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Old 04-07-2013, 06:26 PM   #1
ToneMasterDelux
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Question How to "feel" guitar?

Forgive the title, I couldn't think of another way to say it.

When I see the best players I always notice they have the "guitar face" and you can tell they are really feeling it and that's part of what makes it sound good, even when its simple.

My question is how can I better "feel" what I'm playing? I feel like my inability to "feel" the majority of the time is really holding me back.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:09 AM   #2
arabmetallion
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I wasn't able to 'feel' until I learned a bunch of scales across the entire fretboard thoroughly [the natural minor scale is the most versatile and expressive scale imo ], my delivery is very sloppy but I can sort of feel what I want to play . I think you just have to know the sound a bunch of notes or licks make be, it from a chord or a scale beforehand and be comfortable playing them in any given order. That's just my theory though.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:33 AM   #3
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like expressing yourself through language (speaking etc) you need to learn how to 'talk' on guitar... by learning scales etc

for me i just feel it when i play something that sounds really cool...
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:21 AM   #4
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I've been working on my timing lately and I can tell you that by far, I feel the most comfortable (and the most accurate in rhythmic terms) when I allow my entire body to bob and sway with the beat. You don't have to put on a goofy show and mug for the camera/audience/bathroom mirror, but if you move around enough to let the beat move through you, your ability to play things in time (or at least nearly so) will rapidly increase.

That doesn't answer your question about facial expressions, but I think that varies person to person. The first step is trying to play the instrument with your whole body, not just your hands. The rest will follow.
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:16 AM   #5
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It's not really about "feel" - it's more about listening. The reason guitarists can just instinctively play and look like they're not thinking comes down to two things.

Good ears and musical instincts - they know the sound they're aiming for and know if they'er getting it right.

Knowledge of the instrument - there's a significant disconnect between your brain, which is where any music you play starts, and your guitar. However, with experience your understanding of the instrument improves. As you become more familiar with the guitar that disconnect becomes less of a barrier until playing can become pretty much instinctive.

Those are both very tangible things you can work on - you can train your ear, you can actively listen to both the music of others and your own playing, you can learn theory to better understand how music works and you can learn to associate the physical actions you perform on the guitar with the sounds that come out of it.

All those things take time and work, but get better at them and it frees you up a bit - if you're not having to think quite so hard about what you're doing then that normally comes accross in your playing.
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:16 AM   #6
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Most of that facial expression crap is showboating for the audience anyway. It starts with facial expressions, then shoulder contortions on bends, then worsens to headbanging and arm windmills.

Last edited by innovine : 04-08-2013 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:15 PM   #7
ToneMasterDelux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnet99
I've been working on my timing lately and I can tell you that by far, I feel the most comfortable (and the most accurate in rhythmic terms) when I allow my entire body to bob and sway with the beat. You don't have to put on a goofy show and mug for the camera/audience/bathroom mirror, but if you move around enough to let the beat move through you, your ability to play things in time (or at least nearly so) will rapidly increase.

That doesn't answer your question about facial expressions, but I think that varies person to person. The first step is trying to play the instrument with your whole body, not just your hands. The rest will follow.

Haha, I didn't really mean I 'should have' facial expressions, just that it seems that many great players are very deep into it.

I actually have just been trying some things and I found that getting myself into the mood of the music helps, closing eyes and feeling for deeper stuff like slow blues and just moving to the beat for faster and more 'fun' stuff. It really helps alot.

To the other comments I do think the faces are legitimate for many guitarists, I don't really do it but I do close my eyes and tend to lift my leg (for some reason) when I get really into it. I do know the guitar pretty well and have a pretty good knowledge of theory, sometimes I just feel locked into it even if I am playing well it is noticeably different to me and others when I play and 'feel' it.

P.s. I guess the solution here is really just try what is best for you, some of the best advice I heard though was to examine other artists and even what you are playing to before even picking up the guitar.

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Old 04-10-2013, 03:47 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by innovine
....[ ].....then worsens to headbanging and arm windmills.

But I love windmills, they seem to have been an intrinsic part of my feckless youth.....
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToneMasterDelux
Forgive the title, I couldn't think of another way to say it.

When I see the best players I always notice they have the "guitar face" and you can tell they are really feeling it and that's part of what makes it sound good, even when its simple.

My question is how can I better "feel" what I'm playing? I feel like my inability to "feel" the majority of the time is really holding me back.


For me the real joy of feeling the notes is having complete freedom to wander the fretboard, and just let your ear guide you. You'll find the silly guitar faces tend to happen when a particularly emotive note comes out, and that is most often guided by your ear.

So, in order to be able to play what you hear with freedom, you need to get your fretboard knowledge down. And I don't just mean names of the notes, but scales and modes in all areas of the fretboard.

Hope that helps!
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Old 04-12-2013, 10:42 AM   #10
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Here's how you move:

1. Ignorance of your flaws
2. Awareness of your flaws
3. Awareness of your skills
4. Ignorance of your skills

...or something like that.

"Feel" is gained through such heavy repetition and practice that you literally do not think when you play guitar: you just listen and play.

Here's a Charlie Parker quote: "Master your instrument. Master the music. Then forget all that bullshit and just play."
THAT is feel.
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:54 PM   #11
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I like playing with the lights down low. I have those led lighting where I can dial in colours. Works well for feel imho. Try play by candlelight, or in a cave, and you should feel a big difference!

