TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#1
I have been playing the guitar since I was 13 (I am 17 now) and I feel I'm not doing very well. The hardest song I can play is Gold on the Ceiling by the Black Keys. I am not too bad at rhythm, but cannot sing, so being a rhythm guitarist in a band is out of the question because most singers play rhythm. I uploaded a video of me playing here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnCERlbU04Y

I just feel I suck. I really want to get in a band and I have written some rhythm pieces (see my channel) which sound quite good. I have lessons fortnightly and started off learning Rock School pieces and stopped around Grade 5 about a year ago and go back every now and then with my teacher during the lessons. Most of the time I ask him to help me figure out songs, etc.

Anyhow, would you say I am a bad guitarist for 4 years? Please be blunt. I don't want to try out for a band when I get to university (next year) and look a bad guitarist.

How can I improve?

Am I any good?
GoldenGuitar
Organiser of Sound
Join date: Apr 2007
291 IQ
#2
Dude, you've only been playing for 4 years, and you expect to be good? Music is something you do until the day you die. People play for a lifetime and still don't think they're any good. My best advice for you now is to join a band, you're at right stage at the moment to start playing with other musicians. If you work hard with a band, your musicianship will likely grow exponentially.
CelestialGuitar
Celestial Wish Guitarist
Join date: Nov 2011
518 IQ
#3
Honestly, I must admit that for four years, you should be better at guitar, I do disagree with GoldenGuitar, as a guitarist can be considered a 'good' guitarist after two years with the right training. What kind of worries me is that you mention you have a guitar teacher, however, there is a lot missing from your playing, it's not confident, your bends are a bit dodgy, the solo just didn't sound very good. As you're playing a Black Keys song, I imagine you're not trying to play Dream Theater, however, you need to play with more confidence. You can start by using your little finger, in the solo, you seemed to slip up because you were determined to just use three fingers, and your little finger is tucked away.

You need to play that song to the actual recording, because your rhythm is off at times, you should try and get a better guitar tone, as it really lets you down in this recording, you should stop anchoring, I think that's making things more difficult. I've actually never heard this song in full, but when I heard you play that solo, I heard what it's supposed to sound like in your head, it needs to flow, to be more accurate and have more confidence behind it, while it may be an easy song, a good guitarist playing it would sound much better than a poor guitarist playing it.

I dare say you may want to find another guitar teacher, I'm a guitar teacher myself, and if he saw you playing that Black Keys solo and didn't offer guidance, I would say he's probably just after your money, a good guitar teacher could put you on the right path straight away, and by the time you go to Uni, you could be ready to play in a band.
Gear

Mesa Dual Rectifier
TC Electronic Polytune
T Rex MAB Overdrive
Boss NS-2
ESP Horizon NT See Thru Black (D Standard)

Celestial Wish on Youtube
TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#5
Quote by CelestialGuitar
Honestly, I must admit that for four years, you should be better at guitar, I do disagree with GoldenGuitar, as a guitarist can be considered a 'good' guitarist after two years with the right training. What kind of worries me is that you mention you have a guitar teacher, however, there is a lot missing from your playing, it's not confident, your bends are a bit dodgy, the solo just didn't sound very good. As you're playing a Black Keys song, I imagine you're not trying to play Dream Theater, however, you need to play with more confidence. You can start by using your little finger, in the solo, you seemed to slip up because you were determined to just use three fingers, and your little finger is tucked away.

You need to play that song to the actual recording, because your rhythm is off at times, you should try and get a better guitar tone, as it really lets you down in this recording, you should stop anchoring, I think that's making things more difficult. I've actually never heard this song in full, but when I heard you play that solo, I heard what it's supposed to sound like in your head, it needs to flow, to be more accurate and have more confidence behind it, while it may be an easy song, a good guitarist playing it would sound much better than a poor guitarist playing it.

I dare say you may want to find another guitar teacher, I'm a guitar teacher myself, and if he saw you playing that Black Keys solo and didn't offer guidance, I would say he's probably just after your money, a good guitar teacher could put you on the right path straight away, and by the time you go to Uni, you could be ready to play in a band.


