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By ear or lessons ?

 

My dad & mother got me lessons when I was young ( 13-15 )later I started to pick up songs by listening to them. Which makes a better player ?

Both - I started taking lessons right way (same age as you)and had an awesome teacher who introduced and reinforced many proper techniques and just enough theory, scales and fret board logic to lay some great foundations. Stopped taking lesson after 2 years and focused on listening and learning. But I also had a lot of good friends who were guitarists who taught me many songs and riffs (is that considered "lessons"?) For me, the lessons set the foundation.

 

As far as a better player? I know Steve Morse still takes lessons.

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I am mostly self-taught—having learned by ear. I hadn't the patience to learn the guitar with books and lessons, etc. I took lessons for a short time when I was like 11, but soon got discouraged with it.

 

I preferred to listen to my records and play along... figuring out what they were doing along the way. In a way, I had the best teachers in the world! [wink]

 

Only issue I ran into was that, in my college and post-college years, I couldn't really "connect" with other musicians who were more "trained" than I. So upon graduation and working/making some money, I took "lessons" over the Summer with my old guitar teacher. I already knew how to play, but I wanted him to show me what it was I was doing. I needed "labels" placed on the recurring patterns I was detecting while playing.

 

To this day I can't read music, tab, etc. Sometimes I wish I could... but it's really not an issue. I now can play with musicians who went to Berklee, etc. and they can't tell I am self-taught.

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I started at 11 with the 'Bert Weedon, play in a day' book. I can still remember my first tune.'Bobby Shaftoe'. I asked for lessons, but my parents wouldn't let me have them (I could have had dancing lessons though as they were ballroom dancers). I think lessons are essential for a starter. Even if it's a mate showing you. You need the rudiments. When I started (69) there was no internet to look at so it was and even though I went on to be very proficient, I never knew what I was playing as it was by ear. Someone said to me once 'you played that solo in a major, when it should be a minor' I hadn't got a clue. Only after a 26 year break when I started again 3 years ago, YouTube and the net have been a wondrous thing for me. I've learnt more in 6 months than I did in years back then. So, Yes, lessons to start and then find your style. Don't copy someone.

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Somehow, when i was 12ish, i managed to wire my old DUX stereo so that i could play my crappy electric Duke guitar trough it, and play vinyls simultaneously, mostly Status quo and Clapton!

So, i had the most talented teachers you can imagine [thumbup]

It was really fun, and then when i had my first summer-work next year (1975ish), i bought a 100 Watt Marshall with a 412 cab and a Washburn Raven and played that combo in my boy-room, i still can´t believe my parents just kicked me out, but it was the 70s [flapper]

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It was lessons for me for about 18 months with an ex-BBC "light orchestra" guitar player back in the 1960s who firmly insisted on reading and not playing with my right picking hand resting on the bridge but poised over the neck pickup. I still play that way today although I vary it now from bridge to neck as I fancy.

 

I am not a good sight reader by any standard and I always have had difficulty reading "time" off sheet music but I sure can do it better than trying to read "time" off tab which is next to impossible (for me).

 

Nowadays I concentrate more on improvisational skills and am forever trying to improve my ears. I wish I were a lot better that's for sure.

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Trial and error.... lots of error! [biggrin] Actually started on banjo cuz my dad was taking lessons on it and I would copy what he was learning. I still can't read notation or anything. I did use tabs in magazines as a kid and spent a lot of time rewinding the tape in my little jambox to try and figure stuff out. I learned a lot from other guys in bands I joined. At one point in the 80s I memorized all the modes. Don't remember them anymore though. They sounded kinda wheedly deedly anyway as I recall.

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Both...

 

I took lessons at first because my mother bought the guitar and insisted that she sign me up for lessons at the same time...

 

I farted around for a few years before I settled in with a teacher that helped me discover it was Blues I wanted to play most. Once I learned a 12-bar and major and minor barr-chords and how to play in every key with the minor pentatonic scale... That was it, I was on my way and I quit the lessons and learned licks from listening to my heroes.

 

I started chasing The Blues by 18 and by 19 I was gigging-out locally and getting accolades & standing-ovations... I began to crave the applause and I was hooked on performing...

 

I still cannot read music to this day and only learned enough tabs to write some stuff down for reference, but never learned how to read anything fast enough to play from sheet music or tabs... I play pretty much everything by ear based upon a very rudimentary/remedial knowledge of theory...

 

I love blues rhythms but don't consider myself much of a rhythm guy because my chord knowlege and polish is very limited to mostly blues chords such as 7th & 9th, and maybe some 13th chords along with my major and minor barr-chords, yet I love playing blues rhythms & boogies...

 

I'm more of a lead/fill player for in the Blues!

 

The vast majority of my playing is learning licks of those that strike me as great and learning to apply them in proper timing within the context of a 12-bar blues...

