#1
Hey

I did a quick search and didnt find the answer i was looking for so i decided to post the question directly, im sorry if this has already been answered before.

Now, is it possible to learn guitar techniques just by playing songs? Ive heard people say "You need to do this and that exercise for that and this amount of boring hours". But, can i exercise technique when i isolate a part of a song that i play badly by slowing it down and bringing it up to speed by playing it well consistently, or does that only make me better at playing that part of the song?

I hope you guys understand the question and i would love to hear a opinion from someone more experienced than me

Have a good one!
#2
You can get a certain level of good, but not as good as if you practice other stuff. It depends what you want.

If you practice a lot of songs, you will be good at knowing songs.

I would advise learning other stuff as well.

It doesn't have to be boring. You can practice some stuff while doing stuff like half watching the game. And it is better to learn a lot of stuff in the context of songs too.

If you get a good teacher, they can tailor design lessons for you so that it's not tedious learning.

But there is no way around the fact that if you are to become very skilled at guitar, you will have to put a lot of practice in. It can't be all fun and games. You can't play for the pro league without hitting the gym, but you can become pretty good at a sport just from playing the game. Kind of the same thing. Except in music there is a divide between being able to follow directions, and being the creative mastermind behind the work.

If you wanna play for fun, then play for fun. If you want to be exceptionally skilled, then you need to sweat it out.
#3
^^^^ Yes, a very good answer, IMO. I can't think of anything to add, except that I wish I had done a lot more formal stuff and exercises when I was younger.
#4
For three years all I've ever done was play songs, and I only started playing exercises last year, but only played them occasionally. I can't shred, sweep pick, or do any of those fancy techniques, but I'm pretty close. I'd imagine you'd progress faster if you did add some exercises to your playing regularly.
#5
Bullshit. Exercises - are not far from song structures. I play many songs by tabs, and i got everything - pm, chords, legato, tapping, solos, string skipping, sequences, and many other stuff. But it's important to play a lot of stuff with a lot of techniques. Play things that higher than your level - very important too
Last edited by Wildmen at Dec 21, 2016,
#6
This is what im trying to understand.
Whats the difference in practicing a hard legato pattern (for example) in a song, and practicing legato as a exercise?
#7
Quote by Doomball
This is what im trying to understand.
Whats the difference in practicing a hard legato pattern (for example) in a song, and practicing legato as a exercise?



If you learn songs note for note that make use of difficult skills, you will inevitably be doing exercises. Often times I have found that in order to succeed at one thing, it is helpful to practice something else along that vein. For instance one chord change is hard, so you practice that, or switching from ring to middle finger in the lick you're learning is tough so you practice those fingers for a while. It doesn't make a difference if the exercise is some "official exercise" or something you invented. But, "exercises" tend to be cleverly designed. They tend to be designed to workout a number of important things. A song you learn will be just one thing. You might have to learn 5 songs to get what you'd get out of one exercise. And then there's tempo. If you just learn that song, you will be only learning that tempo, unless you start practicing a lick over and over and ramp up the speed, and now you're doing an exercise.

One danger for just learning songs, is that you will too easily get satisfied with yourself that you can play it. Your priority will be to play the song, not become good at guitar. So you might settle for what you think is good enough. A little sloppy, you can do a run, but you didn't develop real control to do it. That means it will sound amateurish. It won't be clean and tight.

Then there is the power of knowing your fretboard. If you learn the major scale, that's an exercise. I think it is important to learn it a number of ways, so you can really know your way around the fretboard. That way you can be much more powerful when you improvise. It's like a basic framework you know which has no sort of lick information affecting it. It just a pattern if you only learn songs I don't see how you could ever know it the way I do. That's ok, for playing slow. But if you want to go fast there can be no hesitation.

I don't know too many "exercises" and didn't practice too many of them, but you better believe I spent a while just "working out" instead of playing songs for fun. And I know my major scale pattern very well.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 13, 2014,
#8
I see, thanks for clearing that up, it does give a new perspective over things
#9
It's probably more efficient to practice different techniques and scales/chords/legato/tapping/sweeping etc more than just songs. Once you have a good arsenal of basic skills down, learning songs is much easier.
#10
A short answer would be yes, you can become good by only playing songs.

Songs contain multiple different aspects of music/guitar technique in a coherent manner. By that I mean you have music theory (form, harmony, rhythm, melody,) and a variable selection of guitar techniques (alternate/economic picking, bending, tapping, etc.) Exercises are normally very precise and short. You can think of songs as carpet bombing and exercises as a pinpoint missile strike. Most exercises are only a few bars at most. Compare that to the Prelude from Bach's lute suite BMV 995 that has around 50 bars (I believe it takes around 4 minutes to play but it's been a while, don't quote me. )

If you find an exercise, for say sweep-picked arpeggios, to be boring then don't play it. Instead try to find a piece of music that contains some sweep-picked arpeggios. While you are working through the song/piece you will eventually begin learning the desired technique/musical idea.

