most important thing you've learned?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by RMstrat, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. RMstrat

    RMstrat Member

    Feb 28, 2008
    Ive been playing for a couple of years and I still suck..not as bad as I used to..but pretty much suck. I always feel like there is some secret that I dont know..Always trying new stuff...Pretty much just suckin. What has helped you all the most(If you dont mind sharing)..Tired of living in wankersville.
  2. Noah

    Noah Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Most important thing I've learned is to play with a variety of musicians, and do it often.
  3. mrdavek

    mrdavek Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    Learning the CAGED technique!

    And working on melodic approach rather than flash!
  4. jazzandmetal?

    jazzandmetal? Supporting Member

    May 14, 2006
    He took my answer.
  5. elgalad

    elgalad Senior Member

    Feb 27, 2008
    I'll definitely +1 this - great way to pick up new ideas and styles.

    Also, learning to slow down. Play less notes, but make them count. Oh, and put as much practice as you can into your vibrato.

    But, if there's one thing I've learned that's really helped me more than anything, it's realizing that everyone thinks they suck. I've yet to meet any musician that doesn't have an artificially low opinion of themselves. I'm not advocating being arrogant or egotistical, but just try to be a bit more circumspect about these things. Know what you need to practice, and work on it, but remember that there isn't some magical point you'll reach where you can sit down and say to yourself "I'm an awesome guitarist," it's a journey - just enjoy the ride and take pleasure from the little things you learn every day :)
  6. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Jun 16, 2006
    Speed kills! No, i'm not knockin speedy playing. Just sayin when I started to slow things down and see the beauty of a few well placed and well played notes it really opened up my expression as a lead player.
  7. 5E3

    5E3 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    During my first couple of years learning I was always in a hurry to "get better." After a while I realized I'm not one of those people with "the gift" and every advancement was going to be a result of determination and practice.

    So not counting lessons, theory, etc., one of the things that helped me the most was to change my attitude; keep pushing myself to learn and practice, but take the advancements as they come and not try to force it. When I approached it with the more realistic and relaxed attitude, playing, learning, and practicing was more fun. I hope that makes sense.

    p.s. If you haven't already, get a paperback copy of:

    Zen Guitar by Sudo
  8. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    There is no "secret" which will save you work.

    But , my tip, start using a metronome. Playing precise intervals is what makes noise into music. Don't worry about your fretting hand so much, it's just a dumb piece of meat.
    The action is all in the pick hand and smart metronome work is the key to developing that.
  9. giggedy

    giggedy Member

    May 22, 2006
    practice enough until you can play what you're planning on playing confidently. Without confidence, you won't buy it, and neither will the audience.
  10. mcuguitar

    mcuguitar Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    You need a good teacher to help you understand the harmonized major scale, it's 7 chords and 7 modes, and minor and major pentatonic scales. That is a huge body of study right there. Where do you live? Maybe I can recommend someone in your area. Jon.
  11. frmorales52

    frmorales52 Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    The Mission
    Lots of great advice here. thanks RM - for asking the question and thanks to everyone who responded
  12. Shooter Bob

    Shooter Bob Member

    May 4, 2008
    The one flaw in all of the above advice however is that it all pertains to scales and "soloing" skills. I don't understand why so many people feel that soloing is the true measure of one's progress as a guitar player! It's not!

    RMstrat, if you seriously want to get better at playing and you're willing to put in a little effort, stop playing that pent minor scale right now and start playing some chords. 98% of guitar playing is CHORDS! not soloing!

    If you can play good rhythm, you can entertain people because they can either sing along, play along or just follow along with a good solid strumming rhythm. If all of your focus is on soloing, you need to either play a backing track, find people who are willing to play "backing track style" for you, or be relegated to boring people to tears as you noodle and wank endless yawn-worthy runs on your guitar.

    Learn to play great rhythm on guitar and all the other stuff follows. Build a foundation in rhythm and play with others who also "get it" and watch as the people listening start to dig your groove and enjoy the sound.

