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swayze
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:10 pm
Posts: 306
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:30 pm 
 

For years, I played guitar terribly. I've had three tutors: the first a metal guy, the second a classical guy, and the third a jazz guy. All of them have told me that everyone gets good with practice, and I've heard the whole 10000 hours of practice will make anyone a virtuoso. That said, I've now accepted that I was just not born to play stringed instruments, and am an exception to this rule. I wanted to run this topic by the particularly blunt crowd here.

I'm musically-minded, write good songs, keep rhythm no problem, sing in tune, etc etc. I have a "good ear" for music, so to speak. I was practicing guitar daily for YEARS. I'm now better than someone who's never played guitar, but barely, and I can play scales no problem, but I shit you not, I still have trouble with open chords, barre chords, even tremolo picking. My fingers are still clunky when landing down power chords! Dead serious. I can't even play the most basic black metal riffs... I have some old Rock School stuff one of the tutors gave me, and I still can't play Level 2 (and there are 8 levels).

This all said, I still really enjoy playing guitar, and about a year ago, gave up on any guitar dreams (but not musician/composition dreams) and went ahead and bought a keyboard and drum machine to make electronic music with. I progressed with piano playing about a hundred times faster than I did on guitar, and can play some mean beats and samples (hip hoppy shit) on Maschine. Is this a common thing? To completely blow at a family of instruments but be just fine at others? I can also sing like the devil, and have been told to consider opera (not my thing). These guitar tutors were dead set on anyone being able to get good at guitar, and I probably would have moved on if any one of them had been more honest/less delusional with me, so I wondered what the crowd here thinks of that, and also, if they've ever heard of anyone who after years of playing still makes Kurt Cobain look like a guitar ace.

Just curious.

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Bob_Deth
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:24 am
Posts: 71
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:02 pm 
 

Well, to be honest, I think every musician gets down on their abilities and that's nothing new. I always say, "The better I think I'm getting the more I realize how much I suck" so you just have to keep at it. My biggest problem was not breaking down things to the simplest part, then practicing that over and over again. Also, it's a good idea to play with a drummer and other musicians that you respect and take their criticism to improve. If playing cords is a problem area then find a simple cord progression or just start by strumming the chords slowly, focus on each string and the notes. I always had a hard time with details of things like that but then I realized a long time ago that there are many different ways to play a chord or note. Strum harder, strum softer, arpeggiate the chord, ect. Maybe break you practicing up to work on stuff that's hard, then some time for creativity, then something you always want to keep playing everytime you pick up a guitar such as a song you like, also remember it should be fun and if your not having fun then make some changes. It can be overwhelming at times but it's easier to just give up and if it wasn't hard everyone would be doing it. Just remember everyone learns at there own pace so don't get discouraged.

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Zodijackyl
Lazy Wizard

Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:39 pm
Posts: 4840
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:00 pm 
 

swayze wrote:
I'm musically-minded, write good songs, keep rhythm no problem, sing in tune, etc etc. I have a "good ear" for music, so to speak. I was practicing guitar daily for YEARS. I'm now better than someone who's never played guitar, but barely, and I can play scales no problem, but I shit you not, I still have trouble with open chords, barre chords, even tremolo picking. My fingers are still clunky when landing down power chords! Dead serious. I can't even play the most basic black metal riffs... I have some old Rock School stuff one of the tutors gave me, and I still can't play Level 2 (and there are 8 levels).


Practice slowly and cleanly transitioning between different open and barre chords. The first time, it might take you 10-20 seconds to position your fingers. Figure out where you want your fingers to be, read through a song and play each chord. That's what a lot of people learn first, and it's something that a lot of metal guitarists never bother to learn. It takes a lot of slowing down, and perhaps your teachers just didn't find a good way to explain how to learn this to you.

Practicing one thing like scale runs doesn't do much for your chord playing, but you won't be used to stumbling on stuff like that if you go back to it and try to learn it like a beginner. Once you get good at some stuff, you'll also notice more mistakes in other areas because you are no longer used to the struggles.

