Jump to content

Question for all you guitar players


Recommended Posts

I know I should just take lessons, but I'm poor and stubborn.

 

So I picked up a "teach yourself guitar" book at the local borders, and I've worked my way half through it. I can play a bunch of basic chords, scales, etc. but thats about it.

 

What's the best direction to head in, in order to really understand how to move around the guitar?

 

Lately I've been spending my time memorizing what all the lines and spaces on the staff represent to help me with site reading, and now I'm memorizing what all the notes are for the different frets and strings on the guitar. Does it prove very useful to have a "visual map" of the fretboard or is this a stupid excercise? I figure the map is going to change with every new tuning I use...

 

Any advice? Thanks for listening

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One suggestion, and it may sound a bit silly:

 

Find a song you like and learn it, and the find another, and repeat. This will make the process seem less like work, and more like play.

 

You can also pick up books with tablature which can also make the process easier.

 

Remember, its called "playing" music, not "Working" music

Link to comment
Share on other sites

your making things much harder than they need to be. There are tons of guitar tab sites on the internet ... if you can read sheet music than guitar tablatrure should only take you a few seconds to figure out. Start by trying to play some songs that you like. Keep in mind that guitar tabs are usually not 100% accurate on the internet but they can get you close, and you can use your ears to figure out the rest (sometimes I wonder where the people that write tabs on the net come from).

 

Even if you don't want to get tabs off the net, then pick up some guitar mags ... or better yet, talk to a guitar player that you know and see if he's willing to lend you some old guitar mags that he has laying around. After you learn a few bits of songs get together with someone and have them watch you play ... early on I had some people point out some easy things that I wasn't doing.

 

For me the important thing was to learn other peoples songs ... that meant that I played more often.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I found helpful was taking a recording of a song in a known key, or recording a vamp in that key, and solo over it using only one string. Call out the names of the notes in your head as you do it. Move to the next string and do the same. When you get those down, solo with two strings. This will not only help you with the note names in that often uncharted territory high on the neck, but also help you think in a way other than soloing in position. It also forces you to think of other ways to make your playing interesting - utilizing hammer-ons and pull-offs, slides, different articulations, dynamics, etc.

 

Just a thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I disagree stay away from TAB it is the heroin of music. I congratulate you on studying reading and basic theory, but like KlarkKent007 said time to learn some tunes you like, music is to be fun. With students I get them playing Blues because it help develop a sense of time, playing chord changes, listening to the drums and focusing on groove. It is also simple music to start working on your ear. I would stay keep doing what your doing, but add playing some tunes.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

OK you have the basics, now learn to use your ears. The techniquie depends on the style. I've played viola in a symphony orchestra, studied music theory, played classical guitar & finger style. I've also played twenty years in a country rock band. When I work out a complex finger style from sheet music I spend a lot of time memorizeing the sheet music using notation, tab, or a combination of both. Then I toss the sheet an play completely from memory. However if I'm working up a country/rock number that I intend to play with the band, I toss the sheet music and do everything by ear. Get a recording that you can start and stop an repeat at a precise phrase, either a cassete tape or record from DVD to a track in logic and use the position pointer to play the difficult phrases over and over. Then start picking it apart strum by strum, phrase by phrase until you can duplicate what the orignal artist did. You will have to learn to separate the parts, bass from rythm or lead gutiar. At first this will take and inordinate amount of time, not hours, but days, learning one song. Your skill will increase and if you are persistent, and have a decent ear, it will get eaiser. I can dissect the hook, rythm, and lead of most popular songs in less than an hour or so. If you really want to get serious about it, mute the recording and step write the bass line and drums on a midi track in logic to play along with.

 

good luck

 

Les

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of the above is good advice. I hate TAB too but I've used it. In addition I have found it helpful to sing the part as you play. Also memorizing patterns or shapes of various scales on the fretboard. ie.minor pentatonic.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree with what some others here say about Tablature and that you should stay away from it. Learn scales first because that way you'll know what the notes and intervals are. Once you master some of these start training your ear. When you start doing that, you'll be able to determine what key a song is in just by having figured a few notes. It will eliminate a lot guess work when you're trying to figure what notes/chords to play. If the song you're trying to learn has vocals, try to learn the melody on the guitar and that will help you figure out what key it's in too. It's makes it a little easier. Good luck. When you become a shredder you'll have to put some music up for us to listen to.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey everyone, just got back from a camping trip and I'm overwhelmed at all the replies. Thanks for all the advice! I guess I do need to have more fun on the guitar :) . I'd like to stick to notation as much as possible and not resort to tab. I learned to play drums reading on the staff, and I really appreciate how easy it is to read timing this way. Has anyone used a phrase catcher? I guess you can loop and slow down solos and phrases without changing their pitch... or does anyone know a simple way to do this in logic 7 :-D? I think I'm going to try looping some songs tonight and figuring my way through them by ear.

