Small to big

turf3

New member
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
31
Points
0
Even rather tiny people play guitar with success.

Key is setup. Too many steel string guitars come from the shop with action unplayably high at the nut. There's absolutely no excuse for this but it persists. Even a cheap guitar can be made to play worlds better with a proper setup. You have to find a shop that's not caught up in guitar snobbery to get a good setup on a cheap guitar. I knew a guy but then I moved. My $200 guitars play better than many $2000 guitars.
 

Michael N.

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
1,139
Points
36
No one should be intimidated when going from a Uke to a guitar. Of course it's much larger, the scale length much longer, the stretch much greater but I have the reverse issue i.e. going from a 'stretched' fretboard to one that feels cramped. You have to become accustomed to switching between the two, takes time but of course it's perfectly possible. I know someone who can switch between piano, guitar and violin without any issues at all, 2 minutes on each one played right after each other. He can only do this because he has practiced it.
I'm much more familiar with nylon classical guitars and the 'standard' scale length is 650 mm. That would feel mighty long to someone who has only ever played uke. It is possible to buy them in shorter scales and if you happen to have a small hand size it's not a bad idea to choose one that is less than 650mm. The other possibility is to buy a capo and place it on fret 3 or fret 4, move it down by one fret at a time as your hand and fingers become more accustomed to the longer stretch found on guitars. Don't forget that 12 year old kids can play full size guitar, sometimes to a pretty high level and 12 year olds don't always have the longest of fingers.
You can do it but give yourself time. Learn to relax into the stretch and minimise the tension. Easier said than done and not something that I find easy even after years of playing. That's me but then again I tense up at just the sight of any musical instrument!
 
Last edited:

Mivo

Active member
Joined
Feb 25, 2013
Messages
2,495
Points
38
Interesting read. Seems quite a few of you ended up with guitars! I went into the same direction for a while (Alvarez parlor guitar, then a Furch grand auditorium), but it was a bit of a dead end for me. Fret spacing was fine, but string spacing wasn't, even though both guitars had slightly wider nuts, and string tension was a bit high in spite of low action. I also found guitars uncomfortable to hold. Eventually, I got into banjos (took two tries, the first one was spent on learning that bluegrass wasn't my thing and that I preferred the open back sound), and that stuck. Both my current and future/commissioned banjos have a ~670mm scale. Still have several ukes, too.

Never tried a classical guitar, though I came close!
 

Steve K.

New member
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
11
Points
0
I have gone from guitar to other stringed instruments. When my youngest was a little boy he was very interested in my guitar, so I bought him a beginner ukulele, and learned some chords myself. My other son now has it and gave it to his daughter, so it has lasted many years. Ukulele lessons have been offered on a few cruises I have taken, and they have helped me keep my fingers working when without a guitar!
I have fairly short, wide fingers, but I have no problem going from instrument to instrument having different neck width and both nylon and steel strings. I keep my action fairly low and use light guage strings. Ukulele actually gives me a bit more problem with a narrow neck and I have trouble playing three strings across on the same fret, so I barre where I can. Hand and wrist strength also play a part. When I started doing curls with weights several years ago I was surprised that a side benefit of the workout was having an easier time fretting.
I have found that going from guitar to banjo to bass to uke is not all that difficult, as there are many similarities. I do not claim to be any kind of great musician, but I can play enough chords and notes to keep me entertained.
If you think you would enjoy an instrument, I say, give it a try. Do not be discouraged if it proves difficult at first. We humans are pretty adaptable, and if the sound sucks at first, so what if you are enjoying yourself?
 

VegasGeorge

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
1,538
Points
48
I had to give up my foray into the world of guitars when I realized that my right shoulder was never going to be OK again. I have some kind of rotator cuff type injury, and it just hurt like heck after a short time reaching around the guitar, especially the wider dreadnaught. But, my love of the Ukulele is such that I never once regretted saying goodbye to my guitars.
 

DownUpDave

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Mar 15, 2014
Messages
6,185
Points
38
I had to give up my foray into the world of guitars when I realized that my right shoulder was never going to be OK again. I have some kind of rotator cuff type injury, and it just hurt like heck after a short time reaching around the guitar, especially the wider dreadnaught. But, my love of the Ukulele is such that I never once regretted saying goodbye to my guitars.

