TLDR: Quit lessons after 10 months. Want to keep playing/learning, but unsure of what to start working on next.

I started taking lessons last fall (September-ish) as a complete beginner. My instructor was primarily a blues guitarist, but we hadn't really gotten to a point where that mattered much yet. Due to the cost and the 45 minute one-way drive, I decided to discontinue them last month. I'd like to continue progressing, but I'm not quite sure where to go next.

He had me working through the Hal Leonard Guitar Method books. We made it almost through the end of book two. A typical once a week, 30 minute lesson would be something like:

--Play 2-4 pages of the book from previous week, depending on difficulty
--Play 2-4 pages of the book to work on for next week, depending on difficulty
--Play a song from what I think was a fake book (not sure) - just very bare-bones, single note music. I would play it three times - once as "lead", once as rhythm, and then once trying to ... make lead sound full using the appropriate chords between notes, if that makes sense.

I'm mostly interested in just being able to play songs, not necessarily my own material. However, I've found that I'm not really good enough to play through the majority of the songs I've tried tabs/guitar pro for.

I've been trying to work on Be Like That (3 Doors Down), and the Limp Bizkit version of Behind Blue Eyes. I can do the first little bit of Dust in the Wind by Kansas, but not much more. Eventually I get stuck on each of these.

I have an extremely difficult time still with anything outside of first/second position. I'm incapable of holding a barre chord. I also have the smallest hands of anyone I know, which yes, a lot of people say, but I do also have a curved pinkie (curved in roughly 35 degrees) which definitely does not help.

Books I have at my disposal...I got the bottom 4 as part of a promotion, got them for nothing, but haven't used them at all.
Hal Leonard Guitar Method (Books 1-3 w/ CDs) ***Almost done w/ book two***
Music Theory for Guitarists by Tom Kolb
Guitar Fretboard Workbook
Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar by Troy Stetina
Rolling Stone Sheet Music Classics, Vol 2: 1970s-1990s

So my question is.....where do I go from here? Do I keep just trying those songs in hopes that at some point I'll be able to play them? Is there another direction I should go as far as practice goes, in order to build up to playing more songs? Would it be more beneficial to focus on finishing the Hal Leonard books, then transition to the music theory / speed mechanics ones BEFORE trying to learn some songs?
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Last edited by Xonim at Jul 21, 2011,
Well, I never took lessons. My father showed me some ropes (he's a bassist :P ). From day 1 I was on alternate picking, which grew to economy (now I'm back on alternate again), did the chromatic exercise, synchronized my fingers and made my playing clean.

I developed by playing what I listen to. Starting with the easy stuff, of course. That was Maiden for me. Later I began playing CoB and so on. I think you should start playing the stuff you listen to, that are in your playing ability.
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Hey it's Alek from Chillin in Bodom and ears a lick for bitch who can't play dicks.

learn some power chord songs!!! that way you can play songs all the way through to build endurance.

ac/dc is awesome too cuz they use lots of open chords not really barre chords and they also incorporate chords too and they have leads and simple song structures too.

but seriously, blink 182.... you'll be glad you did it.
"Hey kid. You wanna cigarette?"

"No thanks! I/m already hooked on Fonicks!"

learn simple songs such as those by blink, greenday, other mainstream bands etc.
learn other easy songs that are more intricate though, such as behind blue eyes by limp and whatnot, some red hot chilli pepper songs are good for that.
learn chord songs such as wonderwall by oasis, time of your life by greenday etc.
use search bar to find the many threads of beginners asking for easy songs on ug.
all of these together will contribute to your overall skill.

perhaps youre trying to learn songs that are just outside of your ability. start playing some easier songs, and come back to the other ones in like a month, and you'll be surprised you'll be better at it.

also, if you liked your lessons (not many people do, though i used to) you should try to find someone closer to where you live
Lessons on youtube you can learn what you want when you want at your own speed. Thats what I did.
those songs/bands are all based on chords(since they dont do too much riffing or soloing my advice is to learn all your chords, learn some new rhythms , try to sing while playing and
try your hardest to get into a band.
Since you pretty much already have the basic skills it'll be easy to move on to anything new
do what i did: try all styles of music(metal,classic rock,indie and pop .etc),and see which one you like best.
@ Panasonic: I never thought of Blink 182. That'd probably be a good place to start. It's been a while, but I don't remember their songs sounding too difficult.

