Anyone learning to play the guitar?

I can't tell you how many times I've bought and resold guitars. I think certain people are cutout for music and their brain works that way and others just aren't. I think anyone can get better but I think you either got the gene or you don't and I clearly don't. I know lots of cats who can pickup a guitar and within a few days be playing songs just by sound when me personally would spend weeks watching youtube videos and practiciing and still suck. I just recently picked up a ukulele, was hoping that would be a bit easier. It sorta is less strings, less stretching your fingers to make certain chords. Most uke chords are pretty simple and there's a lot of easy songs. With a ukulele you dont get the real sound of the song and all the depth but more just a sorta similar song to the origional.
 

Santoro

Robin
Gold Member
+1 on ultimate-guitar.com. Grab or download guitar-pro and get to work. There's also a bunch of lessons on there that help with scales and developing good picking habits.

As far as books go, really recommend Jon Finn's Modern Rock Improvisation. It lays the groundwork for building your own style of playing in a way that easily 'makes sense' and doesn't require a huge music theory foundation

I've written quite a bit about making the leap from a bedroom musician to gigging out. Dedicate yourself to you craft, and when you feel comfortable start sharing your talents with the world.

Good luck, post questions here or PM me if you want any more details

Relevant writing:

On Dealing with Stage Fright

An Easy Way to Get Your First Gear Sponsor

Landing Your First Liquor Sponsorship

A Complete Breakdown on Busking w Permit Guides for Major American Cities
 

HawkWrites

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Ethan Amarante said:
HawkWrites said:
I wound up teaching myself many years ago. I remember my dad telling me (he was a guitar instructor way back when): "Start on acoustic. Get good on it. When you're confident, move to electric." The advice really holds true since the distance your fingers need to travel decreases significantly from acoustic to electric; get the muscle memory down and you can switch between mediums at your heart's content.

I usually go for http://www.ultimate-guitar.com if I need a tab for something. I've been doing more chord-based playing lately, though.

Similarly, I'd suggest that, when you do practice with an electric, set your amplifier to clean (i.e. no distortion) - otherwise you're likely to not pick up on little errors you're making.

And another tip, particularly for electric guitars with low gauge strings - change them frequently, even if they aren't breaking. Fresh strings tend to sound a lot nicer to me and I find them much more pleasant to play with.

Amen to that. The clean channel on an amp is VERY unforgiving since you don't have the distortion and sustain to cover any mistakes. It's a great way to practice solid technique.
 

testos111

Robin
I would strictly advise you not to bother too much about the scales. Just learn the chords and the basics of lead guitar (if you wish).

Learning scales is definitely useful but highly boring. I would rather advise you to try to play most of the tunes by ear after you've got down the basic chords and have learned a few songs.

Playing by ear will make you absolutely fall in love with your guitar ( or for that matter any other instrument) because that is the way to express yourself in the best manner possible. It takes lot of patience but it's totally worth it.

When I started to play guitar, the biggest mistakes I made were the following. So here are some tips regarding those:

1. Learn all songs by tabs ( like Guitar pro). It's faster but you are just training yourself to be a parrot. Just use tabs initially . When you are comfortable a bit, start working from your ear.

2. Practicing using finger exercises - NEVER do those. All the exercises you need will come to you naturally when you play. Doing finger exercises will make you go to sleep and you will son begin to hate your guitar. Take my advice on this even over John Petrucci.

3. Learn how to strum properly - Watch Youtube videos on how to strum using the mute strum method. It's one of the techniques that changed my strumming totally. It's basically the process where you learn how to mute the strumming in between the strokes. It gives your strumming a real rhythmic chug-chug-beat-like feel.

4. If you wanna play fast solos, take one part and practice it SLOWLY first. This is even true when you are playing chords which require a fast change or are tough to play. Go slowly because it is fastest way of playing fast. I almost wasted an year trying to learn fast by playing fast. It was good enough to fool people who did not about guitaring much ( the girls) but when it came down to playing in front of experts or even for my own satisfaction, it always failed. So the word is TIGHT. Learn to be tight, even if it takes time.

5. Don't use any bullshit like a metronome. Leave everything technical away. Music is about your natural expression.

6. Don't learn songs exactly as they are - Learn to put your own innovations in the songs to make them sound your own.

7. Play a tune in your head and the try to get it on the guitar - This is one of the fastest ways of becoming advanced to the degree that you can jam with anyone anytime. Keep practicing this and soon the moment someone plays any tune, you'll be able to join them play stuff in an instant.

