#1
Hello Ultimate Guitar Members!

I'm curious to know how long you had been playing guitar before you learned your first song note for note?

Reason for my question is because I've been playing for about 6 months now, and I just recently bought myself both a Guns N' Roses and Journey play it as it is more for note sheet music book. The first song I chose to play was Sweet Child O' Mine, and quite frankly, I feel as if I'm really struggling with it. It has taken me maybe 3 hours to learn the intro, and I still have trouble string skipping to the 122 bpm tempo. One run will be bang on then the next one I will make a small error then the next two will be bang on then I'll make a small error. It feels to me like I'm taking longer than normal. I know it depends how quick you progress, but I'd like to know how long you had been playing before you learned your first song note for note.

I read on other posts people bragging about how they can learn songs in 10 minutes or play the songs first time hearing it ... How long had you been playing for if your one of these people.

Thank you for your input!
#2
If you're having trouble with just the into, that song might just be out of your reach at the moment. My advice is to either keep at it slowly and I mean SLOW-LY or to learn easier songs first and slowly gravitate towards more difficult songs.

And 6 months is a very short amount of time (albeit depending on how intensely you play). Just start slow and progress in your own pace.

As for Sweet Child O' Mine, I learnt the intro very early but only bothered to learn the whole song minus the outro just last year. But like other people will tell you, it doesn't matter. Don't try to learn too fast, it'll only be detrimental it the long run. Slow and steady really is the key.
#4
I have been playing for 40 years and it still takes me a long time to flesh-out a new song with a lot of single line guitar work. I will get there eventually and the results can be excellent but I have to work harder at it than most. I have a friend who can hear a song once and play it including intros, outros, and most of the solo in the original key. This is not an option for me.

Put us both in an improvisational blues jam session ala Hendrix or SRV and he runs out of ideas quickly while I am totally in my element. Different people have different brains that work differently.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jul 27, 2014,
#5
Thanks for your input. Yeah I feel as if 6 months is a short amount of time. I am self taught, have never taken a lesson and play about 2-3 hours a night. I work 6am-5pm every day as an electrician. On the weekend I play about maybe 4 or 5 hours a day. For the first 6 months all I did was learn music theory, and do guitar exercises. I didn't bother playing songs because I knew it wouldn't help. I figured that having a base of theory and physical skills required for guitar would make learning easier than figuring it all out at once.
Again, thank you for all your input!
#6
Quote by Arron_Zacx
If you're having trouble with just the into, that song might just be out of your reach at the moment. My advice is to either keep at it slowly and I mean SLOW-LY or to learn easier songs first and slowly gravitate towards more difficult songs.

And 6 months is a very short amount of time (albeit depending on how intensely you play). Just start slow and progress in your own pace.

As for Sweet Child O' Mine, I learnt the intro very early but only bothered to learn the whole song minus the outro just last year. But like other people will tell you, it doesn't matter. Don't try to learn too fast, it'll only be detrimental it the long run. Slow and steady really is the key.


How long have you been playing for my friend?
#7
By and large, I simply don't do that. When I was learning bluegrass guitar, I did learn to play a few tunes like "Under The Double Eagle" and "Sally Goodin" straight from the book.
But my approach to songs has never been to play the thing like so-and-so is doing it.

If I want to learn a tune, I listen to it enough to get the melody and the lyrics down, and then I play it like I want to play it. So my version of say "Muehlenberg County" is recognizable as Muehlenberg County, but it doesn't sound like Prine.
Why would I want to sound like Prine? John already does an excellent job of that....
#8
Quote by 6stringstudent
Thanks for your input. Yeah I feel as if 6 months is a short amount of time. I am self taught, have never taken a lesson and play about 2-3 hours a night. I work 6am-5pm every day as an electrician. On the weekend I play about maybe 4 or 5 hours a day. For the first 6 months all I did was learn music theory, and do guitar exercises. I didn't bother playing songs because I knew it wouldn't help. I figured that having a base of theory and physical skills required for guitar would make learning easier than figuring it all out at once.
Again, thank you for all your input!

I would say learn songs first and then start learning theory and technique more in depth. First you want to learn to play music. Theory makes no sense before you can play any of the stuff you read about. So first learn to play music. Learn songs that use the techniques you want to learn. I think that's the best way of learning technique. Don't learn technique for the sake of it. If there's no place to use that technique, it is pointless to learn.

Remember that playing the guitar is all about making music, not playing techniques.

