#1
Hi guys,

I’ve been having some issues with myself lately (that sounds kinda gay but hear me out).

I started playing guitar about 12 years ago. My main influences at the time were 90s alternative/grunge bands, Nirvana being the most important one but also bands like Soundgarden, the Pixies, Garbage, … later on I heard about the Queens of the Stone Age and I was sold.

After a while I wanted to expand my musical horizon. As much as I liked my heavily distorted powerchord type music ( ), I knew there was more (and probably better) than that. I became interested in classic rock bands like Led Zep, Cream, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath,… as well as jazz, blues and other genres. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a better guitarist than the typical Kurt Cobain wannabe and started focusing more on theory, technique, and so on. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Stoner rock (Sleep, Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard,&hellip which is not particularly “technical” music. As you can tell, a very broad range of influences.

Now my problem: whenever I try and sit down to write a guitar part, I’m totally lost in my “influences”, not knowing what direction I WANT my guitar playing to go in.
This is not a problem of theory, gear or whatever. I just don’t know where to start, there’s heaps of GREAT music out there. For example, when I hear Rory Gallagher blasting out his slide guitar licks, I’m in complete awe and want to do stuff like that myself. But what gets my heart really pumping is still the alternative, stoner, fuzzy kind of rock. Unfortunately, the best songs in those genres are so simple that they don’t “demand” very skilled playing. They don’t really present the challenge I need, to feel like I wrote a good song

Sometimes I feel that by learning more techniques/theory/etc, I actually lost the “spontaneous” part of guitar playing. I started overanalyzing everything, which is why I can’t even decide over the simplest things. I wish I lived in an area where there’s a specific music scene to simplify my choice, but unfortunately I live in Belgium and that’s something we don’t have over here.

Am I the only one who is experiencing this issue or is that common among guitarists? How did you go about to decide your path?
#2
It's all in your head.

A good song is a good song regardless of how technically demanding you make it. If you aren't happy with the simple songs you write what makes you think writing something complex will come out any better?

The thing to remember is that technique, theory, whatever, is a means to an end. The end is good music. If the majority of music you think is good is not technically demanding then where's the problem? Write the kind of music you would want to listen to not music that showcases the extreme limits of your skillset.

Learn how to have fun with your music again. You probably are overanalysing everything. You are your own worst critic. Once you can get out of your own way and forget the difficulty rating of what you're playing you might start to get some progress.

Having trouble deciding on the simplest things? Just decide and move on. The best way to get more decisive is to make quick decisions and move forward. Don't dwell. Exercising your decision making muscles will strengthen them. If you make a mistake learn form it and move forward. Again: Don't dwell.

Deciding your path is not something you do once, it's something you do constantly.

Not to be grim but sooner or later you will die. Your body will turn to dirt and NONE of this will make any difference whatsoever. So why spend the time you have worrying about technicality, direction, or how good you may or may not be. Follow your passions and don't think twice about it.
Si
#3
Quote by 20Tigers
It's all in your head.

A good song is a good song regardless of how technically demanding you make it. If you aren't happy with the simple songs you write what makes you think writing something complex will come out any better?

The thing to remember is that technique, theory, whatever, is a means to an end. The end is good music. If the majority of music you think is good is not technically demanding then where's the problem? Write the kind of music you would want to listen to not music that showcases the extreme limits of your skillset.

Learn how to have fun with your music again. You probably are overanalysing everything. You are your own worst critic. Once you can get out of your own way and forget the difficulty rating of what you're playing you might start to get some progress.

Having trouble deciding on the simplest things? Just decide and move on. The best way to get more decisive is to make quick decisions and move forward. Don't dwell. Exercising your decision making muscles will strengthen them. If you make a mistake learn form it and move forward. Again: Don't dwell.

Deciding your path is not something you do once, it's something you do constantly.

Not to be grim but sooner or later you will die. Your body will turn to dirt and NONE of this will make any difference whatsoever. So why spend the time you have worrying about technicality, direction, or how good you may or may not be. Follow your passions and don't think twice about it.



Your post was inspiring it almost made me shed a tear lol.
#4
Well, your answer might be spot on.

