I overcame my issue with bends about two days after my post grousing about them.  The trouble was I was treating them like slides. I learned with slides that you want to pluck and slide almost simultaneously, so I was instinctively doing the same on bends, which was absolutely wrong. It turns out the note needs to ring first, THEN bend. Once I learned that, I went from ‘wtf? this is impossible!’ to ‘oh, duh.’  Currently at 80% completion on the bends lesson on Rocksmith.  The remaining 20% is primarily the same newbie issue – that I’m still not so fast at switching strings and frets.  I am getting better at that, but not consistently. The second I pluck the wrong string, it mucks me up and I have a hard time getting back to where I’m supposed to be. Time and practice, though –  time and practice.

And on the subject of practice, I’ve also realized that Castle Chordead has levels, on account of having reached and (eventually) defeated my first boss. Moving on to level 2 – and a few new chords. Yay!

What I did notice in playing was that my shoulder strap got uncomfortable on my shoulder after maybe 20 minutes. I consulted my guitar guru on the subject (Thanks, Al) – and based on that conversation turned my strap around so the thick end was on my shoulder – my strap was clearly not designed to be worn this way, but I tested it out, and it really wasn’t all that much help.  Hmm…I wondered if, maybe, my strap was too long for me.  It was an awesomely studded levy strap, but being only 5’4 and it not being fully adjustable made me wonder if maybe it would be better if I could wear it a little shorter.

Onward to amazon to pick an inexpensive strap that still looks relatively well constructed.  I picked a Planet Waves strap that came with it’s own shoulder pad – I figured it was a 2 in one. If the strap still hurt, I had the shoulder strap, if the shoulder strap was cumbersome, I could take it off and use it as desired.
The PW strap was uncomfortable with the shoulder pad, which dug into the side of my neck and my collarbone, which I think it just the shape of my neck to shoulder, so I took it off and tested it with the old strap.  It did help that strap quite a bit, without the weird shoulder pad digging, but the strap was still too long, really. When I sit down, I can’t adjust it short enough that it doesn’t just fall off of my shoulder.  I can adjust the Planet Waves strap short enough though, and while it took some fiddling to figure out the right length, I think I may have figured it out now.  It does still eventually make my shoulder sore, but I realized it wasn’t the only issue.

In all this strap switching and adjusting, the strap button on the top of the guitar (closer to the neck) kept loosening. The screw kept loosening and once even slipped out.  Uh-oh!  Well, that’s what you get for $85 on ebay, right?  Google time!

I learned that this happens because the hole is partially stripped, and that you can fix it with…a toothpick. Seriously? A toothpick?!  So tonight I pillaged the house for toothpicks, only to find they were sitting in plain sight in the medicine cabinet. For once, I put something in an actual, sensible location – right next to the dental flossers! 🙂

So I broke my toothpick, shoved it in there, and screwed it back together (by hand, with the tiny little screwdriver that has become my guitar screwdriver and lives in the shiny new gig bag I got for Christmas.  (All of my guitar stuff. In one place = awesome.)  It feels very snug now.

Hoping the fully adjustable strap + the now snug strap button, will resolve the shoulder pain issue, but even if not – there is learning happening.

Added to my guitar collection over the holiday: 1 gig bag, 1 guitar strap (gift to self), a light tension grip master (boy, that’s hard with the pinky!), and Buddy Guy’s autobiography, which I am looking forward to reading…after I finish Amanda Palmer’s. 🙂

Until Next time, progress remains headed in a generally forward direction.

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