Sweet Child O Mine may be a bit too advanced for you and that's why it takes so long to learn to play it. Try some easier songs. I would also recommend trying to learn songs by ear. Many times sheet music/tabs are incorrect and learning by ear also improves your ear. And when it comes to music, ear is the most important thing. That's because music is all about sound.

I started by learning my favorite riffs and songs. I haven't really practiced technique that much because I find it kind of boring (I know I should - I just need to find the right way. But right now I don't have that much time because of army).

Quote by Bikewer
By and large, I simply don't do that. When I was learning bluegrass guitar, I did learn to play a few tunes like "Under The Double Eagle" and "Sally Goodin" straight from the book.
But my approach to songs has never been to play the thing like so-and-so is doing it.

If I want to learn a tune, I listen to it enough to get the melody and the lyrics down, and then I play it like I want to play it. So my version of say "Muehlenberg County" is recognizable as Muehlenberg County, but it doesn't sound like Prine.
Why would I want to sound like Prine? John already does an excellent job of that....

Being able to play songs note for note can be useful. It makes you learn a new playing style that is not similar to your own. Being able to mimic others just shows that you are a good guitarist and can do what you want to do. I mean, if you are not able to mimic others, you may not be able to do what you want to do. Learning songs note for note also improves your ear. I mean, if you learn everything so that it sounds good enough, you don't learn to play anything like you hear it. You want to be able to play exactly what you hear in your head, not just something that sounds close enough. Good guitarists know what they are after and know how they want every note to sound like.

It's of course also good to be able to play songs your own way. But learning other guitarists' style is also useful.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jul 27, 2014,
#9
Quote by Bikewer
By and large, I simply don't do that. When I was learning bluegrass guitar, I did learn to play a few tunes like "Under The Double Eagle" and "Sally Goodin" straight from the book.
But my approach to songs has never been to play the thing like so-and-so is doing it.

If I want to learn a tune, I listen to it enough to get the melody and the lyrics down, and then I play it like I want to play it. So my version of say "Muehlenberg County" is recognizable as Muehlenberg County, but it doesn't sound like Prine.
Why would I want to sound like Prine? John already does an excellent job of that....


It's not so much to sound like them, it's to learn what they play, how they play it and incorporate it into a style of my own. I don't want to sound like slash, or anyone else , but I want to learn from Slash and others through their music. Say I learn songs from Journey, and I detect techniques that Neal Schon uses. I can learn how these great guitarists utilize their own techniques and when they use them.
#10
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I would say learn songs first and then start learning theory and technique more in depth. First you want to learn to play music. Theory makes no sense before you can play any of the stuff you read about. So first learn to play music. Learn songs that use the techniques you want to learn. I think that's the best way of learning technique. Don't learn technique for the sake of it. If there's no place to use that technique, it is pointless to learn.

Remember that playing the guitar is all about making music, not playing techniques.

Sweet Child O Mine may be a bit too advanced for you and that's why it takes so long to learn to play it. Try some easier songs. I would also recommend trying to learn songs by ear. Many times sheet music/tabs are incorrect and learning by ear also improves your ear. And when it comes to music, ear is the most important thing. That's because music is all about sound.

I started by learning my favorite riffs and songs. I haven't really practiced technique that much because I find it kind of boring (I know I should - I just need to find the right way. But right now I don't have that much time because of army).


It's of course also good to be able to play songs your own way. But learning other guitarists' style is also useful.


I don't mean to argue, but if I don't learn theory, how possibly could I learn a song by ear with any success... I wouldn't know keys, know scales, wouldn't know where the scales are on the fretboard, how scales work or what notes means and yet I'm supposed to know what the guitarist is playing by ear? Maybe I'm missing something but that doesn't make sense to me. It seems learning theory is essential at the beginning because you understand how the song works instead of it being a random group of notes
#11
Quote by 6stringstudent
I don't mean to argue, but if I don't learn theory, how possibly could I learn a song by ear with any success... I wouldn't know keys, know scales, wouldn't know where the scales are on the fretboard, how scales work or what notes means and yet I'm supposed to know what the guitarist is playing by ear? Maybe I'm missing something but that doesn't make sense to me. It seems learning theory is essential at the beginning because you understand how the song works instead of it being a random group of notes


