What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby jkstraw » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:01 am

dleonard wrote:IMO, lessons are good if you have no knowledge of theory, and are trying to get knowledge of theory.

Other than that, as long as you have the will, I don't think there's any lessons (besides the jamming with people world) that can't be done without a good instructional book(accompanied by a cd that plays the lessons) or a dvd.


I think this is 100% - but you have to be honest with yourself. Myself - I can play a lot of dead tunes via cowboy chords and basic barre chords - I love it!!....and that makes me extremely lazy.....and ultimately a pretty mediocre guitar player. i.e. 20 mins of scale studies and practicing pull-offs vs. jaming out "The Other One" on acoustic using only chords.....it's pretty easy to do the same old thing if you have fun doing it.

What I have been looking for - and would recommend to anyone - is finding a teacher that will take your money AND treat you like a 7 year old taking music lessons. Man when I was 7 a white haired piano teacher would make me feel awful for not practicing.....same thing in High School band...."yes please play this section (you clearly suck at) for the class"....those teachers used tricks to literally force you to practice or just pack it in.

I've got books, videos and a decent ear....just no will :wink: .......that's something I would pay to have :?
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby mijknahs » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:02 am

I kinda assumed you could play some basic chords and songs. Even if you can only play one or two simple songs, it will help to play along with someone else (who is a little better) to get the concept of rhythm, timing and adjusting to compensate for either your or the other person's mistakes.

If I'm teaching someone to play guitar, after they get 2 or 3 chords down, it's time to do some jamming (maybe even Fire on the Mountain?) I've seen too many people with technical skill who can't play with others.

Of course hours of practicing by yourself goes along with it. Probably best to find a mentor who will teach you some new things, critique your technique and also do some jamming with you (you might have to pay them unless they're a good friend).
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby Harvestwind » Sun May 02, 2010 8:07 pm

Lessons are a good way to get there quicker. Find a teacher whose own playing style is similar to what you want to learn.
Play with other more experienced players. Keep pushing your ability by working on pieces that challenge you rather than continually going over the same songs you already play OK.
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby andeehunt » Sun May 23, 2010 9:19 pm

The greatest learning you can get is from a teacher. One on one lessons really allow you to grasp the concepts of learning at a faster rate and allow you to understand more effectively. If you are low on money and can’t afford a teacher then the internet is the next best thing. This, though, is going to mean that you will be learning ‘on your own’.
There are many sites out there today that deal quite well with teaching you how to play:
Some places to start on Guitar include:

Beginner Lessons
Absolute Beginner Part 1: Chords
Guitar Basics
Buying a Guitar
Easy Songs for Beginners
Chords
Theory

Some other sites that can help you get started include:
Cyberfret.com – Your Source For Free Online Guitar Lessons
Guitar Lesson World
About Guitar
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby RiverRat » Wed May 26, 2010 7:23 pm

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Last edited by RiverRat on Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby tcsned » Wed May 26, 2010 8:15 pm

RiverRat wrote:
waldo041 wrote:learn and practice songs you like, AND the ones you do not like.


Sometimes it helps to jump around with different genres and styles of music as well.

Like maybe spending some time playing along to 80's pop songs one practice session, the next time it might be metal or thrash. or even mixing up several types of music in each session. It take you out of your comfort zone and forces you to really work at what you're doing.

I know one hardcore metal guitarist who practices a lot of bluegrass and old country. He'll never play these tunes out but he says it does allow him to look at the guitar from a different perspective.

Good point RiverRat
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby JonnyBoy » Wed May 26, 2010 9:06 pm

That's one of the most intelligent things I've read lately River Rat....and Waldo...
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby ndrewoods » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:05 pm

dleonard wrote:IMO, lessons are good if you have no knowledge of theory, and are trying to get knowledge of theory.

Other than that, as long as you have the will, I don't think there's any guitar music lesson (besides the jamming with people world) that can't be done without a good instructional book(accompanied by a cd that plays the lessons) or a dvd.

^ Totally agree. With an instructional book and CD, you will know how to play the lesson/s correctly. And continue practicing. Do that with other guitarist you know and continue to learn from them and from other guitarist too, either known or not.
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby Jon S. » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:58 am

It can be perilous to project from one's own successful experiences that this is what will work best also for others because we are all unique and have our own personalities and preferred ways of learning.

This being said, what really made the difference for me in transforming me from a basic player to someone who, whereas I have no illusions of my virtuosity, I can now hang with just about any other musicians other than serious jazzers without embarrassing myself or them, was attending five National Guitar Workshop sessions over 5 summers. Cheap? No. Fun? Yes. Beneficial. Abso-f-lutely. The instructors throw so much at you so fast, the best can absorb maybe 10% of it right then and there. Then you take the remaining 90% home and you have enough to practice and grow with for the rest of the year 'til next summer. In particular, if you can take a course from Matt Smith (like his Chop Shop course), do it - he's perhaps the best pure teacher in any field who I've ever had the honor to learn from.

