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Becoming a better guitarist?

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Hey guys,

 

So I first learned to play guitar my freshman year in highschool. I took a guitar class, and boy was it a joke. I learned a few chords and some techniques but nothing really impressive. For about a year and a half after the class, i don't think i picked up my guitar once. Then I went to my first concert (Coheed and Cambria) and was blown away by both Claudio and Travis's skill on the guitar. So since then I have been teaching my self how to play. I know lots of chords, can play a lot of intros of songs, and can even play a few songs. I know techniques like bends, hammer ons and pulloffs, slides, palm muting, etc... But even with all that I feel like i really still cant play guitar. I can play the riffs that i have learned and thats it. but I can't pick up my guitar and make things up that flow or anything.

 

So thats where i am now, what should I be practicing so I really improve? Right now I just look up tabs for certain riffs in songs that i like and learn them but I don't feel that's making me a better guitarist.

 

Thanks guys

 

Chris

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Sounds as though you're already a pretty good guitar player. What level would you rate yourself; novice, intermediate, advanced intermediate, pro or somewhere in between? I can tell you it's very hard to just pick up the guitar and then write a song on the spot! That being said all I can say is keep practicing with a purpose in mind, find another teacher that's not self-taught and try to be the best guitarist you can be! [smile]

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I would say I am intermediate. I hear my friends play guitar and they can play these bluey kind of solos/riffs that they say they just make up that sound amazing. When i try to do think of something it sounds horrible. I guess that what im looking forward to being able to do. I have read that guitar scales are very important to learn and will improve your playing ability. That's what im going to be practicing. what do you guys think about scales? worth learning?

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Yes. You have to know scales in the long run. Keep playing and practicing with your ears open and it will come but it's not quick - it's all down to the amount of time and attention you can spend on it.

Regards!

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One route would be to locate 'open mic' venues nearby to motivate practice and performance...

 

Great social life, contacts to join bands, free tuition from friendly musicians

 

Alone or with friends...musicians or otherwise...

 

Life will never be the same again... [thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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I was in the same boat several years ago.

I started playing guitar roughly 10 years ago, inspired by seeing Pop/Punk trio Green Day live in concert.

I remember I bought a Blue Fender Stratocaster just like Billie Joe Armstrong would play (or I thought at the time).

 

Well after a few years of learning songs from guitar tabs online, I decided to enroll in the "advanced guitar class" at my high school. I found out quickly that the teacher had no knowledge of how to play the guitar and pretty much took the class as a time filler inbetween her Choir classes. She literally went into her office and did nothing the entire period. I stuck it out, only cause I could not change my schedule.

 

After that experience, I decided to go back and learn my scales. I had prior knowledge of a little bit of music theory from being in the middle school band as a xylophone player/bass drummer. It was a little easier for me since I knew how to read music.

 

But anyways, I started learning my scales (Major, Minor, Pentatonic, Blues, Harmonic, etc) and that greatly improved my playing. I also picked up a few exercise books at the local music store and played them religiously.

 

I'd recommend learning (at least) your basic scales (Major, Minor, Blues, and Pentatonic) and practicing exercises daily. It couldn't hurt at least.

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You absolutely need to start learning your scales. These are like a roadmap of your fretboard where you can and can't go during a song. What I found to be by far the best method was by having a simple song loop in a given key just going round and round. And then I would find the root note of the key, check out the scale charts and just play the scale over the loop. Again and again. In no time at all you can start to shuffle the scale up a bit. Your ears will soon tell you the safe "home spots". You will be improvising before you know it. It's paid dividends for me for sure. I would certainly class myself as a beginner, but I can measure my progress on an almost daily basis. And I probably spend more time improvising over songs than any other area of practise (much to my tutor's annoyance :) ).

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If I might disagree slightly _

 

There is another school of thought and that is to learn by playing first and then the scales, theory, modes, et al.......will follow.

It has it's proponents and is valid.

 

I am adding a reply that I posted in a Jazz forum that you might find interesting.

I know it works.....former student of Conti's here! [thumbup]

_________________________________________________________________________________________

If you want to learn to play Jazz, then I would check out Robert Conti.

