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Advice on how to "really learn" guitar for someone who's been playing for years?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by trumpus, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. trumpus

    trumpus Supporting Member

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    Hey all,

    This a hard realization to come to, but i have to admit it - i've been playing guitar, in bands, with other people, and live for about 9 or 10 years, but I don't really know what i'm doing!

    Sure, i know a few scales, and my solo work even sounds pretty good, but when it comes down to it, i don't really know what i'm doing!

    I'm not currently playing with anyone and as a result, the minimal skills and the riff and licks that i once knew are almost gone, as i haven't been practicing or playing regularly for a year or two. I figure since i'm regressing, now would be a good time to start over and really try to learn something to make me a better player. I've thought about taking lessons (i'd really like to learn how to play Jazz or Bluegrass well), but realistically, time and money won't allow anything on a regular basis right now.

    I guess i am looking for advice on books, DVD's, websites, etc...to help with the basics for the not-so-beginner. I'm looking for lessons, practicing routines or exercises, a small amount of theory and such. I don't read music now - i used to in highschooll when i played the saxaphone - but that's at least 10 years ago, so i wouldn't hold out for that info to magically come back.

    Does anyone have any good recommendations? I mean, if the thought is to take lessons, i'm sure i could work something out, but it's not the most realistic option for me right now....

    Thanks!

    Brian
     
  2. rhp52

    rhp52 Supporting Member

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    Brian-
    I think your best bet is to find a teacher who can evaluate you. You'll probably have to 're-learn' some things if your objective is to know why you are playing what you are. I've been doing this now for about 2 1/2 years and the results can best be described as the fingerboard opening up to you. when you get down to it, you need to know some theory, how to use triads to solo, chord substitutions, etc. I have been playing for years and finally had to admint i was a fraud as a guitar player. if you want to be able to play like some of the guys around here i believe that is where you start.
    Perhaps some of the great players who frequent this forum could chime in ?

    good luck
     
  3. trumpus

    trumpus Supporting Member

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    That's kinda what i thought - but I was hoping there were some things i could do on my own now, befoe finding a teach and such.

    Another complication is that i am going to be moving from Colorado in July, and I would hate to find someone i really like and have to leave.

    Brian
     
  4. dave s

    dave s Member

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    Brian:

    You cited a lot of 'positives' in your posts.

    1) If you've been playing in bands, with others and playing/gigging in a live situation for 9-10 years, you're actually probably a LOT better player than you think. Seems if you sucked, you'd have figured it out 8 years ago.

    2) Don't know what you're doing? I'd venture a guess that MOST guitarists (me included) can't tell you HALF of what we do on these 6-stringed monsters! Honestly, I don't think anybody really cares, either.

    3) Playing guitar doesn't closely resemble riding a bike. If you don't play regularly, chops go quickly. Do you have an opportunity to play, jam or gig with others? That type of pressure usually works to jump start the practicing, playing and often results in better chops.

    The only thing that makes me feel better about my playing is learning new material that contains something 'new to me' on the fretboard.

    Sign me a 'black belt functional illiterate on guitar!'

    dave
     
  5. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    Many of the best books that I've come across (Marc Levine's "Jazz Theory Book," Mick Goodrick's Advancing Guitarist, anything by Ted Greene) will either require music reading skills or at least require it to gain full value. I'm also a converted saxophonist - luckily I found that music reading came back to me pretty quick. I'm not an expert sight-reader by any means, but I can generally see what is going on and learn from a piece of notated music.

    As a refresher course on reading to open up a wealth of great material, you might try the old Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method or something ... reading Twinkle Twinkle may be beneath your level in the short term (so make sure you keep playing other stuff to keep you happy), but once you feel you can read again you can turn to any other book or magazine and find great lessons everywhere. Each book used to be $5 or so.
     
  6. dogfood

    dogfood Member

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    I was pondering all this today and this struck a chord. I have recently stepped up to lead wanker in the band and need to expand my virtually non existant lead tricks. I have the skill to play 80% of the lead material out there, but have few tricks. I think I need a thread.
     
  7. sinner

    sinner Member

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    I've heard many people rave about some Eric Johnson learning DVD, haven't seen it yet myself, maybe someone here who has can jump in with a review.

    Regarding books: Ted Greene has several terrific books, Chord Chemistry, Jazz Soloing vol. 1 & 2, these are also hailed as great tools for every guitarists. If you are good with taking the lead from books, rather than a teacher, then the Ted Greene books are the way to go!
     
  8. 98FlySupreme

    98FlySupreme Member

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    +1 Ted Greene. Ted is a must in the realm of guitar books. I think he has a book called Modern Chord progressions that you might like.

    +1 Eric Johnson. (supposedly the new DVD isn't as technical as the original Hotlicks videos/DVDs, but I hear the section on chording is good)

    Also check out Fretboard Logic.

    May I also recommend trying to play some fingerstyle acoustic guitar. When I started this, it opened up a lot of new avenues for my playing. You have to keep a bass and melody going at the same time, which is like rubbing your belly and tapping your head at the same time on a pogo stick. You start to feel things you've never felt before, and the chord/melody relationship will make much more sense. It's a very demanding style. Just for the record, you can use a good program like PowerTab or TEFView to see and hear the notes in real time. Just ask me if you want some specific links to good beginner pieces.
     
