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Old 12-26-2013, 11:48 PM   #1
kylec922
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Becoming better past a certain point

I feel I haven't improved much in the last 3 years or so. I play every day, know the common scales. I am good in barre chords...What I can't do is sit down and come up with an on the fly lick like the "John frusciante bedroom lick." Though I can play it. My big weakness has to be pick accuracy I feel.

Any suggestions on what to do or what to practice? I just feel I'm in a rut, I want to get better and have more direction.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:54 PM   #2
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improvement often comes when least expected. we all hit ruts. try playing something totally different than what you are used to. try some country or jazz. gets the fingers moving in different ways. as for coming up with cool licks that takes some time and oddly enough a lack of "trying". let it flow naturally. if you hit something you like play over and over til you have it down and then keep it in the back of your head. I've been doing that for years and have a little riff bank so to speak. when writing songs I may be playing something and say hmm.. what goes with that and then remember a part that I came up with 5 years ago and it's the one that works perfect. most of the songs in my profile came about that way
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:02 AM   #3
kylec922
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I do that as well, and this sounds really dumb but I feel like I'm cheating if it's something I know already. I'll use the analogy of a freestyle rapper. They come up with that on the spot, I feel like knowing x riff and putting it with y riff isn't the same. Maybe I just have this unrealistic notion that's what players like frusciante do. Or maybe they are just on a level that's beyond where I'll ever be.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kylec922
I feel I haven't improved much in the last 3 years or so. I play every day, know the common scales. I am good in barre chords...What I can't do is sit down and come up with an on the fly lick like the "John frusciante bedroom lick." Though I can play it. My big weakness has to be pick accuracy I feel.

Any suggestions on what to do or what to practice? I just feel I'm in a rut, I want to get better and have more direction.


Ok, really there are two separate issues here: firstly the one about the improvising or playing ideas you want and secondly about the picking.

The picking is just a question of working on it more. Unless you want to be shredding like a maniac you just have to make sure you're not straining your body and you'll be able to do what you want in time.

The part about improvising and writing is a bit trickier, but the over all aim is this: get ideas from your head to the guitar. You'll want to be spending time really getting familiar with how as many things as possible sound with regard to playing them. You say you know 'the common scales'... but do you really? Can you listen to a lick or piece of music and pick out what scale it uses? The point is that scales aren't shapes or notes, they are sounds first and foremost. You need to be practicing taking musical ideas from any source and getting to play them on the guitar; figure out TV themes, transcribe your favourite pieces by ear, think of a lick in your head and learn it. Just do that over and over again until you're really good at getting things by ear and you can then start to turn the ear inwards and transcribe the music in your head. That's where really great music comes from, and then once you're really fast at it, you can start to do it on the fly and truly improvise.

Be warned though: this process will take you the rest of your life. That state of musical nirvana where you think of an idea and play it is really what anyone who improvises is aiming for and very few people ever reach that state because it takes so much to get to.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:58 AM   #5
kylec922
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I don't really want to shred like a maniac, I mostly like Gilmour and frusciante stuff. Really soulful and full of expression. I did listen to something that described notes as colors, and I'm definitely on board with that. For the most part I feel like I can hear a scale based on how I feel, if you get what I'm saying. And by the notes played too of course. Something I enjoy doing is listening and looping and layering songs by ear. I don't really enjoy playing along side stuff for whatever reason. I get my kicks from writing cool stuff.
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93' Strat mahogany neck with Lace Sensor Silver.
Blackface Fender Twin
Lots of pedals..
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Ok, really there are two separate issues here: firstly the one about the improvising or playing ideas you want and secondly about the picking.

The picking is just a question of working on it more. Unless you want to be shredding like a maniac you just have to make sure you're not straining your body and you'll be able to do what you want in time.

The part about improvising and writing is a bit trickier, but the over all aim is this: get ideas from your head to the guitar. You'll want to be spending time really getting familiar with how as many things as possible sound with regard to playing them. You say you know 'the common scales'... but do you really? Can you listen to a lick or piece of music and pick out what scale it uses? The point is that scales aren't shapes or notes, they are sounds first and foremost. You need to be practicing taking musical ideas from any source and getting to play them on the guitar; figure out TV themes, transcribe your favourite pieces by ear, think of a lick in your head and learn it. Just do that over and over again until you're really good at getting things by ear and you can then start to turn the ear inwards and transcribe the music in your head. That's where really great music comes from, and then once you're really fast at it, you can start to do it on the fly and truly improvise.

Be warned though: this process will take you the rest of your life. That state of musical nirvana where you think of an idea and play it is really what anyone who improvises is aiming for and very few people ever reach that state because it takes so much to get to.


That sounded sick as ****, and it sounds like the hardest ****ing challenge ever, which I will gracefully accept.
Even though this thread isn't about me, I accept.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:24 AM   #7
CJGunner7
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:59 PM   #8
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The way you think about it matters. You can't just play the guitar - you have to make music. Technique, ears, knowledge, and such are the tools you use for that. And like any other tool, swinging it around in the air won't do anything by itself, it has to be applied to something to get a result.

It can be really intimidating to try and make music from nothing, because.. how do you start? The best way to get past that is just to make deliberate decisions. Don't worry if they're good or bad, just get used to making a decisions. I'm not a prolific writer by any means, but when I do it's sometimes as simple as deciding on a key, a feel, or a tempo and seeing where it leads.
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