Did you have difficulty picking which style to get good at?

Hulakatt

Supporting Member
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13,126
I think if a person is sitting there choosing things, he may have the wrong hobby.
This doesn't make any kind of sense at all. I have several hobbies that I love and I have to make decisions within them and about them all the time. Sometimes when you come to a crossroads in your hobby, you have to choose one direction to focus on. Most people do not have the time or resources to be everything they want to be in a hobby.
 

Tony Done

Member
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5,694
Huh, this is a typical modern day attitude. “I want it now”.
I remember reading many years ago a comment by an eminent player, I forget who, that many beginners think "I want to play the guitar"not "I want to learn to play the guitar", and this is a bad start. Just because playing the guitar is popular, a lot of beginners mistakenly think that it is easy.

I had no indecision at all about which style I wanted to learn, the first time I heard someone play "Freight Train" in Libby Cotten's style, also I was totally unaware of virtuosos-level acoustic flatpicking. I have since thought that there are other styles I would like to have learned, like acoustic latin and flamenco, but I don't think about it too much.
 

Krausewitz

Member
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2,587
Huh, this is a typical modern day attitude. “I want it now”.
Try playing what you feel like, don’t look for shortcuts.
Huh?

That's not what I got from the OP at all. If anything they're making a smart and disciplined decision to specialise, rather than limit oneself through excessive generalization. Basically, the exact OPPOSITE of how most people function today.

Anyway, I think the answer the OP's question is deceptively simple: play whatever you want. Sooner or later you'll find you play some things more than other. That's probably telling you something.

Another way, if you are intent on forcing it (which I do not recommend): buy a TrueFire course and complete it. It will force you to focus on one thing for quite a long time. It should pay dividends.
 

Krausewitz

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2,587
I tried to learn anything that moved me. I played in metal, rock, blues, top 40, and country bands and got pretty good at all of them. I don't know any theory, so I struggle with anything too jazzy (like standards) and anything classical. I learned a few pieces of flamenco style stuff, as I was drawn to Al DiMeola, Paco De Lucio, and John McLaughlin when they did Friday Night in San Francisco and Passion, Grace, and Fire. I love The Gyspy Kings and try to learn a few licks here and there. My home base, rock, blues, and 80's metal. I love that stuff.

I say learn whatever songs hit you and move you. Try to learn the chords and changes, then learn the solos. You will learn a lot.

Bob
How did you play in bands without knowing theory? This totally blows my mind.

Without theory there's no way I could remember what to play (because I wouldn't know why I was playing it).
 

blong

Member
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2,205
How did you play in bands without knowing theory? This totally blows my mind.

Without theory there's no way I could remember what to play (because I wouldn't know why I was playing it).
Krausewitz,

I learned everything by ear. I scratched a lot of records and wore out a lot of casette tapes. My brother and father showed me a few things, but I have extremely limited knowledge of theory. To this day, I am still learning the terminology for what I play. I learned that if I am playing a tune and the chord was an A chord, then when I learned X song, they played these notes over the chord, so I would play those same notes and improvise. A lot of times I learned things note for note.
First song I learned was obviously Smoke on the Water, one finger method. But I wanted to play lead. So I learned the whole song and then the solo. I realized that over certain chords, certain notes worked. I'd then record myself on a cheapo tape deck playing a chord, or some changes, and then jam along to it finding out what works and what does not. Sometimes it was terrible, and if jamming with people and they said, "Ok, let's play song X in the key of F sharp." I'd have to wait and watch where the chords were, then be able to play along. Trial and error, the hard way. Blues and rock were easy, country was ok, but metal and other stuff was tough. Most of the covers we did I played note for note. In practice I would improvise. To this day I struggle with theory. If you show me something, I'll never forget it. But when someone starts talking about scale X or chord Y, or the inversion, and the 5th of the 4 chord is the X of this chord, I get lost. It hurts my brain. I'm trying, but I took exactly one lesson and did not go back because the guy was trying to teach me jazz theory on day 1. I was lost with substitutions. He threw way too much at me too fast, and I already knew how to play a lot of songs. I just didn't understand why the notes of a solo were being played over a chord other than it sounded good.
Smoke on the Water, blues, country, and few songs taught me some theory, but I don't know what it's all called.

Anyway, I can't read and don't know theory. Wasn't there a great studio musician who couldn't read charts?

I digress. I love playing, I learned solos of songs, saw the similarities between two songs, and then improvised from there.

Bob
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,221
How did you play in bands without knowing theory? This totally blows my mind.

Without theory there's no way I could remember what to play (because I wouldn't know why I was playing it).
You don't really have to know "why", depending on the genre. In fact I think a lot of pop/rock musicians who make up their own material, or "jam" have a deep hatred for thw "why", they seem to think it gets in the way of their muse.

