Ferinos
Ultimate guitarist
Join date: Sep 2006
81 IQ
#1
Hi there and thanks for taking the time to read this. I have been playing for about seven or eight years now and admittedly I don't know as much theory as I should. I do however know basics and some scales (I am currently working on learning more.)

When it comes to rhythm I'm good, I can learn something get it down and I enjoy it.


When it comes to soloing I feel like I am crap. I can come up with my own licks and chord progressions but I can't make a solo, or fit my licks to a chord progression.

I really want to be able to improvise but so far it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall, I play an Em. Pentatonic scale over an Em chord for example. Watch someone play on youtube and they can make it sing. My sound like a series of disjointed noted slapped together.

What am I doing wrong? I hate not being able to improvise, please help me out here! I can hammer on, bend etc although admittedly I do need to work on these techniques but surely after seven years, not being able to improvise means I am doing something drastically wrong?

As a sidenote, I really like a bluesy rock sound and that's what I enjoy playing annd trying to create.

Think Guns N Roses, Eric Clapton, Richie Sambora's solo work etc etc.

Someone please save the wall

Thanks,
Mike
Ferinos
Ultimate guitarist
Join date: Sep 2006
81 IQ
#2
Forgot to mention, what do I need to read, theory wise, to get out of the trap of using say an A major pentatonic scale over an A major chord and develop my scale/chord relationship knowledge?
a0kalittlema0n
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2004
119 IQ
#3
You need to study phrasing.

floor is a on the good megalomaniac she her does he it to at iphone mouse bread house?

Does that make any sense? No. Phrasing is like writing a sentence, use the wrong stuff in the wrong place and it is horrible, no matter how cool the word is.

Take solos you know (or go learn some) and see how they are functioning and see how the emotion or effect of that part in the solo works, then try to replicate it. Seriously, Jimi Hendrix has some solos that are mind-blowingly easy, but it speaks. You don't have to invent new scales to solo, just know when and how to "speak" and what to "say."

Morale of the story, search phrasing, learn about it, study others, and try to replicate focusing on phrasing, not as much on note choice or absolutely ridiculous runs that hit every note on the fretboard.

Jump start to phrasing would be how you play a note: legato, bending, stacatto, slides, rhythm, etc.

Edit: In reply to your second post, don't worry about that yet. It will only frustrate you if you learn more scales/stuff and can't use it. Learn how to use what you have well, then expand. Even learning the pentatonic scale in a different position could benefit you a ton. Also don't be scared of notes out of the scale, they definitely can be used.
Last edited by a0kalittlema0n at Feb 27, 2013,
EmilGD
Unregistered User
Join date: Feb 2008
15 IQ
#4
Quote by Ferinos
I really want to be able to improvise but so far it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall, I play an Em. Pentatonic scale over an Em chord for example. Watch someone play on youtube and they can make it sing. My sound like a series of disjointed noted slapped together.

Stop thinking about playing a pre-selected collection of notes (a scale) over a certain chord and start thinking about selecting notes that create the melodic line you want to express. You need to listen in your head to what it is you want to "say" and then play that, regardless of what scale those notes belong to. It is hard to begin with, but as everything it improves with practice.

EDIT:
Quote by a0kalittlema0n
floor is a on the good megalomaniac she her does he it to at iphone mouse bread house?


Dude, for a second there I thought you were a spambot
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
Last edited by EmilGD at Feb 27, 2013,
Wesbanez
Registered Abuser
Join date: Aug 2007
120 IQ
#5
Quote by EmilGD
You need to listen in your head to what it is you want to "say" and then play that, regardless of what scale those notes belong to.


Massive +1, I have the most fun and come up with the best improvs when I close my eyes and listen closely to what my mind is telling me to play next.

Far out man...
TheNameOfNoone
Buckethead's Right Hand
Join date: Mar 2011
336 IQ
#6
Quote by Wesbanez
Massive +1, I have the most fun and come up with the best improvs when I close my eyes and listen closely to what my mind is telling me to play next.

