What should I do now?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by dumbass, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. dumbass

    dumbass Member

    Jan 23, 2009
    Hello. I'm a 15 year old guitarist, and I don't really know what to do now. I'm playing blues and rock mainly, I have a good amp and a good guitar. I would say my playing, when improvisating blues backing-tracks and such is OK. But I can't play speedy at all - when speeding up, I'll often play really simple things faster, sounding very simple and repetive. In the long term, I get pretty repetive playing slower also. Does anyone have some advice for me what to do to improve myself? I'll say my rythm is pretty good by the way - I have played with many guitarist my age that would play flyin' solos, but couldn't even play a simple chord in time.

    What I want to learn - I'm a big fan of SRV, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynrd, Allman Brothers, Deep Purple and many more. I have nothing against jazz, both modern and traditional, and I would have nothing against playing that if you think that is necessary.

    Thank you for answers! And sorry if my grammar is bad. English is not my main language...
  2. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    At some point, most people realize that speedy and tasty are two different things, and most people prefer tasty anyday.

    You're in good company. Most people in the blues/rock genre do just that. Listen to the solos to Freebird and you'll see what I mean. Really, they're just licks of average complexity, played frequently, and quickly (and with conviction I might add).

    In fact, many of the things that SRV and people like that do are really pretty simple riffs, just sped up to a point where mere mortals have to work at them a little more than usual to be able to play them.

    Obviously though, there are complex licks to be found as well (I think the Steve Gaines stuff from Skynyrd is FAR more complex to learn and play than the Rossington/Collins licks, but on record, it doesn't sound that way).

    Certainly, there are shredders in metal genres, and jazz burners - even bluegrass flat pickers that move - and they can be not only fast, but incredibly complex licks.

    Interestingly, none of those are mainstream forms of music. So you have to make a decision if you want to play fast, complex, both fast and complex, and what kind of style you want to do that in.

    Obviously, if you could cover everything, that would be great, but I don't know if someone can accomplish that in a lifetime.

    I remember being 15. No offense man, but when you're 15, you feel like you're a grown up. But - and I know everyone says this, but it's true - when you get 30 and you look back at being 15, you'll be like, man, if I only knew then what I know now.

    Don't wait until you're 30.

    You want to get better? Learn everthing you can get your hands on. Don't sit around trying to play fast. Fast will come. Complexity will come. They'll come in small steps, but you will get there.

    90 percent of most solos in most of the most popular genres are created from a comparatively small amount of licks. Granted, there's more to it than that, but, the more songs you play by more artists, the more you come to realize "hey, this is the same idea from this other song, just with X changed".

    And that *experience* is priceless. Usually, you have to wait for old age for experience. But, you can do yourself a favor by not limiting yourself to "just practicing scales" or "just learning theory". You should of course learn those things, but the more you PLAY, the more you'll learn.

    Just make sure when you play, you're not just fooling around, but actually working on something - anything - timing, arpeggios, parallel 6ths, new chord shapes, etc. etc. - whatever you can handle at the time.

    I don't think learning jazz is absolutely necessary, but it certainly can't hurt you.

    Those are all good bands, with well-respected guitarists (obviously). Learnig their stuff is going to help you out of course.

    My only thing is, I hate when I see a guy that's a SRV or Hendrix clone, but they can't play anything else.

    When I was your age, I was learning to play Rush.

    Did learning songs in 7/8, 5/4 and 11/16 help me? Yes.

    Did learning all kinds of Sus and Add chords, and forms using open strings help me? Yes.

    But will I ever play Rush songs and make money off of them? Not really. And those types of skills, while useful, are only a small part of what's out there.

    I was in the store when there was a guy sitting down playing George Benson tunes note-for note. I was amazed. But then I talked to some other cats who knew him and said, "yeah, but he can't play anything else, and can't improvise".

    So in a sense "what good is he?" If he wants to play GB in his house, and occaisionally in the store, great. But otherwise, no one wants to play with him.

    So don't pigeon-hole yourself into one style. There's much to be learned from other things.

    Geez man. Most English speakers should take a lesson from you.

