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#1
Hello fellow UGers! This marks my first post on these forums. Before going on topic here, I'd just like to explain a little bit of my background story here, since this leads into what I want to ask. If you don't want to read my sad life story, keep on scrolling down until you see the end of the "==".

===================
My name is John Hoffman. I am eighteen years old and I reside in Edmonton, Alberta. I have dreams of reaching new levels and heights on the guitar, which I have been practicing for six years. I do not consider myself naturally talented nor will I boast to others of it. I believe that "talent" is a way of escaping the truth: that guitar requires extreme dedication and effort to exceed at.

I've been learning by myself - without any tutors, tabs being one of my primary sources of learning, etc. And as you all know, learning by yourself can be incredibly beneficial or incredibly detrimental. I can recall playing for over three years until I actually realized how to bend a note. I am SERIOUS about this. There are even other things I didn't gain knowledge of until last year or so (like finger independence!). I've had to take apart my playing several times just to get it to be considered decent by a child's standards (okay, maybe I'm overexaggerating it, I'm not THAT bad).

Well, enough self-confidence bashing. But these points I've made, despite being negative, cannot be simply labeled as so. I am simply too paranoid to make much progress unless it's the right kind of progress. And that paranoia can be quite daunting.

So, if I'm not all that "good" and could possibly afford a tutor, why don't I go get one? Because unless they're high-class classical guitar players or reputable shredders, I wouldn't even give any of the teachers in my city a call. And there aren't that many in Edmonton.
===================

So, rather than seek out a guitar teacher (though Tom Hess is looking like a mighty fine idea right now if I do say so myself), I decided to start vlogging my guitar playing. Or at least that's the idea. I posted one video up on Youtube today and plan to upload more as time passes.

The idea is: through the words and wisdom of UGers like yourself and through other guitar players on Youtube, I could improve on my playing and strengthen some of my other musical skills. Just simply typing out your issues ISN'T enough. People need to visualize/see what you're doing "wrong" to comprehend what you're going on about.

Here's the link to my first video log. Hoffman's Guitar Log #1

I'd really appreciate it if you could all give me some tips, whether it be on youtube itself or here on the forum!

Thanks for reading.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 8, 2009,
#2
If you're planning on becoming a "shredder" (which given your post, I'm assuming you are), you need to work at using less motion when your playing. Make your pick stokes shorter and keep your fretting hand's fingers closer to the fretboard. Furthermore, if you were attempting to sweep pick the first few exercises, your picking technique is quite far off. See one of the countless lessons on sweep picking.

However, I must comend you on your disipline. When most players decide to learn to shred, they'll try and play faster than they actually can. This makes them sound sloppy. Your playing is nice and clean, so clearly that isn't a problem for you. It is also good that you are practicing with a metronome, as many players often neglect this aswell.

Hope this helps.
#3
If you're planning on becoming a "shredder" (which given your post, I'm assuming you are), you need to work at using less motion when your playing. Make your pick stokes shorter and keep your fretting hand's fingers closer to the fretboard. Furthermore, if you were attempting to sweep pick the first few exercises, your picking technique is quite far off. See one of the countless lessons on sweep picking.

However, I must comend you on your disipline. When most players decide to learn to shred, they'll try and play faster than they actually can. This makes them sound sloppy. Your playing is nice and clean, so clearly that isn't a problem for you. It is also good that you are practicing with a metronome, as many players often neglect this aswell.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it! I am planning on shredding, yes, though I plan on just making it a component of the rest of my abilities. I find that when time calls for me to play fast, I can't because my accuracy and efficiency are not up to snuff.

Responses:

1. I was hoping someone would comment on my economy of motion because that's something I frankly have a lot of trouble with. I found that even trying to keep your movements relaxed and efficient is difficult when you have lots of muscle memory built up. It's like learning how to play again! I have to play at 25bpm to fix my technique.

2. I wasn't trying to sweep pick those first few exercises - I'm just not especially a sweep picking fan and I think alternate picking sounds a lot better with those two passages I played.

Assuming you've achieved economy of motion, how did you work on keeping your fingers closer to the frets? Was it always second nature for you? Or did you take drastic measures and stayed away from playing music entirely until you could fix your finger efficiency?
#4
Quote by HoffManCometh

Assuming you've achieved economy of motion, how did you work on keeping your fingers closer to the frets? Was it always second nature for you?