Definitely this. TS, try it, it really helps.
Quote by ChemicalFire
You get my first ever lolstack






The image in my head is just too funny for words at this point


Aw yeah.
charlie__flynn
sex...beer...charlie!
Join date: Jun 2007
75 IQ
#7
I also agree with the 'write in your head then transfer to guitar' as the best place to start, but if that's too much to start off with this is what I did:

If you're chord progression is E minor than take two notes from the E minor pentatonic scale (preferably two reasonably close together) lets say E and G. Improvising using only these two notes for a full 5 minutes - this is a long time with only two notes. Experiment with volume, the time you play each note for, vibrato, hammering on and pulling off and anything you can think of.
Next add another note, say D. Do the same again but for ten minutes as there's lots more you can do here, again experiment with as many ideas as possible.
Always listen to the rhythm of the piece so your notes flow well and accented at the right time.
Hopefully you will be dying to add in other notes this time as you will be feeling limited. Slowly build up from here, if you find that you play a little lick or phrase that you like focus on it and smooth it out and add it to your repetoire then experiment on it with timing and techniques etc and you're starting on your way to improvisation!

Remember I'm only using E minor pentatonic as an example here, it's always best to focus on playing notes that fit rather than staying in chord boxes but I find that this is a good way for people to start learning to improvise. Most importantly have fun!
Quote by boreamor
Ah very good point. Charlie__flynn, you've out smarted me


People
should
smile
more



crit4crit on 'acoustic 1 (with piano)' here



Rate my playing skills please.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
1,213 IQ
#8
Ear training is the most important thing. If you know the intervals well (know how they sound like and how to find them) and the chords you are soloing over, you can pretty much do whatever your mind tells you to do. (Of course you need to know technique too.) I'm not saying I'm good at it, I'm still learning. But sometimes I'm able to hear some really cool things in my head and also play them. I try not to think in scales, I try to think in melody that I want to play over the chords. When I think in scales, I stop thinking and autopilot mode turns on. I just play the licks I know and my playing sounds really generic and boring.

Also too long phrases may make you sound like you are playing without any idea (though sometimes they are cool but then you really need to know what you are doing and not just noodle around the pentatonic scale). Try to take some short breaks between phrases. Think your guitar as a wind instrument. You need to take a breath sometimes. Every time you need to take a breath, stop playing, breathe and then start again, just like if you were playing a wind instrument.

Use different rhythms, don't just play 8ths. Play triplets, 16ths, long notes with vibrato. Also use different techniques. Sometimes do a slide instead of a bend or hammer/pull offs instead of picking every note. It adds some variety to your solo.

Also (same goes with writing songs) don't be too critical about your playing. The solo you play doesn't need to be the best in the world. I know that if you don't enjoy playing the solo, it feels really awkward to play. But if you listen to what you hear in your head and play it, at least you are playing something else than just noodling. And remember that the listeners may like your solo even though you hate to play it. I have heard some people say "you had some really cool stuff there" even though I felt like I was just noodling and my playing wasn't anything special.

I'm no master in either of the things I said. But I have started thinking about this stuff and I think I have improved.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
a0kalittlema0n
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2004
119 IQ
#10
Quote by Wesbanez
Far out man...


You from the 80's?

Quote by EmilGD
Dude, for a second there I thought you were a spambot


lol

Really the best advice is listen to your ears. You know how you WANT to hear it, just make it like that...
Jacques-Henri
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2012
10 IQ
#11
Quote by EmilGD
Dude, for a second there I thought you were a spambot


Oh My God, same here.

But yeah, what I find works the best is to imagine a solo I'd like to hear over that chord progression and then have my hands play it. So basically ear training.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
1,213 IQ
#12
Quote by dragorage67
Learn some licks you like. then piece them together using your own ideas in between.

