Speedkills85
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
122 IQ
#1
Hi, this is my first post and I am looking for some advice on what direction to take in order to become a good player. How long does it take before one can be considered a good player? I know it's different for everybody but I mean a rough estimate of when that happens for the average person. Let me tell you some things about me and what I am doing at the moment. I started first practicing back in 2008 for a couple of months. I was able to memorize and play chords like A,C,E,D,G and I could play basic bits of very simple songs. I ended up giving up because I felt I was making little progress. Admittedly even though I did devote time, my practicing was very unstructured and I didn't really have a clear goal in mind. I also lacked direction and just practiced what I already knew over and over, not really doing anything new.

Sometime in the begging of January I just felt compelled to practice the guitar again and I have been back at it. I have been practicing since that time every single day and I aim for at least two hours per day. I enjoy it and could practice for much longer periods if I am able. In that time I think I have been able to do what I did before much easier and have learned different things along the way. I can sorta play the F chord whereas before I would not even attempt it. I've also gotten better at playing the G chord, it's a lot smoother than before. This chromatic scale exercise thing I used to do I believe I am more coordinated and faster at it than before. I printed out a lot of the different scales like Pentatonic, Major, Diatonic etc. in all the different keys. I try to break my routine up to where I spend half of it on different scales and the other half on chords, progressions, etc. So a typical day for me is I will warm up by doing a chromatic scale exercise and then I will practice like a couple of different scales in the Key of C. The rest of the time I spend switching from the Chords I know.

I am a big heavy metal fan. I have an appreciation for other styles but Metal is my #1. I like everything from Power metal to Black metal. As a player I would mostly be interested in this style and express myself through it. I like bands like Pantera, Megadeth, Nevermore, Dream Theater etc.

My goal: I would like to resemble a guitarist that is precise and has a good knack for riffs. More of a rhythm player than lead. I have a friend who also plays guitar, he has played for many years, since 2001/2002. It doesn't make sense at this moment, but as I progress he's someone I could jam with. He's also mentioned willing to start a band if I could learn, so that is one extra motivation.

Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond. Means a lot and is appreciated.
Zaphod_Beeblebr
Shallow and pedantic.
Join date: Apr 2006
1,670 IQ
#2
A couple of things:

Getting "good" entirely depends on: your definition of 'good' and the quality of your practice as well as the quantity. It's no good spending hours a day just grinding away at the same stuff you can already do: you need to focus on getting your technique right and making sure you play everything as cleanly and precisely as possible.

Second... there is no time when you shouldn't jam with someone. If you can play enough chords to run through a standard 12-bar blues or a really simple vi-vii-I progression then there is literally no reason not to jam with someone. Trust me, the more time you spend playing with actual musicians the better you will be.


That said... almost everything in your post is just noise. None of that really means anything much when it comes to practice and becoming a good player. The important thing is that you spend time practicing and playing music, although I feel like I can't stress that second part enough. Spend as much of your time as humanly possible playing actual music; without that experience you'll never be a decent musician.

Finally: work on your ears. Your ears are your most important tool when it comes to music, without a decent ear (which you can practice) you'll never be any good either. Spend time transcribing melodies and chords, both from external sources like songs and from in your mind: spend time thinking of melodies away from the guitar and then figure out how to play them.
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StuartBahn
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2012
122 IQ
#3
Hi there,

Well done for getting back into guitar. Frustratingly, there isn't really a precise answer to your question, simply because what everyone considers 'good' is different. What many people find is that their own definition of 'good' continues to change as they progress.

The other issue is that it's not necessarily just a question of the number of hours of practice you can clock up - though of course practice is essential. As well as playing for pleasure we all need to work towards goals, be it learning new chords, improving our technique, etc.

It sounds like you've made a good start already. If you haven't got a teacher yet then you should really consider getting one. Apart from itself, having to face someone each week is great motivation in the weeks when we are feeling not so motivated :-)
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steven seagull
not really a seagull
Join date: Oct 2006
1,064 IQ
#4
I'll leave this thread open as you may have specific questions, but if it turns into a bunch of people just saying "there is no time", then i'll have to close it. That's actually the first thing you need to stop worrying about - things take as long as they take, you can't start trying to fit learning guitar into a timeframe or start getting bogged down in crap like thinking you're not as good as you "should be" or are "supposed to be" because there's no such thing.