I've private messaged you
dalton.sala
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2013
46 IQ
#6
I used to LOVE Green Day. Green Day this, Green Day that... that's all I wanted to play on guitar. I've only been playing for three years or so, but thank god my guitar teacher encouraged me to listen to older stuff. I mean, Green Day is ridiculously easy to play. I don't know much about The Black Keys, but I would say if you're not already pushing yourself to get out of the box, do it. My saviors have been blues improvisation, jazz, and Iron Maiden. All of those things constantly push me to learn more; there's always new licks and ways to organize your playing for improvisation, there's always more crazy chords to learn for jazz, and, well, Iron Maiden is Iron Maiden. I'm still just now getting decent at playing Adrian Smith or Dave Murray solos.

Just push yourself outside of your comfort zone. But keep in mind, no guitarist (Pete Townsend notwithstanding) will ever feel that their playing is perfect.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
3,409 IQ
#7
Your fretting hand position looks awkward (don't know why) and the solo sounded kind of "beginner" if you know what I mean. Maybe it was the bends, maybe the rhythm.

Doesn't your teacher help you with technique at all? I mean, when I took lessons, we focused on making my technique better almost all the time. That's why I started taking lessons in the first place. I wanted to be able to play faster and more accurately and I think I'm clearly faster and more accurate than I was a year ago. What I would do is get a new teacher.

But yeah... A rhythm guitarist doesn't have to sing. There are lots of bands where the rhythm guitarist doesn't sing. Sometimes it's the bassist or lead guitarist who sings. Sometimes there's a singer that doesn't play anything. Good example: Guns 'N Roses. They have a rhythm guitarist, a lead guitarist and a singer. Just go and jam with your friends. You don't need to play solos if you don't want. I actually really enjoy playing the rhythm guitar. Well, actually I just enjoy playing in a band, no matter what part or instrument I'm playing.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Charvel So Cal
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1
Join date: Jun 2008
640 IQ
#8
Quote by Rust_E_Stringz
Keep rockin man, practice, practice, practice.

And then more practice. Are you practicing daily? Learn new songs that challenge you and practice practice practice practice.

Then practice some more.
Si
TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#9
Thanks for all the advice!

I'd rather get REALLY good at rhythm than lead. So maybe I will concentrate on that?

I have just created a SoundCloud account with some rhythm pieces I have recorded on it. Could you take some time and see what you think of my rhythm playing and composition?

https://soundcloud.com/ggllnghm

Last edited by TGG_ at Jun 21, 2013,
bondmorkret
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2012
168 IQ
#10
Find some of the musicians to play with, get some lessons with a private guitar teacher, and practice hard. You'll go a long way doing that!
sweetdude3000
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2012
1,172 IQ
#11
Quote by dalton.sala
I used to LOVE Green Day. Green Day this, Green Day that... that's all I wanted to play on guitar. I've only been playing for three years or so, but thank god my guitar teacher encouraged me to listen to older stuff. I mean, Green Day is ridiculously easy to play. I don't know much about The Black Keys, but I would say if you're not already pushing yourself to get out of the box, do it. My saviors have been blues improvisation, jazz, and Iron Maiden. All of those things constantly push me to learn more; there's always new licks and ways to organize your playing for improvisation, there's always more crazy chords to learn for jazz, and, well, Iron Maiden is Iron Maiden. I'm still just now getting decent at playing Adrian Smith or Dave Murray solos.

Just push yourself outside of your comfort zone. But keep in mind, no guitarist (Pete Townsend notwithstanding) will ever feel that their playing is perfect.


Hell yes to Iron Maiden.

OP the best advice I have had is to learn things slowly and surely. Master those basics cold. Hard to say 4 years where you should be. Its all about practicing the right things and spending quality hours.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#12
4 years is nothing for many other instruments - go to a high school band and most freshmen/sophomores can still barely play their instruments properly, and they practice 5+ hours constructively a week with a teacher.
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Wolfie60
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2013
32 IQ
#13
My first advice is to sort out the horrible sound your guitar is making, have it setup, the action sounds very low with a lot of string rattle.
The notes do not sound musical so I would start getting the guitar to "sound" as good as it can and in tune with a decent tone.
Then practice a lot, with a better sound you will find it easier to learn as it will sound closer to what you are trying.
I am working on my own solo improvement as I played rhythm guitar for years in several bands and I do not sing, you can still be in a band as the second guitarist easy

My other advice is work on your timing and slow things down until they sound good and then speed it up

