I've been playing guitar for years, but I want to "get serious" and improve my skills. I've been on stage, in the studio, and so on with various bands. Still, my playing is very simplistic. It's a lot of power chords and simple pentatonic or major scale based licks/solos that are awfully similar to one another. I've only ever been the kind of guitar player that looks at a tab and tries to play it, never had any real lessons or anything. I just kind of got a guitar and figured it out myself with tabs.

I want to be more than a basic guitar player. I don't know where to begin. My knowledge is very scattered. I know "a little bit about everything, but not a lot about anything." I play in Drop D, Drop C#, and drop C primarily, and I'm wondering if this is holding me back. It seems like I need a guitar in standard tuning to learn from any of the online resources I find. Even the simplest things like learning the notes on the neck are obviously not so simple with varied tunings. I havent held a guitar that was in standard tuning in at least 4 years, so it seems pointless to me to learn the note positions in standard, open position chords, and so on... but at the same time I realize that I can never have an understanding of chord theory or scale theory without knowing the notes.

I guess my problem is just that I don't know what I should focus on. I want to improve my skills in general, not just one specific thing, so it's hard to know where to begin. Anybody else like me or formerly like me that can suggest a plan of attack?
Andy Fox
Hard rock guitarist
I play a Jackson DK-2 and an Ibanez RG through a Peavey 6505+ stack
learn the notes anyway.Then just move them around,depending upon what tuning you use.

Then you could learn chords,and scales.just remember your not in standard tuning.But once you learn the notes you could probably find the notes in alternate tunings.
So learn all the notes in standard.
Sorry if my post doesnt make sence its midnight here so im tired.
Yeah, I was definitely like you once, I'm not sure if I got better or just more content

You have the right idea, just keep at it and don't give up. It might be a good idea to learn some stuff in standard tuning, but it's possible to take 'lessons' in drop. And once you get good enough, you'll be able to think/tune that string in your head and it won't matter.
Have you tried writing songs? I find that helps a lot.
Also, listen to and try to appreciate lots of genres of music. That should show you some new ways of thinking about the guitar.
Just keep playing with all kinds of people too, you never know who might be a cool influence. Everything takes time, if you keep playing you should keep improving.

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i'll tell you right now that the drop tunings you're playing in are not the problem. it would make it easier for you to understand online lessons in standard, absolutely -- but if you know the notes, you can figure it out. that said, if you don't know the notes in drop C, you'll be hard-pressed to apply anything. so you will need to know the notes, but this doesn't have to be done in standard tuning.

it would really benefit you to learn theory -- theory will present a solution for your need to improve your skills "in general", as you put it.

another thing -- it would benefit you greatly to start studying some other genres of music. very few truly great guitar players only play one or two genres. most of the top metal guitar players you can name also play other genres (often jazz). you say you play mostly in drop tunings, so i'm guessing you're most familiar with metal. i'm not saying don't play metal anymore, but that could present a problem -- you won't find drop tunings in most other genres (save for rock genres), so it would be good for you to learn to play in standard. if you have multiple guitars, consider tuning one to standard (or buying another cheap guitar to keep in standard).

there's a lot you can do to improve your playing, but just about all of it requires concentrated study and application. study other genres of music, and study music theory as applicable. that means don't rush through it -- focus on the building blocks and don't move on to the next topic without a full understanding of the previous topic. music theory is cumulative -- learning new topics will build on your existing knowledge. www.musictheory.net is a good place to start. though you'll need to learn to read music (though this is the case for any good theory resource). you don't need to be able to read a piece on sight -- you just need to be able to read the notes in the treble (and, ideally, bass) clef. but as a guitarist, no one will get on your ass for not knowing bass clef. not until you play bass.

lastly, you WILL need to learn chords. metal guitarists tend not to like it, but (let's face it), guitar is more of a harmony instrument than a melody instrument. like piano, it can function well as both, but it's not like a flute, which is incapable of playing more than one note at a time. as guitarists, we can play as many notes as there are strings on our guitar.

best of luck. it's going to be difficult, but it'll all pay off in the end. keep in mind that you never truly stop learning.
think beyond what you know, learn a new scale or chords that sound good with your playing style and mess around with them. i guess thats how you got the hang of power chords and the petatonic & major scale so i see no reason why it shouldn't work with other stuff.

you can't experiment enough with a guitar
Quote by AndyR83
I've been playing guitar for years, but I want to "get serious" and improve my skills...never had any real lessons or anything.

All the stuff mentioned above is great, but if you're really that serious you should definitely get lessons! Teaching yourself is good and everything- and some people get very far just by self-teaching- but you'll really learn much faster with a teacher.

So, yeah, how serious are you about learning? You sound like you know a bit already, so be careful when you select your teacher (you probably don't want to just go over the basics, but to take it a bit further, yeah?).

Really, is the cost of lessons too much of an investment in your playing?

Sorry, I had to.

TS - do you play piano/keyboard? If not, my biggest recommendation is learning to play. Take a course if you'd like, I did at my local college, and it was very beneficial. If you take music theory class(es) at the same time, major winz.