A call to all your guitarists!

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Pendlum, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. Pendlum

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    I am curious kind of practice routines did you come up with to get to the level where you are now? And what kind of tools, books, etc. did you use to help along the way?
     
  2. Skull Mason

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    Lots of guitar tab
     
  3. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    First and most importantly, you have to have a love and passion to learn new thing an always have the desire to make music on the guitar. If you don't enjoy every second of it, you weren't born to play. You'll need to have the drive in order to maintain the practice. Start by focusing your time on technique. Right hand technique :p includes alternate picking (Alternate picking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), economy picking (Economy picking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and is what I use most), chicken pickin' or aka hybrid picking (Hybrid picking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), and lastly sweep picking (Sweep-picking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which will take a very long time and lots of effort to master). Legato, or playing with mostly hammer-ons and pulloffs instead of picking each note, is my main style of playing. It sounds much smoother and more fluid when playing using legato. Go on youtube and search for "guitar legato" and you'll have a wealth of info. It will enable you to play SUPER fast.

    Good left hand technique involves the use of fluid movement on consecutive notes of scales or licks, which will all be explained later, and the good use of sliding up and down in good time, hammer- ons (Hammer-on - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), pulloffs (Pull-off - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and bending notes up or down with a tremolo. Sting dampening is extraordinarily important. That is, use your palm at the bridge to slightly mute the strings so that they don't all ring out when you play. This is all part of learning right hand technique. Don't get ahead of yourself and try to learn the hard and showy techniques such as tapping and sweeping and whatnot. Take your time on mastering the basics.

    If you choose to learn fingerstyle guitar, or playing with your fingers and no pick, its notable to learn classical guitar and how to read sheet music. Your thumb only plays the lowest 3 strings (the 3 biggest strings, E, A, and D) and your index plays the G string, your middle plays the B string and your ring plays the high E string. As you now know, the strings from low to high are e, A, D, G, B, and E.

    This next part is VERY IMPORTANT. You have to learn music theory to a certain degree in order to be able to express yourself. Some people think that they can get away with just playing what they want all of the time and take it from me, you'll always end up wanting. Learn how to read music and tablature. Learn what note each fret represents. Learn the fretboard, in other words. Learn where notes are the same but octaved. Nip it in the bud and learn the following and apply your technique to it.

    The Musical Modes: The single most important piece of musical theory geared towards improvisation and expression are the modes, or church modes. The modes are as follows and they follow a certain order so learn them in this order (and I'll link you to videos and explanations later):

    1.) Ionian mode (Ionian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- the common major scale. Sounds happy and lilting. Almost boring.
    2.) Dorian mode (Dorian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- I call this the Santana mode. It sounds sad and lonely but hopeful. Reminds me of John Wayne riding out alone into the desert. It also sounds incredible when being used in jazz to make a smooth, cool sound. Listen to Santana's "Evil Ways" and "Oye Como Va" to get a feel.
    3.) Phrygian mode (Phrygian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- Spanish sounding. Used in flamenco and metal, etc.
    3 1/2.) Phrygian Dominant mode (Phrygian dominant scale - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) - the Phrygian mode has a close relative called the phrygian dominant that is to be used in a more major usage. It sounds Spanish, Jewish Klezmerish, Egyptian, whatever. Listen to Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" intro or The Scorpion's "Sails of Charon" to get a feel.
    4.) Lydian mode (Lydian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- Dark yet very ethereal and pious. Easily my favorite mode and probably the most complex mode as it is one of the three major modes yet it contains the tritone (for tritone, listen to Black Sabbath's "Black Sabbath").
    5.) Mixolydian mode (Mixolydian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- Happy, whimsical and triumphant. Very Irish or Scottish sounding. Listen to Jeff Beck's "Freeway Jam" or Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" to get a feel.
    6.) Aeolian mode (Aeolian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- The common minor scale. Sounds sad and epic. Used in all forms of music. Listen to Led Zep's "Achilles' Last Stand" to get a feel.
    7.) Locrian mode (Locrian mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)- A diminished mode that is only really used in jazz. I won't go into detail of it since it is really only a theoretical mode.

    There are scales that are not modes: the minor pentatonic is probably the most widely used and known scale in human history. It is the skeleton for many minor modes and the blues scale. YouTube - five positions of minor pentatonic scale Learn the major pentatonic, the harmonic minor scale, the melodic or jazz minor scale, and the many exotic scales such as the hirajoshi, the whole tone, and the diminished scales. Learn the modes and scales in every position (meaning starting on every fret).

