#1
I've been playing for 5 years and all I can do is chords. If I try to learn a solo or fast verse it's too difficult and I just get frustrated and quit. What can I do? I was trying to learn Breaking All Illusions by Dream Theater but couldn't even learn one part because I just can't get good at fast note playing. I have no idea where to start or what to learn first. About 30% of the problem is the pick. I cannot play notes with a pick to save my life. I always strum the wrong string. I don't know how to get better at that either. I want to be a professional guitar player one day but it can't happen with a problem like this. Another issue is it feels like they're using two hands. In a part on Breaking All Illusions, John Petrucci is playing notes that required a chord ranging from the 2nd fret up to the 6th fret with a finger on the 3rd fret blocking the availability of touching the 2nd fret, and it's fast too. Umm... how??? It felt literally impossible, like my hand had to be 10x larger. It makes me want to quit and just play chords only
#2
Slowing down and paying attention to details is what you need, also a lot of patience.

Seriously, how i started developing my lead playing was by slowing down so much that i could play anything perfectly, even if that was 1 note a minute. Only when you practice perfectly will you get perfect results.

I highly recommend you try the 21 day challenge in the guitar techniques forum and don't cheat yourself. Pick a tempo where you can actually play the thing you are working on and then practice it without speeding up. You need to make playing perfectly a habit.

Practice with and without distortion. You will need the clean sound to hear how you are attacking the notes, accents, your dynamics etc. And you will need the distortion to make sure you are muting correctly.

The 21 day challenge is a great tool to learn, but it realies on you being honest with yourself. DON'T speed up, and DON'T practice at a tempo where you can't play. If you play slow enough, you can play anything.
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#3
you're trying to run before you can crawl, and all you're left with is a scraped knee and a lot of wasted time and energy.

odds are, by the time you reach the capability of playing incredibly fast, your sense of musicality will have matured to understand that it's often pretty tasteless.
modes are a social construct
#5
Look into Alternate vs Economy picking.

Do that 21 Day Challenge.

Focus on ear training and learning your scales and arpeggios (basic triads and modes of the major scale to start. Start with C and go onto G and F etc etc.). Learn scale sequences (groups of 2,3,4,6 etc ascending and descending) and learn them very well.

Learn something easier solo wise. Start simple. Focus on making quality music and playing as perfect as you can. Work on your vibrato and bends. Transcribe a few blues solos. Learn to play in time REALLY well. Learn to read music and charts.

Chops honestly don't matter as much as taste when it comes to playing solos. You can do a lot with just a few notes. Get out of the mind set that you NEED chops to be good. If you work on them patiently, they will be there when you are ready for them.

Also, get out of the mindset that you NEED to make a living playing guitar. In my experience, that just adds unnecessary and pointless pressure. Music is very difficult to make a living with, so keep that in mind and have a backup plan, get a degree or trade that will make you money and keep working on your chops and playing. In the meantime focus on having fun and playing gigs.

If you are already 'behind' so to speak, you will need time to learn all these skills (decades possibly) and since you aren't already working in music at 18-22 years old, you are most likely going to need some other way to make money until you get good enough to compete with more top notch guys for work. If you are covered in terms of finance, you can take as long as you need to get your skills up to where they need to be to have a chance at making a living in music. You can also save up some money.

Thats my 2 cents dude.
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#6
yeah don't try to learn dream theater/john petrucci solos if you can't even hit the strings you want. petrucci is good (massive understatement). Even really good guitar players will struggle with solos that hard.

practise hitting the right strings, and try some easier solos. While you'll get better if you challenge yourself, there's a big difference between challenging yourself with something slightly outside your comfort zone in terms of difficulty and trying something which is impossible at your current level and which will only demoralise you.
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#7
As above. You're a beginner. Learn beginner material.

Petrucci stuff is incredibly hard, even for the most experienced guitarists. It takes years to get his stuff at some sort of acceptable level.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
Try to learn easier solos. Always practice with a metronome in slow tempos. Play in the slowest tempo which you can comfortably play the whole thing. If the pick is your problem look for another pick. Small picks like Jazz III are preferable. Do small movements both with your picking hand and your fingers. I always practiced scales and stuff like that and that helped me to come up with my own ideas. I also had some shredding etc. books which also kinda helped me. So that can help you too.
Most importantly, don't give up!
#9
Quote by Dave_Mc
yeah don't try to learn dream theater/john petrucci solos if you can't even hit the strings you want. petrucci is good (massive understatement). Even really good guitar players will struggle with solos that hard.

practise hitting the right strings, and try some easier solos. While you'll get better if you challenge yourself, there's a big difference between challenging yourself with something slightly outside your comfort zone in terms of difficulty and trying something which is impossible at your current level and which will only demoralise you.