  9. amper

    amper Member

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    I'll admit I'm pretty much in the same situation, and add this...

    I've noticed that the times when I really progressed more as a player are the times when I was forced into unknown territory, like when our original lead guitarist quit the band unexpectedly, and I had to step up from rhythm for awhile. Then, when our original bassist quit unexpectedly, and I moved to bass. Also when I started jamming casually with a couple of guys from work who were much better players than me. And, when I unexpectedly found myself becoming interested in the blues maybe a year or so ago.

    Other than that, my chops have tended to progress whenever one of our new songs demanded it.

    So, my first recommendation would be for you to find some cats to play with, even as a casual get-together. It's surprising how much new ideas can push you along. That's one of the reasons why I'd like to re-add a fourth member to my band. I think we need some new ideas. I may even switch back to guitar.
     
  10. e-z

    e-z Member

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    I think a teacher is the way to go. I started taking lessons seriously about a year ago and it has helped tremendously. I get very busy with work and can't always make the time but I get knowledge in digestible chunks and I have something to focus on in practice.
     
  11. devbro

    devbro Member

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    Several years ago I auditioned for a corporate band. You know, the 10 piece tuxedo gig with horns and the whole shebang and got the gig. I'd been playing in bands for years, mostly rock, and these guys were playing stuff all over the map - jazz standards, big band all the way to Creed. I quickly realized that if I didn't learn to read charts I was sunk - especially for the dinner sets. The problem was while I knew allot of chords, I couldn't tell you what they were because I'd played by ear for so many years. Before I could read charts, I had to learn the names of all those chord I'd been playing.

    I got a book with about every chord known to man in every position and began the painful process of learning what they were. Once I could associate the chord by name, I found some good instruction on chart reading on the internet. Who ever thought I'd need to know what D.S. al Coda meant anyway?

    Long story short, learning jazz standards and how to read charts opened up new territiory that changed my whole way of looking at the fingerboard and how I approach rock as well and I didn't need to pay a kings ransom for lessons.............yet.
     
  12. ES350

    ES350 Member

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    challenge yourself (new teacher, new tunes, new style, new habits)---
    if you want to do it, you will. If you don't, you won't.
     
  13. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Amper: That's the ticket! It is the challenge that makes things happen. Jamming, meeting and playing with new people can work wonders over time. It's not an instant thing, more like you raise your hand to indicate willingness to experiment and learn ... then there's no telling what comes your way.
     
  14. trumpus

    trumpus Supporting Member

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    I absolutely agree with the idea of challenging yourself. When i first started, this was how i basically learned! I jumped right into playing with other people, especially those that were significantly better than me, which drove me to play better and try new things.

    In my current situation, i don't really have the time or connections to play with people, and I will likely be moving in the next several months back to the east coast, so i don't know how i would facilitate this, but i am definately looking for a casual jam to help keep my chops up...

    Brian
     
  15. Cap'n Fingers

    Cap'n Fingers Member

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    + 1. There have been a lot of good books mentioned hear but to get the most from them you need a basic grasp of theory. A good teacher can give you a sense of direction and applied theory concepts. Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry is a fantastic book but I didn't really get much out of it until I had been taught some basic theory. After that I realized I would be refering to that book for the rest of my life. ;)
    I know you said it's not a realistic option, at this time, to get lessons but you will save your self a lot of time and frustration if you do.

    Good Luck!
     
  16. NeuroLogic

    NeuroLogic Supporting Member

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    In a prog rock context Doug Doppler's DVD/jam tracks is very good. An excellent teacher, right to the point and a nice base of music theory.
     
  17. johncart

    johncart Guest

    I agree with finding a good teacher..even if it is for a short time.you mentioned jazz...my instructor for about 8 lessons ( stopped 4 financial reasons)was heavilly into jazz ,but I wanted to learn the blues...he showed me the major scale modes(still learnin them) but he showed me how it all comes from them..the chords,licks, everything...learn some theory and it will open up all styles and new horizons..and on top of it all you become a better player for whatever style you choose..:cool:
     
  18. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Get a good teacher who is a good player. A good player is not someone who can play "Cliffs of dover" or a Satriani tune. It is a guy who can sit down and play some jazz standards, chord melody style, and can also solo easily over them. If a guy can play a solo version of say "Body and soul", and improvise on it while playing, he is a good player. :) Learn some of these standards, and listen CLOSELY to guys like Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Grant Green. Green is a great one to start with, because he does not play very fast all the time. Buy a few jazz fake books, learn the chords to some jazz standards, and play along with some popular recordings of the songs. Also, get yourself the "Amazing slow downer" on the net, and slow down solos on these songs. Learn the lines that catch your ear. Pay attention to what chord and chords they are going over, and how they fit. A teacher will explain exactly what is going on, and will speed the process 10 fold. Do this for 2 years, and you will TOTALLY be playing, listening, and apprecaiating music in a way you never thought possible.
    :BEER
     

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