#1
What can I do to seriously improve my playing?

I've been playing 1 year and 4.5 months now and over the last couple of days practice I've been getting a bit frustrated (I know I'm not alone on this.)
I'm not after quick fixes or expecting to become a virtuoso overnight, but having never had any kind of lessons, I'm at a loss as to how I should be practicing to seriously improve - My current practice consists of downloading a tab and trying to learn it through guitar pro over the course of days/weeks/months and playing through all the songs I've already learned; This is pretty much all I've done since the beginning and I've seen moderate improvements.

If any experienced guitarists could shed some light on the matter of how to really practice to improve I'd be very grateful.

Rather than just saying "Use a metronome" "Practice slowly" "Learn Scales" If you could explain how I go about employing these properly to actually improve, that would be amazing.
#2
Just out of curiosity, how many songs can you play from start to finish?
#3
Quote by Viscerus
What can I do to seriously improve my playing?


Put simply: play better.

You need to spend more effort on doing things right; smaller movements, less tension. You don't need special exercises for this but you do need to practice slower. That's something a lot of people miss out when they tell people to do slow practice; you can't just play slowly and hope that somehow magically things will all work together. You need to practice slowly and pay attention to what you're doing so that you can spot what you're doing wrong and correct it.

If you're going to go down the 'learning through songs' route (which I would advise that you stick with) then you should also spend a bit of time learning the theory behind the songs; figure out why things sound the way they do by relating the song to theory.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
#4
Quote by Viscerus
What can I do to seriously improve my playing?

I've been playing 1 year and 4.5 months now and over the last couple of days practice I've been getting a bit frustrated (I know I'm not alone on this.)
I'm not after quick fixes or expecting to become a virtuoso overnight, but having never had any kind of lessons, I'm at a loss as to how I should be practicing to seriously improve - My current practice consists of downloading a tab and trying to learn it through guitar pro over the course of days/weeks/months and playing through all the songs I've already learned; This is pretty much all I've done since the beginning and I've seen moderate improvements.

If any experienced guitarists could shed some light on the matter of how to really practice to improve I'd be very grateful.

Rather than just saying "Use a metronome" "Practice slowly" "Learn Scales" If you could explain how I go about employing these properly to actually improve, that would be amazing.


I was in your same situation years ago.

I suggest you to get in the mindset of learning songs (that are comfortable to your level ) from beginning to end and playing them "right"- in time, in tune, etc. If you play those in a band, this will mean a lot, and it is quite possible to find bands who will accept people who can play at least in time the rhythmic parts. This already means a lot.

To practice, decide a few subjects: they can be technique, solos, rhythm, theory, improvising, etc, basically whatever you want. Without a teacher you will have to decide the "path" yourself.. books, actual parts from songs, exercises taken from the internet, scales, whatever. Make sure what you're studying is at an appropriate level for you. Or ask a teacher.

Regarding how to study, it's simple.. the more you study, the more you improve. Being less obvious, when you do anything, if it's not right, slow down the speed until it is. Then, practice it there for a while and then try to go faster when you can do it perfectly 8x in a row . You don't really want to nail a riff 2/5 times when you have to play it 16 times in a row.
Be focused when you study, don't skip to the 100% speed after you played something slowly twice and got bored of it.
#5
Quote by Mezo
Just out of curiosity, how many songs can you play from start to finish?

9 Songs - Though they are all by the same artist (Parkway Drive)

I have started learning songs from other bands - I can play 75% of the way through at about 90% speed (As far as I've learned) Of August Burns Red's 'Beauty In Tragedy' Which I regard as one of the more difficult songs I've attempted to learn.

I don't want to restrict myself by genre which is why I avoided adding anything about in the initial post.
#6
I don't see a problem. You say you've been learning by downloading tabs and trying to play them—seems like a good enough approach—but you don't explain how it's not working out for you. Are you failing to learn the songs? What hurdles did you run into that would make you frustrated?

If you want better feedback than "use a metronome", "practice slowly" and "learn scales" you'll have to be more specific about your issues.
The more you say 'epic' the less it means.
#7
If it makes you feel better, I've played for six years, and I've met people who have played for one year who are more technically proficient than I am. I have no intention of making music, I personally just like jam along to my fav songs. The best advice I could give you is in my sig. I play songs I enjoy, and practice them inside and out, and couldn't even name more than 5 chords.
"I think, as a musician, you should practice your technique to be as good as you need to be to facilitate whatever ideas come into your head."
- Devin Townsend
#8
i think you're doing the right thing, learn what you enjoy and play it lots! But if you want to improve faster, just learning songs is probably not the right way to go about it.