You can't force this, you can't rush it and if you do you'll just fall flat on your face. Be patient, be objective about your progress and don't be afraid to be self-critical.
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cdgraves
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
43 IQ
#5
If you can get a couple hours of focused practice in 5+ days per week, you'll probably get to Decent-ness in a couple years.

A few tips that have helped me

1) Technique is extremely important. Music sucks when playing the instrument is a chore in itself, and poor technique reduces even great musical ideas to a series flubs. I see a lot of adult-beginners who want to "focus on the music", but end up being unable to articulate their musical ideas.

2) Don't try to tackle a project start to finish in one sitting. Pick one little thing at a time and spend 15-30 minutes doing something you know you can finish. The sense of accomplishment is much greater, and you'll make actual progress instead of simply discovering your hang ups.

3) Be thorough. Understand what you're doing in terms of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Remember there is a difference between knowing how to play something, being able to play it, and just playing it. Don't settle for the first two.
Tempoe
. . . ∆ . . .
Join date: Oct 2008
2,511 IQ
#6
as far as time, hrs, not years. You should be pretty decent by 1000 hrs, quite advanced at 5000 and amazingly great at 10,000 if you practice right. 3 hrs a day is around 1000 hrs a yr.


so in perspective, if you play less than an hr a day, it'll take you yrs to even get anywhere decent. If you play 5 hrs a day you can be amazing (technically anyways) in 6 or 7 years.
Last edited by Tempoe at Feb 28, 2013,
louis van wyk
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Join date: Jun 2010
199 IQ
#7
I used to be obsessed with being a good metal guitarist. As my technique improved i could play most riffs i always dreamed of playing. Along the way i discovered some other genres that seemed to draw my attention. I realized that i only focused on one style so long that i never really grew as a guitarist. I also realized that playing guitar and actually enjoying the music i make is way more beneficial than doing chromatic exercises or other scale runs - in terms of technique and creativity. Im not a master, but i'm satisfied with my guitar playing skill, because i can express my creativity in my playing. Once you are at that point where you don't care so much about technique and rather about the music you hear from your guitar, your skill will improve way faster.
ProphetToJables
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#8
10,000 hours.
Gear:

Gibson 2005 Les Paul Standard
Fender Road Worn Strat w/ Noiseless pickups
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EHX Little Big Muff
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bburritt1
Sauron Hates EMG's......
Join date: Feb 2013
188 IQ
#9
Quote by ProphetToJables
10,000 hours.

Oh Cmon it takes at least 12,000

Yeah when I tell people I have been playing for 11 Years they will fire back and say either Really? you look like you've been playing for 2 seconds or 25 years! Its all perspective. I'm never satisfied with my playing, so therefore i practice as much as im able to get to "where" i want to be. Some pick it up quick some don't the key is we are all different and learn at a different pace. It doesnt make you better or worse then anybody.

Take your time and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun and exciting not a showdown.
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Zaphod_Beeblebr
Shallow and pedantic.
Join date: Apr 2006
1,670 IQ
#10
Quote by bburritt1
Oh Cmon it takes at least 12,000


Studies indicate that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to physically master a skill. Roughly 3.5 years of 8 hours a day, every day of the week.
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StuartBahn
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#11
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Studies indicate that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to physically master a skill. Roughly 3.5 years of 8 hours a day, every day of the week.


I was going to mention this but I thought it might start an argument :-)

Personally I find the 10,000 hours thing quite convincing. There's a good book called 'Bounce' y Matthew Syed which does a pretty good job of dispelling the 'natural' talent myth. He uses Mozart as one of his case studies.
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bondmorkret
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2012
168 IQ
#12
How long is a piece of string? I guess the issue is that as you develop, you keep setting the bar higher and higher, so you never feel like you've reached your goal of 'being a good guitarist'. But this is a good thing, because as soon as you think you've learnt it all, progress goes out the window!
bburritt1
Sauron Hates EMG's......
Join date: Feb 2013
188 IQ
#13
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Studies indicate that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to physically master a skill. Roughly 3.5 years of 8 hours a day, every day of the week.

