I'm sure you hear this a lot from new members so I will try not to annoy you too much with my noobishness.

I have been playing for roughly a year and a half now. I'm 100% self taught. Everything I know I have learned from either friends, youtube videos, or UG. I haven't been very active on the forums because I haven't been doing this for long so I don't have much to say and frankly my opinions probably don't matter.

Anyways, I have a good grasp on most chords, open chords, power chords, barre chords, all good. I can play several simple songs, (ie: The Red, smells like Teen spirit etc). The best I can do is on a good day I can muck my way through In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3.

Some days when I get something down I feel pretty good about my accomplishment. Some days, when I look on UG and I see people sweeping and describing their technique as bad I feel terrible.

I spent all of middle school and high school in band so I am formally trained in music theory and all that fun stuff, so it's just a matter of translating all of that to guitar, which up until now I have been too lazy to do, deciding instead to focus on learning how to play the most basic techniques.

What am I getting at is, am I on track? Does it sound like I am progressing at an normal rate? Am I not making any progress or am I doing really well? So far I have only had lifeless power tab charts to keep me company and some wisdom and a pep talk would be welcome.

So, what are your thoughts? Any suggestions are welcome. I really have no idea what I am doing.
Yeah seems normal.

As for suggestions as to what to do next, I can't exactly tell you because I don't know where you want to take your playing but you can have a look at the columns&lessons on UG, and some good videos are:
John Petrucci - Rock Discipline
Paul Gilbert - Intense Rock II (and other videos)
Sorry I forgot to mention that. I have some pretty eclectic tastes. I like rock, indie, metal and some folksy acoustic stuff.

If band names help I listen to: Weezer, DT, Chevelle, Anberlin, Coheed and Cambria, Death Cab for Cutie, and Cake. Just to name a few.
a year and a half and you can only play Smells Like Teen Spirit? How much do you practice? If you're formally trained in music theory thats a good start.

Pretty much you've got to work out what you want to be able to do, probably something vague like 'play fast,' so what you do is work out each step to get there. You know scales? Try major scales or pentatonics or something, just practice it slowly and clearly and with lots of hours (maybe an hour a day of the same scales for 6 months) you can get up some speed, use a metronome (google metronome for a free one), start at like 20bpm eighth notes then put it up real slowly, maybe every day with 1-2hrs of practice put it up 10-15bpm, no more than 5bpm at a time. At the same time learn how to go beyond just up and down the scale, spend time practicing moving between different positions (eg there's 5 positions of the pentatonic scale, 3 all the same and 2 an octave up, and then those 5 positions can be played in any key as well. learn to switch between the positions) So after like 6 months, you might be able to play 150-200bpm eighth notes, in each position, and switch between positions with some fluency, and do that in any key, and with different amounts of distortion on the amp. Dont get there and think "hey that guy said 200bpm," that's just a vague number, if you can see yourself improving that's what you really want to watch for. Record yourself and write down how well you can play, and then after a few months you'll look and see that you've probably improved by a whole lotta bpm and it sounds clear. Also, when you can play without concentrating, like talking or thinking about something else or even tapping your foot in time to some other song (that might be a bit hard, I can't do it anyway but you might be able to), then that's good.

And while you're doing all that, also spend time practicing chords and barre chords and progressions, so that you become more well rounded. You probably noticed that I've gone from saying 1hr a day to about 3hrs a day now lol

Then once you can play those scales at a decent tempo, learn some hammer ons and pull offs and bends and vibrato, you can start learning them earlier actually. But once you can pick every note, then try playing with hammer ons and pull offs and your speed will go up even more. Then vibrato just sounds good and bends add some variety. Learn some licks and solos that implement all that (if you can play a solo that you used to think was impossible that's encouraging, also you've finally got something that'll impress a non-guitarist).

I'm up to that stage right now, but I think that what comes next is to learn new techniques, like more complicated legato (eg the intro to Thunderstruck by ACDC) and tapping, or sweep picking, or trem picking. I just started sweeping a while ago, it still seems hopeless compared to a shredder but you start playing it slowly and clearly (it helps to think about it and sort out in your mind what your fingers should be doing, and at a really slow pace watch what they have to do to sound all the notes clearly. You need to be able to visualise what to do before you can actually do it perfectly).

When you start, it seems like there's a massive gap between where you are and where you want to be, and really there is because it takes so much practice, but while you're actually doing it, you don't realise how much work it is. I spent more than 1000 hours doing pentatonics and then I reached my target of 180bpm, except now I think that's only a moderate pace and I've got new targets, and I was pretty surprised with myself when I worked out how many hours I must've spent practicing, it still feels like I've only just started. So yeah the people that sweep and say they've got bad technique seem real good now but if you practice a bit it just sneaks up on you and then you'll be saying the same things.

btw you put yourself down to much in the first paragraphs. You shouldnt feel terrible when a 40 year old who's been playing since he was 10 can kick your ***, they've got years of pratice on you of course they're better.