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Old 04-12-2013, 03:00 PM   #12
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You can't teach someone how to "feel" the guitar
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vayne92
You can't teach someone how to "feel" the guitar


No but you can certainly give someone the tools and knowledge they need to get there.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:37 PM   #14
ToneMasterDelux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bondmorkret
For me the real joy of feeling the notes is having complete freedom to wander the fretboard, and just let your ear guide you. You'll find the silly guitar faces tend to happen when a particularly emotive note comes out, and that is most often guided by your ear.

So, in order to be able to play what you hear with freedom, you need to get your fretboard knowledge down. And I don't just mean names of the notes, but scales and modes in all areas of the fretboard.

Hope that helps!

This was actually the most helpful piece of advice, I know all the traditional scales and modes but now I have started to memorize all the note names other than on E and A and their sounds as well (I try to sing along when jamming or playing to memorize exactly where certain tones are).

Thank you (I know this an old thread now)
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by innovine
Most of that facial expression crap is showboating for the audience anyway. It starts with facial expressions, then shoulder contortions on bends, then worsens to headbanging and arm windmills.


It can be showboating, but most of the time I think it's genuine emotion.

When I play, most of the time there is no facial expression or anything -- just the playing. But when I get locked into a groove, my body naturally starts swaying/bobbing/headbanging to the rhythm. There's nothing intentional about it.

And I'll freely admit, there have been times in my life where my guitar playing is a reflection of the emotions and difficult stuff I'm going through, and some of that emotion comes out through my playing. Those are the moments when I'm at my absolute best as a musician.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:52 AM   #16
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I pull some proper gibbs when I'm playing sometimes, ugly Gary Moore esque stuff and I can tell you it isn't intentional, when you're really feeling it, it just happens.

Having feel or feeling the guitar is when you don't have to think about what you're playing, its like walking, when you walk you don't think about it you just do it. "I want something from the fridge" you dont think about walking to the fridge you just do it. Feel is similar to that, where you can hum a tune and play it at the same time without thinking about it, where you're engrossed in the manipulation of the sound and the dynamics, enjoying the music rather than thinking about the notes you're playing.


It's also about playing to the backing or to the musicians around you. It's a common notion that many "shredders" can't play with feel strangely enough. Look at a guy like Rusty Cooley, the guy can play faster than pretty much anyone, but his playing is mechanical and sterile, his ability to control the guitar when he is playing slow is not great and when you hear him play it's like his natural way of playing is 2000000000 notes per second, when he slows down his fingers are still in twitch mode, his brain is still thinking at 20000000 notes per second and he ends up sounding like a relative amatuer compared to some of the great "feel" players.

In this case his insane dedication to speed over all has caused his muscles to work in a way that is counter productive to playing with what many consider feel, where his natural tendancy is to play excessively fast and when he isn't his muscles are not well tuned enough at that speed for him to have the same control.

It's not the same for all fast players though, Rusty Cooley is an extreme example, If you take a guy like Guthrie Govan who avoids playing strict scalic note progressions, and has heavy use of well developed bends, slides, vibrato, legato and hybrid picking along with clever use of chromatic notes. He halso has a smoother and more carefully placed progression between slow, medium and fast paced playing.

The difference there is that he is using a very wide array of skills in a natural and often spontanious fashion to lock himself in to whatever he is playing to, not playing for himself alone or for the sake of speed/technicality. Couple that in with a much more dynamic sounding guitar, without excessive gain or compression that allows playing dynamics to jump out more really puts the icing on the cake.
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:16 PM   #17
ToneMasterDelux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bondmorkret
So, in order to be able to play what you hear with freedom, you need to get your fretboard knowledge down.

Okay, so I know all the common scales and all the modes and am learning right now how to pinpoint any note on the fretboard.

My question is what approach would you consider 'better' or 'more productive':
-playing with friends/ music by solely ear (some like to call it 'hunting and pecking')
-or playing along with scales/ modes until you 'forget' what they are and just play

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Old 04-18-2013, 06:56 PM   #18
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If it came down to a strict binary choice between the two I would say it depends on what you're doing. If you never need to communicate with another musician without tab then I would definitely say the ear method is the way to go. On the other hand if you ever need to tell another person what to play in words then theoretical knowledge is invaluable.

Given, however, that it isn't a binary choice I would say this:

Learn the scales on the fretboard physically and listen very carefully all the time. Knowing the fretboard and all that theory is largely useless without the practical application to the instrument but by the same token given that music is a collaboration you're going to have to communicate at some point so knowing the theory behind it all is also something you need.

In essence: do both. Learn the scales and notes by name but make sure you know what they sound like so you can use them with thought and purpose rather than just flailing at the fretboard in "the right scale".
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:31 PM   #19
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with ur hands lolo
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:18 PM   #20
ToneMasterDelux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
In essence: do both. Learn the scales and notes by name but make sure you know what they sound like so you can use them with thought and purpose rather than just flailing at the fretboard in "the right scale".

I think I wrote it out wrong, I meant when jamming with friends/ backing track/ or anything either playing out of scales and 'limiting yourself' or using the whole fretboard even though I am not entirely certain where all the tones are (meaning occasional sour notes)

So just to clarify were you saying with jamming to devote time just jamming by ear and also (separately) devote time playing by ear but limited to a certain scale/ mode?

P.S. If this means anything I know the scale connecting patterns but as of now it is difficult to play and stay inside of it/ remember its boundaries (is this maybe the most beneficial thing to be using instead?)

Thanks
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