitar. Let the strings get really old and dead if you want a more authentic sound.

All the old blues players sound like they're playing a tea chest with fencing wire stretched over it....and that's the sound I like!

I personally play more slide on the cheap acoustic than I do on my Ozark resonator.

Find one with a flat (straight as opposed to curved)  bridge.
This means you can get a good clean non buzzy sound when you are across all the strings with your slide.

Just my opinions.

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