8. Invest money in a good and expensive guitar. Music is all about quality.

I know mst of the advice I gave you is totally against what guitar teachers usually teach. But I am giving you this sort of advice because I know the only way to love guitaring in the long term is to be able to use it for your own genuine expression. Everything should feel natural, not like some predefined method.

Hope this helps you. Cheers.
 

Santoro

Robin
Gold Member
testos111 said:
5. Don't use any bullshit like a metronome. Leave everything technical away. Music is about your natural expression.

This reeks of bedroom musician or keyboard warrior. Do you gig out man? Have your ever played with a percussion section? Have you made money from music?

Proper time is the foundation of music. Use a metronome.

While some of your points can be argued for, your overall approach of "Do whatever you like and just express yourself" sounds like something out of Cosmo. Do you also have '21 great songs that will give her goosebumps!'

How about 'Three more ways to blow an audition!'

Maybe once someone knows the basics they can 'forget everything' and 'just play'. Not applicable for beginners though

Certainly not a reliable way to pick up an instrument.
 

Benoit

Pelican
Gold Member
Santoro said:
This reeks of bedroom musician or keyboard warrior. Do you gig out man? Have your ever played with a percussion section? Have you made money from music?

Proper time is the foundation of music. Use a metronome.

Metronome practice is very boring and doesn't capture the dynamics of 'real' music. It's essential for high speed precision but for a beginner it's likely to make them hate practice.

Recording yourself playing along with a backing track and then listening back gives much more useful feedback, playing in real life with others even more so.
 

heavy

Hummingbird
Gold Member
testos111 said:
I would strictly advise you not to bother too much about the scales. Just learn the chords and the basics of lead guitar (if you wish).

Learning scales is definitely useful but highly boring. I would rather advise you to try to play most of the tunes by ear after you've got down the basic chords and have learned a few songs.
........

Yeah I think the point is to make it fun learning. I know I needed instant feedback when learning to play, and I'd already had 8 years of piano. Learning chords not scales, playing by ear (if you have the skills), no metronome...all tips to prevent roadblocks and make it fun. You can only work at it if it's entertaining for you first.

My input: Playing by ear and music is all mathematical...
Major chords I, IV, and V (key of C would be C, F, G....key of G would be G, C, D....etc)
Minor chords III, VI, and sometimes II (key of C would be Em, Am, Dm....key of G would be Bm, Em, Am....etc)

Get those down as you learn songs...as you listen and play songs you'll start seeing these chords and be able to anticipate them. When these simple chord patterns clicked and I realized it was all mathematical, playing by ear was nothin'. When you want to go to another level, you'll have a good foundation to start from.
 

Renberg

Woodpecker
One of my favorite things to do, which helps me with rhythm and playing specific riffs/chords, works if you have an electric guitar and a Mac.

With an adapter, such as Apple's iMic, connect your guitar to your computer through the USB jack. Connect headphones to your computer, open up Garageband and select "Electric Instrument." When you strum your guitar, you should be able to hear it through your headphones, and it's great cause you can adjust the levels, amps, sounds, etc.

Then, you can open up iTunes, Spotify or YouTube and play along with a song. It's one of my favorite things to do;
You learn rhythm
You get to rock out
And you feel like you're part of the band
 

Veloce

Crow
Gold Member
Yeah you can take this whole "Make it fun!" shit too far.

I was classically trained and made an early career out of guitar. I didn't drop out because of the scales or extensive exercises. I dropped out because I hate performing.

Jamming on chords will get you by if you're a folkie and just want something to sing to.

But playing scales and exercises, ESPECIALLY to a metronome, will take you to a whole other level. Advising someone against using a metronome is like advising someone not to lift weights or approach girls. It's discipline, and you don't get good at something without discipline.

Take two new guitar students. Give both of them a bunch of classic rock CDs. They each have an hour to practice every day. One of the them spends a full hour figuring out the guitar by ear, the other one spends half an hour listening and jamming along, and the other half hour playing scales to a metronome. Guess who's going to get insanely better? The scales guy.

When I was at my peak I used to practice 6 hours a day. It was 2 hours of scales, 2 hours of exercises, and 2 hours of repertoire. I'd highly recommend this breakdown of time management. If you practice one hour, then spend 20 minutes on scales (to a metronome), 20 minutes on other exercises like stretching, trills, right hand patterns, and 20 minutes of repertoire i.e. fun stuff. This is what's called effective practice and will take you much further in a shorter amount of time than just dicking around.

If you don't want to get good at guitar, by all means don't use a metronome.
 