Anyway, I can't read and don't know theory. Wasn't there a great studio musician who couldn't read charts?
Lots and lots. If you google it , you find lots of "factoids" about musicians who are self taught and can't read sheet music. With small acts involving two to four musicians and a limited repetoire, a person can get by playing by ear and memory. It's only when someone shows up to a gig and have zero prep time and have to perform in an ensemble that knowing how to read music and understand theory becomes absolutely necessary.

It's a shame that the real "pros" are often the forgotten background players, outside of the spotlight, while the lead act, is more the entertainer, and might not have any formal training, and knows enough about music just to get by, is the big headliner who gets the big paycheck and the first class treatment.
 
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guitargod0dmw

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Messages
434
I didn't really choose a style of music to try and get good at. I listened to hard rock, metal, alternative, etc...so that's the stuff that I play.
 

Ridgeback

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1,926
I'm a mediocre player but I had no problem picking a style. I started playing the guitar late in life because of BB King. Straight clean blues morphed into jazzy blues and then bluesy jazz, and finally pretty much straight jazz\bossa. I rarely play blues anymore but I know I will never put the effort into learning enough jazz technique and theory to be any good at it. I just keep plugging away at it for enjoyment's sake, the challenge, and tiny steps toward improvement.
 

EC Strat

Member
Messages
182
My guitar teacher is throwing a variety at me - Blues, Country, Classic Rock and some contemporary songs I have to get into the genre and learn the songs / feel them. Not just play them.

I’ve NEVER been into Country, but I’ve found that Hank Williams Jr stays with me and I think about his songs when I’m not playing. There’s no question that I lean heavily towards blues and classic rock, but there’s so much good musicianship going on in outlaw country. Makes me wish I had a Tele and a D-28.
 

DGDGBD

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6,846
No, when i started playing, i worked at learning the songs of my favorite artists. Everything evolved and developed from there.
 

Brad2

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561
I certainly did. I wanted to play pop rock from the start but there were hardly any qualified teachers who could get you going in that field. The qualified teachers wre jazz orientated and because you can have benefit from jazz theorie in any music one of my teachers talked in into studying jazz. But I departed from that after a while, I can appreciate jazz but not that much that I really want to study to become a real jazzguitarist.
Wewn synthesizers came up in the eighties and in pop music the guitar was considered more and more an old fashioned instrument I turned to flamenco. Interesting experience but too burdensome to me. I got injuries very fast. When the Roland GP-8 was released (the first commercially available programmable multi effects processor with midi options) I picked up the electric guitar again to play pop, rock, new wave and more.
 

twoheadedboy

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11,405
Obviously there are a few gifted souls who seem to be able to be pretty good at playing in just about any style, but they tend to also be focused pros without day jobs. I'm realizing in order to make progress I'm going to have to narrow my focus, but I dabble in several somewhat unrelated styles. I see advantages to and would enjoy going several different directions, but I really don't have time both long or short term to really make progress without making a decision. Anyone else face this issue, and if so, did you resolve it?
I have never been able to get myself to focus on a single style for very long. I have a half dozen or so genres of music that I play, and I move between them when it feels right. I find that in many cases, making progress in one style helps me with the others.
 
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Messages
1,158
The artist Philip Guston once put it this way , paraphrasing,

You have your heros in the room with you . The longer you work on it one by one they leave the room until you're just by yourself .

I use to go to guitar shows and see people busting out black mountain rag or soldiers joy and be bummed that I can't even grasp the concept of where to start and stop. Then I kinda noticed thats all they do , same guys every year . I kicked it up a notch by not going to guitar shows anymore . Just play focus and be yourself
 
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toomanyamps

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1,769
i taught myself by playing along with everything on the radio, including the commercials, so my "style" is heinz 57+
if you want to get paid for guitaring - well, i don't know what to say :)
Nice, since you mentioned Heinz 57 you probably know Jimmy Buffett mentions it in "Cheeseburger in Paradise "

"I'm just a cheeseburger in paradise
I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer".
 

Barquentine

Member
Messages
1,893
I did classical piano from age 6 - 13. Quit because I started to hate it. I took up the guitar at 16 and wanted to play in the style of Johnny Winter, Paul Kossoff, Rory Gallagher and other contemporary blues players. I was very familiar with minor (natural and harmonic) and major scales and thought this would help. It didn't. In fact it was a hindrance. I had to switch all that stuff off and start from scratch. I picked up on it years later but I came to it with a much better understanding because I'd learned to use my ears to work stuff out. I'm essentially a blues/rock player because this is what I love the most although I listen to a very wide variety of stuff. As for playing jazz - I sometimes tell myself I should go in this direction but to my way of thinking the first step in learning a new style is it immerse yourself in listening to it for months. I don't like jazz enough to do that.
 

markmann

Member
Messages
912
If you want to specialize in something that's great but I like to mix things up because I change directions to keep things fresh. I also think practicing different styles aids in motor skills, dexterity, ect, that only helps with everything I play.
 




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