I have heard a number of people have shoulder problems, especially playing a dreadnaught. As you say the ukulele is scratching your musical itch and that’s all that counts. I enjoy the sound of the ukulele as much as I did in the beginning. One can play either instruments and get great satisfaction.
 

sunshiNee

New member
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
143
Points
0
I play a dreadnaught body and it is hard on the body. I started holding the guitar more classical style as in I put the body in between my legs. I also don't rest my arm on the shoulder of the guitar as I find it does put a lot of strain on the forearm and shoulders too. So I wrap my arm around the guitar and rest my wrist on the bridge. I primarily play fingerstyle and pick behind the sound hole. This position works for more and I usually dont have any shoulder cramps anymore unlike when I was holding it more the traditional way.
 

v30

New member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
923
Points
0
I wanted to play guiter for many years. Bought a guitar, tried to learn and got frustrated and gave up several times. Picked up a ukulele and was really pleased to be able to make something that resembled music within a fairly short period of time. That kept me motivated and I played for a year or 2 and switched to baritone with the end goal being to eventually play guitar. Purchased another guitar. For me going from uke, even baritone to guitar seemed like a monumental task. Between the narrow string spacing, the aching finger tips, and the extra strings I just couldnt seem to make any headway with it and eventually gave up. Btw, trying (or enduring) to build up the callouses on the fingertips is absolute #$!#! torture! Recently, with covid and spending much more time at home I figured Id give the guitar another shot. Im further ahead this time than Ive ever been. Starting to feel like Im getting somewhere. Not sure why its "taking" this time but I think Im not putting any pressure on myself and just letting things happen at their own time. I think in the past I kind of expected the quick gains that I could make on uke on guitar. For me at least thats just not a reality and I would get really frustrated and give up. This time plugging away, putting time in knowing that it will eventually pay off, rather than focusing on why is it so hard and and taking so long. For anyone who is struggling with it, I feel your pain. I know for me its going to take alot of time and patience and perseverance. It certainly does not come easy for me, and I know Ill never be great at it but finally after many years and many unsuccessful attempts I finally feel like I might be able to do it. If I can, anyone can.
 
Last edited:

tm3

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
223
Points
18
I wanted to play guiter for many years. Bought a guitar, tried to learn and got frustrated and gave up several times. Picked up a ukulele and was really pleased to be able to make something that resembled music within a fairly short period of time. That kept me motivated and I played for a year or 2 and switched to baritone with the end goal being to eventually play guitar. Purchased another guitar. For me going from uke, even baritone to guitar seemed like a monumental task. Between the narrow string spacing, the aching finger tips, and the extra strings I just couldnt seem to make any headway with it and eventually gave up. Btw, trying (or enduring) to build up the callouses on the fingertips is absolute #$!#! torture! Recently, with covid and spending much more time at home I figured Id give the guitar another shot. Im further ahead this time than Ive ever been. Starting to feel like Im getting somewhere. Not sure why its "taking" this time but I think Im not putting any pressure on myself and just letting things happen at their own time. I think in the past I kind of expected the quick gains that I could make on uke on guitar. For me at least thats just not a reality and I would get really frustrated and give up. This time plugging away, putting time in knowing that it will eventually pay off, rather than focusing on why is it so hard and and taking so long. For anyone who is struggling with it, I feel your pain. I know for me its going to take alot of time and patience and perseverance. It certainly does not come easy for me, and I know Ill never be great at it but finally after many years and many unsuccessful attempts I finally feel like I might be able to do it. If I can, anyone can.

Thanks for posting. Your experience sounds similar to mine, and I'm certainly glad that guitar is working out for you!
 

v30

New member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
923
Points
0
Thanks for posting. Your experience sounds similar to mine, and I'm certainly glad that guitar is working out for you!

Thank you. Id say Im on about my 4th guitar now. Buy one, try to learn, set it aside, try to learn again, get frustrated, sell it, repeat. Never did any lessons, just youtube etc. I do find the justinguitar site really helpful. Just chip away at it. Dont have expectations and dont be hard on yourself when it seems like youll never get it. You will. Just accept that it will take a while and it will be frustrating but you will eventually start to make gains if you just persevere and stick with it.
 

tm3

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
223
Points
18
Thank you. Id say Im on about my 4th guitar now. Buy one, try to learn, set it aside, try to learn again, get frustrated, sell it, repeat. Never did any lessons, just youtube etc. I do find the justinguitar site really helpful. Just chip away at it. Dont have expectations and dont be hard on yourself when it seems like youll never get it. You will. Just accept that it will take a while and it will be frustrating but you will eventually start to make gains if you just persevere and stick with it.

That is excellent advice! I think the problem with me and the guitar is that, while I now understand that progress is incremental and the steps may be small, the steps for me with guitar are so small that I lose my focus and spend time with something more rewarding -- like uke!

I decided last week to try to learn the dreaded E chord on the uke, and after a while was hitting it maybe half the time which was encouraging. There are chords on the guitar that I tried and tried to do and just couldn't nail even once.
 

clear

Active member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
907
Points
28
That is excellent advice! I think the problem with me and the guitar is that, while I now understand that progress is incremental and the steps may be small, the steps for me with guitar are so small that I lose my focus and spend time with something more rewarding -- like uke!

I decided last week to try to learn the dreaded E chord on the uke, and after a while was hitting it maybe half the time which was encouraging. There are chords on the guitar that I tried and tried to do and just couldn't nail even once.

Some chords are hard/impossible to fret cleanly unless I have callus on my finger tips. The callus helps the tips maintain shape when pressing a string. Also, a guitar chord can have many commonly-used fingerings. For example, the open A can be fretted with fingers 1,2,3 or 2,3,4 or a just single finger; so if one fingering isn't working for you, you can try another.