Definately not second nature. It took a great deal of practice. The biggest variable seems to be tension. Your fingers will kind of want to naturally take the shortest path from A to B, but typically there will be a lot tension that stops that from happening. So, consistently doing my best to play with a little tension as possible was a big part of getting the economy of motion closer to where it needs to be.

Another part of it was getting my left hand position better. I use the classical position for my left hand, and I found that when I concentrated on playing more on my fingertips, it was easier to avoid excess finger movement.

Quote by HoffManCometh

Or did you take drastic measures and stayed away from playing music entirely until you could fix your finger efficiency?


Absolutely not! So much of this is just down to how easily you can play whatever material you are playing, and a lot of that is down to the strength and flexibility of your left hand - as well as things like finger independance. That stuff mostly comes from practice and repetition.
#5
Quote by se012101
Definately not second nature. It took a great deal of practice. The biggest variable seems to be tension. Your fingers will kind of want to naturally take the shortest path from A to B, but typically there will be a lot tension that stops that from happening. So, consistently doing my best to play with a little tension as possible was a big part of getting the economy of motion closer to where it needs to be.

Another part of it was getting my left hand position better. I use the classical position for my left hand, and I found that when I concentrated on playing more on my fingertips, it was easier to avoid excess finger movement...

...Absolutely not! So much of this is just down to how easily you can play whatever material you are playing, and a lot of that is down to the strength and flexibility of your left hand - as well as things like finger independance. That stuff mostly comes from practice and repetition.


Well, I'm glad there are some factors in my playing that are already fine - namely that of being somewhat relaxed and not too tensed up.

Concentrating more on the fingertips, though? I'll definitely try that for a small portion of my exercises tonight/tommorow and see if that helps remove some of the anxieties I have when I'm fixing the distance from my fingers to the frets.

On the subject of anxieties: I have some sort of anxious feeling as if I'm struggling or having severe difficulty attaining economy of motion when it comes to my left hand. It's kind of impacting and I'm sure it's all in my mind... but I wish I could remove those sort of negative thoughts and be able to proceed in said exercises positively.

I'll be vigilant, though, and I'll be sure to post a video soon when I notice any significant improvement in economizing my playing.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#6
^ Try not to worry about it too much. Actually consciously improving your economy of motion while playing is extremely difficult. You can slow licks down til they are extremely slow, and do it that way, but maintaining the economy of motion when you speed them back up to any sort of speed is really hard.

Although I did specifically work on it a bit, for me it was mostly just a great deal of practice - most of the time I would just sort of keep half an eye on it, but not work on it specifically. As my co-ordination in my left hand improved, it just kind of gradually happened by itself.
#7
Quote by se012101
^ Try not to worry about it too much. Actually consciously improving your economy of motion while playing is extremely difficult. You can slow licks down til they are extremely slow, and do it that way, but maintaining the economy of motion when you speed them back up to any sort of speed is really hard.

Although I did specifically work on it a bit, for me it was mostly just a great deal of practice - most of the time I would just sort of keep half an eye on it, but not work on it specifically. As my co-ordination in my left hand improved, it just kind of gradually happened by itself.


I'm not sure what to say in response. I can see validity in not having to work on certain aspects of your playing (e.g. proper fingering) in order to get them finely weaved into your playing. However, the distance from your fingers to the fretboard (during rest or preparing to fret a note) seems like something that should always be consciously worried about until having those fingers close is naturally there.

Somebody said something else that I can't exactly discount: it takes 10 correct repetitions to undo 1 incorrect repetition. I believe that's somewhat valid. I'd also believe that practicing economy of motion becomes harder if you do a little bit of that and then decide "well, I'm going to play stuff and do other exercises now". Unless those exercises involve using that economy of motion, of course.

I know that in the end it all comes down to playing MUSIC and not worrying about how you play this or that, but I seriously feel that it's gonna be detrimental to my ability to execute musical ideas if I short-change myself on playing efficiently.