    Now that I explained the modes, here are some videos demonstrating the modes played over a pedal tone, or a single note representing a key to play in. The guitarist is a shred legend named Vinnie Moore. WATCH THESE 3 VIDEOS! THEY ARE IMPERATIVE! They helped me tremendously to learn the modes and recognize their sounds.

    1 of 3: YouTube - Vinnie Moore(Great lesson on Modes)-part 1/3
    2 of 3: YouTube - Vinnie Moore(Great lesson on Modes)-part 2/3
    3 of 3: YouTube - Vinnie Moore(Great lesson on Modes)-part 3/3

    If you do not practice often, you will not get good at guitar. That being said, it is absolutely imperative to surround yourself with music and guitarist's music, guitar instrumentals for example, that you strive to achieve the level of in the future. This is goal setting and day by day you must work towards that music's level of playing.

    DO NOT STICK TO ONE GENRE OF MUSIC. I fucking hate people, musical idiots that is, that only learn how to play metal music or blues or what have you. I'll tell you right now, if you want to be known as a good guitarist to yourself and to others, it is essential to be well rounded in ALL genres. Otherwise, you're just a metal guitarist, or a blues guitarist, NOT a guitarist. This is applicable to trades, disciplines and any expertise in life in general as well. Be a well rounded individual. Its more fun that way. Practice jazz as it will make your playing and improv blossom.

    Listen to yourself play without music more than with music. That way, you'll be able to tweak your sound into sounding more smooth and listenable. Put nuances into your playing such as quick slides and pre- bends and palm muting to spice your sound up. Tone is practically 90% in your fingers. Do not expect to get good by reading lessons or taking lessons. The best guitarists are self taught and then supplement their self- established guitar playing with lessons and exercises. As Mason said, learn how to read tablature (tabs). Learn the concept of time signatures such as 4/4 and 3/4, 6/8 and 12/8, etc. The top number represents how many beats are in each measure and the bottom represents what note value constitutes one beat.

    If you want to get good at guitar, look up guitarists on youtube like Eric Johnson, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Guthrie Govan, Albert Lee, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, Frampton, David Gilmour, Danny Gatton, Frank Gambale, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine and the like. There are SOOOO many good ones. Listen to the bands they play in (if they do play in a band).

    I know I'm missing some things in this, but thats why you are teaching yourself. Use the internet and get lessons from sites on google. Look up "guitar theory" and "guitar technique." Learn about octaves and intervals and chord shapes. The amount of chords are practically endless, so learn them off the internet. Don't be afraid to play in front of people as music is a performing art. Sing with your guitar and also sing the same note you're playing on the guitar sometimes to be able to gain what is known as relative pitch (if you were not born with perfect pitch, that is.)

    This is incomplete and I'll add to it as people post and give me ideas. This is an endless topic for me, so bear with me.
     
    #3 Hotrocker, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  4. Pendlum

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    If there was a rate up feature here, I would give you it hands down.

    I have some experience already, and I do really love playing, I just don't like not being able to gauge how I'm doing, and more importantly am I fostering good techniques or bad ones. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. I already alternate pick without thinking, and maybe some economy picking, though I had never heard of the term until now. I can read tabs already as well, but not sheet music. I know some about it, I know that a bar is basically the length of a "note" no matter what the tempo is, and I can tell whether a note is a whole, half, quarter, etc. I don't know the what line is what though note wise, and while I could list out every note on the fret board, I can't do it rapidly. I have to calculate each fret based on the tuning, since I know that each fret is a half step down from the previous one (or open with the first fret). I've heard that the twelfth fret marker is supposed to be the original note, but a full octave higher. I don't know much about octaves or musical theory though.

    I know the pentatonic scale and blues scale, but that is it, and I've only heard of the Dorian mode. But scales and modes are definitely something I want to put into some kind of routine for me. I know a few chords, though my fingers aren't strong enough right now to play bar chords cleanly.

    Thanks again man, I can tell you really have a passion for it.

    Mason: Any bands/songs you feel helped your progress more than usual?
     
