#1
ive been playing guitar for just about 7 years now. i've realised that i want to do something with music in my life. for the past 3 years i've been playing at least 20-120 minutes a day. ive tried to follow almost every tutorial imaginable and try to learn a variety of songs.

problem is im not improving, and i still suck. seriously i cant manage the first couple bars of Manhattan by Eric Johnson. my fingers are just not keeping up. its gotten to a point where i have a great understanding conceptually, but not technically. i look at any shredders or soloists and can understand almost every move they use, but not ever replicate it.

i know people say we learn at our own pace, but for the past 3 years ive remained at the same skill level

what the hell is wrong with me? am i pretty much screwed as a solo guitarist?
#2
You are not improving becasue you havn't mastered the basics. Consult a good teacher, skip the tutorials, and get a good technique by playing slowly.
#3
interesting

i assumed at this point the basics are the only things ive mastered. like i said i have a strong conceptual understanding, and i have been playing piano for about 12 years (which i am actually good at), so i have a strong understanding of musical structure.

unfortunately there are no 'good' teachers in my area, so that is out of the option.. at this point in time.
#4
Are you sure you arent improving? Almost everyone has that feeling after playing for a while.
This is because the fastest improvement is at the beginning. After playing for a while, it just goes a lot slower and you'll not realy notice it much.

Do you record yourself regularly when practicing or playing stuff? It's a good idea, because not only can you listen back later and actualy compare any improvement, but you'll also be able to much better hear stuff that needs to improved or on the other hand goes very well. Remember that playing something doesnt quite gives you the same perspective as listening to what you play

Also, this may not apply to you, but you do play with other people right? Because if you're just practicing by yourself for years you'll not only get stuck in a rut but at some moment you need the perspective of jamming or a band to get more improvement.

Another tip I can give you, do you vary? Do you mix things up? If you're just practicing a single style, why not try a different instrument? If you play metal all the time, why not try to listen to some jazz and try that for a little while? If you're playing jazz all the time, why not try some punk? If you're playing shred all the time, why not try blues for a month? Heck, why not try to learn a completly different instrument, like maybe bass guitar? Or piano? Or sax? Sometimes when stuck trying something, it helps to get a different perspective to accomplish what you are trying to do in the first place

A bit silly for an aftertought at the last moment, but I have to ask.. what do you mean in your words with improvement? What is it exactly that you feel unhappy about? Not fast enough? Not accurate enough? Not expressive enough? The reason I ask is that it's not constructive to be unhappy with your playing if you cant express what is actualy what makes you unhappy.

EDIT: nevermind, it took me a while to type out so I completly forgot the OP's post
If I understand correctly, the problem is that you focus too much on the endgoal but not on the inbetween. Understanding with your mind how to play something is is not the same as understanding it with your 'fingers'. Do you play with a metronome? Focus on nailing something slowly and correctly. Build accuracy before speed. Once you find a speed your are accurate in, build up the speed. Once you feel you hit the limit of accurate speed playing, try a speed that is much higher than what you are aiming for at that day, completly butcher it, then go down a bit and it goes much easier.
You need to find a balance between speed and technique.

Practicing that is two sepperate things in a way. If you practice technique, you need to do it at a tempo you can comfortably play it so you can focus on doing it right. After that, you practice speed, trying to push your comfortzone.

And if nothing else, look if you are subconsciously using too much tension while playing. If that is the case, focus on relaxed playing *before* you try improving or learning anything else.
Last edited by ShadesOfGray at Jun 18, 2010,
#5
do you practice with a metronome?
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#6
that is some fantastic advice. im unhappy with my speed, accuracy and expressiveness. i trained in classical piano. i had a teacher for that. and i do enjoy alot styles. i suck at most.

i don't play with other people. ive always felt that i was never good enough to be able to play in front of people (i have extreme problem with nerves). i currently dont have the time to jam or find other guitarists, maybe in a year or 2.

EDIT: ive never played with a metronome on guitar
Last edited by Marshmelllow at Jun 18, 2010,
#7
play it slow, basically 1 note per second (varies on the songs) then gradually get faster and faster
#8
Quote by Marshmelllow
that is some fantastic advice. im unhappy with my speed, accuracy and expressiveness. i trained in classical piano. i had a teacher for that. and i do enjoy alot styles. i suck at most.

i don't play with other people. ive always felt that i was never good enough to be able to play in front of people (i have extreme problem with nerves). i currently dont have the time to jam or find other guitarists, maybe in a year or 2.