I think that kind of solo would sound pretty generic. Usually you'll end up playing the same licks in every solo. It's good to know some licks so that you don't need to think of every note and the interval between them before you play them (and instantly know how it sounds like), it's useful in faster stuff. But as I said, if you only play licks that you know in your solo, your solos start to repeat each other.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
StuartBahn
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2012
20 IQ
#13
Some people find 'playing what you hear in your head' difficult. We all have different strengths after all. If that is the case for you then composing a short solo - this could even be just 8 bars long. Use a few licks that you have already or source some online.

Composing a solo gives you the chance to focus on each phrase. People are certainly right to say that this lacks spontaneity, but if you're not happy with what is happening spontaneously then try this.

The point about thinking like a wind player is a very good one. There is often a temptation to lots of notes without space between them - save that for a climax!
Professional Guitarist and Guitar Educator
www.StuartBahn.com
Join my mailing list to receive a on creating an effective practice regime.
Last edited by StuartBahn at Feb 28, 2013,
fdsaevad
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
10 IQ
#14
Nobody learns to solo by 'listening to what they hear in their head'. You know this is meant only to make a beginner even more insecure, what a load of

Here's what you do, son. You go buy good tab books with the solos you'd like to sound like (get a g'n'r and clapton ablum tab book, say). Learn how they play their solos using the tab! If you're worried about sounding too much like any one guitarist because you know all his/her solo licks, learn another guitarists! As Einstein said, the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources, and in music, that means you have to have as many influences as possible, so listen to every single kind of music in the world (except electronic and corporate, spit). This will help you to sound original, including your chops.

There is no 'true' improvisation, just slight modification of solo chops practiced a billion times in your bedroom. Music is just a slow evolution, so just keep practicing, eventually it'll evolve into something decent.
fdsaevad
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
10 IQ
#15
Quote by Ferinos
Forgot to mention, what do I need to read, theory wise, to get out of the trap of using say an A major pentatonic scale over an A major chord and develop my scale/chord relationship knowledge?


A major pent is good over a major chord.

Learn how to solo by mimicking how other guitarists solo. This is how everybody does it. Learning scales can come later. One thing though, if youre serious about guitar, spend time researching proper posture, hold your guitar how a classic guitarist holds it to avoid carpal tunnel and tendinitis etc.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
1,213 IQ
#17
Quote by fdsaevad
Nobody learns to solo by 'listening to what they hear in their head'. You know this is meant only to make a beginner even more insecure, what a load of

Here's what you do, son. You go buy good tab books with the solos you'd like to sound like (get a g'n'r and clapton ablum tab book, say). Learn how they play their solos using the tab! If you're worried about sounding too much like any one guitarist because you know all his/her solo licks, learn another guitarists! As Einstein said, the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources, and in music, that means you have to have as many influences as possible, so listen to every single kind of music in the world (except electronic and corporate, spit). This will help you to sound original, including your chops.

Yes, learn other people's solos but try to learn them by yourself by ear. That improves your ear. You can slow them down with Windows Media Player. And tab books are usually pretty inaccurate. Even if they say they are "official" books, they still lack some parts and have lots of mistakes. The best thing to do is to learn to play by ear. You need ear training to improvise well.

You can train your ear by learning how different notes sound over different chords.

When I started I liked transcribing my own tabs because I noticed that good tabs were hard to find. For example the "official" tabs of Welcome to the Jungle have so many mistakes and they lack Slash's fills in the verses.
There is no 'true' improvisation, just slight modification of solo chops practiced a billion times in your bedroom. Music is just a slow evolution, so just keep practicing, eventually it'll evolve into something decent.

I wouldn't really say so. You have a point but it really depends on the speed of the solo. If you play more melodic solos (and not pentatonic shredding) it's not really lick based. You kind of compose new melodies. Of course how these melodies come to your head have to do with the music you have heard before because everything has to do with everything you have done before.