I took a few lessons from him years ago when he was just getting started professionally.

I never kept up due to lifestyle changes, the war, etc.....(Vietnam era)

Recently found out that Conti has been playing and teaching for over 40 years now !!!!

He has developed the teaching into quite a large offering.....and dedicated following.

He teaches PLAYING, not all the theory and stuff.....that follows once you can play.

He has a few free lessons online to help you find out where you are.......

See RobertConti.com or some stuff and reviews in Just Jazz Guitar magazine online.

 

Great stuff and highly recommended way to get you PLAYING.

 

(also many REAL testimonials there......not some phony comments)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There are a few free lessons posted there so you can see how it works and if it's for you.

Good luck

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My advice is to make sure you get ample time playing with other musicians. I played in a band in my teens, then from 1990 until recently I only played solo guitar stuff (Joe Pass meets Al Dimeola meets Holdsworth, if you can imagine that). I basically forgot what it was like to feed off of others and while I really developed chops I had lost the sense of the balanced song. I started casually playing with others recently and it's slowly coming back.

 

So spend some time alone and with other players, or else you will turn into a mad man...solitary confinement with a guitar can be a bad thing. :)

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I've heard great things about Howard Morgan's "Fingerboard breakthrough"...I've been looking for something to improve my playing and expand my knowledge and his seems like a tangible, well thought out and well taught "program"

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I've been a guitar instructor for over 15 years... I would say it's good to have a balance between learning songs, technique exercises, learning scales and theory, and ear training. It sounds like you already know how to play quite a few songs so I would get right to learning scales! Start with the basic minor pentatonic scale. It's easy to learn, memorize, and make sound good. Try improvising over backing tracks on youtube... at first you will feel like you don't have much direction but improvising is like anything, the more you do of it the better you get.

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Pick something and stick to it. There is soooo much information out there that it is easy to keep searching for the next best thing. Don't do it! Stay on track and keep moving forward....not sideways.

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Depends on your goals, you want to be a successful guitarist for your own leisure or a successful performer? Becoming a better guitarist for own leisure requires more practice which involves hitting hard guitar tabs. Becoming a successful performed requires confidence in yourself and being able to sell.

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Practice your scales till you're sick of them and then keep going. Also, find a good teacher in your area. A good teacher can save you time learning stuff that would otherwise take years to figure out on your own.

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I know lots of chords, can play a lot of intros of songs, and can even play a few songs. I know techniques like bends, hammer ons and pulloffs, slides, palm muting, etc... But even with all that I feel like i really still cant play guitar. I can play the riffs that i have learned and thats it. but I can't pick up my guitar and make things up that flow or anything.

Been there, done that. I got so frustrated that I spent many years away from my guitars... something I dearly regret now.

 

You absolutely need to start learning your scales. These are like a roadmap of your fretboard where you can and can't go during a song.

This is a key that can unlock many doors. Do it enough and "muscle memory" will take a load off your brain.

 

My advice is to make sure you get ample time playing with other musicians.

I have a nephew whose instructor had all of his students perform in a band made up of other students. It makes a big positive difference in the learning environment.

 

I know this is going to sound weird. I think your next step is to start humming along with a trumpet player like Louis Armstrong. This will teach you to "breath" at the right place, which will teach you about phrasing.

Listen to types of music other than those you like. Jazz, Classical, Flamenco, Country, Big Bands & Rock, etc., are more than just "styles" of music. This will help train your ear to listen for what works for you.

 

I've been a guitar instructor for over 15 years... I would say it's good to have a balance between learning songs, technique exercises, learning scales and theory, and ear training. It sounds like you already know how to play quite a few songs so I would get right to learning scales! Start with the basic minor pentatonic scale. It's easy to learn, memorize, and make sound good. Try improvising over backing tracks on youtube... at first you will feel like you don't have much direction but improvising is like anything, the more you do of it the better you get.

Believe it or not, the thing that helped me the most in coming up with original music... was to spend a lot of time not listening! In the car, at home, wherever... your head will come up its own melodies if it is not so full of everyone else's. This, being contradictory to the last bit of advice, means you must find that balance.