Listened to the clips, you have a strange sound, very tinny sounding and too much processing, sounds like a banjo with massive delay

Sort out the sound, make it sound like a guitar and then start working slowly on timing
Last edited by Wolfie60 at Jun 21, 2013,
TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#14
Quote by Wolfie60
My first advice is to sort out the horrible sound your guitar is making, have it setup, the action sounds very low with a lot of string rattle.
The notes do not sound musical so I would start getting the guitar to "sound" as good as it can and in tune with a decent tone.
Then practice a lot, with a better sound you will find it easier to learn as it will sound closer to what you are trying.
I am working on my own solo improvement as I played rhythm guitar for years in several bands and I do not sing, you can still be in a band as the second guitarist easy

My other advice is work on your timing and slow things down until they sound good and then speed it up

Listened to the clips, you have a strange sound, very tinny sounding and too much processing, sounds like a banjo with massive delay

Sort out the sound, make it sound like a guitar and then start working slowly on timing


Thanks for the advice. I think the cover, while poor, is made worse by the settings on my amp - which I have had since 2001. I never bothered to buy a new amp because my neighbours complain anytime I do and it's not worth the hassle. I am going to re-do the cover with my Vintage semi-acoustic guitar (http://www.jhs.co.uk/vintageelectric/VSA535CRd.jpg) and use the amp when I know my neighbours are out.

Admittedly, I did play too fast in the cover. For some absurd reason I believed playing faster may also make me appear to be "better". I am now assured this had the counter-effect.

I have deleted my SoundCloud and will create a new one. I think it's my new Fender that isn't sounding as good as it could be. Why is that? Both tone buttons are on 10 so they should be ok. How can I stop string rattle? I am a novice to music tech - I only found out you could remove the buttons from your guitar the other day :$ I really need to get more knowledgable about this.

In good news, a music student friend of mine needed me to help him record a piece for his coursework and he asked me if I'd play rhythm for it. I did and ended up doing back-up vocals which his music teacher said were great. So I may possibly be able to sing... But just not play lead guitar
TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#15
I am not giving up on lead. I am going to work on the things suggested by CelestialGuitar (via PM) and focus on soloing. I don't like Iron Maiden at all, so I will not learn some of their stuff just to improve. I don't want to play like Matt Bellamy (Muse) - I just want to play some indie rock leads confidently, and good enough to be in a band. I have been watching some indie lead guitarists and they aren't great (Example A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzkBDbrliaY). I am going to learn some solos. I am starting with the solo to the Hexx by Pavement.

Thanks to everyones' advice. Really appreciate it
ruker
the iconflict
Join date: Oct 2007
3,368 IQ
#16
I started playing at age 14, and I'm now a few days away from 27. I'd say I didn't start getting to the point where I'd consider myself "good" until probably 20-ish... which was when I started getting into much harder material.

So to the TS, I'd say what you're feeling is only natural. Stay receptive to help, keep on practicing, and you'll come around sooner than later.
Joseph Kimbrell
AC - Always Chillin'
Join date: May 2013
21 IQ
#17
Quote by GoldenGuitar
Dude, you've only been playing for 4 years, and you expect to be good? Music is something you do until the day you die. People play for a lifetime and still don't think they're any good. My best advice for you now is to join a band, you're at right stage at the moment to start playing with other musicians. If you work hard with a band, your musicianship will likely grow exponentially.


Absolutely. When I joined a band and was practicing with them at least once a week, I noticed after just a few weeks that I was much more consistent than I was beforehand. This goes for almost any instrument too. Great advice.
Vitne
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Sleaze Disease
UnBanned
Join date: Sep 2006
420 IQ
#19
Quote by TGG_
...most singers play rhythm.

Since when?!
You really need a musical history lesson, my friend.
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TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#20
Quote by Sleaze Disease
Since when?!
You really need a musical history lesson, my friend.


Well, every band I like their vocalist plays rhythm. I am obviously not saying every vocalist plays rhythm, but 70% do.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
3,409 IQ
#21
Quote by TGG_
Well, every band I like their vocalist plays rhythm. I am obviously not saying every vocalist plays rhythm, but 70% do.

That doesn't mean you have to. If everybody else do something, it doesn't mean you have to do the same.