I notice how pointless my soloing sounds when I focus on scales and licks and stuff. But when I really play what I hear in my head, it sounds much more melodic. The things I play aren't that fast but it doesn't matter. It sounds much better.

And I really hate that kind of pointless noodling. You know the scale and just noodle around with it and you don't even know the sounds you are after. This is what beginners do when they have found the pentatonic scale and think that they are the best improvisers. Good improvisers don't guess and hope for a good result in sound. They know exactly what they are going to play. The best way to get rid of this is to tell that you need to listen to what you want it to sound like and not just run scales up and down. You need to think what you are going to play.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Feb 28, 2013,
ouchies
UG's OG
Join date: Jan 2006
90 IQ
#18
Quote by fdsaevad
Nobody learns to solo by 'listening to what they hear in their head'. You know this is meant only to make a beginner even more insecure, what a load of


False because I know plenty of musicians who do this.

I agree that you should learn other solos but that really just helps internalize the licks so when you hear it in your head... you can play it.
steven seagull
not really a seagull
Join date: Oct 2006
180 IQ
#19
Quote by fdsaevad
Nobody learns to solo by 'listening to what they hear in their head'. You know this is meant only to make a beginner even more insecure, what a load of

Here's what you do, son. You go buy good tab books with the solos you'd like to sound like (get a g'n'r and clapton ablum tab book, say). Learn how they play their solos using the tab! If you're worried about sounding too much like any one guitarist because you know all his/her solo licks, learn another guitarists! As Einstein said, the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources, and in music, that means you have to have as many influences as possible, so listen to every single kind of music in the world (except electronic and corporate, spit). This will help you to sound original, including your chops.

There is no 'true' improvisation, just slight modification of solo chops practiced a billion times in your bedroom. Music is just a slow evolution, so just keep practicing, eventually it'll evolve into something decent.

christ you don't half talk out of your arse
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
60 IQ
#20
don't solo, join a punk band
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
fdsaevad
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
10 IQ
#21
I enjoy posting in forums for the reaction my opinions bring. I don't mean disrespect, i'm just waiting for my mixdowns to finish and I don't drink any more so my apologies if I'm slightly annoying.

Anyway, for the sake of argument, let's all agree that music performed on traditional instruments involves muscle memory. Let us also agree that the performance of said music, using muscle memory, requires practice. Practice is the slow evolution of whatever you're practicing (songwriting, muscle memory etc) brought about by repetition. You can't 'play what you hear in your head' unless you've previously rendered it into your repertoire of chops. 'what you hear in your head' i'm pretty sure is just a melange of your chops practiced a billion times previously, even the melodic stuff. Eventually we're all able to sing a melodic line and play it out on the guitar simply by ear, without stopping to figure it out, or we're able to sing along with what we 'improvise' on the guitar, but this is only a by product of having practiced our chops a billion times previous.

The way we build up our soloing to this point, is by learning other musicians chops and molding it into our own creation. Can't invent the wheel on your own, and you sure as f can't learn how to solo by listening to what's in your head.
fdsaevad
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
10 IQ
#23
Anyway, my point is, to a beginner guitarist, there's only one way to learn how to solo, and that's by learning how other guitarists solo. If you're a beginning jazz trumpet player, you're going to learn Davis chops first, or whoever else inspires you. If you're a painter, you need to learn the techniques before you paint 'whats in your eyes'.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
60 IQ
#24
the worst thing for a guitarist is learning how other guitarists do things

because guitarists suck dick
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
1,213 IQ
#25
Quote by fdsaevad
Anyway, my point is, to a beginner guitarist, there's only one way to learn how to solo, and that's by learning how other guitarists solo. If you're a beginning jazz trumpet player, you're going to learn Davis chops first, or whoever else inspires you. If you're a painter, you need to learn the techniques before you paint 'whats in your eyes'.

You are right. Of course you need to listen to how other people do it to know what kind of possibilities there are.