EDIT: ive never played with a metronome on guitar


Well, it's not using a metronome is what is keeping you back if you want to get anywhere seriously. Accuracy is the most important skill of *any* guitarst imho, and it's also very, very handy to be able to scale up a tempo slightly and actualy know which temp you are able to play at that time.

And yeah, play with other people. I know how feeling not able enough is, but low self confidence is something just about every musician struggles with at any skill level.
Try and find people a bit higher skilled than yourself to jam with. Not massivly, but enough that it both challenges you and gives you the possibility to learn.
And remember that "i'm not good enough" is an excuse to not have to do something that feels intimidating at first. You'll *always* feel inadequate no matter how good you are until you actually start jamming. And if people who barely can even tune up their guitar or play a powerchord start bands, why the hell can't you
If you're having fun and a way to improve, that is a good enough reason right?

There is no guitar police that will arrest you because you dont meet some standard and music is not a competition that you can lose. Keep in mind that it's essentialy something you do because you like doing it, and no one is a perfect player. And if some guy your playing with is being a douche because he thinks you're not good enough, just find someone nicer to play with (and his own playing isnt probably that good either )
Last edited by ShadesOfGray at Jun 18, 2010,
#9
by not being able to jam i mean i live in a town with no more than 1000 people 2 hours from anywhere.

but honostly i think ive learnt more in the past 10 minutes than in the past 3 years. thanks heaps for all the advice guys!
#10
Quote by Marshmelllow
by not being able to jam i mean i live in a town with no more than 1000 people 2 hours from anywhere.


I see. That makes it quite difficult. Although I'd think that among 1000 people there should be at least someone else playing an instrument? Hmm, but I remember something about software / sites that let people jam over the internet? I'm not sure if it's any good or anything as I never realy looked into it, but that might be something worth checking out?

but honostly i think ive learnt more in the past 10 minutes than in the past 3 years. thanks heaps for all the advice guys!


no prob, always glad to help
#11
Quote by ShadesOfGray
Hmm, but I remember something about software / sites that let people jam over the internet? I'm not sure if it's any good or anything as I never realy looked into it, but that might be something worth checking out?


lol broadband hasn't been indroduced here, nor wireless, and sattelite latency i balls for anything live, esp video sharing. nvm im leaving as soon as i can :P
#13
Find a good teacher and buy a metronome. Practice,practice and practice some more.
Bhaok

The following statement is true. The proceeding statement is false.
#14
u probably are not playing it the way you want and concentrating too much on perfecting exactly what you hear. u need to play it ur own way while still getting the intended feel down
Last edited by Unreal T at Jun 18, 2010,
#15
Make sure you have good form. I used to be severly limited because I had poor form and posture, then I bought a classical guitar and learned proper classical posture and now I have a much easier time playing complex parts and have better reach and speed overall.
#16
Mastering the basics is the most important thing. If you can play more simple things perfectly, try playing moderately difficult pieces.

You can't just jump from basics to playing like Eric Johnson. It's just not going to happen. Just keep on it. Challenge yourself but don't defeat yourself.


Most importantly, you can't gauge your progress by songs you can't play. That will always result in pain and anguish.
Oh yeah.

Quote by hildesaw
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EDIT: D minor is the saddest of all keys.
#17
throwing out my two cents here, it seems like your story and mine are/were very similar. I spent quite a few years practicing and working on my technique but I never really felt like I was getting any better. I branched out to other instruments, learned as much theory as I could, I even traded in guitars for different ones in hopes of finding something that would help me improve. I eventually came to the conclusion that the problem was playing by myself, and I, like you, lived in a place where there was absolutely no one to play/jam with. To get around this I bought a fairly cheap recording unit (I used a Boss BR-600) and just recorded different chord progressions I liked. I then found that using different tempos, beats and tunings helped me come up with more creatively, which helped me branch out. Another thing to try is repetitive practice. Find a guitar player and practice a few of his songs and techniques that you like or don't think you can master. Maybe you won't be able to chickenpick perfectly or do 4-finger scale runs like Rusty Cooley, but if you take little bits from each player you like and practice them, you'll find that if nothing else your expressiveness will improve.

Also, consider playing and learning bass. I switched to bass for awhile and it gave me a nice break from guitar, so when I picked the guitar back up it felt almost like I was playing a new instrument. Consider also mandolin, banjo, hell, even a harp. As long as it's tuned differently, or maybe used for different styles of music, will give you a different idea on how to play the one you're used to.

ONe final thing: listen to strange bands. Listen to some avant-garde, some jazz, postrock, anything. In fact I'll post some links to some bands that helped me get out of my creative and technical slump if you're interested.