Best way of improving all-around playing?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by TroyHamilton, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. TroyHamilton

    TroyHamilton Supporting Member

    Messages:
    295
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    My guitar has been mainly gathering dust for a few years and I want to get back at it. I was always super weak in the ear, so I still have that issue with the addition of very sloppy technique right now.

    What are some suggestions to get back 'in shape' overall? Any particularly good videos or books that are popular that I might be unaware of?

    My goal isn't to be a shred king by next month, so please don't limit an answer to just building speed/technique... I really think the ear and overall quality of technique are my main areas of need right now.

    Thanks,
    Troy
     
  2. brad347

    brad347 Member

    Messages:
    4,814
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Without getting together and hearing and watching you play, it's going to be hard to know what specific things are going to work for you.

    As far as generalized advice, I'd say spend some time with the guitar each day and spend plenty of time critically listening to recordings that you like a lot.

    Play it through once and listen to just the guitar. Then just the bass. Then just the drums, etc. You can learn a lot about music, musicality, and the guitar's role in the music you like through this exercise, and it can make good ear training too. I know it doesn't sound like much, but this really helps a lot of people get some stuff together.

    Your self-described "sloppy" technique will probably correct itself in part if you practice in front of a mirror. Give it a try, and watch the mirror instead of your hands. Lots of stuff will be made apparent, and your instincts will probably correct it. If need be, combine this with watching videos of great players you admire-- when you practice in front of the mirror, you will unconsciously start to see where you differ from them in important ways. A lot can be self-correcting by doing this.

    Finally, try to cultivate awareness when you practice-- in other words, be careful of falling into ruts and playing familiar licks, patterns-- even avoid technique habits that you 'fell into' for no particular reason. Don't be afraid to constantly ask yourself "why?" "Why do I hold the pick this way?" "Why does my thumb wrap over the neck?" "Why does my pinkie fly all over the place?"

    What all of this advice has in common is the central theme of paying attention. The human brain is a very sensitive instrument, and it will figure out what to do as long as it knows what's going on.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Super Locrian

    Super Locrian Member

    Messages:
    1,506
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Location:
    In muddy waters
    Take some private lessons. That's the best way of getting personally tailored advice. "The advancing guitarist" is a great book that any guitar player should have on the bookshelf. www.good-ear.com is a great free online ear-training resource.
     
  4. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,154
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    Do a lot of gigs.
     
  5. Sikor

    Sikor Member

    Messages:
    2,136
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    :agree

    It worked form me :)
     
  6. Jon

    Jon Member

    Messages:
    1,471
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    Work on familairity with the neck and learning all the notes on it - whatever chords, riffs or licks you are playing, try to work towards being able to play them in as many different places on the neck as is physically possible on the fly. The CAGED system is a good way to structure this kind of thing - there are plenty of books & DVDs which will address this.
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=426362&highlight=caged
     
  7. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,787
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    As` above, get lessons.

    Do any exercises or scales you do with a metronome to tighten up timing etc. Time with a metronome ALWAYS improves every aspect of my playing.

    Learn complete songs, not just the interesting bits, and learn to play them accurately. Personaly, I prefer to find pieces that contain the exercises I want to do. Playing them as written is better discipline than playing them freestyle.
    Play stuff you might not normally play. Moving across genres will broaden your palate, and give you more chances to discover interesting pieces.


    Play with other musicians, ideally in a band, as KRosser said.
     
  8. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

    Messages:
    7,026
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Lessons are good, studied jazz guitar for 4 years when I was 40, never had lessons before that, playing with other people, whether its an acoustic beer drinking jam with some dudes down the street every evening, once every few month jams with guys at work, garage band jams every week, gigging in a working band, find something to focus you on improving.

    at home I really like playing to backing tracks,


    http://guitarbt.com/ free downloads, and really help with improvization, or what ever you want to develop, or just fun to play along with your favorite songs.
     
  9. Elektrik_SIxx

    Elektrik_SIxx Member

    Messages:
    458
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2005
    Besides lessons, I think it's a good idea to check your cd collection and start jamming along with the ones you like. Don't worry about making a mistake. Just make sure it's the stuff you like listening to.
     