Another hint, don't make another one of these threads asking 'how good am I doing?' I made about 10 until I thought that maybe I'd be better if I actually read all the best advice and tried it instead of wasting time on UG (my excuse now, I got wrist pain so I'm resting from guitar )oh yeah, that's important, WARM UP & STRETCH before you play. I do 1234-2345-3456-4567-5678etc on every string, 123456789etc on every string, a type of 'scale' near the nut. And before I even pick up the guitar, I run my wrists under warm water, then stretch them (just put out your arm and pull your hand back towards you, with your arm upside down and right way up, maybe 20-30 seconds each, starting gently and slowly pulling a tiny bit further).

Read the sticky at the start of the guitar techniques forum, I think it's called "read me beginners... the guide to all techniques" one of them at the top of the list of threads, it's by Freepower. Also search for lessons/columns, read the comments to see how reliable they are but there's good stuff. Use youtube so that you can actually see and hear what to do as well. Everything I've written is pretty much just what I've read on other threads, in interviews with virtuosos, and from my teacher and guitar playing mates. Common thread seems to be practice slowly to get fast, use a metronome, relax and use as little efffort as possible to play stuff.
Quote by Zmatt
What am I getting at is, am I on track? Does it sound like I am progressing at an normal rate? Am I not making any progress or am I doing really well? So far I have only had lifeless power tab charts to keep me company and some wisdom and a pep talk would be welcome.

So, what are your thoughts? Any suggestions are welcome. I really have no idea what I am doing.
You're doing just fine.

Don't worry about the bad days, when you feel like everybody is better than you - we all get them. Even the pros have bad days.

There really isn't any such thing as a normal rate of progress - its different for everybody, and depends on your musical background, whether or not you have a teacher (and how good that teacher is), how much (and how well) you practice, whether you play with other people, how good you are at teaching yourself, what resources you have for teaching yourself...the list is endless. Imo, if you are happy with your progress, then you are progressing just fine, and it really doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.

Take a look at the techniques sticky, the music theory faq sticky (in musician talk) and freepower's video lessons (on his profile) if you want some ideas on where to go next

Oh, and apologies to anyone who already said all that - I got collared for a meeting halfway through writing it, so its been a while lol
I think youre doin fine as long as you dont give up. Some people have skills that took
years to develop..but youd never know. It took me about a year to develop my own
Teknik. Using unison bends to create a manual delay. I call it country *boy slapback*..lol

It really made me feel really motivated when I had my own Teknik. Try to find something
and make it your own. It helps.

Also study music. Identify your goals as an artist. Find Musicians that were successful in those areas. Learn their music. Use the compositions of their solos and riffs as lessons.
Learn about the rules they broke and why it worked. Don't ever recreate their music...but use it as practical music theory training. Music theory is simply a large compilation of what works according to trial and error.

Dont waste a whole lot of time trying to figure it out for yourself. Most of it has already been done. Thats why Theory is so great. I went from not being able to finish songs..to not being able to finish songs because I was so overwhelmed by my options.
I bet Charlie Brown's teacher's name was Mrs.Hammett
Last edited by Washburnd Fretz at Jul 2, 2009,
There is no "normal" rate, there is merely progress. As long as you keep learning and getting better it doesn't matter how fast you're doing it.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”

Hey thanks for the pep talk everyone. My guitar buddy got a book yesterday outlining every chord and scales. We are going to go through that and hopefully we will be able to figure things out.

As for the questions about how much I play, it varies but on average I play 30 minutes a day. Mostly I am spending that time going through chords I already know, playing them and making sure I can switch cleanly, then I play songs I know so I don't forget them. And then I try and learn a new song.

And Tom1Thomas1, I didn't say smells like teen spirit was the best I could do. I just listed it. Perhaps I shouldn't have, maybe it gave the wrong impression. I can do some Coheed, among other things. Although saying that smells like teen spirit is below me would be lying. I'm not great.
Don't give up man.

I started off that way, but I got happy when I nailed every part of SLTS. Just practice -- it is something I didn't do enough when I was at your stage -- keep your head up! you are off to a great start.. maybe practice more than 30 minutes a day if your chops can handle it!!!

Good luck!!
Blackstar ID:15TVP
2001 MIA Strat (SD '59/Stock/CustomCustom)
Early 80s Fernandes The Revival '57
It depends on if I am going acoustic or electric that day. Electric I can play for hours, acoustic I max out at about an hour and my fingers are screaming. By the way, I re stringed my acoustic tonight and I was running into issues. Getting the strings wound up and in place was cake, but actually tuning them was a pain. They kept slipping under the pins in the bridge and I could never tune them up. The pins also kept pushing out. How do I get those stupid pins to stay in and the strings to tune up. I know that at first the strings are stretching and ti will keep falling out of tune, but this is ridiculous. My strat was much easier.