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I'm a freshman in high school, learning to play the guitar. I've always loved the guitar and researched a lot about it before getting mine at a garage sale. The woman who sold it to me wanted 200 dollars for it. It is a 1970's (I think?) Ovation Acoustic Electric steel string guitar. It has a very pretty sound and ended up paying 150 for it (was that a good price? I think so?)

I am having a few problems that I've come across:

1) I cannot for the life of me play chords without creating a dead string by touching neighboring strings. It sounds really twangy when i play and i hate it. I have long nails but a trimmed them really short but i'm still having problems

2) How do i bar? I looked up a lot of tutorials but when i try it hurts my fingers and sounds, again, twangy (kinda sitar like??)

3) HOW can i stretch my finger so they reach a little better?? Is there anything i can do to make my fingers stretch so i can play chords like a G or an a7??

I can read music but the chords on music look very weird and i don't understand.

Sorry for the dumb questions but i feel discouraged! The only thing i can play is the intro to House of the Rising Sun, and a little bit of Elvis "Can't help falling in love with you" Obviously i can play the basics like twinkle twinkle and stuff but I wanna do some harder stuff, david bowie and hopefully (with a lot of practice!) a little of the easier frank zappa

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    Someone will answer you with more specific details, but most of your questions are answered by 'practice and persistence'. Honestly, no one could play a barre chord at the beginning. No one could stretch his/her fingers. Just stick to it. The trick is not to get discouraged in the beginning! – Shevliaskovic Jun 17 '16 at 6:45
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    All that sounds painfully familiar :) - takes a while for the hands to strengthen, the fingertips to harden and the reach of the fingers to develop. Have a read through the "Related" questions on the right and click the "Beginner" tag on the question for more encouragement! – Andy Jun 17 '16 at 7:01
  • Apart from the oft-stated 'find a teacher, if only for a couple of lessons', there's all the answers, as Andy states, on the right of this page. Shev's 'practice' is so important, too. – Tim Jun 17 '16 at 7:54
  • Do you mind telling us how old you are and/or whether your hands are full grown or for any reason smaller than average? Most adults (men and women) have hands large enough to play G chord comfortably on most guitars, as long as they are using the right fingers in the right places. But this doesn't happen easily on the first day. You say you're a new guitarist - it does take time to be able to do even the basics. It might be one to three years at least before you're playing some things as well as you might hear them played by professionals. Also, I pretty much never barre chords after 20 years. – Todd Wilcox Jun 17 '16 at 14:13
  • Todd, I am 14 almost 15 and have shorter fingers, which i think is part of my problem. I am taking a guitar class in school next year but I would like to learn a few basic chords and songs before i get into that class just to be prepped. I got the guitar about a few weeks ago andtry to play everyday. – Olivia Salazar Jun 17 '16 at 15:41
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As others have said in the comments, the answers to your questions can all be found over to the right in the related questions.

What has prompted me to post an answer is the talk of "stretching fingers" in your third question. Don't think in those terms. The problem with the G chord probably comes down to finger independence, playing position or both.

Finger independence is something which comes with time, but you could look for exercises to help with it online. When you practice forming chords, it's a good idea to place the problem finger(s) down first, generally the pinky or ring fingers. For example, when you play that G chord, put your pinky or ring finger down on the first string at the third fret, then find the notes on the fifth and sixth strings.

Whenever you feel you have to stretch your fingers, what's generally happening is that your hand/wrist position is making things harder than they need to be. Even a very small correction in the wrist might make it way easier to reach the notes you need without stretching. Think about it this way - you can't increase the distance between your knuckle and your fingertip, but you can change your hand position to bring the knuckle within range of the fret you want to finger. It's impossible to make specific recommendations without seeing you play, which is why a teacher is a good idea, but I can't stress enough the importance of paying attention to your posture, and how you're holding the guitar.

If you can't or won't get a teacher, then experiment - anchor your pinky finger down for that G chord, then gently move the guitar about, left and right, towards and away from you, up and down, until you find a position where the other fingers can naturally reach their places without any sense of stretching, or tension in your fingers/wrist/forearm. Look at pictures or videos of classical guitarists, and try to copy them. I don't mean you have to play in that position, but learn from it and understand how it maximises the range of notes the left hand can comfortably reach.

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  1. I cannot for the life of me play chords without creating a dead string by touching neighboring strings. It sounds really twangy when i play and i hate it. I have long nails but a trimmed them really short but i'm still having problems

This is normal at the beginning and is one of harder parts of playing chords at first. If you think about it, the concept of the guitar is very simple: put your fingers at these places and then hit the strings over here with the pick. So why do people have to practice every day for years to get it down? The reason is because exactly where you put your fingers, down the the millimeter, and exactly how they are curled and shaped and every other detail makes a big difference.

The good news is that with enough practice, your hands will develop muscle memory and you won't have to struggle with those millimeter differences, your hands will take care of that for you. You'll think "G" and it will just happen. To get there, you have to practice every day and don't lose hope. The nice thing is there's no magic ingredient to it, nothing special, no inborn talent necessary, just practice every day.

  1. How do i bar? I looked up a lot of tutorials but when i try it hurts my fingers and sounds, again, twangy (kinda sitar like??)

This is a lot like the above. First, you do need some strength which comes with time. Second, those millimeter differences in placement can help make it so you need less strength, and that's what really counts. I would keep working on barre (just an alternate spelling) chords, but don't overdo it. Just a few minutes a day working on one or two barre chords for now and stop if your muscles get tired. This is one part of guitar playing so difficult and annoying it can be a problem even for experienced players. I've been playing for almost 20 years and I just started changing the chord shapes and how I finger them so I hardly ever even play barre chords now.

  1. HOW can i stretch my finger so they reach a little better?? Is there anything i can do to make my fingers stretch so i can play chords like a G or an a7??

As Bacs wrote, don't think about trying to make your fingers longer. That only happens as you grow (and you may still grow more at your age). That said, with daily practice, you'll be amazed at what your hands can do in a year or two, and it all comes back to those little millimeter details in precise placement. Not just of your fingers, but your thumb and wrist and knuckles and all the parts of your hand. As you build up strength with daily practice, you'll find your fingers will be able to make some shapes that they couldn't make before. One note on playing the open G chord, if you haven't already figured this out, it's usually best to use your longest finger, the middle finger, for the third fret of the low E string.

Overall, keep practicing, be patient and give it time, and when you start the class, ask your teacher about the areas where you still have trouble. They should be able to easily catch any minor mistakes you're making and also point out ways to optimize your finger positions for your particular hand size and shape.

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I've done some research on YouTube, and find some nice tutorials.

  1. For your first question, check out this link
  2. For your second question, check out this
  3. And for your third question, you need to practice a lot, because it needs time to stretch your muscles.

By the way, I think it's a good idea to get a guitar teacher, especially when you start to learn playing the guitar. This will protect you from making many mistakes in the future.

Good luck!

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Maybe go to a guitar store and try some different models? 1970s Ovation instruments are idiosyncratic, both in terms of construction and ergonomics. They also don't improve with age, as they are somewhat prone to warping which will raise the action on the neck and possibly cause intonation and fretting issues for the player.

I've found that woodshedding on a sub-optimal instrument can sometimes make it far easier to perform the same techniques on an instrument I'm better suited to.

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