And, okay, easier said than done. Anyone can claim this, but worrying about efficiency all the time (or at least for a good few weeks) is probably a surefire way to close up the guitar case and never stroke wood again (pardon the pun). I'm not even sure if my love for the instrument is enough to clear that hurdle in such a drastic manner. Heck, I don't think anyone does, you really have to introduce flavor/variety into practicing to make it fun..
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#8
I know that in the end it all comes down to playing MUSIC and not worrying about how you play this or that, but I seriously feel that it's gonna be detrimental to my ability to execute musical ideas if I short-change myself on playing efficiently.


ok. i just read pieces of this thread not the whole thing my bad if i repeat something, but that seems to be an extremely tedious and boring way to practice, i know its proper and all and props on the discipline but seems to me like you need to have more fun playing, show us some songs see what parts you screw up on then ull know for sure what you actually need to practice. if you know enough theory/scales maybe try some freestyle. and i might sound like an ass but i gotta ask 6 years... very lightly practicing?
#9
Ah...not exactly what I was getting at - probably my fault, my posts don't usually make much sense

Anyway, I'm not saying don't worry about economy of motion. It's extremely important. It's just that many problems are best attacked by first identifying the root of the problem, then working on it. So it would seem to make sense to say - "my fingers are moving too much, therefore I should practice playing where I move my fingers as little as possible". But sometimes it isn't that simple and you have to say - "my fingers are moving too much. Let me figure out why that is. Ah..tension caused by not enough independance between my fingers. Ok, I'll work on my finger independance and not worry too much about how much my fingers are moving for the time being because I know that taking care of this problem will take care of it too".
#10
Yeah dude - 6 years? Man, you're going to be wishing you had a teacher. Those passages are clean sure, but your little finger is flying way off the fretboard when you aren't using it. That is a mark of a beginner dude.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#11
Quote by AlanHB
Yeah dude - 6 years? Man, you're going to be wishing you had a teacher. Those passages are clean sure, but your little finger is flying way off the fretboard when you aren't using it. That is a mark of a beginner dude.


To each his own. I made the error of not starting off with a teacher, but I can rectify this.

ok. i just read pieces of this thread not the whole thing my bad if i repeat something, but that seems to be an extremely tedious and boring way to practice, i know its proper and all and props on the discipline but seems to me like you need to have more fun playing, show us some songs see what parts you screw up on then ull know for sure what you actually need to practice. if you know enough theory/scales maybe try some freestyle. and i might sound like an ass but i gotta ask 6 years... very lightly practicing?


Remember that whole thing in the beginning where I said I didn't believe in natural talent? Well, I used to believe in it. Look where that got me. People often take their skills for granted and it doesn't carry them far. I was a lazy bum and didn't take the guitar seriously.

Quote by se012101
Ah...not exactly what I was getting at - probably my fault, my posts don't usually make much sense

Anyway, I'm not saying don't worry about economy of motion. It's extremely important. It's just that many problems are best attacked by first identifying the root of the problem, then working on it. So it would seem to make sense to say - "my fingers are moving too much, therefore I should practice playing where I move my fingers as little as possible". But sometimes it isn't that simple and you have to say - "my fingers are moving too much. Let me figure out why that is. Ah..tension caused by not enough independance between my fingers. Ok, I'll work on my finger independance and not worry too much about how much my fingers are moving for the time being because I know that taking care of this problem will take care of it too".


Sorry for misinterpreting your previous post. Yes, that makes perfect sense! Targeting specific problem areas often influences general problem areas and you end up fixing your habits a lot quicker by doing so. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

And to all other people who might just claim that I suck majorly and should try something else (I'm not saying anyone in here has done that, you're all honest and approach in a very mature manner), go right ahead, it'll give me something to prove wrong. Maybe in a few months, maybe years, maybe not too far from now.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#13
Quote by AlanHB
Can you play a song yet?


And now comes the dickery.

Yes, I can play songs. Despite what you've seen in that video, I'm not that slow and seemingly incompetent.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#14
Quote by HoffManCometh
And now comes the dickery.

Yes, I can play songs. Despite what you've seen in that video, I'm not that slow and seemingly incompetent.


Hey I didn't know - you could have just the patterns on the video. The slowness is fine because you're playing cleanly.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#15
Quote by AlanHB
Hey I didn't know - you could have just the patterns on the video. The slowness is fine because you're playing cleanly.


I guess you're right, I didn't really spare the time to actually talk about what I played or did before my foray into complex patterns & shredding. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

(side note: The internet has an awful way of making people seem like jerks.. however, it's all about how you write and approach words, I guess.)

I actually might take a little bit of advice from you. I might look for a professional teacher. Although I am skeptical about looking for one, I realize that it's not so much about what you're learning as it is about the confidence they're instilling in you. I'd like to think of a reputable teacher as a coach.. 'cause despite how disciplined I seem, I'm not always focused, I do get distracted, and a coach gets me focused quickly.