 

Another thing... I'm sure this will come with time but, how do you know what chord shapes to use when you are learning a song by ear? Lead is easier for me to figure out because its one note at a time, but chords escape me. THANKS AGAIN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being poor is a fair excuse for not taking lessons; being cheap is not. Sure, books and videos are great. But they are no substitute for working one-on-one with a teacher. If that were the case, teachers would have been phased out of existence long ago.

 

Quick story: I took up the bassoon a few months ago. I bought a book, learned some fingerings, starting honking away. But the book didn't tell me how to properly blow into the reed, or how to play a hard passage easier by using certain alternate fingerings. The book didn't point out when I was getting lazy about mainiting the proper embouchure, and the book definitely didn't tell me how to get a good tone. I was only getting so far, so a few weeks into it I called the local music school and booked a few lessons with a teacher. It was cheap -- $20 for a half hour. Working one-on-one with her totally inspired me and clarified a million things that I was doing wrong and that the book couldn't cover.

 

So if you're serious, take some lessons. The right teacher will soooooo seriously up the ante in terms of your inspiration and your progress. :mrgreen:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So if you're serious, take some lessons. The right teacher will soooooo seriously up the ante in terms of your inspiration and your progress. :mrgreen:
Concur... Plus, you are to do the "home work". If you don't, the teach will yell at you. And as you know, practice makes perfect.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely get a teacher. At least until you understand enough about the guitar and feel comfortable to go on your own. I'd say then learn songs. But don't just learn them. Break them down and analyze what is happening. I found that to be a great learning method . My theory was expanding as well as my chord and scale vocabulary. I always found it kind of pointless to just learn scales and chords without any context as to how they related to each other.

 

HAve a good one. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One suggestion, and it may sound a bit silly:

 

Find a song you like and learn it, and the find another, and repeat. This will make the process seem less like work, and more like play.

 

I did that! and its really amusing to hear me attempt to play Motorhead - Iron Fist i tell you!!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There were already a lot of good suggestions on this thread. If you really want to learn to move around freely on the fretboard, I would suggest learning minor and major scales in all modes. Maybe start off with pentatonic minor. There are only five notes in this scale, but you will find these notes all over the fretboard. Once you learn the notes in one key, you play it the same in every other key, just in a different position on the guitar. Someone mentioned learning the blues. I think this i a good idea, as it will allow you to experiment with the notes you learn from practicing scales. Someone else mentioned learning all the notes from a scale on a single string, this is also an important part of knowing your intervals and being able to improvise. Learning the different modes to your scales in my opinion is the key to opening the fretboard up. This will show you how the notes are distributed across the fretboard for a given scale. You will also learn how to change key without moving your hand position, just by changing the mode. A good teacher who really knows how to play would probably help, but in my experience it is like finding a good doctor. I would recommend Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long books - they come with a cd of a rhythm section playing, so you can improvise. Also the Guitar Grimoir series books are really cool to learn from. I think there is one called "scales and modes". Good luck.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

You asked about transcribing rhythm guitar (chords shapes etc...) as opposed to lead guitar: I was asking myself the same thing last year or the year before, and when I asked my teacher about this (innocently expecting an easy, one off reply) he just said...practise practise practise..! and well he was right.

 

But first, instead of thinking about the different chord shapes and which ones are being used, just try to figure out what chords are being played, in other words what the progression is. If you're having trouble, really try to distinguish what the bass note is. Especially if you're listening to pop/rock then the bass note is most likely to be one of the notes of the basic triad.

 

Once you're good at this, try to figure out chord progressions in tracks where the guitar isn't the dominant instrument, this will really develop your ears.

 

But tbh if you're transcribing stuff from pop/rock genres the chord shapes are quite often basic barre chords, so keep on trying them in the 5 basic shapes, until you really hear the one that was used (google the CAGED acronym for more info).

 

However, although it is quite a good exercise to and useful ability to figure out the exact chord shapes, don't get too engrossed into always wanting to play the exact same way as the musician, because sometimes there are easier/more logical ways of playing things! (that especially goes if you're figuring stuff out from tab books or worse, the internet (but that was mentioned already i think...)

 

Having said that, I do occasionally find myself checking live performances of guitarists on YouTube just to see what exactly they are doing lol :lol:

 

Good luck!

 

J.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stuff I do:

There used to be a video (Youtube?) of Django Reinhardt and friends riding a train and jammin' a tune. Somewhere in the song he looks up into the camera and smiles. I've seen that smile on many a great artist. That smile is "why" music happens and how musicians are compelled to practice and play. Follow the Smile.