Well im slow...so it took me an extra 2,000 to get where im at....sue me!
The Rig of Joy:
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Zaphod_Beeblebr
Shallow and pedantic.
Join date: Apr 2006
1,670 IQ
#14
Quote by bburritt1
Well im slow...so it took me an extra 2,000 to get where im at....sue me!


Well being entirely accurate, 10,000 is apparently the upper bound, 7,000 is the lower bound.

Statistically speaking, anyway, there's probably caveats about standard deviations and outliers and so on...
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macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#15
I will say that if you seriously practice 2 hours a day (meditative practice. If you aren't 100% focused on it then you aren't going to store it in your memory as clearly or quickly) then by 2 a year and a half you'll be good enough to law down some nice licks and riffs and stuff.
I also like to balance the way I practice into three different groups that I created for myself. They are: The Body, the Spirit, and the Mind.

The Spirit is the sound to create, the emotion to convey. The Mind is how to play it on the instrument, and the Body is being able to play it perfectly when I want to. I haven't played for too long but I have trained my ear well so I can pick out melodies rather quickly. I did this with solfeggio and transcription. I have not yet mastered the ability to completely play a melody on the guitar yet - not as much a lack of knowing how to, but my Body cannot yet autopilot the moves so that I can just think about the sounds.

So as you can see, I need to work on my Body. I do not have a balance.
You need a balance. If you can practice thoroughly and keep these balanced, Im sure you will meet your goals faster than you originally thought.
Last edited by macashmack at Mar 2, 2013,
Speedkills85
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
122 IQ
#16
Hey,
I agree that the title was probably too generic. Of course "good" is highly subjective. I guess what I should've said was how long does it roughly take before one is able to tackle music by like Megadeth and Dream Theater. I don't care about being the next Vai or something I just want to be able to play the songs from my favorites and also be able to create my own if I desired too.

I know my original post was long, thanks for bearing with me, but I had wanted to include everything in there like what I am currently doing and what my goals are. I figured these are things that would probably be asked in order to find out more. Also it eliminates the need to make more posts about it. I've read all the posts so far, they are appreciated.
steven seagull
not really a seagull
Join date: Oct 2006
1,064 IQ
#17
Again, how long isn't a concern. It's not a question anyone can answer and it doesn't benefit you to start worrying about how long you have to "get good".
Actually called Mark!

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bburritt1
Sauron Hates EMG's......
Join date: Feb 2013
188 IQ
#18
Quote by steven seagull
Again, how long isn't a concern. It's not a question anyone can answer and it doesn't benefit you to start worrying about how long you have to "get good".

Agreed sir! Just practice when you can and for as long as you feel is necessary. 2 hours at a time is max. Your brain can only handle so much at one time. Or do what i call productive jamming. Try to learn a couple scales and master them all over the neck. Once you can do them all over the neck take a break. Go over them one more time as a refresh then continue with scales or chords. And just keep doing this forever basically because your going to find new scales, chords and chord progressions to keep your brain challenged and keep it exciting.

Then as you learn these fundamentals your own music will spawn much easier than you could ever imagine. And that is the most exciting part of learning any instrument.
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J2G
UG Member
Join date: Aug 2012
697 IQ
#19
I like seeing peoples routines for practice/playing and techniques and such. Thanks lol.

Oh by the way I'm a year in, I'm nowhere as "good" as I want to be before I die! I play hours a day... I don't even count anymore, I feel like you should just play. Time flies that way. I know it ranges from 2-6 hours a day. I have lots of time on my hands, and I'm on mid-Winter break.

Just keep at it, everything that seems hard, keep attacking slowly and you'll get it. At least that's the way it goes for me, holla!
Last edited by J2G at Mar 4, 2013,
Zaphod_Beeblebr
Shallow and pedantic.
Join date: Apr 2006
1,670 IQ
#20
Quote by J2G
Oh by the way I'm a year in, I'm nowhere as "good" as I want to be before I die! I play hours a day... I don't even count anymore, I feel like you should just play. Time flies that way. I know it ranges from 2-6 hours a day. I have lots of time on my hands, and I'm on mid-Winter break.