Haha yeah good point. I probably shouldn't try to learn a song from one of the greatest guitarists alive first. I'm just going to practice scales and arpeggios for now and try to find an easier solo. I can actually play the solo in the beginning of The Count of Tuscany. It doesn't sound perfect but I can do it. Maybe that will be better for my skill level
#11
This is what I have learned from my personal experiences.

You need to have something to play and you need to be able to play it well am it needs to sound good to a listener. If you study enough guitarists you learn that very one had their own licks and their own phrasing. Buckethead and Paul Gilbert do this Lydian pinky hammer on thing, Jason Becker and Yngwie Malmsteen do these major to minor arpeggios and long harmonic minor runs, tony macalpine and tosin do shit I can't even comprehend. You have to figure out what like you like playing and you have to really learn and analyze what it is you are doing in terms of the theory behind it.

Once you figure out what you want to play you have to practice it. I found that slow practice gets the job done. Turning the metronome up past 120 is mostly pointless. If you want to shred faster than that you have to have it perfect at slower speed. You don't even need to turn the metronome up. If you have the muscle memory down perfectly your muscles will have no problem playing it at faster speeds. Practice your licks and scales and arpeggios forwards AND backwards. Confuse your muscles. That's how you build up chops. You don't start out with petrucci.

Make sure you could explain to someone in detail why you did what you did. If you can't then you don't know why you did that. And if you're doing things without reason you're doing it wrong.
#13
Kinda speechless at the moment as these caught my eye:

Dream Theater

cool

About 30% of the problem is the pick. I cannot play notes with a pick to save my life. I always strum the wrong string.

Riiiight... only 30%??? The bolded part with the line before it makes me think its more like 98% ... 2% was me being generous. Pick the string, don't strum it.

John Petrucci is playing notes that required a chord ranging from the 2nd fret up to the 6th fret with a finger on the 3rd fret blocking the availability of touching the 2nd fret, and it's fast too. Umm... how???

Stretch... fret 2 to fret 6 is a minimal stretch, regardless of how many strings in between. Just practice more.

It felt literally impossible, like my hand had to be 10x larger. It makes me want to quit and just play chords only

Don't say that... we might just throw Holdsworth your way

Other than that... enjoy the long journey ahead of you. "Rock Discipline" would aid you in the right direction of what to practice. One more thing... you need patience... (just a little patience, yeah yeah... I've been walking the streets at night... just trying...)
#14
Speed only comes over time. You won't instantly become a Petrucci. Petrucci needed to practice a lot to become so good. (I think he said he sometimes played the guitar for ten hours a day but I wouldn't recommend that - focus on effective and frequent practicing, quality over quantity. For example 30 minutes a day or even less if you don't have that much time is enough.) I just started my 21 days challenge (the song I'm playing is "Black Betty" by Ram Jam which IMO is a really fun song to play and not too hard) so let's see the results after 21 days or if I even have the patience to complete it.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 4, 2013,
#15
Quote by joossshhh
Haha yeah good point. I probably shouldn't try to learn a song from one of the greatest guitarists alive first. I'm just going to practice scales and arpeggios for now and try to find an easier solo. I can actually play the solo in the beginning of The Count of Tuscany. It doesn't sound perfect but I can do it. Maybe that will be better for my skill level


yeah there's no harm in trying the easier petrucci stuff. I mean when I started playing i tried all the vai, satriani, evh type stuff. but i tried the easier stuff.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#16
wait, strum? what fulcrum are you using to maneuver the pick?

this is why one hour with a qualified teacher is a lot more helpful than grasping straws on the internet for a beginner.
modes are a social construct
#17
Here's the thing, TS, you need to walk before you can run. You need to be able to play the licks you want to play slowly AND cleanly before you can play them fast and cleanly. (Btw, the "cleanly" part is much more important than you think. I often advocate playing on the clean channel during practice, exactly for this reason.) Know the licks well and keep increasing the speed you play them at.
#18
Dream Theater's songs are intermediate difficulty at their easiest. Might I suggest a slower song that you like. Tell us about your taste in music and we'd be able to help you easier. Also you can try my approach and play along with a song in front of an accurate tab (the more tries you do, the better you get). Also go learn the chromatic scale (learn to play it really fast) along with A Minor and E Minor scales. Doing these 2 things will improve you're speed and technique if you're dedicated enough. Remember NEVER GIVE UP! I admit I'm not very fast but I know I'll get better. Hope this helps.
#19
Maybe you should post a video of your playing. Isn't there a thread somewhere where you can critique someone's playing(technical ability, of course)?