As my guitar teacher explained it, I have to see music theory (or "skill" in a broader sense) not as a set of rules but rather as guidelines. You can choose to ignore those guidelines, as long as the result is what you had in mind. After all: everything you play and sounds good, has some underlying theory that you can figure out if that's what you really want, but that's not the point of music at all.

I guess I'll have to do as you say, stop overanalysing everything. Play my guitar like I did when I first started out... and letting the theory I learnt linger in the back of my head instead of focusing on it. Who knows what the result would be, might be the perfect Rory Gallagher/Electric Wizard crossover, lol

I'm always interested in hearing other people's stories regarding this so if anyone wants to chime in, feel free to do so
Last edited by BlackCrowKing at Jul 2, 2014,
#5
Quote by Black_devils
Your post was inspiring it almost made me shed a tear lol.


Actually it was very inspiring aren't we all a bunch of happy guitarists helping each other out
#6
I once listened to our university jazz ensemble.... They were proudly announcing their new guitar player who had just graduated from Berkely.
The guy was technically just great... Knew all the chords, could play nice little arpeggios for each one... And sounded like he was doing exercises out of a book.
As the great Barney Kessell said once, "these people are having some sort of musical experience, but it's not a jazz experience."

Another one.... Les Paul said... "Always play so that if your mom hears you on the radio, she knows it's you."

Pithy advice, that.... Be yourself. We all instantly know Santana and Clapton and BB King within a couple of notes. Strive for that.
#7
Quote by Bikewer
I once listened to our university jazz ensemble.... They were proudly announcing their new guitar player who had just graduated from Berkely.
The guy was technically just great... Knew all the chords, could play nice little arpeggios for each one... And sounded like he was doing exercises out of a book.
As the great Barney Kessell said once, "these people are having some sort of musical experience, but it's not a jazz experience."

Another one.... Les Paul said... "Always play so that if your mom hears you on the radio, she knows it's you."

Pithy advice, that.... Be yourself. We all instantly know Santana and Clapton and BB King within a couple of notes. Strive for that.



Wow he must of never trained his ears.. I can't lie I'd rather take a musical person with little technical skills over a guy just shredding scales around the neck any day of the week.

#8
They work hand in hand. Musicality is a skill that you develop (hopefully along with your technical skills). The easiest way to keep yourself tasteful is to not play notes you can't think of a pretty good reason to play.
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
#9
I get stuck in the same spot as you sometimes. What usually does the trick for me is to not listen to any music for about a week.

What everyone else said is really great advice and I am not trying to discount it but I find that if you are constantly listening to music with guitar parts that influence you then those parts will be in your head and making original things will be more difficult. You may even write something totally original but because those songs are in your head you think "no, it sounds to much like this and this song"

Turn off the mp3 player and just play your guitar when you feel like music. Don't try to make something cool, just play. After a few days go by of only having your music in your head give writing a song a go and see what happens.

This has helped me out of writers block a few times so thought I would share the experience hope it helps.
Last edited by Victorgeiger at Jul 2, 2014,
#10
You're going through an experience that most players probably do, I would guess.

Perhaps your goals could shift from longer term... "not knowing direction" etc.... to shorter term... "focus on this tricky chord shape", "get more confortable playing this scale", "learn this song"...etc...

Shorter term goals give you something to focus on in there here and now.... and lets the bigger picture take care of itself over time.

I remember hearing an interview with David Lee Roth, where he said that Van Halen never had longer term goals. The thought was never "I want to headline the US Festival"..... it was (and here's the direct(ish) quote from Dave):

"One day, I'm gonna be the king of Gazarri's" (a local club on the LA scene)

Summary: short term you can control today. Long term takes care of itself if enough short-terms are strung together in sequence
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#11
Quote by Black_devils
Your post was inspiring it almost made me shed a tear lol.
Haha

Quote by Victorgeiger
I get stuck in the same spot as you sometimes. What usually does the trick for me is to not listen to any music for about a week..

This is something that a lot of composers do. They will actively avoid listening to any music when writing, listening only to the music in their head and trying to work out their ideas.

Just as many composers do the opposite and seek out music to feel inspired, but it's a valid technique that is well worth pointing out and probably doesn't get mentioned often enough.
Si