No one ever is dude, you just keep finding knew things you wish you knew or new stuff you want to be able to do. There really is no destination when it comes to this; it's all journey.

Wish I had that kind of time to practice any more as well, I used to play 8-10 hours a day easily... damn real life taking over!
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Speedkills85
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
122 IQ
#21
I am 28 years old. I try to make the most of the time that I have. I can usually squeeze in at least two hours per day. I just enjoy the time and find I don't get bored or anything. When I first started guitar in my teens I had wanted to fool around too much even though I really liked the instrument. I find that as I've grown I've actually developed a far deeper appreciation to the guitar....I can spend hours and not get bored.

From what I had gathered it seemed that a lot of players started to become good around the 3 year mark. My friend has been playing since 2001 when we started and he shocked me by telling me he has never tried to attempt Pantera or Megadeth. These are the bands we were into back in the day that I was sure he'd tackle first. He was a fiend when he first got it, practiced all the time..I think he said as time went on he sort of picked up it less and less and even in between months (ala Kerry King). I plan on daily practice and I hope I can make progress in the next few years to where I am able to play in public if I'd like. It's more of a personal thing but I would like that ability.

I am working on one Segovia Scale per week, this week it's C. I am also gonna start incorporating one or two more scales, like Pentatonic. The rest of the time I spend doing chords and switching. I was able to get some of Come as you are by Nirvana and bits and pieces of other stuff but I am not really interested in songs at the moment. I don't know if this is the right or wrong approach but I had originally settled on just working on chords and scales for most of the year....and THEN attempt a song or two. When I took lessons in my teens the instructor had made us do simple songs a few weeks in but I can't help but think the time would be better spent on technique and playing chords and scales? What did/does everyone else do?
Last edited by Speedkills85 at Mar 5, 2013,
RyanStorm13
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2012
484 IQ
#22
I think quality time beats overall time.

If I practice the same material too long, I don't move forward. So you need to either get lessons or follow some video lessons cause you don't get good by not doing what works. Yeah can actually do just about any way, and it will work, but nothing beats actual lessons, and video lessons works cause you got places like this to ask all you stupid questions...instead of to a real instructor.

I define my definition of good, to material you can play. If one guy can just grab a guitar and play Cocaine, but the other busts out some classical music sheets and plays moonlight sonata, its easier to say whos better at what, than who is better overall.


No certain guitar is gonna make you better. The quality of things these days are so good, that you could turn any guitar into what ever sound you want through a computer of effects.

I really don't have any actual tips for what to study and what not to. Scales and chords don't mean nothing if you don't use them for anything. I don't even bother cause I can just look at charts I have made for chords, and scales are insanley easy to memorize if you know piano and where all the whole notes are on the guitar neck.

I would just treat the guitar like an instrument, like if you were trying to become a Violen Major or Piano Major. Or do it 60's style, and drop a lot of weed and acid, and just jam all day and live in London. Any which way works.
rmaguitar
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
10 IQ
#23
Without getting all Zen about it, I think it's all about the journey. I know fantastic players who think they are rubbish and awful players who think they're Hendrix - I wouldn't want to be either one..

Just enjoy learning and growing and as you look in the rear view mirror you'll become encouraged with your accomplishments. And never let how well you do something become your identity - there is ALWAYS someone better than you..
Renots024Young
Registered User
Join date: May 2012
167 IQ
#24
Lots of hours. You'll know when you've put in the time to be where you wanna be. Just set your own goals and don't let anyone discourage you
steven seagull
not really a seagull
Join date: Oct 2006
1,064 IQ
#25
Quote by Speedkills85

I am working on one Segovia Scale per week, this week it's C. I am also gonna start incorporating one or two more scales, like Pentatonic. The rest of the time I spend doing chords and switching. I was able to get some of Come as you are by Nirvana and bits and pieces of other stuff but I am not really interested in songs at the moment. I don't know if this is the right or wrong approach but I had originally settled on just working on chords and scales for most of the year....and THEN attempt a song or two. When I took lessons in my teens the instructor had made us do simple songs a few weeks in but I can't help but think the time would be better spent on technique and playing chords and scales? What did/does everyone else do?