But remember that TS isn't a beginner. He has been playing for 8 years. So what I think his problem is is that he's trying to play too lick based solos. He has learned a bunch of licks that he's trying to put together. He's been playing for so long that he could just try to play by ear. Writing solo by connecting random licks is pretty much the same as writing a song by connecting random riffs. It doesn't sound good. So TS shouldn't rely too much on licks.

IMO everybody should start learning by ear as soon as possible. If you start playing the guitar only by relying on tabs instead of sounds, it's much harder to get rid of the tabs.

I'm a good example. I play trumpet and when I started, I only read notes. Learning to play from memory and without notes was very hard because I focused too much on notes, same as some guitarists focus on tabs. My brother plays flute and when he started, he learned all the songs by ear. He had this kind of CD that had flute songs. My brother just played what he heard on the CD. If I had started playing like this, I'm sure I could play much better without notes. (And it was a long time ago when I started, I was 7 years old back then.)
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Ferinos
Ultimate guitarist
Join date: Sep 2006
81 IQ
#26
Thank you for your help folks. I struggle to play by ear - I can tell something sounds off if I am playing something wrong and hit a bum note but I do struggle playing by ear. To the point where all my playing with other musicians comes from knowledge of what chords tey're using and what scales work with that. I am trying to do some ear training but reading some of the replies has made me realise it's more important I stop learning tabs so much and try using my ears more. I have a good idea where I need to head now thanks to all your suggestions, I shall take them all onboard and see where I end up. Thank you again everyone

Michael
fdsaevad
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
10 IQ
#27
i'm probably an idiot. ... but what exactly is the benefit of learning how to play by ear?

i understand the ability to play by ear is a nice thing, but it's more a result and natural benefit of being a long time musician. i don't get why you would spend the hours and hours figuring it out on your own (like how they did it back in the day by turning down the speed on the turntable) when you have it so easily mapped out in books? the techniques are so foreign that it's virtually impossible for a beginner to figure out what's being played. even after 8 years, picking up a Clapton solo or any other solo by a guitarist known for his/her chops, isn't too easy if you've never learned those techniques before. anyway, whatever negligible errors there are in published tab books are of no consequence to the beginner when you consider how much quicker the techniques will come to when using them. there's notation of every Davis recording and solo for beginning trumpet players too.

if you find yourself a long term guitarist and still doing covers (like the guitarist in the american idol backing band for example), you've most likely been playing for over 20 years, are versatile and studied in all music styles of the world on multiple instruments, and can play back a tune exactly how it's played on the album the first time you hear it because you've previously studied the techniques, chord voicings, chops etc used by all guitarists. being able to playing by ear is just the natural progression of things. regardless, you're given the required repertoire months in advance, so it's not as if anything is done on the fly while on the stage. you can write operas or jazz charts, but you're doing garbage corporate pop cover tunes because it's a nice gig. (edit: thinking about it, if you're in the cover band realm probably a lot is done on the fly, but being fluent in all those tunes is your specialty i guess. cover songs aren't for everybody)

imo, learning by ear seems more of a pain in the A and waste of time when exact notation is so readily available.

no shame in it
Last edited by fdsaevad at Mar 2, 2013,
steven seagull
not really a seagull
Join date: Oct 2006
180 IQ
#28
Are you a actual idiot or do you just act like one for the sake of causing a bit of controversy?

Just curious
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
60 IQ
#29
Quote by fdsaevad
i'm probably an idiot. ...


Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
Last edited by Hail at Mar 2, 2013,
fdsaevad
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
10 IQ
#30
a bit of both at times, but in this case i think there's some logic to my argument.

i mean, suuure, learning by ear probably has benefits, but for a guy on a forum who says he wants to learn how to solo, i think learning solos in tab books is probably better advice and less intimidating/confusing than that or 'listen to what's in your head'.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
60 IQ
#32
learning by ear allows you to internalize sounds beyond regurgitation. it also forces immersion into the piece itself, forcing you to internalize the ensemble as a whole rather than "just" the guitar.

being able to interpret and understand consonance/dissonance/harmony on a wider scale than your individual instrument is the prime difference we talk about between a guitarist and a musician when we differentiate the terms.

you can learn the principles of functional harmony through textbook studies, but it's important to realize that analyzation, a proper ear, and common sense will almost always be the most effective method of deriving meaning from sound and finding the essence of the composer's musical logic in that given passage (as well as, of course, how that passage might coincide with passages related to or within the same piece).

your ear is the most valuable tool you have for composition and performance, and neglecting to hone it will inevitably lead to roadblocks in your understanding of theory (which in turn reflects on your understanding of music). at most, a beginner guitarist will attribute a solo to a scale - rather than sounds generated by contrasting movements, timbres, accents, dynamics, and the role that the harmony plays beneath to bolster those effects.

regardless of your experience, in terms of taking in and internalizing a piece (which should again be the goal - to break down and assess music in real-time and use the relationships and logical processes to be reciprocated via your own inspirations) scales, tablatures, numbers, shapes, they're all inherently going to be inefficient because of the sheer lack of encapsulation and translation between composer and performer, and performer and listener.

efficiency is your argument for tablature or sheet providing the piece for someone without the tools to find it for themselves, but that's simply because it's an uphill battle training yourself to use those tools. the abilities you earn by forcing yourself to acquire these tools are infinitely more useful than tablature or sheet music.

if you're in a pinch? sure, look up the tabs, but even on official printings they're very often wrong in some regard or another. plus, considering you'll have to listen to the piece anyway to loyally perform it, you'll probably spend more time picking apart numbers and understanding how they relate. but this is only valid if it's your call to make. if you don't know how to transcribe, do it! even if simply for the virtue of learning a new skill, and a new avenue to understand music, and by way of that a new way to eventually create music (particularly by the relationships in your head - solidified by honing your ear!)

even on a technical standpoint, my ear has been my greatest aid. it's a muscle like anything else, and getting it up to bat has let me hear my tone and be able to make the executive decision that it's not what i want, and how to assess the situation to be self-reliant and hone my technical abilities. just like hearing through an incredibly transparent set of monitors, you're forced to clean up your technique and become better for it. at that point it's just troubleshooting and executing economy of motion.

and to diverge even further, i'll point out that this is perfectly palpable with legitimate pieces of music - to a point where it forces you to learn to do "as the recording" in an unerring exercise that 1-2-3-4 and major scale runs never allowed.

musicality is key, and any shortcuts will compromise that musicality. you don't have a stadium gig in 3 days - you don't have any excuse for shortcuts in your education.

tl;dr scales and tabs are bad, ear is good, music is good, christian bale's fuckin rad, i shouldn't have had that 2nd glass of wine, PUNK ROCK
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
1,213 IQ
#33
Quote by fdsaevad
i'm probably an idiot. ... but what exactly is the benefit of learning how to play by ear?

i understand the ability to play by ear is a nice thing, but it's more a result and natural benefit of being a long time musician. i don't get why you would spend the hours and hours figuring it out on your own (like how they did it back in the day by turning down the speed on the turntable) when you have it so easily mapped out in books? the techniques are so foreign that it's virtually impossible for a beginner to figure out what's being played. even after 8 years, picking up a Clapton solo or any other solo by a guitarist known for his/her chops, isn't too easy if you've never learned those techniques before. anyway, whatever negligible errors there are in published tab books are of no consequence to the beginner when you consider how much quicker the techniques will come to when using them. there's notation of every Davis recording and solo for beginning trumpet players too.