There are many paths to learning and different players learn differently. Tommy Emmanuel doesn't know any music theory and he gets along pretty well. Find the path that works best for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S33tWZqXhnk
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jul 27, 2014,
#12
Quote by 6stringstudent
I don't mean to argue, but if I don't learn theory, how possibly could I learn a song by ear with any success... I wouldn't know keys, know scales, wouldn't know where the scales are on the fretboard, how scales work or what notes means and yet I'm supposed to know what the guitarist is playing by ear? Maybe I'm missing something but that doesn't make sense to me. It seems learning theory is essential at the beginning because you understand how the song works instead of it being a random group of notes

Theory is useful as a guideline for writing your own songs or improvising or understanding/dissecting a song. Not so much playing someone else's song. While knowing what key/scale a song uses can help you predict what notes comes next when learning by ear, it isn't essential. All you need to learn a song by ear is to listen to the song then try to replicate the sound on your guitar. So it either takes a good ear or simply lots of trial and error.

Learning theory too early without a purpose usually puts you into a creative rut. You trap yourself inside a small box with nowhere to go. What you should do is start with a sound/song. And if you're interested in it, then go figure out the theory behind it, not the other way around. Always start with the sound. Same goes for technique. Don't go I wanna learn this technique just because. Learn it because you're looking for a certain sound and that technique gives you it.

So for the time being, I'd suggest forget about theory, you don't have to completely ignore it but don't focus on it. Just pick songs you like to play and learn them. That's it. Once you can play the songs you like and your skill level are high enough, you can then start thinking about theory and/or writing your own songs.
#13
Quote by Arron_Zacx
Theory is useful as a guideline for writing your own songs or improvising or understanding/dissecting a song. Not so much playing someone else's song. While knowing what key/scale a song uses can help you predict what notes comes next when learning by ear, it isn't essential. All you need to learn a song by ear is to listen to the song then try to replicate the sound on your guitar. So it either takes a good ear or simply lots of trial and error.

Learning theory too early without a purpose usually puts you into a creative rut. You trap yourself inside a small box with nowhere to go. What you should do is start with a sound/song. And if you're interested in it, then go figure out the theory behind it, not the other way around. Always start with the sound. Same goes for technique. Don't go I wanna learn this technique just because. Learn it because you're looking for a certain sound and that technique gives you it.

So for the time being, I'd suggest forget about theory, you don't have to completely ignore it but don't focus on it. Just pick songs you like to play and learn them. That's it. Once you can play the songs you like and your skill level are high enough, you can then start thinking about theory and/or writing your own songs.


Interesting, that is certainly something to consider. I really appreciate your input everyone. Thanks for taking the time to help out a beginning guitarist
#14
I knew the names and shapes of basic chords before I really began playing. However, thats about all I know. I couldn't tell you more than a few chords or notes and i've never learned a song all the way through in the ten years i've been playing.
#15
In my opinion there's only one way to learn the SCM riff correctly, it's in the picking direction.

I have taught this song many times, to as young as a 7 year old. It's all in teaching and how you teach anything - theory, songs, whatever....the responsibility is to teach. Merely sharing facts is not the same as teaching. You may have the facts of a song without the learning of how to make those facts work. My picking instruction for SCM is taught here, in a lesson I published years ago, as an example.

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/speed_kills.html

To answer how long before I learned a song note for note, it was probably 3 years, and I taught myself Hotel California. Up till then I had worked through tabs with no discipline or skill sets to appreciate playing the entire song.

My first Tab books that I drug around with me until I wore holes and dogeared forever were GNR's Appetite, Def Leppards Hysteria, Metallica's Master of Puppets, and Joe Satriani's Surfing with the Alien.

Best,

Sean
#16
Quote by Cajundaddy
There are many paths to learning and different players learn differently. Tommy Emmanuel doesn't know any music theory and he gets along pretty well.


I dunno, man. I'm not sure I can condone that shirt in good conscience.

EDIT: original question... I can't remember.
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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
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#17
The first song i learned on the guitar was actually the first time i picked up the guitar. It was my sister's guitar, and I really loved the band Poets of the Fall, i was looking up their song Late Goodbye on google, and I stumbled upon its guitar tab on UG.

I looked at the tab and was like "I think I understand how to play this". I then picked up the guitar and sloppily but satisfyingly played the intro. I fell in love and the rest is history.