WRT your slow guitar progress, I don't think we should think of progress as fast or slow (I mean, who are we comparing/racing against anyway?). I think, instead, you should focus on 1 area that you have trouble with and work on it. Kind of like your E-chord on the uke. For example, can you fret an open E on the guitar? (022100) If you can, then try using fingers 2,3,4 instead of 1,2,3. Next, move those 2,3,4 fingers up the neck. Next barre with finger 1 behind finger 2. See, before you know it, you've just learned 10+/- chords.
 

clear

Active member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
907
Points
28
That is very good advice, clear. Thanks!

I offer you 2 more advice: playing the uke will make guitar seem extra difficult; having a purpose will make goals easier to achieve.

I understand these are 2 unique (and possible weird) advice, so please hear me out.

I used to play the guitar many years ago; I didn't think it was that difficult, but I had no purpose with it so I quit. I took 2 years worth of college-level courses and put in a lot of practice (i.e. I didn't just own a guitar and mess with it once a while, during those years I was actively learning it). When I quit, I would rate myself as an advanced beginner/intermediate player on the acoustic guitar.

About a year ago, I started to play the uke. Coming from a guitar background, the uke was easy to play. Recently, I picked up the guitar again with a purpose. This time around, I found it very difficult to play. I think it all comes down to expectations. The uke spoiled me with its mostly easy 1-, 2-, 3-finger chords, short/4-string barre, and small size.

So I practice and practice and practice on the guitar (I couldn't even being to see how I used to play my old guitar books). I also couldn't get comfortable holding the guitar (and I don't remember having any comfort issues back then). I think, in my mind, I'm expecting uke level easy so the guitar became hard. (I think maybe kind of like if I set my expectations too high, a movie disappoints vs the same moive becomes more enjoyable with a lowered expectation.)

Anyway, that was 4 months ago when I restarted the guitar. Now I'm fine again on the guitar. I'm nowhere near of my old skill level; but I'm at a level where I can fulfill my guitar purpose., which is infinitely more useful than where I used to be with the guitar.

So, overcome the psychological issue of "guitars are difficult" (this is hard to do when you've been playing the uke for a while); find a purpose for the guitar.
 

clear

Active member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
907
Points
28
Oh, another thing that may help is to switch to light tension strings.
Also, electric guitars are generally a lot easier to play than acoustic.
 

tm3

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
223
Points
18
Clear, thanks for all your helpful suggestions! I wanted to put nylon strings on this Baby Taylor but the Taylor Co said to not do it -- I had the Taylor tech put on the lightest strings it can take though he was suggesting a different, heavier set for better tone. I think nylons would be a lot easier but at this point am not willing to invest in a nylon strung guitar.

A friend let me handle his Stratocaster, and I see what you mean about the strings. However, I saw a new set of problems. First of all, the amplification meant that all my buzzes and squeaks and thumps were, uh, amplified. Secondly, the frets seemed farther apart on the Strat or maybe the neck was wider or both as chords seemed to require more stretch. And thirdly, to fret a note cleanly seemed to require a very precise touch. On the acoustic, if I don't press hard enough the note won't sound but once I hit the right pressure I can press harder and the note does not change. On the Strat, not pressing hard enough of course does not work but pressing too hard makes the note go off as well. The Strat just seemed like a whole new animal.

Didn't think I'd ever get an E chord on the uke but I see now that the bigger challenge is F on the guitar!
 

clear

Active member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
907
Points
28
If you mean classical guitar when you mentioned "nylon", then they aren't any easier to play because of the wide, flat fretboard and chunky neck.

Like an acoustic, electric guitar needs a good setup to be playable. The amp wouldn't amplify any buzz if it isn't there; it is actually much easier to fret a clean note on the electric than an acoustic because of the low action and light tension.

The E on the uke is just ridiculously difficult, in the opinion of many (just do a search). This says something: it says E is non-ergonomic and hurts your fingers; even with practice many can't play it.

However, everybody can play the F on the guitar. To me, this says that you can too, just do some practice. A tip is to barre on the 3rd or 5th fret instead of the 1st; this will give you a G and A, respectively. Once you can do those barre chords no problem, then move to 1st fret. You want to train finger strength and barre techniques on easier frets (and 3rd and 5th is going to be easier than 1st even on a well-setup guitar).
 

tm3

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
223
Points
18
No I didn't mean classical, I meant one of what I think are called "parlor" guitars ie smaller bodied and with nylon strings.

Good tip on the F chord. I'll give it a shot.
 

clear

Active member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
907
Points
28
There's also the crossover guitars that's a blend between the classical and acoustic. I recently bought one (all thanks to the uke, which made me want a nylon string guitar, but I was too scared of a full-on classical since I really just want to strum it like my uke/or an acoustic guitar); they are very easy to fret thanks to the nylon strings and plays like an acoustic.