  5. lucky8

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    First suggestion: take lessons, if even just for a summer. If you're in school, try getting into a beginner's guitar class maybe, kill 2 birds with one stone that way. Knowing the basics, ie notes, octaves, scales, and chords will benefit you immensely down the road...and since you already have experience, it may make things "click" for you

    but if you don't want to go that route, look on youtube. There are so many guitar lessons on youtube if you have the patience and time, you can definitely make progress (and gauge your progress because you can compare yourself to the instructors in the video)

    you can also look up tabs, scales, and chords online. You need to start with learning ALL the notes on your guitar though, and how they all sound if you want to go anywhere...seriously

    instead of bar chords, try using thumb chords...ever since I first tried a thumb chord, I've always used them...always...they're so much easier IMO. Here's a video demonstrating thumb chords YouTube - Jimi Lessons: Thumb Technique

    Also, after you learn the notes, learn the major scales. A-G. Take your time. Have fun with it and become fluent and comfortable with each scale before moving on. Say the notes out loud if it helps. Write them down in sequence to help you memorize them, then transpose that over to your guitar (since you already know the notes, it should come pretty quickly), then practice practice practice that scale forwards and backwards, learn how skipping certain notes sounds, solo and jam out using that scale for awhile until you're comfortable with it.

    After learning the majors, learn the minors. Then learn blues and jazz scales. If you want to progress quicker than you are, learning more about music theory and really understanding how your instrument works is the best way to start IMO

    There are tons of beginners books out there you can buy for a decent price that come with all of these scales and chords, and even cd's to play along with. It's going to take a lot time, practice, dedication, and passion, but it's worth it

    Also maybe go buy a hand gripper to make your hands stronger...

    As for music...Hendrix is always good if you want to work on your tone, Dream Theater if you want to work on your finger speed, timing, and scale work, and something like dave mathews or ben harper is always good for working on your dynamics and chords

    And btw, your tone is about 50% how your fingers fall on the strings, how you pick the strings, and how you hold your guitar and about 50% high, mid, and low adjustments on your amp and pickups
     
    #5 lucky8, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  6. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    On the matter of being well rounded, learn how to play slide guitar, too. And get good with harmonics (tap, pinch and touch harmonics).
     
  7. _avg_

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    I'm somewhat of an anomaly. I call myself a 'guitar player,' and not a 'musician.' (The distinction is subtle.)

    If I had to articulate it, I might say it thus: "Fuck all that; write me a good song."

    My attitude stems partly from the fact that I know so many proficient musicians who make the most uninteresting music. I'll be the first to admit that I have plenty of room to grow and that I'm "always wanting more" (as hotrocker put it) -- what kind of musician would I be if that weren't true?! [wink] -- but the more I listen to music the more astonished I am at how the 'simpler' music is often the more appealing or compelling; you can definitely over-think music-making, losing your focus from expressing yourself to the means of expression.

    I suppose, if I had to articulate it another way, don't mistake musicianship for musicality.
     
    #7 _avg_, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  8. Pendlum

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    Well, I'm really glad that this is getting a little more response. All of which seem to be great ideas.

    Also, a fun little tid bit, so far only 100% straight guys have responded. :tongue:
     
  9. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    I agree to an extent. R.E.M. is one of my favorite bands because of how damn good their music sounds... and it isn't overly complex. Yet, there is a huge difference between being a shitty guitarist who plays good sounding, simplistic music and a supremely qualified guitarist who chooses to play good sounding, simplistic music. While I appreciate your approach, avg, it is unfair to say "fuck all that, write me a good song" because you totally cut out all of those supremely qualified guitarists who write good music. Would you say that classical guitarists such as Paganini or Carulli wrote bombastic, overly technical pieces? Of course not. Just like Bach, they tested the limits of technical musical ability while employing breathtakingly beautiful passages.
     
  10. Skull Mason

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    The first time I picked up a guitar my brother taught me the intro to "purple haze" by Jimi. A lot of his playing is quite complicated so I moved onto a lot of Led Zeppelin riffs. I had a tab book of theirs that was a basic tab anthology kind of thing. Made it real simple. Jimmy Page plays a ton of riffs that are easily mimicked by just checking out the tab and playing along to the music for a bit. Zepp riffs are so recognizable you will have a blast playing along to most of their catalogue. A lot of Nirvana songs are real easy but are great for learning chords.