Rigsby

Pelican
Gold Member
swishhboy25 said:
I was wondering if anyone else is teaching themselves how to play. So far its been a month and I can make bar chords actually sound like something but not a whole lot more. Ive been resorting to youtube tutorials mostly and jump from song to song before mastering one. Any other guitar players here?

http://www.justinguitar.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/JustinSandercoe

Justin is the man if you are starting out. He is an exceptional teacher.


See also:
http://jguitar.com/

All free.

Every single inversion or whatever is on there. Scales. Whatever you can think of in your mind and lay down on the frets - it is here.


Between these two, you should be a pretty rocking guitarist within a few weeks. I'm happy to take PMs from people that want further advice, but I don't know what else to offer.

From beginner to advanced, impress them with your skills.


Playing guitar is one of the most simple things anyone can do to improve their game. No need for expensive books or courses.


This is a very nice one. Very reasonably priced.
http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/guitars-basses/ac-guitars/fg/fg720s/?mode=model

It has an excellent tone. You need to spend a good few hundred bucks or more to better this. It looks great too.

Get a nice gig bag to carry it around in.

And best of all, just learn to say or mumble a few words over the top as you drone on. They will think you a Sage. Best bang for buck, ever.

And maybe, soon, you can start writing songs with your new found confidence. It is a positive feedback loop. Then it just gets better.

Something to consider anyway, Gentlemen.
 

unbowed

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Much respect to thedude3737 for playing classical guitar. The amount of dedication and practice it takes is intense. I want to expand a bit on what both thedude3737 and Ethan Amarante mentioned in regards to theory.

But first OP, what's your goal for the guitar?

Guitar can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It's important to keep in mind why you want to play guitar. There's different goals to set if you want to strum some chords to girls in the park, play in a garage band, or seriously start gigging in a jazz ensemble or have a solo classical recital. The jazz/classical path require a large chunk of time and dedication on multiple fronts. Being able to play to a metronome using different patterns will be useful in many situations, as has been discussed.

I talked to a jazz guitarist once and he said guitarists have massive egos, that guitarists think emotion and heart is all you need to play. And I don't want to say you should be a pure technical speed demon, because you do need the heart, but technique and theory will open up a whole new frontier, which will end up giving you a wider range of emotion.

While technique and theory are important foundations, it's still music and there has be room for emotion. You can "master" vibrato and bends and such, and yet still, as new agey as it sounds, there is a "soulful" way to it. I know a Chinese girl who could play Chopin "flawlessly" but didn't give two shits about him or the Raindrop Prelude. The heart has to be there, otherwise we might as well have a player piano (guitar?)

Scales are good and terrible. Scales aren't music, they're just a framework for making sense of things like melodies and chords. In addition to practicing your scales, make sure you have a harmony book to help give perspective on scales and chords.

It may seem overly mathematical and technical at first, but once you get the hang of harmony and intervals, you'll be able to weave in and out of scale patterns. Instead of just playing up and down scale patterns, you will understand how to derive chords and melodies from scales. Silence and ommission are necessary parts of music.

I like to play guitar as a form of meditation. I find myself exploring it in different ways depending on my mood, literally watching my disposition transform or sometimes randomly discovering a new idea I can write down.

Again it's all about what you're looking to get out of it. Some people want to bash away, others want to serenade, still others want to break it down to the last interval or everything and then some.
 
unbowed said:
It may seem overly mathematical and technical at first, but once you get the hang of harmony and intervals, you'll be able to weave in and out of scale patterns. Instead of just playing up and down scale patterns, you will understand how to derive chords and melodies from scales. Silence and ommission are necessary parts of music.

There's been some fantastic advice in this thread but this paragraph sticks out to me.

It seems to me that two dominant approaches have emerged in this thread - one based on playing by ear and the other with a grounding in theory.

I could talk all day about music theory because that's how I learnt and such an approach makes particular sense to me with my background but I know some fantastic musicians who have only a very rudimentary understanding of it. My major gripe with a less theoretical approach is not so much that you can't become a great musician, but that I believe it to be less conducive to writing very original compositions, which was always my goal.

A lot of people make the intuitive argument that studying music theory makes you more likely to repeat what's already been done but, based purely on anecdotal evidence, I find the opposite to be true - that those with a high degree of proficiency with musical theory are able to use that understanding to go beyond what others have. I'm more keen on 'classical' music than rock now, and, of course, the vast majority of good composers from the 'classical' era(s) were as groundbreaking as they were knowledgeable theorists.