Actually you don't need to play any solos in a band and you could be the only guitarist. Not every song needs a solo. Actually a guitar solo is just a small, almost meaningless part of a song. It of course adds variety to the song structure but I think playing fast shred solos is just so 80s. You could also just have a guitar melody part, not necessarily an improvised fast shred solo.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Charvel So Cal
Ibanez Blazer
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TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#22
Quote by MaggaraMarine
That doesn't mean you have to. If everybody else do something, it doesn't mean you have to do the same.

Actually you don't need to play any solos in a band and you could be the only guitarist. Not every song needs a solo. Actually a guitar solo is just a small, almost meaningless part of a song. It of course adds variety to the song structure but I think playing fast shred solos is just so 80s. You could also just have a guitar melody part, not necessarily an improvised fast shred solo.


Ah, great!

I am definitely better at rhythm than lead, so I will try to get into a band as a rhythm player.
DBKGUITAR
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2013
618 IQ
#23
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM
TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#24
Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM


Well I am good at rhythm, but not so good at lead.

I must say, the video I posted doesn't really show off my skills.

I have since sold the Fender Strat used and purchased a Gretsch. I will post a cover of a different song Thursday.
Emperor's Child
Isn't It?
Join date: Mar 2008
2,486 IQ
#25
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Actually a guitar solo is just a small, almost meaningless part of a song.
Erm... what?

OT: Think of all the bands with only one guitarist. More importantly, why is it important to be labelled as either a 'rhythm player' or a 'lead player'? By doing that you're only restricting yourself imo.
TGG_
Banned
Join date: Aug 2012
260 IQ
#26
Quote by Emperor's Child
Erm... what?

OT: Think of all the bands with only one guitarist. More importantly, why is it important to be labelled as either a 'rhythm player' or a 'lead player'? By doing that you're only restricting yourself imo.


That's true, but I don't feel good enough to play lead in a band. I still need a lot of work on lead, I could go in a band playing rhythm (exclusively) at this stage in my playing imo
Meikle Treikle
Registered User
Join date: May 2011
163 IQ
#27
Buddy, think about it this way: many people don't start till they're 50, 60, 70... so if you can play a single note you're doing alright at your age and ahead of a lot of others. You have your whole life ahead of you so just never stop and you'll be amazed at how good you can get.
GMx
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2009
366 IQ
#28
I've been playing for 6 years and I also think I'm not as good as I could be. I haven't had the chance to take guitar lessons, so my technique is very flawed, and that slows me down when I try to learn new stuff. I'm not good at playing leads, my fingers get stuck all the time. To give you an idea, off the top of my head, if you listen to the guitar solo in Thank You For The Venom (by My Chemical Romance), I can't play at all the part where there's a long, fast descending scale. I've been trying to nail that for ages, but I can't play it at all.
Captaincranky
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2011
288 IQ
#30
Quote by TGG_
I'd rather get REALLY good at rhythm than lead. So maybe I will concentrate on that?
Study Early Who, "Tommy", "Quadrophenia", and "Who's Next". When you have that down, get with early Rolling Stones, particularly "Beggar's Banquet". Maybe early Rush, "2112". That's always fun.

Much of early rock is rhythm driven, as opposed to eight note chugging, with shred on top, as you run into with a good sized chunk of metal.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
3,409 IQ
#31
Quote by Emperor's Child
Erm... what?

What makes a song sound good? Is it the guitar solo that lasts 8-16 bars? No. Good guitar solo is just one part of the song that makes it sound a bit better (or worse in some cases) and adds variety to the song structure. Play the same song without a solo and it sounds almost the same. A guitar solo doesn't make the song. That's why I said it's just a small part of a song. A good song doesn't need a guitar solo, it needs a good melody and good rhythm part. It's about good songwriting, not good playing skills.

Instead of a guitar solo you can have an instrumental bridge or some kind of melody or riff or whatever. It doesn't need to be a guitar solo (of course depends on how we determine a guitar solo). It also depends on if it's a jazz song or a basic pop/rock song. In jazz songs improvised solos are really important but in pop/rock you don't need a guitar solo.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
Ibanez Blazer
Yamaha FG720S-12
Tokai TB48
Laney VC30
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cdgraves
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
43 IQ
#33
Most people play for a lot longer than 4 years and suck the whole time.

Get into a practice routine, learn challenging music, play with other people, set goals for yourself. Choosing to get serious is most of what separates good and bad musicians.