If you wish to follow this path of learning by playing musical compositions and not etudes (study/exercise) then you will need to study that piece of music. It isn't just playing through the notes and not thinking about the ideas behind them. You should be able to tell what key you are in, what chords you are playing, etc. (Learn the music theory as you go.)

To reiterate one of the things fingrpikingood said, playing a song is not going to improve your playing if you play it poorly/sloppy. If you can play note for note with a recording of the song and it sounds crisp (no dead-notes, strings ringing, etc) then you are on the right track in terms of technique. People who know the song that you are playing should be able to tell what you are playing. Years ago, I had a friend try to play the intro to Soothsayer by Buckethead and I couldn't tell what he was playing. He learned those notes but not how to play them properly. (Learn guitar technique as you go.)

All in all, the goal is simple. To learn the mental (theory) and the physical (technique) aspects of music/guitar. Take what ever approach you like; as long as you progress towards that goal then you are on your way to becoming good at guitar.
Last edited by Nacho Cheese! at Nov 13, 2014,
#11
Quote by Doomball


is it possible to learn guitar techniques just by playing songs?


...when I started I was crazy about certain songs and when it comes to technique, by playing them so much I guess I learned a lot of different stuff, specially because those were not easy songs and If I didn't keep a regular schedule I wouldnt be able to perform as well as I wanted to...but then it gets to a point where you feel like you need your own style, thats when only playing covers will not serve much purpose...hope this helps
#12
The vast majority of exercises are not any more efficient than learning songs provided you learn them correctly.

Some exercises are useful but they are not necessary to become good. I would recommend picking a few from Freepower's list in the sticky and practicing them for maybe 5 minutes each before you practice songs. Switch them up depending on what you want to focus on.
Last edited by Anon17 at Nov 14, 2014,
#13
To realy pay off, the exercise has to be joined to some kind of theory, so that you'll not only learn a technique but you'll learn a scale, or a chord, for example.

When you do a legato, for example, you do it over certain scale so, when you learn a song (or a solo), you'll reconize the scale and the technique. So, instead of remembering the "Notes" of the song, you'll remember the whole scale at once.

If you want to learn sweeping, and you know the shape of the chord you sweeping, you'll see the "position" of the sweep, instead of the positions of every notes in the sweep.

Same goes for the chord paterns, knowing them will help you learn all the song way faster.
#14
Quote by Doomball
Hey

I did a quick search and didnt find the answer i was looking for so i decided to post the question directly, im sorry if this has already been answered before.

Now, is it possible to learn guitar techniques just by playing songs? Ive heard people say "You need to do this and that exercise for that and this amount of boring hours". But, can i exercise technique when i isolate a part of a song that i play badly by slowing it down and bringing it up to speed by playing it well consistently, or does that only make me better at playing that part of the song?

I hope you guys understand the question and i would love to hear a opinion from someone more experienced than me

Have a good one!


Depends on what your opinion of "good" is. Can you become a proficient player and makes cool sounds just by learning songs? Absolutely! Yngwie Malmsteen argued that playing songs makes more sense than just exercises.
#15
Can you become good at guitar by only playing songs?

Yes is the short answer.

Now to develop your own style you have to start somewhere and your favorite songs are the best things to learn from.

How many metal players learned from Black Sabbath? Metallica?

The truth is that as long as people hear you and like it you are good.

When it comes to ex to become better at general playing aka chops or skill they do not get in the way they only ad to your freedom to achieve what you want to play. It is up to you to find the balance of how to insert all guitar playing knowledge into the songs the way you want them to sound.

Should it have SRV, Jimi or Yngwie, Satch in this one?
#16
Quote by Doomball
Hey

I did a quick search and didnt find the answer i was looking for so i decided to post the question directly, im sorry if this has already been answered before.

Now, is it possible to learn guitar techniques just by playing songs? Ive heard people say "You need to do this and that exercise for that and this amount of boring hours". But, can i exercise technique when i isolate a part of a song that i play badly by slowing it down and bringing it up to speed by playing it well consistently, or does that only make me better at playing that part of the song?

I hope you guys understand the question and i would love to hear a opinion from someone more experienced than me

Have a good one!


As long as you're learning and improving, regardless of the source (song v dedicated exercises) that's good.

But remember often solos glue together various techniques, and you may not come across a particular combination with a given tune.

More to the point though, is how you can adapt what you've learned. For that, it's useful to try and analyse what's being played (not necessarily theoretically) ... for example, if there's a legato pattern going on, there may well be an odd number of notes being played in the same pattern per string to disguise what's going on. Make up your own as a result. Ditto for tapping.

Ultimately, the more knowledge you have, the more you can express yourself, and mechanical technique is just one part of this.

Personally, my playing improved a lot once I concentrated less on technique (my hands were injured) and more on phrasing, rhythm, applying theory to create ideas I knew would work even though I couldn't hear them first. All this, with listening how different musicians approached songs, and playing with them, learning from them. This is a life-long task, and a very rewarding one (and addictive!!).

Good luck. cheers, Jerry
#17
Quote by jerrykramskoy
As long as you're learning and improving, regardless of the source (song v dedicated exercises) that's good.

