#1
Hello,

I've played (not too intensely) for about 8 years. I'll play for a few months and then the guitar will sit in a closet for a year. That kind of thing. I have a wife and a couple of kids and don't always have time.

But I've now decided that I'm 31 years old and if I'm ever going to learn to play the guitar, I better get serious now.

It isn't too late right?

I mean I can play a good number of chords, I know my barre chords and some scales and I can play and sing quite a few songs but I have KNOW idea how to play lead or what key something is in for example.

I have The Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer and I have started from the beginning and read the sections on theory and understanding chord relationships and modes and scales and I just can't get it.

I'm an educated man with a Master's Degree but this stuff just doesn't make sense no matter how many times I really focus on it. It's like organic chemistry to me.

So my questions are:

Are there better books or explanations out there that really put this in layman's terms??

How much theory do I need to know to be a decent guitar player??

Did anyone else find theory really difficult and then it finally started to make sense or am I just not capable of grasping this???

I would love some suggestions and encouragement about how to take this serious and learn to play.

I'm into all kinds of music, blues, jazz, rock, a lot of jam band stuff, Phish, The Dead. I like everything but country and rap.

Where should I start here?? Thanks!
#2
You don't need to know much theory to be a good guitarist. Theory helps, especially in writing songs, but it's not needed. Jimi Hendrix had almost no knowledge of theory.
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#3
"The Complete Idiots Guide To Music Theory". No Joke, This book is pure genius. Lays it all out in a language we all could understand. I love it, you'll love it!
Last edited by Zimwibwe at Sep 15, 2009,
#4
It's never too late, man!!

www.ibreathemusic.com

OR, you could pm Freepower.

You don't need to know too much theory. Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth doesn't know ****, but he comes up with THE ABSOLUTE BEST STUFF OUT THERE. Same with Hendrix.

I'm sure you've heard of Last.fm, go there and discover new music. That's what keeps me going...Trying to learn new things.
Last edited by TubeAmp89 at Sep 15, 2009,
#5
Quote by mangine77
But I've now decided that I'm 31 years old and if I'm ever going to learn to play the guitar, I better get serious now.

It isn't too late right?


It's never too late. I'm 52 and just started in January 2008, after 20 years off. And even back then it was for less than a year. I'm not that good (heck, I'm not good at all ), but I'm learning a lot and getting better, quicker.

I mean I can play a good number of chords, I know my barre chords and some scales and I can play and sing quite a few songs but I have KNOW idea how to play lead or what key something is in for example.


You don't really have to know all those things to play, except the chords of course. If you're playing in a band and/or with a keyboardist and/or vocalist, you might need to know how to transpose. I don't know how, but I've seen write-ups, and it doesn't look that difficult.

You don't have to play lead if you don't want to. I don't; I'm just a rhythm guy. I'm not interested in lead or pentatonic scales now. Who am I going to do it with other than the recordings? OK, so I do that with rhythm.

How much theory do I need to know to be a decent guitar player??


Little to none, but it does help to know what notes make up a chord and chord relationships. For example, I'm seeing now how helpful barre chords are as movable and can often wholly replace open chords in a song, for quicker changes. And that power chords are really the bottom 3 notes of its barre chord:



Sorry these are displaying so small. Look at the E maj and the E5; look at the Fmaj, and F5; look at the G maj (barre) and the G5. Use whatever sound you're going for. Yeah, I use the "5 chords" even on acoustic.

Did anyone else find theory really difficult and then it finally started to make sense or am I just not capable of grasping this???


Yes, I did.
Yes, it did.
Yes, you are.
Look, it's not like John Lennon is going to come back, whack you with a guitar and say "You're playing the fookin' thing all bloody wrong, ya fookin' arsehole." - My teacher on the many ways of playing any song.
#6
i bought that "complete idiots guide" i felt like a complete idiot when the thickness of the book demotivated me from really reading and learning from it.



looks like i need to read it properly

TS - if you have other friends who know that kinda stuff, i found that it was easier to learn it from someone. Lots of time i try it alone, i find myself asking "Is this right?" lol.
#7
This is a pretty good primer book on theory. http://www.noteboat.com/products/mtfg.html I have it and went through it very quickly last year. My teacher and I are doing some basic theory now, because I want to. I'll probably go through the book again. I'd recommend this book (no financial interest in it) because it's pretty basic. You can get it in just about any Barnes & Noble, or even order it from bn.com
Look, it's not like John Lennon is going to come back, whack you with a guitar and say "You're playing the fookin' thing all bloody wrong, ya fookin' arsehole." - My teacher on the many ways of playing any song.
#8
Quote by mangine77
I would love some suggestions and encouragement about how to take this serious and learn to play.