    If you want to improve, really improve, start playing rhythm!
  13. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Jun 16, 2006
    True... i've seen guys that are fabulous lead players but couldn't play the rythm to "You really got me" with convincing athority.
  14. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

    Jan 7, 2002
    Hong Kong, China
    1.) I started out learning classical with nylon string acoustic.

    One of the most important thing I got from the classical training is how NOT to force or stress your hands, especially the fretting hand.

    Classical guitar is big on posture, and that's not just for the look.

    You learn to use the most relax way to get around the fretboard.

    2.) Play along your fav cd's, learn the song/solo, whatever, try to transcribe the tune/solo.

    3.) Play with other musicians (not just guitarists) who are better than you. You will still learn a lot even playing with others who are not as good as you.

    4.) Go to "well managed" open jam sessions.

    5.) Listen

    6.) Use thicker pick, if you use one.
  15. SvenHock

    SvenHock Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Learning songs that have technique that stands your ear on edge instead of wanking on scales for hours. Playing slowly, listening to myself and trying to avoid already charted waters.
  16. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2006
    One advantage you have: you've not been playing long enough to have a lot of bad habits ingrained. You have an opportunity for healthy growth.

    There are no quick fixes, but here are some tips that will help:
    1) Practice right - that is, play as slowly as you need to execute studied materials ACCURATELY. Each mistake you make teaches your body to continue making that mistake. If you practice slop, you perfect slop.
    2) Go for gradual advancement. Most guitarists wanna rock immediately. We try to play Eddie Van Halen stuff before we're able to play Twinkle Twinkle. This leads straight to wanksville - we can wiggle our fingers and make rock-like sounds, but are not particularly musical. Learn the basics first and get a solid foundation. This will be invaluable as your musical interests change.
    3) Put at least 80% of your work into chords. This is what guitarists play most of the time.
    4) Study melody. If I could do it over, I would study melody to teach my ears...then let my fingers follow. I learned finger patterns first, and my ear has never caught up.
    5) Rhythm is where the magic happens. Don't take it for granted. Study and practice feeling the beat.
    6) Learn to read and learn your theory.
    7) Have an open heart. This is not a competition. Nor is it a platform to try to impress people. It's about sharing. Thinking about learning music as a foriegn language is useful. You study the language so you can be more articulate and communicate with more precision, finesse and impact. You take every opportunity to converse with native speakers to learn and practice and have a meaningful human interaction. Likewise, with people who aren't as proficient as you in the language, you try to communicate in a way that makes sense to them. Maybe you give them a tip or two. You do not speak to impress people (if you do, people think you are a prick), you use it to communicate.

    These are some random thoughts. However, I should also say I think it is important to figure out your goals. Do you want to be a pro? Do you just want to be as good as you can be for personal reasons? Do you just wanna jam with the guys on the weekends? Your desired relationship with music should inform your choices regarding your study. If you just wanna play for fun, guitar is great because it is relatively easy to learn some patterns and shapes and weedle away. However, this apparent easiness masks the deeper complexity of the instrument.
  17. ivers

    ivers Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    What I've learned...

    My ears are there to be used, I don't need tabs or such for everything. The shorter way isn't necessarily the most rewarding one.

    One can fret with very little pressure, and get a pleasing tone. Actually I prefer the tone from minimal fretting hand pressure.

    Learning theories of organizing intervals has been helpful, but these theories needn't be respected. Again, we can trust our ears!
  18. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Pasadena, CA
    The most important thing I ever learned was to drop the "I suck" puts all the focus on the wrong things.
  19. brad347

    brad347 Member

    Feb 8, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm not so sure that your experiences reflect any sort of truth about musicians in general. Perhaps those were just the musicians you met.

    I've never met a "struggling" musician who didn't feel that way, but I've met plenty of great, centered musicians (both amateur and professional, beginner and Herbie Hancock) that don't seem to have that difficulty.

    I've also met plenty (mostly collegiate) players for whom the very vocal "I suck" mantra was insincere, and little more than a plea for external approval.
  20. bluesmain

    bluesmain Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Brandon, MS
    Fake it till you make it bro! Although most of us always feel we can do better, truth is if we learn to enjoy what we do now, our growth from pratice will usually be less painful.

    Best to your Improvement friend! Cheers!

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