(another side note: Distractions.. blegh! I can recall that for the entire previous month I studied nothing but the japanese language. I thought I could keep on doing that and say, "I'll just come back to guitar when I good at this second language business". But it was naive of me to think so - like a language, guitar is something you get worse at if you don't practice it, and I couldn't stand to bear that I'd pour all my time into this language just so I could watch shows and play games in japanese.. which is already a major source of distraction anyway!!)

So, yeah. There's a feeling of inferiority.. that I might have to stoop down to the level of a student for a bit, but let's face it, everyone does at one point in their life. And we're always learning and getting better anyway, so it's worth the feeling.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#16
Haha - the inferiority can only come from within grasshopper.

For my first singing lessons I was going to a music teaching place which was sorta like an after-school thing. Anyway I was 22, and the average age of students there was 12-15, if that. I didn't really care because I knew I needed lessons, and they really helped.

I had to start taking guitar lessons after playing for 7 years, at the age of 22 because my picking style was really flawed and it stopped me from improving further. It took a year of hard work to rectify it so I could improve further. Again, I was one of the oldest students, didn't care, I needed them.

Would you not learn Japanese because there's millions of people better than you?
Hint - there is.

There is no "level" of a student, you'll find that we can always learn from others, whether you choose to or not is up to you.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#17
Why has no one called you out on your timing yet? Seriously?

During the first exercise you're playing a little behind the beat, not on it and in the run that starts at about 1:12 you're so far out it's not even funny. Your sense of rhythmn and timing needs a lot of work.
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#18
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Why has no one called you out on your timing yet? Seriously?

During the first exercise you're playing a little behind the beat, not on it and in the run that starts at about 1:12 you're so far out it's not even funny. Your sense of rhythm and timing needs a lot of work.


I don't think I was behind the beat at all on the first exercise. Maybe I could have been, but it sounded perfectly normal to me and I usually have good timing to start with. Maybe I'm in denial or I'm right, whatever. I'm practicing with a metronome in basically all of my exercises with careful attention to the beat so my timing is bound to improve if it already hasn't. What you and perhaps other people are hearing is that I'm not accentuating on a downbeat, so it sounds like the metronome doesn't even keep time signatures. As a result, it feels like what I'm playing has no structure and doesn't follow the beat. This is one thing I'll work on diligently.

Also: I usually don't play that passage at 16ths at 80bpm, so maybe I was a little behind on the beat.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#19
very good approach to this but i really recommend a teacher, that isn't a very good level to be at for six years (in my mind)
#20
Quote by Casualist
very good approach to this but i really recommend a teacher, that isn't a very good level to be at for six years (in my mind)


I really don't play guitar like this all the time, these videos are meant to show whether I'm using the right technique or not, what could be done better with my timing, posture, etc. I'm not showing off and I don't want to just post a bunch of videos that I'll get laughed at for.

I should talk about this, though this'll just sound like an excuse. This kind of shredding stuff is unfamiliar territory to me: I pretty much played blues/rock stuff for the past six years with very few attempts at this, but now I'm disciplining myself to get better at playing properly and incorporating this into my playing. From the other side, this wouldn't be a good level to be at for someone who's been trying to SHRED for the past six years. But this fact would be somewhat understandable if the person doesn't dabble in that kind of business much at all and sticks to more contemporary forms of rock.
#21
Techniques on the guitar are universal, regardless of genre.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#22
Quote by AlanHB
Techniques on the guitar are universal, regardless of genre.


It's still something I seldom practiced. In my previous years of playing, I didn't feel that some techniques had their place in the blues/rock genre and as such I didn't allocate enough time to them. I spent more time practicing stuff I was already decent at than stuff that I was bad at. So not only was it that I didn't put in enough hours but that I practiced poorly.

They are universal, this I realize, I was just ignorant.

EDIT: I figure I should ask, since.. yeah. I'm currently working on getting that pinky finger to shut the **** up and stop moving whenever my ring finger is fretting a note. This, I find, is so interlaced into my playing that it's really hard to get that pinky finger to achieve its own independence. Finger strength exercises, I find, don't really work, or at least I haven't found any that'll help me out in the long run.

Any tips on getting that pinky to stay close to the other fingers and not pull back in reaction to the ring finger pushing down?