  10. spacelord

    spacelord Member

    Messages:
    207
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Location:
    Michigan
    I just back into guitar a year and a half ago.. For technique, I would say get Accelerate Your Guitar Playing DVD & Booklet (you'll find it mentioned all over this forum), a good metronome and use it often. Depending on your skill level and if you like hard rock, the Troy Stetina books helped me get going again also.

    I can't help you much with the ear.. since I've never really worked on it and mine sucks.
     
  11. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,154
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    Yeah...in fact, that's a better way of putting it than I did...

    :jo
     
  12. bobbypols

    bobbypols Member

    Messages:
    182
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Relax while playing, let all tensions melt away, and put your time in. Be patient with ear training and do a bit everyday.
     
  13. TroyHamilton

    TroyHamilton Supporting Member

    Messages:
    295
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks for all the advice guys... I have a few follow-up questions. (And keep any additional tips coming.)

    I live in an apartment complex and just moved to the area from 900 miles away... so I have A.) volume restrictions B.) a wife to sonically share the apartment with and C.) no guitar playing buddies in the area.

    that being said, I think jamming with CDs and doing instructional stuff (books/dvd's/etc) is going to be the ticket for me until I make some connections. I saw this because cranking up the stereo and amp and having fun isn't really practical... what's the most practical method of jamming with CDs that won't get me booted from my apartment? Any easy to to do it on the PC? I know Korg (or someone like that) makes the CD/Guitar trainer device that can be used with headphones... anyone have experience with those?

    I'm just looking for practical methods of putting this stuff into practice...
     
  14. spacelord

    spacelord Member

    Messages:
    207
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Location:
    Michigan
    The Digitech RP series has a 1/8" input for MP3 players or whatever to play along with. You can then send it to your amp, mixer, stereo, headphones whatever you want. Its a good little device for goofing around with. It has some built in rhythms too. I've seen the RP250, which I have, going for under $100 on ebay. Plus you get all the effects and stuff.
    I'm sure there are other solutions too.
     
  15. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,787
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    Sound control in an apaartment is so hard. The more everyone does, the more everyone notices every little sound.
    The TAscam CD trainer can be used wiht headphones, ands I use it a lot. I don't lpug my guitar into it, but I think you can do that. Lots of amps like Fender GDEC and Roland CUbes have CD input and headphone outs. The Tascam has the advantage of looping and slow-down stuff which is what I use it for a lot, learning solos. Got a couple to learn today.
    Wives just need to get used to stuff. My late night high gain shenanigans is like a lullaby to my wife now after several years of it.
    I learn songs. A lot of songs.
    I found band-mates through the Weekend Warrior programme

    google that and see if there is a store near you that runs it. It's a great.low pressure way to meet other muso's, esp the "others" in a band, ie bass/drums/vox, rather than just other guitar players.
     
  16. ddewees

    ddewees Supporting Member

    Messages:
    72
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Troy, the Fender GDEC amp has a similar set up that may work too. RCA ins for cd/mp3 player. Drum and Bass tracks built in. The headphone jack is much better than the 8" speaker.

    Stay tuned, I may have one that I willing to part with.

    I live in a house but still get fewer complaints from my wife when I play via the GDEC or Vox Tonelab as opposed to one of my amps.

    Dave
     
  17. frizbplaya

    frizbplaya Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Play everyday. Much faster results even if it's just a few minutes every day vs. one long practice once a week
     
  18. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

    Messages:
    1,294
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006

    You can do what I did:

    Pick up NI's Guitar Rig, with the interface. You can play along to MP3s, slow them down, and/or alter the pitch (handy for when the recording is in Eb and you don't want to re-tune)...plus its a pretty dam good amp simulator too. Works for me.

    Somedays it sounds better than my amps do!

    Cheers

    Kris
     
  19. TroyHamilton

    TroyHamilton Supporting Member

    Messages:
    295
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks for all the help guys... I think I'm going to check out some of these options for at home... hopefully I find a good match. ;)
     

Share This Page