Hi guys,

I've got a question for all you people that know a lot more about the instrument then i do. I've been playing instruments all my life, well all 20 years of it at least. When i was real young, like kindergarden, my parents use to make us kids take piano lessons, and we were also in the school bands when we were in like junior high, so i've always known how to read music, and fortunatley im not tone def or nothing serious like that.
But the question is, i've been playing guitar since i was in about 6th grade, which puts me at about... 9ish years on and off, but i only took guitar lessons for i think the first year, because i was a stupid arse when i was 11 and never wanted to practice.
Today, i would call myself an average guitar player i guess, i'm no slash or jimi but i can play a lot of my favorite songs. My concern is though that i guess i never really "learned" about the guitar, i've only sort of self tought myself the chords, bar chords, and i have very limited knowledge of the scales even though i don't have a problem with some solos in songs, if that makes sense (spoken like a true amateur).
Finally to the question, which i guess is... is this normal? Do a lot of people just kinda self teach with out learning some of the essentials (if thats what you wanna call them), the caged system, a billion different scales? Do you suggest i go through a book, or maybe some free video tutorials just as justinguitar.com, (thank you Justin, great teacher).
I can read tabs just fine, i mean i can tell the difference on a tab with random finger placement up and down a scale and holding a chord and just picking. And there is no hesitation when someone is telling me to play bar chords A, G, D, E, so on so forth, i know the difference between E shape and A shape regular and minors. I'm not trying to make a career out of it, i just like to play my guitar for an hour or two every day while i'm sittin around.
I guess i just kinda want some feedback, hopefully positive, but feel free to call me an idiot for not learning some important stuff.


P.S. Don't get me wrong, i know why notes ring when there is certain finger placement, like why there is an F on the 1st fret E string, but is there more i should konw? Idk i probably didnt' give enough information for the reader.
Last edited by jdc50 at Jan 12, 2009,
Well I have played the guitar for 2 years and I am too average I would say. I've been taking some lessons but mostly im self-learned. But If I need some help with some kind of technique (spelling?) I ask my teacher. Then Im trying to improvise and that kind of stuff to songs and try to hear what chord they're in and just play.

If you don't know how to make harmonics, sweeping, tapping and that kind of stuff to improve your guitar playing. Have awesome fun with your guitar.

-John Hart
your kind of like me in the way of how you've taught your self. ive been playing for 5 or 6 years and i consider my self fairly good for self taught, but compared to those who have been playing for the same time but who have had lessons my technical skill is crap.

for example i can solo fine (tho improv still poses some problems with regards to key) i can tap well (due to months of trying to learn eruption then realising itll never sound as good as EVH) and i can write my own music but i cant do other things some would consider basic like sweep picking or even 3 string sweeps, my alternate picking sucks on string skips and i bar power chords really weirdly, but thats cos i broke my thumb like 3 times

more on topic if your happy and comfortable with the way that you play and what you play it doesnt raelly matter how you do it, just that you enjoy it

i hope that helps
I can see this being destroyed for spam because of the wholse justinguitar.com thing but heres my take.

If you want to be a serious guitar player and not just someone who plays for a few hours at his house once and a while, learn some advanced theory, if not just keep doing what you are doing.
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i would say no, sorry man, you should be aiming to write your own music (at least i was maybe not everyone does)
and to do this you need to be able to understand use of chords and scales and theory in a general sort of way (ok you may be able to stumble on it or be able to do it subconciously like some famous musicians with no knowledge of theory)
in essence you can be a great guitarist but a bad musician, in that you can do everything and play hard songs but cant implement any of these skills in your own music.
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in essence you can be a great guitarist but a bad musician, in that you can do everything and play hard songs but cant implement any of these skills in your own music.