EDIT (2): I actually found a pretty good exercise for stretching the fingers out and rewiring the reflexes in your hands: Passive/Active Action. I might try it out.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 9, 2009,
#23
Quote by HoffManCometh
I actually might take a little bit of advice from you. I might look for a professional teacher. Although I am skeptical about looking for one, I realize that it's not so much about what you're learning as it is about the confidence they're instilling in you. I'd like to think of a reputable teacher as a coach.. 'cause despite how disciplined I seem, I'm not always focused, I do get distracted, and a coach gets me focused quickly.
I would definitely do this - try and find someone who comes with recommendations though. I started getting lessons at 34, and was really conscious to start with that he was coming from teaching in schools to me, but I learnt so much in the first couple of weeks that I stopped worrying about it. A decent teacher can save you so much time and effort - you can learn from their experience instead of reinventing the wheel, and they'll pick up on any flaws in your technique a lot quicker than you would on your own.
#24
Quote by HoffManCometh

2. I wasn't trying to sweep pick those first few exercises - I'm just not especially a sweep picking fan and I think alternate picking sounds a lot better with those two passages I played.

You didn't alternate pick them though, and even when practicing slow it should always be the same picking motion as when you play up to speed normally. Your picking motions were really exaggerated.

Also that last exercise I think it was where you played it at a higher speed, you missed a few notes so you should probably drop it back down 10 or more bpm and get it clean and in time.

Off topic: I find it hard to believe you didn't figure out how to bend til 3 years in, I mean, didn't you watch anyone else play?
^Note: Probably sarcastic
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#25
Quote by Deep*Kick
You didn't alternate pick them though, and even when practicing slow it should always be the same picking motion as when you play up to speed normally. Your picking motions where really exaggerated.

Also that last exercise I think it was where you played it at a higher speed, you missed a few notes so you should probably drop it back down 10 or more bpm and get it clean and in time.

Off topic: I find it hard to believe you didn't figure out how to bend til 3 years in, I mean, didn't you watch anyone else play?


You'd be surprised. I really didn't figure out how to bend until my third year.

Also, yeah, my alternate picking is off in those exercises. Sometimes I picked it right, sometimes I didn't, but it's deadly important to pick right ALL the time. Just another major flaw in the handfuls of problems I already have.
#27
Quote by chainsawguitar
Dont listen to people saying you're too much of a beginner for 6 years, I think you're taking a good aproach to this...short of getting a teacher.


Yeah, I know. I've got my own way of doing things. But I don't disagree with some people in that some of my playing habits are beginner's habits and it is somewhat embarrassing.

What I'm guilty of is sloppy playing and bad practicing habits. I'm not that much of a beginner. I just want to correct my bad habits because I know it's preventing me from progressing any further on the instrument.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 10, 2009,
#29
Quote by drewfromutah
Yeah you're definitely out of time on the first thing. If you do it right you should hear the metronome click WITH the guitar, not after it.


Hmm, you're the second person to have pointed that out. I want to claim that there might have been a delay during recording, but that's just an excuse. I'll make sure to get right on the beat next time.
#30
I've put up a new video log on Youtube. I show how far along I am at addressing the problems people have pointed out with my playing. There are still a lot of flaws, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with effort and discipline. There are just chromatic exercises and I actually play something musical for.. I dunno, 10 seconds at the end. The chromatic exercises are not conventional: you'll figure out why this is the case if you look at the annotations.

Hoffman's Guitar Progress [August 10 2009] #2
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 10, 2009,
#31
you still have all the flaws, my guess is your trying to focus on to many things at once. i suggest get your fingers as close to the frets as you can, you gotta force em to not fly so far out. but thats the whole theory behind the metronome is you can practice these things while its slow. just focus on the fingers being close, ditch the picking for now and possibly even the metronome just focus on one thing at a time. focusing on to much gets you frustrated, ive done it trying to play golf :/. and i can see you get frustrated. you need to get comfortable with one thing at a time then move on. but you should be using the descending chromatic also, 4321 and back up. put all you fingers on all at once then take them off one at a time as you pick, this takes awhile to the good news tho was i liked your solo. and how much does it cost for the gear for puting videos on youtube?

p.s. that one thing you said about 10 repititions for every 1 mistake f**k that thats how ppl develope OCD
#32
Quote by yabes24
you still have all the flaws, my guess is your trying to focus on to many things at once. i suggest get your fingers as close to the frets as you can, you gotta force em to not fly so far out. but thats the whole theory behind the metronome is you can practice these things while its slow. just focus on the fingers being close, ditch the picking for now and possibly even the metronome just focus on one thing at a time. focusing on to much gets you frustrated, ive done it trying to play golf :/. and i can see you get frustrated. you need to get comfortable with one thing at a time then move on. but you should be using the descending chromatic also, 4321 and back up. put all you fingers on all at once then take them off one at a time as you pick, this takes awhile to the good news tho was i liked your solo. and how much does it cost for the gear for puting videos on youtube?

