This topic is particularly intended for those new to the forum and to the guitar, who have joined up to access the online lessons, though it may be of use to other members too. The aim is to help you find your way on the forum and in the lessons, with some pointers to basic information to get you started, followed by links to a number of topics, posts and videos that you'll find useful as you progress (tips, exercises, etc.)
How to use the forum:
Guide to where to find and post on various subjects on the forum - also contains links to various helpfiles, including:
The Compendium of Forum Knowledge - a compilation of useful hints about the mechanics of using the forum, for instance:
- How to create A new topic
- How to reply to another post
- How to quote the post being replied to
- How to edit or delete your post
- How to embed a YouTube video in your post
- How to search the forum effectively
and many others.
(If you're unsure or confused about any aspect of using the forum, just send a private message to any moderator.)
How to use the online lessons:
Most of the questions about what the lessons are and how to use them are answered in FAQS for lessons. Absolute beginners are advised to start at level D01, where basic concepts are introduced about how to sit, how to pluck the strings, etc. Although standard musical notation is used, reading music is not a prerequisite, as the notes on the page are introduced very gradually and it is pretty clear how they correspond to the notes played. The lessons are based on mutual feedback with other students. If you have a question about playing the pieces or exercises in a particular lesson, it's usually enough to raise it within the lesson for suggestions from other students, or occasionally a moderator, more advanced student, or student tutor will respond. Questions arising from the lessons but not limited to a particular lesson can be raised in Students' Corner, a sort of common room for students of all levels. In either case if you are in difficulties you can seek help from a student tutor (a more advanced student who has volunteered to give advice on request). And of course questions not relating to the lessons can be asked on the forum generally, for instance in the CG Classes or CG Technique sections, for advice from the wider membership.
Tip: To make it easier to find a particular lesson among all the others listed, or to look through all lessons of a given level, for instance, you can sort the lesson topics alphabetically as follows: go to the lesson forum here, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on the icon to the right of the New Topic icon, choose Sort by: Subject and then Direction: Ascending, then click on OK. The lesson topics will then appear in order starting with level D01. (The same sort menu can be useful in other sections too).
Objectives for each level:
You can find a brief summary here of the skills acquired during each of the first 3 levels of Delcamp lessons.
There is a more general summary here by Larry McDonald covering 10 levels, and not specific to Delcamp lessons.
What sort of guitar you need:
To learn properly you need a classical guitar, or at least an acoustic with nylon strings. You can find discussions of the many models available in the Advice on buying subforum, for instance, a couple of recent threads here and here contain both suggestions and some useful advice on buying.
Tip: To narrow down the bewildering number of threads in the "Advice on buying" section, and as an example of using the forum search effectively (see here), you can go to Advanced search by clicking on the cogwheel icon to the right of the Search box at the top right of the page, type in "Beginner" as the search keyword, scroll down the list of forums to just beyond Luthiers and select the "Advice on buying..." subforum, click on "Topic titles only" and on"Topics" in the choices below, then on the Search button. You will get a neat list of just those topics in that section with "Beginner" in the title (like this). Or of course any other term you use.
Footstool / support:
You need some way of raising the guitar to a comfortable angle, generally so that the head of the guitar is about the level of your head. Traditionally a footstool is used under the left foot (for right-handed players), and many still prefer this, but increasingly guitar supports are becoming popular, allowing both feet to remain on the ground and arguably a more stable position of the spine. There are many discussions of these on the Ergonomics and Posture subforum, some useful example threads being here, here, and here.
Tip: To see all other threads in that section with "Support" in the title, see these search results, or of course you can search for threads about individual makes by entering their name as a keyterm on the Advanced Search page and selecting "Topic titles only" and "Topics", as in the previous tip.
Tuning the guitar:
You will need to tune the strings of your guitar regularly and there are various aids for doing this. It can be done with a simple tuning fork and relative tuning by ear, with experience, but there are many online and electronic tuners which make it easier.
You can find some free online tuners (and other resources) linked here. Also suggestions for tuning apps in this topic and more tuning and other apps in this one. Clip-on electronic tuners are also available and are discussed here.
There is a description in the first Delcamp lesson (D01 Classical guitar lesson 01) of how to sit and hold the guitar, and this can be seen in the lesson videos.
Additionally, Kevin Gallagher has a very useful YouTube video here about how to hold the left arm and hand in order to avoid potential wrist problems.
Well shaped and smoothed nails are important for good tone. There is no ideal shape or length that suits everyone, but you may find William Kanengiser's YouTube video here useful for explaining the principles and a method for achieving them.
The first item in Matthew McAllister's post here also contains a nail filing suggestion worth trying.
(For discussions on all aspects of nails and nailcare, see the related subforum here.)
Reading music and finding notes on the fretboard:
You do not need to be able to read sheet music to start the first level of Delcamp lessons, as the notes are introduced very gradually and are clearly explained, so that you learn to read them as you go along.
You can find charts here of where all the notes are on the fingerboard, and which notes they correspond to on the page.
And later you may find this topic interesting to improve your fingerboard knowledge and understand the theory behind the printed notes.
Here are some links to useful posts, videos, etc., some basic, some slightly more advanced, that will help you develop.
Kevin Gallagher on the various left hand positions here and on barre technique here.
A whole host of useful videos from Matthew McAllister on technique and exercises listed here.
Useful tips on learning and focussed practice from Dustin McKinney here.
Todd Tipton on getting smooth shifts here.
More will be added later as they come to our attention.