    I would get a lot of guitar magazines back then that would have awesome songs transcribed. Guitar magazines now are really expensive and I don't even bother anymore. But there were always some good lessons from the pros in there that helped a decent amount. "Fretboard Geometry" is one I still remember well (and still have with me, I kept all my old mags), where it teaches you to remember shapes of the notes on the fretboard to link the entire fretboard into one giant scale.

    Once my skills got up a bit more I got a Van Halen tab book for xmas and my playing really took up to the next level. Eddie Van Halen is a phenom of a guitarist, and while most of his shit is incredibly difficult to master, it certainly will challenge you in multiple dimensions. It will stretch your fingers, get your right hand left hand coordination up, and will enhance your rhythm. Eddie had some fuckin shake to his playing.

    I would seriously consider challenging yourself to learning something hard. Play it real slow at first until you get a feel for it. It may seem impossible in the beginning but you will certainly get better at it. Then you will play it with the greatest of ease and surprise yourself. Continue to push yourself like that.

    I'd warn against learning to read notes and sheet music and all that. While it may be beneficial to you in the long run (damn I wish I learned how to), it may bore you and prohibit you from a full immersion into the world of guitar saturation. I can't read a fucking note, and can barely remember any scales, but I come up with some amazing shit without it.

    Either way will work, just be real with yourself about how you will handle learning how to read music and music theory as opposed to just playing the guitar for hours into the night. A few years after I taught myself guitar I took a couple lessons to see what it would be like (I really just wanted the guy to transcribe "Panama" by Van Halen for me and teach me it). He offered and recommended to me the chance to learn to read music, or he gave me another option of just working on whatever I wanted to work on. I chose learn how to read music because it seemed like the right thing to do and I ended up never doing my homework, not learning shit, and wasting my time (and money). I took 4 lessons, got Panama transcribed, and bounced out of there forever.

    *by the way, spend a lot of time actually listening to the best guitarists. Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Jimmy Page, Hendrix; all of these guys had the most impact on me in my early years. Just listening to them changed my life and made me a better guitarist. If you can, get concert footage of all these guys (there is a ton of shit on youtube). Get "Live Without A Net" which is a concert of Van Halen and you will witness some of the most unreal and mindblowingly awesome guitar pyrotechnics of all time, straight up. Watching or listening to shit on youtube is cool but nothing beats a DVD on your big screen TV blasting. Do that if you are serious, use youtube as a preview.

    Van Halen's self titled debut album is also one of the greatest works of guitar playing ever recorded. Give it a listen from beginning to end, he was your age when he recorded it.
     
    #10 Skull Mason, Jul 21, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
  11. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    Good shit, Skull Mason. Good shit.
     
  12. Wish-4-8

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    Geez, most of my education came before the internet. For rock music, I lived off the guitar magazines at the newsrack/ book store. Most of my "lessons" came from those articles. Probably the most important lesson came from a Johnny Winter interview/ lesson when he went over the box pattern blues scale. He said that if you memorize that pattern, you could use it all over the guitar neck in any key. That opened up a whole new world like you wouldnt believe.

    Also, a lot of playing by ear. Just about everyday after school I would come home and put on a CD of what ever I wanted to learn. At the time GnR was my favorite. I use to retune my guitar down a 1/2 step listnening to Civil War. I would use White Lion's When the Children Cry to tune it back up.

    I also got into classical using the Fred Noad books.

    There are countless other things I read or saw. I am the sum of my parts. Lots of reading though. And not music, but about the guitar and the "how" of playing.

    Probably would have been easier if the internet exsitsed then like it does today.

    Oh, then I went to college, majored in music and got the academic side of music. Circle of 5ths anyone?
     
  13. Skull Mason

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    good shit yourself man, great links :up:
     
  14. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    lol you just reminded me that I need to sit down and teach myself the concept behind the circle of fifths. I'm in the process of the pitch-axis theory. Good shit, man.

    Thank, bro. :cool:
     
  15. _avg_

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    My point was only to emphasize that, while you can learn the means of expression -- the scales and chords and musical theory -- you should remember the essence of music, which is the expression, itself -- which need not be overly sophisticated, but which may be if used to the desired effect. If you can pull the 'technical' stuff off in a compelling way, you've transcended musicianship...

    ...well, as I see it. ;)

    But, bottom-line, no musician is ever truly done 'learning,' nor should they ever cease to...
     
  16. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    Too damn true. Especially that last sentence...
     