p.s. that one thing you said about 10 repititions for every 1 mistake f**k that thats how ppl develope OCD


It's not just trying to get my fingers close to the frets but trying to fix my pinky finger problem. And you're right, there's a lot to focus on. But see, there's this whole thing behind muscle memory. Yes, eventually you can play slow with the right technique, but if you just go, "okay, everything's good now" and then go back up to your old speeds, chances are that you'll play with your old habits again. It's difficult.

Anyway, the reason WHY I don't do conventional chromatic exercises in the video (you should've checked the annotation) is this: It's not hard for me to fix my pinky positioning if I "get" it ready to fret a note. So doing a chromatic run up isn't difficult for me.

HOWEVER, if I do something like play my index finger and play up to the ring finger but DON'T get the pinky ready to fret a note (let's say i'm not using it at all in an exercise), then it does that thing where it floats at the bottom of the neck and flops around when I use my ring finger. So I want to fix that little habit. Then I'll test to see if I've fixed it by doing variations of the chromatic run, up and down, with the pinky properly positioned and not twitching.

I'm trying to solve this first before I get close to the fretboard at all. I'm sure that this is what I need to do first because it's PART of the problem - like you said, only focus on one thing at a time. So rather than saying something like "I need to get my fingers closer to the fretboard" I'm saying something more along the lines of "my pinky can't even stay at the fretboard when I'm not using it, so let's focus on THAT first".

And as for the other stuff.. thanks, I'm glad you liked the riff, . The rig I've got goin' is actually my dad's. I've got my amp miced into a mixer while the metronome comes from an M50 piano (which is going out to the mixer as well). The mixer goes out to a capture card. The video cameras are actually security cameras, believe it or not, hooked up to a capture card on my dad's PC. I'm not sure how much it all costs EXACTLY, but I'm going to estimate that it cost my dad about 300 for the capture card plus the cameras. A pretty sweet deal, considering good webcams cost 100 or so bucks and the framerate often sucks.

p.s. Did I mention it comes with FOUR of those cameras? That actually allows for multiple angles for videos because they hook up to a central hub. My dad plans on making use of it when he starts recording some piano videos. I can't wait to see it in action!
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 10, 2009,
#33
Quote by HoffManCometh

I'm trying to solve this first before I get close to the fretboard at all. I'm sure that this is what I need to do first because it's PART of the problem - like you said, only focus on one thing at a time. So rather than saying something like "I need to get my fingers closer to the fretboard" I'm saying something more along the lines of "my pinky can't even stay at the fretboard when I'm not using it, so let's focus on THAT first".


A joke yes? Maybe I should practice my picking technique without strings too. Or a pick even.

The most effective way to "plant your pinky" by repeatedly practicing scales or chromatic exercises and ensuring that you assign one finger to each fret.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#34
Quote by HoffManCometh
And now comes the dickery.

Yes, I can play songs. Despite what you've seen in that video, I'm not that slow and seemingly incompetent.


I don't mean to come off as a jerk, but I'd like to share some of my experiences with you.

Don't forget about practicing songs. It can be very easy when you're trying to better your picking technique or trying to work out as many 16th note patterns as possible to forget about practicing full pieces. Playing a song through, even if it is something very simple, is a skill in itself, and it won't just happen. It can also be very embarassing (this hasn't happened to me, but a friend of mine) when people ask you to play something, and all you can manage is stringing alot of fancy licks together.

Also, your rhythm and timing need work.

Rhythm is absolutely fundemental. I've noticed that many guitarists who've spend time focusing on technique find it very difficult to play to a beat (and I was one of them for a long time). You might be comfortable with a straight rock beat or blues shuffle, but can you play to a more advanced beat, like a salsa? How about a reggae beat?

The most important lesson I've learned as a musician was how to lock my body to a beat, to play to a rhythm. It takes time, but it's something you have to do, and it's something you have to now.

After you get used to what a rhythm feels like, try to get used to how divisions of that beat feel like. Most are comfortable with divisions of one, two or four. Rates of threes and sixes are also hugely important, so it's crucial that you get used to how a rate of three or a rate of six feels. After that, try getting used to fives and sevens.