As someone who's a couple of years older than, only picked up guitar last year (and so am probably worth ignoring), and is doing his damnest to get his head around music theory, if offer this...

The terminology surrounding it is appalling, the notation is essentially a user's manual for the piano that's got a bit out of control over the years, and there are several centuries worth of hacked together excuses for rules that were made necessary by some bugger with a string quartet and a harpsichord realising "hey, this sounds cool, how the hell do I describe it?".

Then again...

The basics are really just very, very simple maths. As a starting point, get your head around intervals and how to build scales (and then chords) with them. Building scales sounds an awful lot more complex than it is. Once you've got to the point where you've sussed out how the major scale is constructed, building chords from it then suddenly becomes an exercise in the bleedin' obvious, even if naming the things afterwards can be somewhat perverse at times.

In terms recommended sources of information, I must admit I've never found anything on the net that was worth the effort. "Music Theory For Dummies" is pretty good for the basic concepts, although isn't especially guitar oriented and does tend to dwell on notation rather a lot. It got me started though.

The main point, though, is that the basics are miles, miles less daunting than the language would have you believe, and you most certainly can make progress with it with a little bit of effort.
Oh, now I've gone and spilled my tea. This really won't do at all.
#9
I didn't know any of theory for my 4 years of playing guitar. And only then, when I realized that my lack of knowing theory was slowing me down, I went into it like hell.

I suggest you play the things you like mostly, and focus on building your ability to actually play something. Build up your technique.
And while you do that, learn music theory to the level where it helps you. Check out http://www.blackbeltguitar.com/, they have good approach for beginners. And take instructions from someone who knows what he's doing, and knows how to make theory interesting to you.
The song explains an emotion, as an end to lifelong mysteries, and the fantasy, for the fantasy is final result of reality...
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#10
Quote by mangine77
So my questions are:

Are there better books or explanations out there that really put this in layman's terms??
I haven't seen the book you're talking about, so I can't compare. I'm rather partial to Chord Chemistry by Ted Greene.

Quote by mangine77
How much theory do I need to know to be a decent guitar player??
None.

Playing is mostly a matter of mechanical skills.
You can get that without understanding theory.
Writing (and improvising) will be helped a great deal by understanding theory.

Quote by mangine77
Did anyone else find theory really difficult and then it finally started to make sense or am I just not capable of grasping this???
Maybe you're trying to take it all in at once? I learned pieces here and there. Mostly focused on parts that were of interest to me at that particular time.

Quote by mangine77
I would love some suggestions and encouragement about how to take this serious and learn to play.

I'm into all kinds of music, blues, jazz, rock, a lot of jam band stuff, Phish, The Dead. I like everything but country and rap.

Where should I start here?? Thanks!
Maybe get a piano or a keyboard? The relationship between the notes is more visual.
Imho, that's a better platform for learning most element in music theory.

You can definitely learn theory without a piano, but it seemed to make it easier for me.
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#11
Quote by mangine77
It isn't too late right?
lol no - I started last year - got lessons for my 34th birthday
Quote by mangine77
I mean I can play a good number of chords, I know my barre chords and some scales and I can play and sing quite a few songs but I have KNOW idea how to play lead or what key something is in for example.
Theory will help you work out what key something is in, and playing lead isn't as hard as you think - you don't have to play anything fast or complicated for it to sound good.

One question tho - do you want to be able to play the lead line on covers, or improvise, or both?
Quote by mangine77
I have The Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer and I have started from the beginning and read the sections on theory and understanding chord relationships and modes and scales and I just can't get it.
Don't worry about modes for now. Learn the major scale. Then learn to harmonise the major scale. That will teach you chord relationships, and how to construct chords. Pretty much every scale you'll ever need or want can be derived from the major scale, so get that down so you understand how its constructed out of notes and intervals, and you're laughing.

For starters on theory check out Freepower's theory vids:http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=58DA70A2123C71CD&search_query=freepower+ug He covers all the basics and are easy to watch and understand.
Quote by mangine77
How much theory do I need to know to be a decent guitar player??
You don't NEED to know much, but it makes life a whole lot easier. Music theory is just like a knowledge base of what all of history's musicians worked out, so why try and reinvent the wheel? Imo its a lot easier to learn the theory than to work it our from scratch.
Quote by mangine77
I would love some suggestions and encouragement about how to take this serious and learn to play.
Get a teacher? I know mine makes my life a whole lot easier, and I wouldn't be able to play a fraction of what I can without him!

Have fun!
Last edited by zhilla at Sep 15, 2009,