  17. D_Kissimmee Coldsore

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    Hotrocker982's first post is pretty damn good. On www.ultimate-guitar.com there are sections on lessons. I'd recommend reading the theory on what Hotrocker mentions, because knowing that stuff moves you from just being able to play songs to truly understanding this instrument you have in your hands.
    Somewhere I remember reading about the Guitarists Enlightenment, or something like that. When instead of looking at the frets and seeing note names you see sounds. It happens without you realising it but after reading that I thought, 'oh yeah, that is quite amazing'.
    Getting lessons from a good instructor will help you a lot. I had classical lessons in school from ages 8 to 15 but since then I've had none. I have improved more in the last 5 than the first 7 by an infinite amount but having that classical start was invaluable.
    From a musical point of view I like to experiment with different tunings and enjoy the range of tones the guitar can put out. It's a fantastic instrument. The most important thing is to enjoy it.
     
  18. tripod

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    Guitar playing takes many forms. Many people just want to play well enough to impress their friends and family. Some want to join a band someday and some want to be rock stars.

    Most of the music out there today is pretty basic, you will only find challenging guitar playing in the far reaches of hard rock, most of metal, jazz and country. Don't laugh at country guitar players, they are some of the most whoop ass shredders you have ever seen.

    You don't have to be that fast or learn to shred to impress your friends and family, I can tell you that wholeheartedly.

    As far as guitar playing goes, you can either play rhythm (chords) or play lead (notes). One should always become a good rhythm player before you start tackling lead playing. You can learn most of the fundamentals playing rhythm.

    Like Mason said previously... get the BEST tabs that you can find for the songs that you want to learn. Start out with some Black Sabbath, the rhythm parts are the Rosetta stone to a lot of hard rock and metal riffs. If you want to learn the heaviest most chunky riffs around, learn Scott Ian's playing off of S.O.D.'s Speak English or Die album. If you master the Sabbath and S.O.D. riffs you will be one MONSTER rhythm player.

    If you want to learn to play lead, you should start devouring the Zeppelin songbook. Jimmy Page was no shredder and he seemingly played sloppily at times... his guitar playing was from n era when the strings were heavy and huge, guitar pick-ups did not have that much output and there was no such thing as a high gain pre-amp to facilitate clean legato playing. So Jimmy's leads are a bit primitive but they are musical as HELL!!!! Don't ignore Page's acoustic and rhythm playing either, it is as magical as his lead style.

    Last but not least... GET A METRONOME and USE IT!!!!!!

    Practice your riffs at a slow speed and then speed it up gradually as your ability increases... you might start out Saturday morining playing a riff at a slow speed but end up playing it at the proper speed that night.

    All of those techniques like sweep picking and tapping will be facilitated through the use of a metronome. It's how I learned to tap.

    Above all, throw out the mental blocks and just PLAY IT. It's usually an arm imbalance that prevents one from properly playing a riff. Simply put, one hand will need to do what it is doing a little faster, maybe it's your picking hand and maybe it will be your fretting hand.

    For example, I have been playing "Mediteranean Sundance" for years but have always had trouble with the imposing speedy riff during the main theme, which is strange because I have the speed and the technique to play it. Well, the other day, I just said fuck it and decided that it was my picking hand that was not moving fast enough to play the phtrase properly. I put my mind to work and picked a little faster and VOILA! It worked!!!

    My mind had been setting me back by being mystified at Al DiMeola's technique. I simply did not believe that I could play it, so I couldn't. Two days ago, I believed that I could play it and I found out that indeed, I could.

    Throw out all of he mental blocks that prevent yourself from being a good player... doubt has NO FUCKING PLACE in good guitar playing. If you believe that you will be a great player one day, you will most surely become one.
     
  19. Hotrocker

    Hotrocker Well-Known Member

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    thanks, man. Someone stated earlier that musicians are always learning; always taking what they want to play and know to a new level. I don't think I'm at the point where I play what I hear in my head. I see shapes and lines, but its all knowing what lick to play when to play it. I'm trying to bridge the gap, but thats the hard part for me. Oh to be able to play like a good saxophonist... :rolleyes:

    DiMeola is the man. Dude is from Jersey, too, and thats always a plus. His picking is phenomenal and even Yngwie credits him as an influence.
     
  20. D_Andreas Sukov

    D_Andreas Sukov Account Disabled

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    damn you guys! im gonna wait untill i have more time to read all this. you boys are gonna kickstart my guitar learning again nicely thank you!
     
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