I don't think the two approaches are fundamentally incompatible, though. I see no reason why someone cannot play a piece back by ear and understand the technical details behind the piece - if anything the two approaches should be complimentary.

unbowed said:
Again it's all about what you're looking to get out of it. Some people want to bash away, others want to serenade, still others want to break it down to the last interval or everything and then some.

I don't want to go off-topic, but sometimes I wish I hadn't stopped playing before I really got into game - have you ever made use of your talents in this way, Unbowed? Perhaps one day I'll use music for game, but that'll probably be in the distant future.
 

Veloce

Crow
Gold Member
unbowed said:
Much respect to thedude3737 for playing classical guitar. The amount of dedication and practice it takes is intense. I want to expand a bit on what both thedude3737 and Ethan Amarante mentioned in regards to theory.

But first OP, what's your goal for the guitar?

Guitar can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It's important to keep in mind why you want to play guitar. There's different goals to set if you want to strum some chords to girls in the park, play in a garage band, or seriously start gigging in a jazz ensemble or have a solo classical recital. The jazz/classical path require a large chunk of time and dedication on multiple fronts. Being able to play to a metronome using different patterns will be useful in many situations, as has been discussed.

I talked to a jazz guitarist once and he said guitarists have massive egos, that guitarists think emotion and heart is all you need to play. And I don't want to say you should be a pure technical speed demon, because you do need the heart, but technique and theory will open up a whole new frontier, which will end up giving you a wider range of emotion.

While technique and theory are important foundations, it's still music and there has be room for emotion. You can "master" vibrato and bends and such, and yet still, as new agey as it sounds, there is a "soulful" way to it. I know a Chinese girl who could play Chopin "flawlessly" but didn't give two shits about him or the Raindrop Prelude. The heart has to be there, otherwise we might as well have a player piano (guitar?)

Scales are good and terrible. Scales aren't music, they're just a framework for making sense of things like melodies and chords. In addition to practicing your scales, make sure you have a harmony book to help give perspective on scales and chords.

It may seem overly mathematical and technical at first, but once you get the hang of harmony and intervals, you'll be able to weave in and out of scale patterns. Instead of just playing up and down scale patterns, you will understand how to derive chords and melodies from scales. Silence and ommission are necessary parts of music.

I like to play guitar as a form of meditation. I find myself exploring it in different ways depending on my mood, literally watching my disposition transform or sometimes randomly discovering a new idea I can write down.

Again it's all about what you're looking to get out of it. Some people want to bash away, others want to serenade, still others want to break it down to the last interval or everything and then some.

You make some solid points.

There are plenty of guys coming out of Musician's Institute that are playing scales at 200+ bpm on the metronome. Guys that study Steve Vai and John Petrucci like they're gods (and they very well might be). Much of the time these guys are lacking feeling in their playing and get caught up in jerking themselves off with fast licks.

In the classical realm it's the same. I've gone to classical recitals at USC, where the department is headed by members of the LAGQ and Pepe Romero, and been terribly disappointed. Kids that were biting off more than they could chew, completely lacking feeling, etc.

All I can say is, like any art, I find it's best to know the rules before you break them. It's best to be able to play each note perfectly on beat before you start breaking out the legato and rubato.

And yes it is about what any music student wants to get out of it, but I still maintain that scales are the ultimate practice. I'm not just talking major/minor scales. I'm talking learning pentatonic scales in each key and in each fret position. If you can play your pentatonic scales in each key and fret position, you can solo along to 99.99% of any rock or blues song in existence. At first it'll sound mechanical, that's fine. Play your scales. Then when you can do this shit with your eyes closed, that's when you smoke a blunt, think about your childhood dog that got hit by a car, and really let it rip.
 

unbowed

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Ethan Amarante said:
My major gripe with a less theoretical approach is not so much that you can't become a great musician, but that I believe it to be less conducive to writing very original compositions, which was always my goal.

This reminds me of what a music performance friend told me, that at some point you have to decide if you want to be the performer or writer. He says it's not impossible to be both, but under time constraints, you will probably be nudged one way or the other.

If OP just wants to perform, then scale practice, metronomes and guitar techniques will be more than enough.

I still think a bit of harmony will help put the entire thing in perspective, but I don't think he will be needing to buckle down and learn serialism or any of that jazz.

Ethan Amarante said:
I don't think the two approaches are fundamentally incompatible, though. I see no reason why someone cannot play a piece back by ear and understand the technical details behind the piece - if anything the two approaches should be complimentary.

Definitely not. Having an ear for licks and a knack for details is a killer combination. I'm thinking Django Reinhardt going from oral tradition to songwriter or Jimi Hendrix from experimental rock to wanting to compose classical (before his untimely death).