Myself, when I knew I'd turned the corner in my playing was when I felt equally comfortable soloing either with scales, melodies/harmonies, or intervals. The latter is perhaps the most important and where I usually begin when other less versed guitarist friends ask me for input. Riffing on scales sounds like, well, riffing on scales.* But if you know chord tones and intervals, you can play any note, any time - either as a core note or a passing tone - and be far more creative and expressive in your playing.

* It's the difference between trying to sound like B.B. by simply playing the Mixolydian over the I, the Dorian over the IV, and the Ionian over the V, versus knowing where your flat 3rd and 3rd, and flat 7 and 7, etc., are for each chord and when to milk one versus the other. Both approaches work but when you focus on intervals rather than the scales, you can step outside the scales with intention when it serves the music, e.g., throw in a flat 5 (diminished-sounding tone) as a passing note where that note does not even appear in the scale at hand. Indeed, how to use the flat 5 in soloing was a skill Robben Ford worked with us on when he was our National Guitar Workshop guest instructor one summer.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got on soloing was from Jerry who said in an interview how he would begin with a new song by learning to play the melody line note-for-note. Then, he always had at least two basic lead options open to him with any song: with the melody; and opposite to it. So learn your melody lines!

My last suggestion: whether you prefer country & western and bluegrass or not, learn some of each. These cats approach soloing differently than do rockers. In one respect, they're closer to jazzers in how many "play over the chords" versus being strictly scale-based as are many rockers. If the 3 pillars of music are melody, harmony, and rhythm, contrary to popular stereotypes of bluegrass as "hick" music, when you consider a good bluegrass band in its totality, it is complex mash of all three elements in sync.
"For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The music is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument." Jerry Garcia
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby gr8fullfred » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:41 am

I heard an interesting article recently about classical violinists, the research showed that the reason the top players were the top players was that they practiced the most. It was not talent or hereditary, it was that the most accomplished players practiced the most. So just putting the time in is one factor. Some people are more talented than others, that is also true.

Recently I read an interview with Jerry, where Jerry says that he can feel the difference, that is, he loses his edge if he does not play for one day. Also says "feels like a cripple" if he does not play for two days in a row. Jerry also say he plays for a minimum 2 hours per day, and while touring, including the show he plays for about 6 hours a day. That probably means 3 hours practicing and a three hour show. In other interviews Jerry basically says "that is what I do, I play guitar". Somewhere else Jerry says that he is constantly working through one method book or another. Ain't no substitute for practicing.

That said, it is easy to get into a rut and play the same old stuff over and over. So to improve efficiency I suggest taking lessons. Find a good teacher. A few of us are musical geniuses and do not need a teacher, the rest of us could benefit greatly from taking lessons.

Many people suggest scales and chords, but I will add arpeggios to the list. Especially if you want to understand Jerry, than you will need to study arpeggios, that is arpeggios, not Peggy O. (Of course you could use Peggy O to study arpeggios!).

And then there are songs. If you learned one new song a week that would be 52 songs per year. And 520 songs in ten years. So learning a new song a week ain't a bad idea either.

And finally there is playing out. Playing in a band, playing with others. There are a lot of pretty good musicians out there, that simply cannot play with others. Jerry says this some where, paraphrasing here "Music stores are filed with musicians that cannot play well with others". So if you are not experienced playing out, you need to go get that experience. Attend your local open mikes or blues jams and learn to sing a few songs so you can get up there and lead a set of 3 or 4 songs. Start with simple songs. I IV V stuff is fine.

You do all these things, practice, take lessons, play out, you have to get better. If you practice one hour per day for one year, you have to improve. BTW almost unlimited resources on the internet, you can learn almost any song on the internet, massive lessons on YouTube. Want to learn the touch of grey solo, a 13 year old will be happy to show you on YouTube. Check out Pete B's vids to start.
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Re: What is the best way to learn to play guitar better?

Postby Jon S. » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:51 am

gr8fullfred wrote:I heard an interesting article recently about classical violinists, the research showed that the reason the top players were the top players was that they practiced the most. It was not talent or hereditary, it was that the most accomplished players practiced the most. So just putting the time in is one factor.

Excellent point. In this vein, I would recommend Chapter 2 ("The 10,000-Hour Rule") of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers. (He's a great author, try also his other books, The Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw.)
"For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The music is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument." Jerry Garcia
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