if you find yourself a long term guitarist and still doing covers (like the guitarist in the american idol backing band for example), you've most likely been playing for over 20 years, are versatile and studied in all music styles of the world on multiple instruments, and can play back a tune exactly how it's played on the album the first time you hear it because you've previously studied the techniques, chord voicings, chops etc used by all guitarists. being able to playing by ear is just the natural progression of things. regardless, you're given the required repertoire months in advance, so it's not as if anything is done on the fly while on the stage. you can write operas or jazz charts, but you're doing garbage corporate pop cover tunes because it's a nice gig. (edit: thinking about it, if you're in the cover band realm probably a lot is done on the fly, but being fluent in all those tunes is your specialty i guess. cover songs aren't for everybody)

imo, learning by ear seems more of a pain in the A and waste of time when exact notation is so readily available.

no shame in it

How can you improvise if you don't know what you are doing, if you don't know how it's going to sound like what you are going to play? If you don't know how it's going to sound like, then your improvising is hitting random "safe notes" and you hope for the best result. And also you need to have trained ear to compose. You may hear a melody in your head that you want your song to have but if you don't know how to play it, you can't compose the song you want to compose.

Also isn't it cool when you hear a melody somewhere, you can instantly play it? For example you are in a band and the bassist comes up with the coolest bass groove you have ever heard. If you come up with something in your head that would fit it perfectly but you can't transform it into notes on your fretboard, you can't play the cool thing you came up with.

If you can't think in sounds how can your playing sound any interesting? You are just playing numbers on fretboard. IMO that's not music. You need to be able to think in sound to make something sound good.

I have been playing the guitar for a bit over three years and I can play many things by ear. That's because I started learning the songs by ear. Back then I listened lots of Metallica and I learned every riff i heard. I knew about tabs but when I had looked at them, they all seemed so wrong. They had lots of mistakes and I thought I can do better just by learning them by myself. I also started doing my own tabs. It's not so hard to play by ear and you definitely don't need 20 years of experience to be able to do it.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 3, 2013,
Sean0913
Music Theory Life-Hacker
Join date: Dec 2009
150 IQ
#34
Quote by Ferinos
Hi there and thanks for taking the time to read this. I have been playing for about seven or eight years now and admittedly I don't know as much theory as I should. I do however know basics and some scales (I am currently working on learning more.)

When it comes to rhythm I'm good, I can learn something get it down and I enjoy it.


When it comes to soloing I feel like I am crap. I can come up with my own licks and chord progressions but I can't make a solo, or fit my licks to a chord progression.

I really want to be able to improvise but so far it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall, I play an Em. Pentatonic scale over an Em chord for example. Watch someone play on youtube and they can make it sing. My sound like a series of disjointed noted slapped together.

What am I doing wrong? I hate not being able to improvise, please help me out here! I can hammer on, bend etc although admittedly I do need to work on these techniques but surely after seven years, not being able to improvise means I am doing something drastically wrong?

As a sidenote, I really like a bluesy rock sound and that's what I enjoy playing annd trying to create.

Think Guns N Roses, Eric Clapton, Richie Sambora's solo work etc etc.

Someone please save the wall

Thanks,
Mike



Have you ever taken lessons, or bought a book, or sought to learn music theory? Reading your frustrations, it more or less looks like this.

The amount of time you've been playing, doesnt amount to much. I have a student that comes to mind now that, 5 months ago had never picked up the guitar. Now, he could claim to be playing for about 3 years, and people wouldn't suspect a thing. It's all int he quality of the instruction and the commitment that you put into it, on your end. He gets up at 5:30 every morning and applies and practices exactly what was taught in whatever lesson he took from us that week. He puts in about 15 minutes each morning like clockwork.

"I don't understand or know anything about music theory, and therefore am lost and unable to execute upon things, that having those skill sets would have allowed for."

It kind of answers it's own question to me. You might be a great candidate for upping your game and learning about the guitar, scales, chords, keys, and how all these things fit together. You can invest in this in terms of time, where you might take ages, and have to be both teacher and student, or financially, if its meaningful to you, to maybe learn it faster and have someone else overseeing your progress and fixing hings before they go wrong.

Best,

Sean