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Something_Inside
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:43 am
Posts: 70
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:17 pm 
 

As a drummer, I can tell you the "anyone can be good at guitar" thing is totally true. Just practice, and if its like 2 years later and you still cant play guitar but you can play piano, it's a case of you're trying to play things that are too hard for your level. For instance if you can play a scale you ought to be able to play any powerchord you like anywhere on the guitar, as a powerchord is like the simplest thing ever to do on a guitar. It just sounds to me like you need to keep practicing, stop trying to learn other people's stuff/songs/riffs (as apparently it hasnt worked for you, or you'd have seen a noticeable improvement in your playing) and instead go back to square one and re-learn the basics, like actually get your rock school grade 1 book out and start from the first page.

Conversely, if you can play piano but not guitar, there's something not right about that. Imagine that each fret of a guitar is a piano key, start with simple one string melodies, and just pretend your guitar is a multi-layered piano for a while and surely you cant fail. I do hate to say this, as its most likely untrue but... I learnt guitar by going "right. I know rythm from the drums, so if i just practice putting notes on the right beats to start with i'll get better in no time" and I wasnt wrong. Same with any instrument, once you "get" how to play it, you'll go from shit/mediocre to good or better than good in no time at all. I mean literally every week I find myself saying "Man, i couldnt even have played that a week ago".

So uh, JUST KEEP PRACTICING! the 100000 hours = virtuoso thing is NOT wrong, so long as you spend those hours practicing Technique & Theory rather than trying to play something by someone else and then apparently struggling with it (im making an assumption based on your post, if im wrong tell me so!)

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swayze
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:10 pm
Posts: 306
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:23 am 
 

I appreciate the responses. I just now synthesized some awesome sad angel choir with some free synth I got with a magazine, programmed a little progression (it was Am G Dm Am, if you're wondering; all wacky inversions), and then soloed over it for like a half-hour (in E Phrygian, if you're wondering) and really expressed myself with the guitar. Also threw in some chords, barred and open (the bpm of the track is super slow). When I put my guitar down, I was like, geez, maybe I'm not quite as bad as I thought. I think you guys are right; I practiced the basics of chords way less than I practiced my scales, because scales came more naturally to me; and instead of putting more time into something that challenged me, I took an easier route and ended up a bit of an imbalanced guitarist. You guys are right; I just need to get back to the basics and progress as I progress and not get down if I'm not learning something as fast as I think I should.

Something_Inside: You're half-right about the other people's music. The other stuff was stuff that I had written that was too complex for me to play. But the point is the same.

Again, I appreciate the responses and it's improved my attitude. Thanks.

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Misfit74
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:23 am
Posts: 1547
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:47 pm 
 

Keep at it. Keep practicing. Don't compare yourself to other players but rather focus on your own progress day to day, week to week, and year to year. What's important is that you enjoy it and getting better is part of that. Unless you're dying to become a professional, learn to be content using the time you have to practice, play and most of all having fun. Keep practicing what you need to improve on and play songs you enjoy that incorporate some of those things you need to keep working on to help you stay with it. Sometimes it's easy to put too much pressure on yourself. 10 or 20 years from now, if you do stay with it you might be surprised. 10 to 20 years from now if you don't stay with it you might eventually pick it back up and find yourself saying "shit! if only I had kept playing for the past decade or two...how good would I be now?"
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tolivetody
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:55 pm
Posts: 43
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:36 am 
 

Something I did when learning the guitar was played along to Misfits songs. The songs typically consist of only power chords and are strummed open at not too fast of a pace, and it gets you moving around the neck a bit. I already played the piano, violin, saxophone, and drums, so I had an understanding of music but not of the entire instrument of the guitar at that point in time. I first learned the songs on the E and A strings only, forcing myself to move around all of the frets, and then I re-learned the positioning so I could keep the chords within the first five frets as much as possible while covering all the strings.

It might not be the best method, but it worked for me so I figured I'd share my experiences.

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