I've been playing for about 8 years now, and I guess I'm one of those guys that say they can learn songs in 10 minutes or play the songs first time hearing it, but I've done my fair share of hard consistent practice.
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Then yes, I have all four.
Last edited by ordinary_story at Jul 27, 2014,
#18
Quote by 6stringstudent
I don't mean to argue, but if I don't learn theory, how possibly could I learn a song by ear with any success... I wouldn't know keys, know scales, wouldn't know where the scales are on the fretboard, how scales work or what notes means and yet I'm supposed to know what the guitarist is playing by ear? Maybe I'm missing something but that doesn't make sense to me. It seems learning theory is essential at the beginning because you understand how the song works instead of it being a random group of notes

I started playing the guitar by ear. I knew some theory (I knew what scales were and stuff like that) but I didn't think about it when learning songs. I just played what I heard on my guitar. I tried different notes. I didn't know any scale shapes or anything. My ear was decent because I also play trumpet (I started playing it when I was 7).

My brother who plays flute started by playing by ear. His teacher didn't teach him any notes or anything in the beginning. Sound came first, then theory. I started going to theory lessons when I was ten so I already knew something about music before starting to learn about theory. And I think that's a good thing. It helps you understand theory if you already know it in practice.

There are many guitarists who don't know theory. They only know stuff in practice. They have a good ear without much theory knowledge. Jimi Hendrix was like this and I'm pretty sure Slash and Jimmy Page are like that too.

I agree with this post:

Quote by Arron_Zacx
Theory is useful as a guideline for writing your own songs or improvising or understanding/dissecting a song. Not so much playing someone else's song. While knowing what key/scale a song uses can help you predict what notes comes next when learning by ear, it isn't essential. All you need to learn a song by ear is to listen to the song then try to replicate the sound on your guitar. So it either takes a good ear or simply lots of trial and error.

Learning theory too early without a purpose usually puts you into a creative rut. You trap yourself inside a small box with nowhere to go. What you should do is start with a sound/song. And if you're interested in it, then go figure out the theory behind it, not the other way around. Always start with the sound. Same goes for technique. Don't go I wanna learn this technique just because. Learn it because you're looking for a certain sound and that technique gives you it.

So for the time being, I'd suggest forget about theory, you don't have to completely ignore it but don't focus on it. Just pick songs you like to play and learn them. That's it. Once you can play the songs you like and your skill level are high enough, you can then start thinking about theory and/or writing your own songs.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#19
Quote by Sean0913
In my opinion there's only one way to learn the SCM riff correctly, it's in the picking direction.

I have taught this song many times, to as young as a 7 year old. It's all in teaching and how you teach anything - theory, songs, whatever....the responsibility is to teach. Merely sharing facts is not the same as teaching. You may have the facts of a song without the learning of how to make those facts work. My picking instruction for SCM is taught here, in a lesson I published years ago, as an example.

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/speed_kills.html

Huh, I actually play the intro D-U-U-D-U-D-U-D though I started off using all downstrokes. But I think the way you described is more common from what I've observed
#20
I wouldnt be too freaked out by stuggling with the Sweet Child Of Mine intro if I were you. You've only been playing for six months. Its not the easiest piece to nail.

As Magga suggested, try an easier song. If you like Slash, then "Back From Cali" is a lot easier, fun to play, and still very Slash-esq.

As a general rule, if you cant play something then it hasnt been practiced enough...but.... six months in is probably not the time to devote 14 hours a day for a month to the SCM intro... unless you want to..... so the main goal right now should be having fun. If the SCM intro is getting you down, put it aside for a few weeks and move on to something else that is enjoyable...the SCM intro will always be there to come back to.

Sheesh.... I am still going back to the descending hammer/pull offlick in the main riff to Crazy Train a gazillion years after I started playing... I still cant nail it just the way I'd really like to... but if I really wanted to...then it would just be a matter of hunkering down and playing it over, and over, and over, and over etc....
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#21
I started learning full songs right away, but it was a month or two before I had a full one up to tempo note for note. Wasn't exactly clean either.
#22
Quote by 91RG350
(a) I wouldnt be too freaked out by stuggling with the Sweet Child Of Mine intro if I were you. You've only been playing for six months. Its not the easiest piece to nail.

(b) As a general rule, if you cant play something then it hasnt been practiced enough...but.... six months in is probably not the time to devote 14 hours a day for a month to the SCM intro... unless you want to..... so the main goal right now should be having fun. If the SCM intro is getting you down, put it aside for a few weeks and move on to something else that is enjoyable...the SCM intro will always be there to come back to.


(a) Yeah. I've heard pro players (by that I mean people in gigging bands) duff it up. Or at least not play it amazingly well.

(b) Agreed.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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?