Then comes the question of timing. Once you can play in the "flow" of a rhythm, you need to be able to pick where you want to be relating to the beat. It's fine to play a little behind or ahead of the beat as long as you are playing with the rhythm, but you have to be able to control it. You have to be able to land exactly on the beat, every beat.

Have you trained your ear at all?

After that, you can go crazy. But if you haven't got rhythm, then there's no point in practicing anything else really.
My name is Tom, feel free to use it.
#35
Quote by AlanHB
A joke yes? Maybe I should practice my picking technique without strings too. Or a pick even.

The most effective way to "plant your pinky" by repeatedly practicing scales or chromatic exercises and ensuring that you assign one finger to each fret.


That's just it though, I've got fingering down like a mother-f. I've never had that much trouble with it when I started doing it. My pinky never gets planted, though, it always pulls up in response to my ring finger applying tension, and I don't think it'll ever get fixed by just doing scales up and down the neck.

You really don't see this in the video because my pinky finger was barely held up half the time, but my pinky finger is slowly improving if I'm conscious of it's positioning, but I have to be doing certain chromatic patterns in order to ensure that I'm working on training my pinky.

Example: 1-2-3-4 won't help because my pinky gets ready to fret and it already resists that reflex that the ring finger gives it. However, if I do 1-2-3 and don't fret the 4, I have to think about what my pinky is doing and I have to make sure it doesn't do that reflex. I'm also working on trills - specifically ones that require me to use 1-3 or 2-3. THOSE are the ones I have the most trouble with - even if I'm conscious of my pinky movement during those trills, I have a difficult time controlling it, even with my right hand holding the pinky during the trills.

Quote by Prophet of Page
I don't mean to come off as a jerk, but I'd like to share some of my experiences with you.

Don't forget about practicing songs. It can be very easy when you're trying to better your picking technique or trying to work out as many 16th note patterns as possible to forget about practicing full pieces. Playing a song through, even if it is something very simple, is a skill in itself, and it won't just happen. It can also be very embarassing (this hasn't happened to me, but a friend of mine) when people ask you to play something, and all you can manage is stringing alot of fancy licks together.

Also, your rhythm and timing need work.

Rhythm is absolutely fundemental. I've noticed that many guitarists who've spend time focusing on technique find it very difficult to play to a beat (and I was one of them for a long time). You might be comfortable with a straight rock beat or blues shuffle, but can you play to a more advanced beat, like a salsa? How about a reggae beat?

The most important lesson I've learned as a musician was how to lock my body to a beat, to play to a rhythm. It takes time, but it's something you have to do, and it's something you have to now.

After you get used to what a rhythm feels like, try to get used to how divisions of that beat feel like. Most are comfortable with divisions of one, two or four. Rates of threes and sixes are also hugely important, so it's crucial that you get used to how a rate of three or a rate of six feels. After that, try getting used to fives and sevens.

Then comes the question of timing. Once you can play in the "flow" of a rhythm, you need to be able to pick where you want to be relating to the beat. It's fine to play a little behind or ahead of the beat as long as you are playing with the rhythm, but you have to be able to control it. You have to be able to land exactly on the beat, every beat.

Have you trained your ear at all?

After that, you can go crazy. But if you haven't got rhythm, then there's no point in practicing anything else really.


I'm aware of the fact that my timing sucks, which is why I'm y'know, working on it. These videos aren't just so I can practice how to play all flare and no substance, everything is going to fit together eventually. Shredding isn't my primary goal here, I'm in it for playing GOOD music. But people won't want to listen to me playing if I'm sloppy and uninteresting. Because I did improper practice during those six years, I have to fix what I screwed up. On the SAME token, nobody will want to listen to me playing if I had bad rhythm.

Anyway, I completely agree with you on rhythm and it's something I need to dabble more in, it's just that I'm too paranoid to venture off into playing real music again until I fix bad habits. It'll take me ages longer to fix what's wrong with my playing if I find myself breaking from that all the time.

What I guess I'm trying to say is: I may seem focused on all of this proper practice/lead playing, etc., but in the end all I want to do is just play good music.. rhythm is, as you pointed out or inferred, something that's felt but not learned. You can spend all the time in the world learning how to do it but it won't do you no good. What separates real good musicians from the rest are the ones that do have the rhythm. I just know that when I'm done dabbling in lead guitar that I needn't get too obsessed with it and move onto music itself.

