Progressing as an intermediate/advanced guitarist

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by hhawkins, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. hhawkins

    hhawkins Member

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    I would consider myself as an intermediate to advanced guitarist. I listen to all sorts of music but some of my favourite artists include Robben Ford, Robert Cray, Frank Zappa etc.

    I love the technique and emotion of guys like Guthrie Govan and Alex Hutchings. They can play fast, slow, in difference styles, time signatures etc etc. They have full control over there instrument, not the other way round.

    If we take Guthrie, for example, I know he incorporates all sorts of techniques into his playing. These include legato, alternate picking, hybrid picking, double stops, and all sorts of bends, to name a few.

    I would love my playing to progress to this level. I'm sure it's everyone's dream to be able to play like the guitarist they hail as their hero, but I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to progress to this next level? Focusing particularly on technique what tips do you guys have if any?

    Thanks.
     
  2. TopDog

    TopDog "jumping the valence" Silver Supporting Member

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    work out of Jack Zucker's, Sheets of Sound
     
  3. guitarspaz

    guitarspaz Member

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    I'm kinda in the same boat. Been playing for a long time. I'm what I call a serious hobbyist. It's tough to progress past a certain point. I tried to take some lessons a year or so ago but I live in a rural area so it was 2 hours of driving for a 30 min lesson in the middle of the work week and after about 4 lessons I didn't feel like the teacher had a plan for me so I stopped. I was kinda hoping for a guy to that used one lesson to see where I was at and what I knew, hear what I was hoping to accomplish, then lay out a plan we were going to work on for the next 6 mo to 1 year or whatever. He was clearly a better musician than me, had some formal training, had toured in a working band, etc, etc, etc, just didn't seem to have a plan for teaching it to someone who was past the basics.

    Like I said it's tough past a certain point, and IMO nearly impossible if you are doing it on your own. Try to find someone who is where you are hoping to be playing wise and see if you can play with them. Put yourself in a situation where you are the weak link. A music context you aren't used to, or playing in a group with a guitar player that is above your skill level and then resist the urge to compete with them, learn.

    After this many years and working on it, I've come to realize I'm never going to be that fast. I don't think I'm physically capable. I'm fast enough to play most of what I need to play and say what I'm trying to say so I just moved on. My goal now is to be one of those guys who can take a new tune or a set of changes and make it musical the first time through. I'm not there yet but I'm making baby steps. I still think my biggest barrier is my setting. I need to be in a bigger market where there is a scene and a lot of players to really go anywhere. Just isn't anything where I live. Its like learning a foreign language. Immersion. Otherwise it's like trying to work out mathematics on your own without being taught. I mean, it's just logic after all, if you apply it meticulously enough over and over again, you shouldn't need to be taught math, technically speaking. Obviously that's not realistic but you take my point I hope. I just try to keep my interest up and keep challenging myself. Keeps my mind off other stuff.
     
  4. hhawkins

    hhawkins Member

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    I've been starting to wonder the same thing myself. It nearly seems like all the really good guys have been through guitar institutes or music schools which will focus on all aspects of music and guitar playing. Wondering now if I should consider such a move myself...
     
  5. Axis29

    Axis29 Supporting Member

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    Similar situation, experience-wise... But, a little different music style and a little different approach. I'm a Blues guy. it's pretty much all I want to do, and what I focus my playing on.

    That said, I've been playing for 30 years now (with a break in the middle when the kids were little). When i got back into music, I spent a lot of time enjoying the Interwebs and all it's brought regarding music... Youtube, forums, shopping, reviews, instruction.. It's just kinda mind boggling.

    But, I also reached a point where I was bumping against my ability and knowledge. I took some lessons... same as Guitarspaz' experience, 30 minute lessons once a week just didn't work. But, I took the info that had been laid upon me and worked on it for a while, studied theory, tried to figure out all the things I didn't know about music and leads, etc. I had a decent teacher available, but needed time to digest the info. So, i did. When I was ready, I went back for some more lessons, but made a deal with him, longer lessons, further apart. It allowed me to digest the info, and really dig into the info I wanted, and thought I needed. That helped some.

    The biggest thing, however, was going out and playing with other and different musicians every chance I got. It forced me out of my comfort zone. I attended open mics every week, for a couple of years. I still go to them every chance I get (and host a couple each month as well). If I hear about a jam and I have the opportunity, I go play.

    Away from the bars, I learned how to sing (not great at it yet, but getting better). I focused more on rhythm, then soloing. I listened to music, really, really listened. I really focused my practice on things I didn't want to do (like chord study, rhythm playing, timing, playing with a metronome, etc). I did everything I could not to be my typical ADHD self when it came time to actually practice.... And I spent hours and hours with a guitar in my hand.

    Basically, I made it my job... when I wasn't at my job. It's driven my wife batty. It's caused a little bit of friction, actually. It's caused a few arguments (over things like playing every advertisement jingle that came on the TV, or playing out two or three nights a week, etc.)

    But, in the end, I've gotten a lot better. I've gotten faster. I've gotten a lot smoother. I've become one of the 'good' musicians in my area. I'm now someone folks want to see perform. That's pretty cool. But, it took a lot of work over a few years. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of it, been frustrated at times, hit plateaus, hit brick walls, wondered if it would ever get better... Then, one day I looked around and realized I'd reached some of my goals. I still have miles and miles to go and so much to learn. So many things I need to get better at... But, I'm making progress every day now. I see myself reaching new levels of playing and musicianship so much quicker than just five years ago.

    Don't give up. If you want it, go after it. But, look at it realistically, set realistic goals, short term, long term and keep focused. It's possible. You just have to know what you want and set yourself a logical plan that's attainable. Set yourself up for success, not failure.
     

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