Again you're trying too hard and placing time limits on things.

Learning "a scale a week" is pointless, honestly.

All you're doing there is painfully memorising a bunch of seemingly arbitrary patterns of dots, most of which are pretty much exactly the same thing. Scales are useful, but learning scales for scales sake isn't - if you want to work on scales do them properly and you'll get the most benefit from them.

Learn the notes on your fretboard first, then as far as theory goes work on the major scale from the ground up. Learn about intervals and start getting yourself used to how they sound, then learn how to construct the major scale. Learn how it's put together and the notes it uses but more importantly learn how it sounds because THAT'S the whole reason you learn scales.

Equally the whole point of learning to play the guitar is to, well, PLAY the thing so you need to be playing songs from the outset. When it comes to figuring out how "good" you are at the guitar there's only one measure and that's how good you are at playing music on the thing - nobody is ever going to be impressed or interested in how good you are at practicing, and you shouldn't place too much emphasis on it. Practice is a means to an end, not the end itself and you need to maintain a balance of both practicing AND playing if you want to progress effectively.
Actually called Mark!

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vayne92
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Join date: Jan 2011
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#26
Quote by steven seagull
Again you're trying too hard and placing time limits on things.

Learning "a scale a week" is pointless, honestly.

All you're doing there is painfully memorising a bunch of seemingly arbitrary patterns of dots, most of which are pretty much exactly the same thing. Scales are useful, but learning scales for scales sake isn't - if you want to work on scales do them properly and you'll get the most benefit from them.

Learn the notes on your fretboard first, then as far as theory goes work on the major scale from the ground up. Learn about intervals and start getting yourself used to how they sound, then learn how to construct the major scale. Learn how it's put together and the notes it uses but more importantly learn how it sounds because THAT'S the whole reason you learn scales.

Equally the whole point of learning to play the guitar is to, well, PLAY the thing so you need to be playing songs from the outset. When it comes to figuring out how "good" you are at the guitar there's only one measure and that's how good you are at playing music on the thing - nobody is ever going to be impressed or interested in how good you are at practicing, and you shouldn't place too much emphasis on it. Practice is a means to an end, not the end itself and you need to maintain a balance of both practicing AND playing if you want to progress effectively.


Listen to this man.

Knowing every scale on the planet wont matter if you don't understand why they are the way they are and don't know how to apply them. As he said you're just learning "arbitrary patterns of dots". I'm almost positive that for you as an individual at your current stage of your guitar journey that you have no idea of the theory behind each scale you're learning. You're better off just learning songs or grinding to a metronome if you want to improve. Learning scales wont help.

I personally don't have the musical knowledge i wish i had and i don't find a need to learn scales because i know i wont apply them to my playing.

I am however currently learning the E Phrygian dominant scale because the Egyptian-esque exotic sound it provides really intrigues me. I've been improvising in that scale for nearly a week now and recording myself every day.
As Steven Seagull said learn how it sounds. I don't even have to look at the scale notes to know if i'm playing it wrong because the second i hit a wrong note i know it doesn't sound right and that it's not in the scale.

As for how i practice these days.. I hardly properly practice technique anymore. I lost that feeling i had in my first few years of playing when i always thought "I suck, i can't shred like this. I can't play this song. Everyone else is better than me. Oh my god this guys only been playing a couple years and he's so good". I don't care about time anymore or how well i can or can't do one thing or bother comparing myself to others. The most important thing i've learnt in the last year or two is that it's all about having fun. If i'm not having fun why the **** am i playing guitar?
These days i'm exploring many different acoustic genres from funk to as i said Egyptian/Spanish music lol. I'm also trying to improve my percussive techniques on acoustic and try to incorporate that into my playing. When i do go back to my metal roots and whip out my Drop A# RG i usually **** around and improvise or play along to some of my favourite music. I'm not going to bother playing things i don't enjoy. If you enjoy learning scales every week though then i suppose that's cool. You'd just be a little crazy haha.
Last edited by vayne92 at Mar 10, 2013,