 

Having said that it's kinda funny that alot of my original songs I've written are not really Blues and are not 12-bars. They are mostly pop/rock type progressions... Some throw-back stuff... Probably 50% of my original stuff is Blues and 50% not...

 

I'm such a Blues-Hound I actually find that rather strange for myself, it's like I buck/defy my own definition of myself on a natural level...

 

I figure stuff out by listening to it mostly and incorporate those licks into whatever I'm playing to mix things up...

 

The knowledge of a certain amount of theory and music is simply required for figuring stuff out by ear... I figure out what key the original song is in, and I relate the lick to the minor pentatonic scale (sometimes my hellish prison, whether or not it crosses in and out of major scales) so I can play it in any key... I just know it's a major scale lick if the notes don't line-up to my pentatonics and I kinda catalog it as such so I can figure out how it fits in a progression based upon the feel/sound...

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I started in 1956, with a teacher that was Lawrence Welks guitar player. At the time, I thought he was "the man"

That lasted about 2 years, then I was taught be two different teachers at one time. I took lessons 6 days a week.

One taught me theory and reading sheet music,<Mon. Wed.Friday> the other one taught me more of the practical playing, <Tues. Thurs.Sat>. and that was for many years. They were both in a great rock band at the time, and actually cut a few records, with pretty good success.I learned so much from those two, that eventually, I started teaching myself for the City of Las Vegas.

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I started on drums and switched to saxophone. I had lessons in both, and was chosen to be the first sax and section leader in the all-state band every year that I was eligible.

 

Then I got in a rock and roll band. Not every songwriter had the good sense to include a part for a saxophone or even a place were the sax could be added to improve the song, so the guitarist and bass player showed me how to do a few things so that I'd have something to do during those songs, and it gave an extra guitar into the mix.

 

I could also play sax by ear, as it was essential in those days. The cover band needed to learn songs before the sheet music came out (and it often did not come out at all) so the ear was developed.

 

So I guess that's lessons (in a way). In time the parts I learned to double on got more difficult, and my knowledge of the neck got better - I already had a good deal of music theory under my belt from sax and drums in school.

 

And that's were my guitar playing stood for years. Bar chords, simple background parts. I did more on the bass, because when the psychedelic era came around, and saxes were not in favor, I played bass for a few years. Got pretty good at it (for pop music anyway).

 

A few years ago I decided to get serious on the guitar, by then it was my 7th instrument. No formal lessons but books, DVDs and the Internet. I've become an adequate guitarist for rock, blues and country. I can read music on the guitar, although complicated pieces need wood-shedding, and there is a limit as to what I can do (that limit increases in time as I learn more).

 

I'd probably be a much better guitarist if I had formal lessons. There are holes in what I know - I do what I can do well, but there is a lot of advanced guitar techniques that I haven't gotten to yet. But for right now, I'm happy to be a very good sax/flute/wind synth player - a decent singer - a good drummer but I don't have the stamina anymore due to the lack of a drum kit - an OK keyboard synth player - and an adequate guitarist. I'm improving all of them as time goes by.

 

So back to the original question - lessons or ear? Both but the lessons are all informal.

 

Notes

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Haha.. and I thought I was the only one :)

 

Yes, like others I was forced to learn at school by my mum who went and bought me a cheap classical guitar and insisted I learned (thanks mum [thumbup]) ... I was 11 and at that time it just felt like extra homework.. I did however master Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Greensleeves which I can still play :D

 

And then when I was about 13 I stopped playing (was expelled from that school :unsure: ), then started again when I was 15 and started getting in to rock music.. I then had to really teach myself again after that.... And I do that by ear.. I will use tab occasionally if I cant work a part out or something. And then when I hit 18 I joined a college band where I learned more than I ever could have by myself...

 

BUT having that basic stuff bashed into me when I was 11 made learning much easier. I already had a good sense of rhythm when I started learning seriously because of those early lessons..

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Haha.. and I thought I was the only one :)

 

Yes, like others I was forced to learn at school by my mum who went and bought me a cheap classical guitar and insisted I learned (thanks mum [thumbup]) ... I was 11 and at that time it just felt like extra homework.. I did however master Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Greensleeves which I can still play :D

 

And then when I was about 13 I stopped playing (was expelled from that school :unsure: ), then started again when I was 15 and started getting in to rock music.. I then had to really teach myself again after that.... And I do that by ear.. I will use tab occasionally if I cant work a part out or something. And then when I hit 18 I joined a college band where I learned more than I ever could have by myself...

 

BUT having that basic stuff bashed into me when I was 11 made learning much easier. I already had a good sense of rhythm when I started learning seriously because of those early lessons..

Naughty boy Rabs, what were you expelled for? Myself I started with the base back in high school after 2 years switched to a regular ax, it was more fun than the base.

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Naughty boy Rabs, what were you expelled for? Myself I started with the base back in high school after 2 years switched to a regular ax, it was more fun than the base.

