Question to the expert guitarists

Question to the expert guitarists

Postby letitflow » Fri May 12, 2006 12:07 pm

Hi all,

I am trying to figure out what I should do with my guitar playing now.

I view guitar (for myself) from perhaps a different perspective than others. To me it is just a way to sit down, relax and take my mind off thinking for 5 mins or so.

I have noticed that learning to play lead is kinda like learning to ride a bicycle. You never forget. When you do forget, it comes back very quickly. I know because I have gone months without picking up the guitar and when I do it only takes a day or 2 to start playing lead like before.

However, for me, chords are not the same way. If I learn a song then I will eventually forget it and to remember how to play it takes some monkeying on my part and often involves looking up the chords again.

My desire is not to be the world's best guitarist, but it would be nice to be better.

Now I would be willing to put in the work of practicing more (perhaps 30 mins per day even) if eventually it will pay off.

But if I'm still going to be at the point where I will forget a song's chords quickly, even when I am a much better guitarist then I do not want to spend so much time with the guitar.

Now this is my definition of "pay off". I want to know if this is what happens when you become a good guitarist, or if even very good guitarists still are unable to do this. I just want to know if it is possible.

I noticed with soloing you start "hearing". So it becomes easy to solo on anything without knowing the chords or anything about the song. Just when it comes on, you play along. I am no expert at this, but I can see this is how it works since I have made some progress down this path. And I know I will eventually get there.

But does the same thing happen with chords? Do you eventually get the point where you do not need to look up chords anymore? where you just hear the chord (because of it's root note and because of its type of sound - e.g. maj7 or minor or whatever)

And can you even get to the point where you can pick out what chord should be played, even when there is no guitar playing in that point of the song?

So please, expert guitarists, tell me if eventually after much practice you can just start picking up the chords to basically any song very quickly?

I am the type of person who is a good cook, but reading recipes & measuring things really frustrates me. So I just like to cook off the top of my head.

Same thing with music... I don't want to feel like I'm constantly practicing and looking things up. Just that I'm playing. (which is another form of practice)

As I said, I'm willing to do the work if I know I will eventually "attain nirvana".

So am I dreaming or is this what happens?
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Postby mutant_dan » Fri May 12, 2006 12:16 pm

When you play pool it is called 'time on the table', same goes with guitar.

You can get really good playing the guitar in 5 minute intervals. Just do it 10 - 20 times a day.

I suggest leaving the guitar out on a stand and pick it up as often as you can during your day. Play what is on your mind and just as quickly set it aside.

Thats how I have approached the mandolin and it really allows you to focus while you are playing.
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Postby strumminsix » Fri May 12, 2006 12:59 pm

Right on Dan. Here is another one suggestion following up on Dan's advice --> Put an acoustic guitar within eye-shot of where you sit most often in your liesure.

I've found then when my acoustic is sitting in a stand near me I'm 10 times more likely to get a little rehearsing done compared to having to go into the basement where my gear is and be away from everything.
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Postby letitflow » Fri May 12, 2006 1:15 pm

My guitar already is next to the couch. What I'd really like to know though is if very good guitarists still need to look up chords for songs or not.

with lead guitar, 15 mins per week is sufficient to achieve progress (because you don't forget much), as long as you are in no hurry to become an expert at it.

but with learning chords for songs, I find it is like climbing to the top of a hill only to slide back down again as soon as you start practicing other songs (because you forget the ones you had been learning in previous weeks). And for me to get up to speed on them again I have to either monkey around a lot or even look up the chords.

So what I really want to know is if chords come natural to good guitarists eventually. If so then it is worth my time, otherwise I am satisfied just to play a few chords and lead while taking a break from working and sitting on my couch.

I know this is not an orthodox attitude but to me guitar is just an enjoyable distraction and form of stress relief, not a passion.
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Postby jck_strw » Fri May 12, 2006 1:41 pm

Let me take this from the other end of the spectrum. I don't play any lead (yet) and I've always just played chords.

I have my guitar sitting next to my couch and I play (most) everyday. For awhile (a loooong while in my case), I couldn't remember the chords to any song. I always had to have my tab book with me. But after practicing and playing for awhile, I just started remembering them. At some point, I also made a conscious decision to stop relying so heavily on my tab book, so this forced me to try and remember. There are still plenty of songs that I need to look up (songs that I don't play very often), but for songs that I play regularly, I would say I'm finally tab-book free. I guess it's just a matter of practice, but not only that, in addition to song practice, chord practice, you need to practice "remembering". Make a cconscious effort to try and remember the chords/changes. That's what I did and it seems to work.
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Postby strumminsix » Fri May 12, 2006 2:16 pm

What I'd really like to know though is if very good guitarists still need to look up chords for songs or not.


Songs that follow a standard construct:
Intro > verse > chorus > bridge > solo > outro

No, I don't need to look it up.

But songs where it changes (think Dire Wolf w/ Am verses and correspdonding C E7 Am chorus, Box of Rain end verse changes) I need to look up and memorize if I've put the song down for 6 months.
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Postby shakedown_04092 » Fri May 12, 2006 2:23 pm

jck_strw wrote:Let me take this from the other end of the spectrum. I don't play any lead (yet) and I've always just played chords.

I have my guitar sitting next to my couch and I play (most) everyday. For awhile (a loooong while in my case), I couldn't remember the chords to any song. I always had to have my tab book with me. But after practicing and playing for awhile, I just started remembering them. At some point, I also made a conscious decision to stop relying so heavily on my tab book, so this forced me to try and remember. There are still plenty of songs that I need to look up (songs that I don't play very often), but for songs that I play regularly, I would say I'm finally tab-book free. I guess it's just a matter of practice, but not only that, in addition to song practice, chord practice, you need to practice "remembering". Make a cconscious effort to try and remember the chords/changes. That's what I did and it seems to work.



To add to this, I will comment on something that I am currently learning as we speak, which is "how you know how to play the chords you are looking for". If you're having trouble remembering the specific "chord" to play (i.e. - you can't remember if the next chord in a progression is a Emaj7 or an E7), then I would say the same thing that jck_strw said above: in time, it will come, because you will not only hear the difference, but you will remember the change.

If your problem is actually remembering [/i]how[i] to play the chord, especially a tricky chord like Adim or E7-9 or something out of the ordinary, then I would suggest taking a certain chord, and learning why your fingers are where they are when you play it. Break it down, play it note by note, listen to the chord, and then figure out why those notes are in the chord.

For example, if you're playing an Gmaj7, ask youself "why are my fingers here?" Now, I'm not good at this part, (read: explaining things), so maybe someone else can pick it up here, but it has to do with you playing the 7th note of the scale, as opposed to the root, or 1st note of the scale, etc. This sort of "theory" goes for all chords.

There is a reason that our fingers are where they are for all the chords we play.
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Postby eyeprod » Fri May 12, 2006 6:44 pm

i think if you focus on fragmented(2-note) chords and triads rather than fuller chords then yes, it becomes easier to stretch out with your chord use. especially if you're playing with other musicians, a guitar doesn't need to be playing open chords or complete barres, that sort of thing. it works just fine to play a couple of choice notes in the right position and do simple inversions and variations on just a few notes that work with your chord changes. if you get it going it might just sound like jazz.
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Postby spilly » Fri May 12, 2006 9:32 pm

my ears have recently become very focused. If I find myself with a guitar in my hands while i listen to the radio, I'll usually be playing the changes to each song by the time it's over. I used to have to listen all day to figure this stuff out, not i can do it in 5 minutes. so I guess the answer would be yes
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