 

Most of all, music should be liberating. Take time every day to practice and change it up from one to the next. It takes work but you can get much more out of it than sore fingers! If its worth doing, its worth doing right. Every reply to this post has had good advice. I hope my little bit helps.

 

Σß

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To quote Jerry Garcia . . .

 

"If you get confused, listen to the music play."

 

The best attribute ANY player can have IMO is great ears and a willingness to listen. I would support those that suggest playing with others is a huge key. Learning when not to play, how to syncopate with other musicians and instruments, and learning the non verbal communication that takes place in an ensemble are of utter importance.

 

I've always said that any tool can learn where to fret with the left hand, but "playing" is done with the right. Swing, feel, timing, attack, taste are all derived from right hand technique.

 

I'm a huge fan of "fakebooks." Those music books that notate the melody line and simply give you the open chord form for each bar are wonderful tools for learning the general composition and constructs of any song. Add to that some very basic alternate chord voices (in the case of a G chord - your open G, E form Bar on 3rd fret, D form on the 7th fret, and A form on the 10th fret etc.) and listen listen listen. Most licks come off those very basic chord forms, and putting them in your back pocket will be of great value.

 

I'm a self taught player, so my language might be completely nonsensical. Forgive me if that's the case.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Happy Playing!

 

GP

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this is a great thread you started Chris. All good advice and vital information to help you get to the next level. I wish I would have stayed on course and done the recommendations here long ago. So now I'm doing them now which is good, but I think how much more fun I would be having if I kept it up. One thing you might consider is getting a looper. I got the Boss RC-3 and have a lot of fun with recording my chords/songs and playing along with scales. There on e-bay or craigs locally. It doesn't take a lot of chords to practice scales in whatever key your working on. I even make up simple 4 or 5 note bass lines and work with scales that way.

The other thing I think you'll end up wanting is knowing the fretboard. This is not easy for me and I always avoided it. One of the other posts talked about Henry Morgan who has a video Fretboard Breakthrough on Truefire.com. You can sign up for 30 days for free and see what you like before you order. Like someone mentioned do not get overwhelmed,have a simple plan/goal and be a bit regimented.

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I am in a similar place. I have had a guitar all my life, My first was a Montgomery Wards Old Kraftsman, which is probably the only vintage guitar that is worth nothing.

Been through allot of guitars over the years, that ended up being put aside for one reason or another, I am now 47 years old and just can consider myself a beginner.

I need to improve and just since getting a new 2015 les paul studio have i learned that playing and practicing are two completely different things, even after having played drums professionally many years.

 

I found something similar to "the best free guitar lesson ever" or "greatest". The guy heavily recommends "guitar pro" software, but the free lesson starts with a half step/hole step approach to learning to improve your dexterity, accuracy, fluency and speed. The first two exercises alone is what i have needed for all these years. I still cannot get to the fast speed he demonstrates so I havent moved on through the lessons, but that has improved my playing 150%

 

As far as being able to create stuff, you only need a few chords to make something happen creativity comes from you, not the instrument. I have times i cant think of anything, then i get on a roll and write patterns, riffs, or hooks just like it is nothing. BUT combining rhythms to create songs and then finding a vocal harmony and words is another thing. I am hoping that as i learn the fretboard and scales that i will begin learning something about singing but i really need ear training i can hardly tell if the guitar is tune...

 

Anyway, i like the post about balancing it all and mostly i like the post about focusing on what it is you decide to focus on. I just wanted to add that what i needed all these years was the revelation that exercises are not the same as playing and do need to be a separate part of your practice. Like up down picking of all the scales while ever slowly increasing speed, up and down over and over and on and on and so on and on till the dude from dragon force says dam he is fast lol msp_biggrin.gif

 

 

(just wanted to also point out that last was a joke. Want to be faster but would rather play tastefully than fast. speed just for mastery and accuracy)

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I try to learn at least one new thing every time I practice. A riff, a lick, a chord, a solo, a song - doesn't matter as long as it's SOMETHING.

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