 

Use a mirror.

Watch for when it looks easy and natural. When it feels good, look at what you are doing. Simple. A mirror helps you find out what you don't have to do. We don't have to lift our left hand fingers that high, they can ride just slightly above the string. Cool, there it is. That is what it looks like when it is working.

 

Breathe your phrases.

Melodic phrases, Chord Progressions, Rhythmic Phrases. Breathing your phrases energizes your muscles and helps you keep them relaxed. Breathing your phrases helps you shape the music artistically. Since you "said" that you are stubborn- you are probably gonna practice what - 10 hrs. a day? You need to stay relaxed. :D

 

Vibrato.

An excellent way to loosen up your left arm, wrist and hand is the vibrato. Like a violinist. Start the vibrato slowly and increase the speed. Do it again, each finger. Move up and down the fretboard sliding on one string. Vibrato also helps determine how much energy you actually need to expend to work the strings. Most of the tension in the left hand is caused by the thumb. But the tension itself starts in the forearm muscles. Vibrato = good.

 

The whole Guitar Grimoire series is fantastic. As far as the fretboard goes, it is all there.

 

Making sense of it musically still boils down to :

Tell your story. Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell, Sing, and Dance something everyday...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Why are so many players opposed to using TABs? They can be a tremendous learning tool to the young guitarist that is just starting out. Power Tabs are especially helpful because they print the treble clef with the melodies above the TAB, that way you're learning both at the same time. PowerTab is a Windows program for learning and playing songs. It's free and there are thousands of tabs that are very accurate.

Keep learning standard notation, but don't let the stigma of using TABs keep you from learning the songs you love; that would be terribly unfortunate.

Two things I would suggest before you do anything else: 1. Buy and use a metronome and 2. Learn the major scale all over the fretboard.

If you learn to play with a metronome, your sense of timing and rhythm will shine through when you start playing with others. This is so important! Young players don't realize this all the time, because not all of us had teachers. If you can learn the major scale all over the fretboard you will be able to play (with the proper theoretical instruction) all modes of all keys. Because everything in Western music is based in the major scale and its modes, that is the basis you should begin from. After all, where do the minor pentatonics that are so fondly spoken of come from? You guessed it.

Lastly, have fun and rock your f-in' socks off! Play what you love and surround yourself with as much music as you can and those people who enjoy it as much as you do. You'll be inspired to continue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

The way I did it was to find tabs, learn them, have fun, then write a couple of songs, and play those songs in a band. in my opinion there is no substitute for getting out and playing with other musicians, my timing improved, i had more fun.

 

Music isn't all about the theory, altho thankfully i had a lot of that from playing bass for a number of years before that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way I did it was to find tabs, learn them, have fun, then write a couple of songs, and play those songs in a band. in my opinion there is no substitute for getting out and playing with other musicians, my timing improved, i had more fun.

 

Music isn't all about the theory, altho thankfully i had a lot of that from playing bass for a number of years before that.

 

As for even better timing as a guitar player, record guitar to complex drum sequences in Logic, for example do Take folders -- then do critical listening and learn from the mistakes.

 

Bands are fun, but hard to get timing practice especially in bands and jams where the sloppiness goes across all the players, starting from the drummer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

learn the neck well.

 

then learn all the chord positions, root 6th string, root 5th string, and root 4th string

 

also learn scales...

 

your ears are your best tool but knowing your way around the neck makes it easier to decipher what you are hearing.

 

Oh and practice early and often...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

oooh oooh I know I know!!!!

 

 

I used to use a site called http://www.wholenote.com] wholenote.com

 

 

It will play out the tabs for you so you can hear what it sounds like. There are songs and scales, and even a tuner. It will show you all the modes (scales) all over the entire fretboard which of course you can translate into any key.

 

But although I got some from this site. I figured out many scales on my own by ear. I just like to play and write and create my own things. That truly is the beauty of music isn't it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking back, if there was things I wish I could go back 6 years ago and tell me to focus on. It would be theory and site reading. I would have spent less time reading tabs and more using my ears. Then I wished I had started writing earlier. I'm sure most people can agree with me, but writing and playing are opposite ends of the spectrum.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I know this is kinda an old thread, but I thought I would put in my 2 cents as a guitar player of 13 years with many regrets on how I learned.

 

Theory is definitely the BEST way to get around on the fret board. I still learn things every day that allow for more interesting improvisation.

 

Which brings up another thing: Improvisation is what I found to be the key to composing. Them jazz guys got it right, man.