@ Doonan: Yeah, I didn't really care for the lessons. I mean, on one hand, it provided somewhat of a progression. It was a very good thing first starting out to learn proper technique on some stuff, a lot of basic chords, etc, but I hated having the obligation every Friday night.

I think I'm going to have to dig deeper into my music collection. Most of what I've been listening to recently is WAY too difficult for me right now, probably even for another few years at this rate. Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming =)
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Breedlove Passport C250/CMe
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Learned to play the same way, except took lessons for 5 years. Somewhere in the first year of lessons I picked up a magazine and learned to play "Iron Man" from tablature. So I did both, kept taking lessons and learning music theory and on my own picking up other songs that I really wanted to play, mostly by reading and memorizing books in the music store while waiting for my lesson.
Wow, that website looks rather helpful. Thanks!
Fender Blackout Telecaster
Breedlove Passport C250/CMe
Fender Mustang I
Get another teacher. I'm not kidding. If you're struggling at your current level, you absolutely need someone who can direct you, correct mistakes that you're making before they become problematic and only a proper teacher can do that. I'm telling you because I've been there. I did things my way for two years and am now having to relearn everything (and let me tell you, it's infuriating). While some people on the internet can be trusted, 90% of them can't. Look at the guys on this thread alone. Enablers all the way.

Barring that however (I also know how much of a pain financial constraints can be), learn your open and barre chords, then move to the major scale. And for Christ's sake, LEARN MUSIC THEORY. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how beneficial theory (and sight-reading, which comes along with it) is. Seriously, it's a no-brainer. Forget about speed mechanics. Speed is a bunch of bullshit created by people who want to play fast, rather than well and only beginning guitarists care about playing Flight of the Bumblebee at 340 bpm (the current world record). And definitely make sure you're using proper technique. I didn't and had to completely relearn legato (I'm still working on it).

TL;DR New teacher is the best option. Otherwise, theory>everything.
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Its the Lydian mode; formed in Eastern Arabia when the Persians invaded England.

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try the sexolydian scale.
It's OK to play sounds outside of your "ability" just play the song at a slow BPM until your fingers learn something and gradually pick up the speed from there. Maybe this would help build your confidence too.
My teacher also used the Hal Leonard books. Before I could go on to book 2, I was required to be able to do major and minor barre chords with roots on the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings. Barre chords are important, and I'd start working on that. I'd also start looking for a local teacher - maybe try craigslist? My experience with HL books is that they are really only useful in combination with instruction, not autodidactically.
Andrewwasson.com is also an excellent site for free online guitar lessons. No, I'm not him. I just think the site is really helpful and certainly on par with justinguitar.
I'm in the same position as you, OP. I took lessons when I was younger(except I didn't take anything from it..because I realized I just wanted to learn songs and solo). I asked myself the same thing, except I didn't ask around about it. that andrew wasson site is great, but another website to learn from is http://lessons.mikedodge.com/. Mike Dodge covers literally everything step by step from intervals, to chord construction and so forth. You may not know what the hell they mean(neither did I, I'm still trying to figure out what the hell those roman numerals mean that so many people throw around) but it'll eventually "click".

What I've done for the past few weeks is read Fretboard Logic(This was the book to shine the light on my face and hear the music of angels as I reached an epiphany) to get an idea of the CAGED method and to make the fretboard a not so scary place, delved into some more theory here and there on the side with mike dodge and andrew wasson, then try to apply what I learned by learning a song. In my case, I'm learning a song right now based on the C Major scale(probably recommended). This was the only time I referred to a tab to give me a heading just by looking at the chord progression then see what key/scale it is.

Using a program called Transcribe, I slowed down the song and basically learned all of the vocal melodies of the song, then the rhythm bits and whatnot then put them all together. In the mean while, I can apply what I've been learning to the song (throw some CAGED form chords here and there to harmonize melodies) and train my ear at the same time.

I used to complain why people wouldn't make tabs for certain songs I wanted, but it took me this long to realize that you're better off learning it by yourself.

The way I think of it, you want to grab all your lego pieces together(the theory, technique and lessons) then construct a song you want to learn out of it from scratch. Nothing has helped me as much as that.

To me, I think I can do just fine without paying for lessons. The ONLY thing I know I will definitely need help with is just learning how to read and write standard notation. That is absolutely hard for me. Also, as one of these guys said if you go in this thinking "I want to shred and go weedley weedley" then it's probably the wrong way of thinking (because that was my thinking formerly). You'd just be building a foundation with..I don't know, sand instead of bricks and cement. Good luck.
Last edited by bchin415 at Jul 23, 2011,