Ethan Amarante said:
I don't want to go off-topic, but sometimes I wish I hadn't stopped playing before I really got into game - have you ever made use of your talents in this way, Unbowed? Perhaps one day I'll use music for game, but that'll probably be in the distant future.

Maybe it's different in Germany but in the US people seemed to care more that you knew an anthem or some kind of gimmick theme. Anything not Jack Johnson or Beatles related was only appreciated by other musicians... hence a bunch of nerds high fiving each other :laugh: Having a "prop" like a guitar was considered cool, especially if you can make the people feel familiar emotions. Flogging Molly, Oasis and Bob Dylan were safe bets.

Maybe I'll build a new repertoire and head to the park one of these days now that I've graduated from the school riff raff.

thedude3737 said:
All I can say is, like any art, I find it's best to know the rules before you break them. It's best to be able to play each note perfectly on beat before you start breaking out the legato and rubato.

And yes it is about what any music student wants to get out of it, but I still maintain that scales are the ultimate practice. I'm not just talking major/minor scales. I'm talking learning pentatonic scales in each key and in each fret position. If you can play your pentatonic scales in each key and fret position, you can solo along to 99.99% of any rock or blues song in existence. At first it'll sound mechanical, that's fine. Play your scales. Then when you can do this shit with your eyes closed, that's when you smoke a blunt, think about your childhood dog that got hit by a car, and really let it rip.


.......
Start by learning all major and minor chords, and their various positions on the fretboard.

Then learn 7th chords.

Then learn diminished and augmented chords.

This will give you a good foundation for playing different chords in different keys.

If you want to solo, then it's time to learn scales. Learn your circle of 5ths. Learn minor, melodic minor, and harmonic minor. Learn how to play in each of the 7 modes.

It's funny because what you said in this post and your first one about the different chords is almost literally all a player needs. The trick is to really get the player to sink it all in. Literally, scales and chords in every key. Sounds daunting almost. This is why I would recommend an intro to harmony to put it all into context. Intervals, chord movements etc. At least that's what worked for me. Reminds me to go brush up on some scalework.

If you "get" what a major/minor/penatonic scale is/does, then it becomes a simple matter of mapping it out on the fretboard and putting in that metronome/nimble finger work.

I'm just worried that pure technical know-how will put someone in the dreaded scale box patterns trap. I'd rather a new generation of guitarists start out not mimicking John Petrucci. It's a fine line between musicality and shred. Give me a Django or a Barney Kessel and I'm all ears.
 

blacknwhitespade

Kingfisher
swishhboy25 said:
I was wondering if anyone else is teaching themselves how to play. So far its been a month and I can make bar chords actually sound like something but not a whole lot more. Ive been resorting to youtube tutorials mostly and jump from song to song before mastering one. Any other guitar players here?

Once you get your basic chords down, start listening along to songs, trying to dissect them and figure out the chord progression. This is a fun process that will teach you some songs and help develop your ear.
 

DDub

Chicken
Here is a resource that I recently created myself that I'll share with you all. Its helpful for learning how to play specific songs. No theory, no lessons, just help learning to play a specific song.

It combines useful resources from around the web into a single location - Original Song, Song Tutorial, Song Cover, Lyrics, Chords, Guitar Chord Shapes.

Hope you find it as helpful as I do - www.VizzyGuitar.com
 

RockHard

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Switch said:
Learn Stairway to Heaven. Really simple finger picking and the fingering on the fretboard isn't hard at all. Once you learn it (or just the main parts) it'll be a huge confidence boost and something easy to break out at parties.

One resource that is absolutely amazing is songsterr.com. I've never used the paid version but even the free version is awesome.

Songsterr requires a paid account to work on mobile, so there's that. That said, it's an awesome resource. I'll fall back on Ultimate Guitar or other tab sites if I must, but Songsterr is my go to.

Just saw a groupon for a place that does group lessons in a pub setting. Basically, go to a bar on a tuesday night, get a beer, and sit in a circle learning songs. Their sites pix all show a group w/ more girls than guys, though my bet is those are beginner classes. Still for $30 I might check it out as a venue to meet...
 

Andy_B

Kingfisher
Gold Member
I've been playing on and off since 6th grade.

I was really good for my age when I was like 13 but I stopped practicing regularly when I was in high school. I'm now just average for a moderately experienced player.

The thing about guitar is there are so many good players out there you'll always feel like you suck. Practically everybody plays guitar. If you're doing this as a game thing you'll want to pick something more unique.
 
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