#1
In another recent post, someone asked if they are practicing effectively. I sort of have the same question.

I think a lot of us come here because we are beginners and just try to learn some stuff or there are experienced players who like to "talk shop" and aren't afraid to dispense with some wisdom, to which I am greatly appreciative.

I know there really isn't a fast track to playing guitar and I really am trying to do this by myself with the help of the internet. So I posed a question on the thread if someone could give me guidance and someone responded thinking I would get lots of replies.

I will lay out my goals and aspirations and I am hoping you experienced folks can tell me if I am practicing the right things or not, what I should practice, and, who knows, maybe lay out a simple schedule for me? Here goes:

Goals:
1. To be able to accurately play recorded music from my favorite bands, primarily Black Keys, White Stripes, Weezer, Bush, The Animals, maybe 60's stuff. More emphasis on the bluesy rock stuff.
2. To be able to create original music. Disclaimer: My goal is not to gig, it is merely just to play for me or friends/family. If I ever do gig, it would be considered bonus. But not even on my radar now.
3. Play blues, as in like being able to play the blues scale and improvisation against a backing track and sound good.

What I can do right now:
1. I can play these open chords: A, Am, E, Em, D. I am practicing like crazy on C and G. I have yet to put my attention on B and F or A7 and E7 (although the last two are easy fingered).
2. I know my power chords. I know most of the low E and A string positions so I know within reason what power chord I am playing.
3. I dabbled in Barre chords (the "E" shape version).
4. I know one position of the Blues Scale. I am not sure how to word it, but if it is an A, I know the position that starts with the A on the fifth fret. I am working on the position above and below it and am getting it 50% of the way there.
5. I can mute with my fret hand but not my palm. I struggle with string skipping
6. I can play most of Glycerine and Swallowed by Bush and bits and pieces of I Got Mine and Your Touch by The Black Keys just to give you an idea where I am song wise.

My own idea of practice:
Practice blues scale.
Practice songs I am trying to learn.
Attempt to create original music.

What I think I am missing:
Direction. If I get bored or discouraged, I tend to just do something else. I doubt this is good because I don't think I am improving. But I need to know from experienced players if I need to push through that or I would actually do more harm than good by just switching when bored? (hope that makes sense)

What should I focus on most in your opinion?
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#2
I would say continue to work on what you're currently doing, but try to introduce something new each week, even if it's a simple riff or new chord. Something that tests you and that requires some practice. Spend a chunk of time fine tuning what you already know, and then a little bit of time with something new. If it gets to be too much material, then just work on what you have, but I used a lot of time playing the same things I already knew and it didn't help me improve as much since there are so many things to do on a guitar.

Something else I'll add is that learning music theory increased my motivation and interest by quite a bit, so that may be something you might want to look into (Chord construction, intervals, etc.) I learned it all online, too.

Also, you may already be doing this, but practice slowly and accurately for as long as you can before trying to speed up. I know that gets boring but it's the only way. At where you are I might recommend focusing on chord switching, barre chords, alt picking arpeggios, etc. Don't worry about getting to every technique every day, because it's a lot.

Good luck, it's definitely worth the time you put in. One more thing I'll say is that for me, I didn't seem to be improving much for quite some time and then all of a sudden I was making huge improvements, so don't give up.
#3
^ Good advice. Working on arpeggiating chords (playing them one note at a time) will improve your chord switching abilities tremendously - it requires that you switch chords more quickly and cleanly. While doing this, aim to get the bass note of each chords ringing out cleanly, and accent it (pick it harder than the other notes).
Probably my biggest area of focus, if I were starting were you are now, would be barre chords. That is the one thing you encounter over and over again in the music you want to play. Once you start making inroads with that, a lot of possibilities open up with playing more songs, and learning more still from doing so.

About the blues scale - take the position that you know at the 5th fret, and start making up little licks. They can be totally humble little things, 4 or 5 notes long, but the big thing is that you are taking that knowledge of where the notes are and actually learning to use it. Don't be afraid to experiment, and don't worry if anything sucks or doesn't sound right. It's a long road, and the best way to learn is to just get in there and try. Learn where all the A notes fall within the blues scale position that you know. Those are your most important notes, so feature them more heavily..e.g. starting and ending phrases (but not exclusively) on them.
Technique-wise, start working on learning/improving your bends and your vibrato. These are fundamental techniques to just about any genre, but for bluesy rock like you like, they are pretty much god.

Hope this helps. Good luck and keep at it!
#4
Thanks guys. Good information. It is good to know I am on a decent path but now I have a little more direction. I know I need to back up and slow down because I get impatient like practicing scales.
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#5
Quote by Killsocket


What should I focus on most in your opinion?


1) Start trying to learn songs and solos by ear - immediately. This helps develop your ear and will make it easier for you invent music ( since you'll eventually be able to play what you hear in your head). Pick a song and take it one note at a time - literally try to find each note/chord on the guitar and then move on to the next. This is much slower than learning with a video or with tab, but it will turn you into a real musician, rather than a paint by numbers guitar robot. Every great player has done this, especially your heroes. It's the secret to being a great player.

2) boredom - practice boring repetitive things ( scales, licks patterns, exercises etc.) while watching movies or television. This can make it a little more palatable when you're not that much in the mood.

3) jam with music and people. Playing guitar songs is simpler funner when playing along with the track. That can help you stay motivated.