But remember often solos glue together various techniques, and you may not come across a particular combination with a given tune.

More to the point though, is how you can adapt what you've learned. For that, it's useful to try and analyse what's being played (not necessarily theoretically) ... for example, if there's a legato pattern going on, there may well be an odd number of notes being played in the same pattern per string to disguise what's going on. Make up your own as a result. Ditto for tapping.

Ultimately, the more knowledge you have, the more you can express yourself, and mechanical technique is just one part of this.

Personally, my playing improved a lot once I concentrated less on technique (my hands were injured) and more on phrasing, rhythm, applying theory to create ideas I knew would work even though I couldn't hear them first. All this, with listening how different musicians approached songs, and playing with them, learning from them. This is a life-long task, and a very rewarding one (and addictive!!).

Good luck. cheers, Jerry


What a great advice , thanks to you and all the other experienced players who contributed to this thread , I am in my mid fifties and just been playing for over a year now , to me it feels like just tipping my toe in the ocean , but I have been a passionate lover of guitar since I was a kid , anybody who could only play two chords would kind of mesmerise me !

I just loved to hear those strings ring in some rhythm and melody , well I finally took it on and just keep playing every day , ranging from 2 to 3 or sometimes 4 or 5 hours almost every day . I just love playing songs and because of the age I am I pay less attention on practice and mostly work on the songs that I fancy to learn to play and sing and they keep changing every week .

I don't wait to actually learn to play the songs perfectly , as soon as something else catch my mind I go for that one and try that one out , but the important is the pleasure I get in doing it .

In my mind and please tell me if I am wrong or see something to help me out , I think I will gradually improve my playing ability as my fingers ad hand co ordinations and rhythm improve .

I learned much in this thread from you guys , good guys like yourselves who teach on youtube have immensly helped me out .

I had a teacher for the first 5 months and then another one for 3 months and then the rest was from on line lessons .

I have also learned two of my most favourite songs here on this site , desperado and wasted time by Eagles have been my favourites for many years and to be able to play the guitar and sing them gives me great pleasure .
Last edited by shaz59 at Nov 15, 2014,
#18
Quote by shaz59
What a great advice , thanks to you and all the other experienced players who contributed to this thread , I am in my mid fifties and just been playing for over a year now , to me it feels like just tipping my toe in the ocean , but I have been a passionate lover of guitar since I was a kid , anybody who could only play two chords would kind of mesmerise me !

I just loved to hear those strings ring in some rhythm and melody , well I finally took it on and just keep playing every day , ranging from 2 to 3 or sometimes 4 or 5 hours almost every day . I just love playing songs and because of the age I am I pay less attention on practice and mostly work on the songs that I fancy to learn to play and sing and they keep changing every week .

I don't wait to actually learn to play the songs perfectly , as soon as something else catch my mind I go for that one and try that one out , but the important is the pleasure I get in doing it .

In my mind and please tell me if I am wrong or see something to help me out , I think I will gradually improve my playing ability as my fingers ad hand co ordinations and rhythm improve .

I learned much in this thread from you guys , good guys like yourselves who teach on youtube have immensly helped me out .

I had a teacher for the first 5 months and then another one for 3 months and then the rest was from on line lessons .

I have also learned two of my most favourite songs here on this site , desperado and wasted time by Eagles have been my favourites for many years and to be able to play the guitar and sing them gives me great pleasure .


With what you've said here, I would stick to just learning songs. Maybe practice the major scale if you wanted to do some improv.

But you know, you don't aspire to be a world class guitarist or anything like that. Just to enjoy playing, so, I would keep doing what you're doing, and maybe make my own little exercises to practice the things I have trouble with when I come across them.
#19
Quote by fingrpikingood
With what you've said here, I would stick to just learning songs. Maybe practice the major scale if you wanted to do some improv.

But you know, you don't aspire to be a world class guitarist or anything like that. Just to enjoy playing, so, I would keep doing what you're doing, and maybe make my own little exercises to practice the things I have trouble with when I come across them.


Thanks for the advice , I have practised major and minor scales a bit , and music theory does interest me and I am curious to learn it bit by bit and learn the road map , I will eventually in time try and learn the 5 positions and other things that I maybe not aware of at the moment.

I will never be a world class guitarist or even a top guitarist in my own town , time is against me , maybe if I was 30-40 years younger but guitar has become my companion for the remainder years of my life , who knows I may become a star playing in rest homes in a few years time !
#20
Hey guys
I only wanted to say thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Even if i dont reply that much, im reading the thread everyday
#21
IMHO: everyone should know the following to help in their progress:

All Major and minor open chords, as well as bared chord shapes
Some minor and major scale shape
Some minor pantatonic shape

if you go into more "shredder" stuff, you'll see about two shapes of arpegio used for most sweeping, the rest is mostly minor scales and minor pathatonic.

The goal to know this stuff is, as I told already, if you learn a song, you'll recognise those "shapes" averywhere. So you'll lean a song way faster than anyone whose just "learning songs".

Even if you plan to learn "easy songs" to use on an accoustic, learning all open chords is the bare minimum.