..well, technically, you never get "done". But I mean that I want to get to such a point that I have more confidence about my lead playing and that it doesn't need as much focus.

As for ear training, yes, I'm doing that basically every day for about 30 minutes to an hour if not more. Though, rather than ear training through understanding intervallic differences I find myself sitting on youtube and trying to play along with songs I don't already know.
Last edited by HoffManCometh at Aug 11, 2009,
#36
Quote by HoffManCometh

Example: 1-2-3-4 won't help because my pinky gets ready to fret and it already resists that reflex that the ring finger gives it. However, if I do 1-2-3 and don't fret the 4, I have to think about what my pinky is doing and I have to make sure it doesn't do that reflex. I'm also working on trills - specifically ones that require me to use 1-3 or 2-3. THOSE are the ones I have the most trouble with - even if I'm conscious of my pinky movement during those trills, I have a difficult time controlling it, even with my right hand holding the pinky during the trills.


Just do the drills dude. Not all scales and exercises require the ring finger to be down before the pinky.

I think you are spending too much time thinking about the guitar and not doing the drills enough. You are trying to rectify 6 years of poor technique, it is not going to happen overnight.

PS. You can "feel" the beat, but co-ordinating your body movements with it is a skill that is learnt.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#37
Quote by AlanHB
Just do the drills dude. Not all scales and exercises require the ring finger to be down before the pinky.

I think you are spending too much time thinking about the guitar and not doing the drills enough. You are trying to rectify 6 years of poor technique, it is not going to happen overnight.

PS. You can "feel" the beat, but co-ordinating your body movements with it is a skill that is learnt.


Yeah, I suppose that's true. You can't just expect your body to follow suit when you're already tracking the beat.

I'm not in a rush or anything, I ain't thinking it's gonna get fixed overnight, but I know that the more I push at it the quicker the climb'll be. I'll still do the 1-2-3-4 drills anyway, whether or not I'm trying to fix the pinky doesn't mean I can spare doing the entire chromatic drills.

Anyway, enough posting in here for tonight, I'm going to keep on persisting at this. Maybe I'll post a video a few days or a week down the line when my left hand has shown a pleasant amount of progress.
#38
Don't just do 1234 - mix it up, do 1324, 4231, 2143 etc. Do the same with scales too - don't just play them straight up and down, you'll probably never actually use them like that anyway. Play them in different patterns - that way you're practicing something you can probably use and working on finger independence rather than just building muscle memory.

If your fingers won't do what you want, slow down to a speed where they will - it might seem stupidly slow, but start slow enough to get them under control and you'll improve a lot quicker than struggling at a higher speed
Last edited by zhilla at Aug 11, 2009,
#39
Quote by zhilla
Don't just do 1234 - mix it up, do 1324, 1423 etc. Do the same with scales too - don't just play them straight up and down, you'll probably never actually use them like that anyway. Play them in different patterns - that way you're practicing something you can probably use and working on finger independence rather than just building muscle memory.

If your fingers won't do what you want, slow down to a speed where they will - it might seem stupidly slow, but start slow enough to get them under control and you'll improve a lot quicker than struggling at a higher speed


Although my post says otherwise, I wasn't only gonna do just 1234 straight up and down. I was just too lazy to type out that I was going to do all the patterns. And I don't mean to sound like a dick, but if you've been reading and watching, you'd know that I'm already playing this stuff at a slow enough speed. <_<

That or I haven't actually talked about what speed I'm doing all this at. So here I'll say it. I've been doing all these exercises at about 60bpm because it gives me enough time to think about how to not have my pinky finger acting in response to my ring finger.

I guess one thing I'm trying to ultimately say here is that I have finger independence already, I have proper fingering, I just have bad habits with my inactive fingers. So.. I have finger independence, but I really don't at the same time.
#40
I know you know what you're talking about - I've seen some of your other posts Just thought I'd mention it as you'd only stated 1234, and I'd hate for you to have spent ages doing just that.

Speed-wise, I don't think the metronome setting is really relevant - what is relevant is how much control you have over what your doing.

I know where you're coming from on the finger independence front too - I played violin for years as a kid so fretting has always come relatively naturally to me, but my pinky still has a tendency to disappear off by itself when I'm not using it - its getting better but it still sometimes disappears under the neck to turn into 'ballast' when I'm playing barre chords if I'm not concentrating :S
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