#1
I have zero musical background and I picked up guitar only last year. I am amazed by how people can just play by ear and they don't need tabs or chords to play songs they hear.

I was wondering if this is a skill you learn if you've been playing the guitar for years, or it ocmes naturally?

Anyone here not able to play by ear after 5 over years of guitar? Is it a normal thing?
#2
It does take years of playing, but it's also the best way to learn from scratch.

Don't use tabs or chord charts - learn the theory, but use your ears to transcribe. Listen to a song and sing the root notes of each chord. Trial and error on the guitar until you can play what you're singing, then you can work out the notes and use theory to determine the chords.
#3
it's like techniques, after a time you can just know what the guitarist is doing based on what you hear.

It takes YEARS and years, I'm nowhere near there yet. But my grandad was a musician for around 25 years (or longer, I've not spoken to him about it recently) and he said it took a long time to master.
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#4
Quote by blue_strat
It does take years of playing, but it's also the best way to learn from scratch.

Don't use tabs or chord charts - learn the theory, but use your ears to transcribe. Listen to a song and sing the root notes of each chord. Trial and error on the guitar until you can play what you're singing, then you can work out the notes and use theory to determine the chords.


It takes years to develop it well enough, but like you said, if he just does trial and error, he can figure it out.

You can also use programs to slow down the song, or just focus on one part at a time as you would with a tab. Break it down, start slow. If there are lyrics in the song, sing along while playing, not only will you learn to sing while playing, but it'll help you remember where each section of the song is. Sing what you play regardless and always listen. Also, you should also pick up something to record yourself. At that point, record what you're playing by ear and listen to it and see if it sounds right.

Start out with easy songs, most people would suggest a lot of the punk bands or bands that use the same general chords all the time, as it'll help you hear the chord changes. You can also just look toward blues, although it may be harder than others.
#5
A couple of years ago i was asked to play guitar with an orchestra for a school production. I was surprised to find that although many of the other supposedly better musicians were able to sight read sheet music far better than I can, when I played something for them on the guitar (it was a simple tune too) and asked someone to play it, they were absolutely clueless.

And these were people who had been playing cornett or flute for 10 or so years...

I find that most guitarists seem to able to do it though, but I'd expect you'd need more than just one year of playing.
#6
Its the same with a lot of classicaly trained people. A lot of pianists can literally only play if they have the sheet music in front of them
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#7
Your ear gets better the more you play, but you can teach yourself to play by ear. Just start with really simple stuff - see if you can work out how to play something like Happy Birthday or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on your guitar. Once you can work out things like that, try simple pop songs, and gradually work up to the music you want to play.