Lol... for receiving the cane more than three times (yes I am talking bend over a chair and whipped with a bamboo stick).... (that's how old I am ;))

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By ear or lessons ?

 

My dad & mother got me lessons when I was young ( 13-15 )later I started to pick up songs by listening to them. Which makes a better player ?

I learned at 13 at an eckard boys camp in 1983. One of the camp chiefs was a big beatles/bob dylan fan and taught me a bunch of folk stuff. Never took official lessons, just learned chords and learned to play on a cheap 50 dollar sears git.

 

One day the head chief let me play his 1980 Guild 12 string and it sounded amazing to me. After the sears git broke i went several years without playing before buying an ovation.I got an 850 dollar model for 150 because it had a crack in the front, it looked and played awesome.

 

Oddly enough tho, when i was young i changed my own strings and could tune by ear after playing for a year. Today, i dont remember how to do either lol..

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I had a really cool Physics teacher who used to give the class work to do, and whilst we did it , he would sit on the work benches around the walls of the classroom and play his guitar. When a few of my mates and myself talked to him abut it, he offered to teach us during lunch breaks. He taught us a few chords and one or two riffs, and that set us off. The actual music lessons at our school were terrible, all we ever did was sing hymns. Mr Porter the physics teacher was a great bloke, he'd do anything to help anyone!

 

Ian

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Inspired by George Harrison and a neighborhood friend, I started taking lessons around 1964, when I was 11. My parents bought me a cheap, POS, nylon stringed, flamenco guitar reject from a local luthier. The luthier's daughter (a young, hot, hippie chick) taught me cowboy chords and Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie protest songs (I've been a hippie ever since). A couple years later, I got a cheapo, Kent, one pickup, electric, but no amp, so I bought an adaptor and plugged into the back of my parents' RCA console record player. Lost interest around 16. If I could have gotten anything decent at that age, I might have stayed interested. But as it was, I didn't get halfway serious again until I bought a Takamine F-341 acoustic around '82. Started taking lessons again around 2003 on and off until 2012.

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By ear. Learned basic acoustic guitar stuff from older brother at 9 or 10 (early 70's)...got first cheapo electric at 17 (Silvertone strat/amp) where I started 'rockin'...mostly learning from a friend who was taking lessons...then did a bit of jamming in college (rhythm only). Sold everything at graduation to get back home to my girl (wife now) and didn't really start playing again for almost 20 yrs. Got the bug in my mid 40's, bought me a MIM strat and cheapo amp...then starting teaching basics to three of my four older kids...two dropped out after a few months...whereas my youngest son (autistic) turned out to be a semi-prodigy and he began taking lessons ...around 10 or 11.

 

I can tell lessons, to include theory, scales, sight reading, etc....is part of the reason he's so good and will start this Fall as a music major...for now.

 

I don't have the patience to learn theory, etc...but he's taught me a lot of basic stuff (blues/rock) to keep me interested and growing as a hobbyist. I too have better guitars than I really have a right to own. ;-) Selling a couple and will be getting a minty Heritage H535 lefty in a week or two from a shop/collector I discovered yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

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I learned at 13 at an eckard boys camp in 1983. One of the camp chiefs was a big beatles/bob dylan fan and taught me a bunch of folk stuff. Never took official lessons, just learned chords and learned to play on a cheap 50 dollar sears git.

 

One day the head chief let me play his 1980 Guild 12 string and it sounded amazing to me. After the sears git broke i went several years without playing before buying an ovation.I got an 850 dollar model for 150 because it had a crack in the front, it looked and played awesome.

 

Oddly enough tho, when i was young i changed my own strings and could tune by ear after playing for a year. Today, i dont remember how to do either lol..

To me the ones that learned by ear are the best at first but in the long run reading music gives you more options,Reading music at first then playing by ear gives the best of both worlds. Just my two cents worth

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I started taking lessons in August of '57 because a cousin started taking lessons. I was "forced" into it. After 12 lessons my mom lost her job...I lost my lessons because we didn't have the extra $2 a week (plus bus fare) for my lessons. HOWEVER I had the beginner's book, and by now (thanks Elvis) a BURNING desire to learn. I finished the book on my own and started learning from others in Jr. High. One day after reading a comic book, I noticed a photo of Chet Atkins playing a "barr" chord. I got out my little magnifying glass and presto I learned my second position "A" chord. Simple deduction taught me all the major chords up and down the neck. (This was starting to be fun). Then one day I grabbed the wrong set of strings and accidentally found all my minor chords. Another great discovery for a now 12 year old. Since then its been asking questions of better players, stealing every lick I found interesting on a record. I've worn out several Lonnie Mack and Ventures albums. Beatles wern't that hard for me to copy from. I am an equal opportunity thief when it comes to music I like. You Tube has been a God-send at times I must admit. So a I learned lot by ear and now days You tube.

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