Practice some techniques like alternate picking and legato, there are loads of practice exercises on the internet (this is also where the metronome and starting slowly come in). Its also important to note that some of these exercises are all about repetition and building speed up slowly, sit down in front of your tv and do some mindless exercises for half an hour. Some people find schedules help, I personally hate them but try and do 10 mins practice of each technique a day.

Do try and learn some scales (check out the caged system, it has limitations but its a good start) and practice jamming to backing tracks this will help improvising and lead stuff. Getting better only takes motivation, dedication and time, if you want to get better and work at it you will!
#9
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Put simply: play better.
If you're going to go down the 'learning through songs' route (which I would advise that you stick with) then you should also spend a bit of time learning the theory behind the songs; figure out why things sound the way they do by relating the song to theory.


Where/how can I start learning the relevant theory? Thanks for the response.


Quote by Dynamight
but you don't explain how it's not working out for you. Are you failing to learn the songs? What hurdles did you run into that would make you frustrated?


I try to keep the songs I'm learning challenging, nothing is comfortable at first, the issue I'm having is while I see progress in my ability to play that specific song I'm working on, it's not translatable to... Say, my ability to write my own riffs/solos or improvise. Nothing else gets easier or better other than that specific song - At least it feels that way. Thanks for the response.


Quote by Ixar
Be focused when you study, don't skip to the 100% speed after you played something slowly twice and got bored of it.


I am guilty of this sometimes I like to try out the song I've been learning at 50%/75% speed at 100% just to see if it's gotten even remotely playable, a lot of the time it has, but not as cleanly or accurately as I'd like, So I dial it back to about 80% tempo and move up 2/3% at a time from there until it feels good. Right Approach?

Quote by Ixar
To practice, decide a few subjects: they can be technique, solos, rhythm, theory, improvising, etc, basically whatever you want.


So lets say I want to work on improvising, to do this I need knowledge of scales or it's really just noodling,(I think?) - I do noodle a fair bit, usually with similar notes and patterns I pick up from the songs I learn, then I get discouraged because I end up playing the same thing every time, at which point I go to learn a scale and I'm questioning myself again: Should I be learning this scale? Do I need to tune back to standard before trying to learn scales in Drop C/B etc? Is this scale available as a guitar pro tab? No? - Go back to learning songs. And so I've wasted a lot of practice time searching up answers to these questions and not finding any definitive answers. Hence the frustration. Thanks for the response.
#10
For speed, it's ok as long as what you're playing is right- i.e. no tension, mistakes, good dynamics and so on.

To train improvisation, try going for very simple phrases with very few notes. You can try a "Stetina" approach, that is deciding the rhythm of the phrase first and then adding the actual notes. Start with a model of any pentatonic and play over its chord.
You will find also that playing the notes of the underlying chord sounds really good.
Last edited by lxar at Nov 15, 2013,
#11
Quote by Viscerus
What can I do to seriously improve my playing?

I've been playing 1 year and 4.5 months now and over the last couple of days practice I've been getting a bit frustrated (I know I'm not alone on this.)
I'm not after quick fixes or expecting to become a virtuoso overnight, but having never had any kind of lessons, I'm at a loss as to how I should be practicing to seriously improve - My current practice consists of downloading a tab and trying to learn it through guitar pro over the course of days/weeks/months and playing through all the songs I've already learned; This is pretty much all I've done since the beginning and I've seen moderate improvements.

If any experienced guitarists could shed some light on the matter of how to really practice to improve I'd be very grateful.

Rather than just saying "Use a metronome" "Practice slowly" "Learn Scales" If you could explain how I go about employing these properly to actually improve, that would be amazing.


Forget about the tabs altogether and do one thing.Transcribe like crazy.Find easy tunes and learn them by ear.Use software like the amazing slow downer to slow them down if necessary but do it.Even a line picked up by your ears is more effective that a bunch of tunes learned through tab....Its the single most important thing you can do for your playing.Doing it that way you ll actually start discovering your technique weakness by yourself and focusing on fixing them using real life examples(songs) and not mindless exercises....So transcribing covers all bases IF you are patient enough to do it... .
#12
Quote by Viscerus
Where/how can I start learning the relevant theory? Thanks for the response.


Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr


Copied from another thread with exactly the same question.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
#13
Learn the Major, Minor, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, Diminished and Wholetone scales in all 12 keys. This mission has exponentially aided me, hopefully it'll have a similar effect. E Standard for practicing is something I'd also advise. Practice slowly and steadily to a metronome. 1 note per beat, then 2, then 3, and on and on. Once you learn the basic shape you can start trying sequences and deriving exercises from them. It's tedious, but rewarding, and it can be quite fun. Isolate the techniques you wish to improve and drill them for a few weeks or even months. It's a very important and fundamental thing for any instrumentalist to PRACTICE. Playing is the magic and the practicing is the incantation...to put it very sh*ttily You'll find songs, tabs, ect. much easier when you know the scales and techniques already. That's really 8/10ths of the music. Being physically able to play. This stuff is readily available all over the internet, predominantly for free. All the best!
#14
You have to watch the guitarists whom you look up to the most and analyze what theyre doing whats unique to them. Learn that style but dont limit your self to one player. Then I think this is a big part of being able to improvise/writing is to learn a bit of theory too pentatonics (blues scale, dorian the major 6th), minor scale, major scale thats really the basic once youve got that you can really jam to a backing track and listen carefully to the sound of the notes against a key. That's realy when you start creating your own style. I really think the key to creating your own personal sound on the instrument is to learn stuff from your heros doesnt have to be the whole song or anything just what defines their style (pick attack, note choice, progressions how they piece their riffs together) this should really get you started
#15
Lots of good ideas posted, here's adding / spewing more:
Keep playing, learning and playing whole songs is satisfying, have fun. Play with others and in front of others at opportunities.

You always need more practice, its endless (are you playing for a year now all day every day? as a dedicated musician, or just recreational? Unless you're playing all day every day, plan on a long-term, 10-year payoff for your investment, with some great moments along the way. Takes a long time.

Try broader range of bands, music styles and techniques. Use some simple folk and country (unless allergic to that) as a tool to get basic strumming and cording abilities down.

Think of yourself as a guitar player.

Metronome: use to reinforce timing, applies to both hands. Stamp your foot too. Learn to count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. . . . For metronome I read this works pretty good: try to get the feeling that YOU are controlling the metronome, when you pick that it feels like you are making the tick sound with that action. Play around with being ahead and behind the tick sound. Lock in to the beat with that strumming hand.

Loopers are better now with built in drum beats which is more interesting than a tick tick (but still not as interesting as a human), and you can record yourself, listen back; more useful for learning than a metronome (but metronome is free app on smart phone though so no excuse). I would invest in any old cheap looper.

In addition to easily downloading TAB and working through it, try struggling along with a radio or music device you can stop and rewind. Try to figure out the song chords by ear, listening and rewinding a song over and over. It's frustrating and you might not get it but need to develop your ear too.

SCALES: Maybe just start with Major scale and pentatonic scale. Those are 2 good scales to start, don't get overwhelmed with too many scales and patterns. Then pick a few more to learn which will just be slight variations of the ones you've already learned. But some guitarists have plenty-o-fun forever with just those two scales. (which are actually just the same as the minor versions, so now you know 4 scales). As noted, pick some scales that are maybe common to your favorite style.

When grinding out the scales: say the note out loud every time as you play it and look / think about where that note is on the fretboard is good way to also memorize the fretboard.

You need to do two things: learn in your head the notes of the major scale (memory basically, bit o' theory, which will help knowing what to play or solo) and also get your finger motor movements familiar with the basic finger patterns (i.e there are 5 major scale boxes, 5 pentatonic boxes) through slow repetition, which will get your fingers trained better and they will also start to "know where to go" in terms of finding the right notes / intervals.

As posted really think about fret hand tension (and all body tension!) and not squeezing hard when fretting notes and bar cords. Learn the most gentlest touch required to get the good tone.

Learn how to mute strings with bits of your finger skin on the fretting hand. And how to mute strings with your strumming hand.

More music theory suggestions for a beginner: no need to get into theory if you don't want to, but to lay a foundation at this stage you should:
Understand that each fret is a semi-tone interval, intervals are the spaces between notes and this is a basic concept of music. Memorize the "spelling" of each of the major chords.
Know about how a song is in a key, and that a song has a basic chord progression or cyclical structure of cords and notes. Depending on the musical type these progressions are often fairly common, so you should start to be able to know the cords that typically go together even for songs that are new for you. Common 3-cord progression like G-C-D or A-D-E or E-A-B can be used to practice and are a fundamental progression that you can start right now and be creative making songs.

For the basic open cords you are learning you should also take a moment to visualize which strings are the root notes for that chord. i.e. when you play an E chord, know which 3 strings are giving you an E note sound. Do this for each of your A,B,C,D,E,F,G chords that you already know. Learn how to make the cords, or at least E and A cords, without using your first finger, which will translate into being able to make the E and A bar chord forms and other more efficient fingerings up the neck.

Down the road, or now, if you are learning playing up the neck then look at the simple CAGED system for the layout on the fretboard, it really makes sense.
Last edited by travois at Nov 19, 2013,