 

My view about Tabs is similar to others here: Try to avoid if you can! I find that they slow you down in your progress. The music staff was designed for reading music! It does great things that tabs don't. The key signature mixed with the fact that you can actually see the intervals as you play make it much easier in the long run. I've never met anyone that could sight-read tabs.

 

Teachers are great! They can kill bad habits before they start and can make you see things in a way that you wouldn't on your own.

 

If your budget doesn't allow for a teacher (I've definitely been there!) I find that the "Guitar Grimoire: Scales & Modes" combined with "Guitar Grimoire: Exercise Book" make for a great combination. Use the scales you learn in one with the exercises you learn in the other! :-)

 

I think the most important thing is really to get involved with theory. You will start to feel like you hit a creative brick wall without it. Guitar will start to seem boring. Even if it takes 10 years. (Been there too) :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a keyboard player, but I took the path less followed and I believe I'm the better for it.

 

I focused on melodies rather than chords. I figured the chords would come anyway, but I was surrounded by musicians who had nothing to say when it was time to solo. So I got hungry for melodies.

Get a teacher. I am surrounded by keyboardists with terrible habits who have hit the top of all they'll ever be able to do physically, because they won't curve their fingers, pass the thumb under, etc. A teacher will help you build a real foundation that will support the level of music you want to hear. Also be aware, though, that all the best guitar players are "self taught". This is the searching for a speaking voice. Self taught doesn't mean you refuse to learn from others. (You'll be surprised how many skilled musicians will let you video them for free. If they're doing something you can't do but want to, video and take it home. Bite their style...)

Learn scales. For guitar, learn finger picking styles. Learn to play distortion as an instrument all its own.

Learn to play your axe by ear. I was groomed for classical composition as a child, and did reasonably well at it, but I hated it. It wasn't until I developed my own "speaking voice" that I began to love music in a real way. Followers play it as it's written - leaders orate, they speak and you can hear that they have something to say.

The whole purpose of sheet music, tab, and all that, is to communicate to you the SOUND the writer intended. Look at your sheet music, tab, listen to the recordings, and then identify what it is that gives the composition its "quality" or uniqueness. It might just be the turnaround at the end of the chorus, and nothing more. Leave stuff out when you can - when taste dictates.

Check out the guitar solos in That'll Be the Day. There's no rocket science there: just that the guitar players figured out what they wanted to say, and said it so precisely, so beautifully, that it establishes a level of elegance that stands like a tower over a dismal landscape of rock-and-roll virtuousity. (It isn't that you have to like this music, just to realize that more notes and skill do not necessarily mean more communication/music.)

Gee, what a nice soapbox. I need to get down. Will you hold it for me?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I agree that developing your ear will speed up learning. You need to make a connection between the mechanics and the resulting sound. Pick out phrases from you favorite songs and try to play them. Stay away from difficult phrases at first. Another important point is your practice routine. Practice short and often rather than long and infrequently. Find a routine that starts with warm up exercises and practice them with a metronome. Start slow and only speed up when timing and tone are good. Do some ear training after warm up. Finally, work on you repitoire. Take a tune and break it down, noting similar passages and difficult passages. Work on them one passage at a time until you get it down then move on to the next passage until you are comfortable with the song. Use a metronome to keep yourself in time and start slow.

 

Once you feel comfortable get out and play with other munsicians. Jam tracks can be good also.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't been playing that long, but I do have advice on what made me better.

 

1. Learn some of your favorite songs. Ones that are difficult, but not impossible. For me, when I learned a new song I'd also learn new techniques along the way. I learned how to do stuff like octaves, muting strings and economy picking by learning other songs that used those techniques.

 

2. Put a chart up on the wall with every fret and what note that fret is. Something like this:

 

E A D G B E

 

1 F A# D# G# C F

2 F# B E A C# F# etc.

 

It helps you when writing songs, and after a while you start seeing which notes harmonize and fit in a chord together. It also helps when writing songs.

 

3. Write songs. Keep it fun, and try to challenge yourself.

 

4. If you can't play something, play it slow, and a MILLION times. After a while you'll be able to play it great. This goes for any technique, too. Also, don't let yourself ever play something wrong. That's how you develop habits. (I had to practice pinch harmonics for WEEKS before I got it right.

 

5. Watch videos of other musicians doing things. Pause it, look at EXACTLY what they're doing, look at their hand shape and and copy it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My suggestion is: skip the theory and try playing along with songs you like. You don't need a book to tell you how to play. Follow your ears and try identifying notes played in songs, and then try to find them on the instrument. This is by far the best way to both learn the instrument, as well as developing your own style of play.

 

It's not until much later in your progress that you MAY benefit from any music theory. Pay close attention to the "may". In reality, theory is not something you have to know or understand to be a good musician.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...