That was very well said, very well said. I'm sorry about the free advertisement there, i just wanted people to know what kind of teaching i was getting, because between classes, papers, work, and other personal stuff it owuld be really difficult for me to squeeze in a scheduled guitar lesson. Thanks for all responses, more are welcome, thanks guys!
Don't worry about bringing up Justin Guitar, it's a great site for free lessons. To answer your question. What you describe is completely normal. If you want to advance beyond your current abilities you need a lesson plan of sorts. Something that works on things you are deficient in. There are plenty of books, websites, videos etc. that can aid you.
i am not trying to start a war here, i am only wanting more information because i follow the same lines as some of the people who have answered here. this question is a basic hypothetical one, it has no bearing on how or what i want out of playing guitar. with that being said looking at various bands that have made it big in the hardrock/metal category to the point of being on the radio and whatnot, how many of them seriously understand music theory and have learned and truly mastered the trade ? i have always just kind of wandered that and this question just brought it back to my attention.... i am not trying to steal the thread, just figured maybe i could get a little insight. thanks
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No worries man, totally great question, and i agree, there are probably a lot of people that have no idea about music theory in general that have made it "big" if you wanna call it. With today's music it doesn't take much to realize what combination of power chords sound good together, **** my band in 6th grade blew a talent show for the whole high school out of the water with a song we composed that consisted of 3 power chords and a nifty rift in the beginning and middle of the song. I guess i just wanted to see if it was a normal thing for people to be able to play the guitar but don't have a total understanding of the instrument, or not have every scale memorized so on so forth. Like i said, i can read sheet music fine, i understand music, just not so wise with a guitar other than reading tabs, music, and translating that into finger movements and strumming. If it came down to composing my own song that consisted of anything more than a couple different chords and some goofy lyrics, there would be no problem. For christ sake, lets consider all the songs that consist of 4 chords.. or 2 chords for that matter. Last kiss, G Em C D, Run Around G C Am D, can't think of any more off the top of my head but you understand me. Not to say that Blue's Travelers or Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders don't understand music theory but, if i wanted to put G Am Em and D together and call it something sappy with a fun rhythm maybe i'll be the next jack johnson. But i think another basis for my question was... if i don't actually learn the instrument, will i progress any further in my playing of the instrument without the knowledge of the instrument, and I'm sure that makes no sense to you, but it does to me, and from the responses its yes. In the long run i plan to sit down and learn some more stuff but, right now I'm trying to read about 10 or so different books and maintain a +3.7, so the guitar is going to maintain its status as a hobby. Good question though, thanks.
Well my uncle has played guitar and studied theory for like 20 years and he could play piano without actually learning how to play the piano just based on his knowledge of theory.
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a lot of people just learn without any formal training. what you call it doesnt really mean anything. do you think jimi knew what the caged system was? probably not. did he use it though? yes actually.

you can call any thing in music theory whatever you want. it doesnt change the concept of what it is. if you learn by listening and watching as opposed to theory books and teachers, but you learn the same things, then its not really a problem. that being said, a good teacher could get you on track faster than without one. theres things i know how to do now that i probably could have learned earlier if i had a teacher. but i dont really mind.

it depends on what you want to do as well. i play mostly blues ad rock. and i can already do it pretty well. so a teacher wouldnt really help me unless i was learning a new style.
no doubt understand music theory would help with learning most any instrument i would presume. i always seem to hear how "important" knowing everything about theory is, i was just curious as to if all of these rockers for example who started playing to get chicks and party actually sat down and learned music theory. i definately understand the way you have picked up what you have, as i have pretty much been doing the same thing through the course of my playing. i started with the drums but my brother has way better rythm than me when it comes to that so i said screw it i will play a guitar, and have been picking things up here and there ever since .... like i said though i have always just wandered how many people out are "true" masters of the instrument. to be honest i have seen better guitarists on youtube than what i have seen out of some bigtime record label bands

AGILE PS970/4000 (one off custom) :: JACKSON DKMGT :: DEAN SOLTERO
MESA Dual Rec (2CH) :: (2) AVATAR 2X12 cabs w/ celestions