    Keep up the practice.

  3. The Captain

    The Captain Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    OK< first thing is to change your user name and stop calling yourself "dumbass", cos you don't really want to think of yourself like that.

    Otherwise, just keep learning songs and building your vocab.
    Learn to play in the box, and you will build the tools and a collection of licks and riffs that you need to play out of the box.
  4. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    Sydney, Australia
    I was thinking that too! :BEER

    Steve, great post!

    To the OP. Go for it! Yes, speed will come. Forget achieving it, in fact forget achieving anything. Play as much as you can as well as you can and be as critical of your own playing as possible.

    By that I mean always consider your tone and technique in a respectful and productive manner. "Can I do this better?". Play your electric guitar unplugged. When you can make a solid tone without overplaying the guitar unplugged, then you'll get a great tone through your amp. While playing, listen intently to what you're doing... You don't need to think about your playing so much - as long as you are familiar with the chord prog/scales etc that you are playing - but you MUST listen! Let your ears guide you.

    In regard to speed, make sure that your rhythmic placement is spot on - either before, after or on the beat (start playing right on the beat). And that your rhythmic subdivision is smooth and accurate. From whole to half to quater note triplets to quater notes, to half notes to triplets to 16th notes to pentuplets if you want (think hip-po-pot-a-mus while subdividing) to sextuplets etc.

    How many places on the guitar neck can you play the standard minor pentatonic/blues scale? There are 5 standard "patterns", and there are ways to play across two of these patterns simultaneously for each set. By knowing all of the "patterns" you will find new licks.

    Experiment extensively with bends and vibrato. Make sure the intonation of your bends are accurate, half, full and tone and a half bends. Work on both vertical (like bending) and horizontal (more of a classical style approach) vibrato, through slow to fast.

    Experiment extensively with slides and position shifting.

    Use the fourth finger on your left hand! Use a heavy pick.

    It all boils down to passion and perspiration mate. You gotta play man! Play your little guts and heart out!!!
  5. ddewees

    ddewees Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2006
    A lot of the artists and bands you mention have both songs that feature slow and fast parts. Some SRV and Allman Brothers venture into jazz style (Lenny, Riveria, Chitlins for SRV and Eliz Reed for Allman as an example).

    You could also drop back an listen and learn from their influences:
    SRV = Albert King, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughn (there's someone who plays slower and with a choice in his notes as he has gotten older)
    Zepplin - all the old blues guys like Waters and Wolf
    Hendrix - Guy and Mayfield
    Sabbath - not sure of Iommi's influences
    LS and Allmans - would prob be a mix of the British guys and old blues guys. Haynes and Trucks would be good jumping off points with their solo work.
    Deep Purple - Blackmore and Morse both have classical influence. Morse is a great jumping off point for speed, precision and multiple styles including a mix of jazz and country with a rock edge

    At some point take a chance and don't overlook country, great melodic playing that has various degrees of flash and speed while usually fitting the song.

    Just keep playing using a metronome and drum machine, start slow when learning a fast piece and inch it up every day or so as you become comfortable.
  6. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    we eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer
    -Learn songs, beginning to end.

    -If you like a solo, learn it. Try to not use TABs and learn it by ear.

    -If you really like a particular player, do some research to find out who they liked and check them out.

    -Write tunes, write solos. Even though you want to improvise, try and write the perfect "improvised" sounding solo to a song you already know well.

    -Sing when you play. Sing a line and try and repeat it on guitar. You don't have to actually sing, some prefer to just hum. But you have to hear it clearly before you can play it. Don't just let your fingers do the playing.

    -Follow your muse. Don't try and learn about jazz just because you think you should.

    -Learn to properly self-assess your playing. Record yourself and listen back. You should be able to tell yourself what you need to work on. There's way too much misinformation out there (particularly on the internet) and the only person that really knows the right path for you is you.

    -Along those lines, getting a good teacher can be a big help, but they're not going to learn it for you.

    -Set goals and see them through.

    -Have fun and remember- playing guitar really is all about one thing; scoring chicks! :banana

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