Hi all

So this happens to me quite often- I'll be working on a riff and eventually nail it and play it reliably and without fail for a duration of time, thinking I've mastered it. However, I'll then go back an hour or two later and complete mess up the same riff, even though I could play it perfectly before.

This gets me really frustrated, as I know I'm capable of playing the riff, but can't pull it off.

Does anyone else get this, and if so, how do you prevent/remedy/explain this?


In case you're wondering, the riff that it just happened with is the 'spider riff' from master of puppets. (Just after the descending intro riff)
Last edited by 12wilsonh1 at Jul 29, 2015,
I don't usually have a problem forgetting to play stuff from songs. But nailing something at one point doesn't mean you'll nail it forever. That's not how it works. Could it have something to do with the muscles? If you've been practicing something for hours, then take a break, and start again, your muscles may be fatigued and you lose your "dexterity."

I tend to forget stuff I come up with. A lick or something that sounds neat, the next day I can't remember it for the life of me.
happens to me all the time. Thank god I have band mates that can remember most of the riffs we make into songs.
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It's a muscle memory thing. Obviously I can't remember everything I've practiced in my life. Still, I find that I can re-learn things that I've practiced really well in the past surprisingly quickly even if they're complicated. I can remember riffs and solos more easily when I get better player and more familiar with the fret board. I have couple of thoughts about it:

1. Don't simply learn patterns. Learn the sounds you're producing as well. Pay attention to the notes you're playing (not necessarily names but more importantly sounds). When I started playing, I visualized the fret board as patterns. Now I think about sounds and intervals along with patterns. It has helped me so much in different areas of playing.

2. Break the riff to 3 or 4 note segments (or whatever works for the part). Working memory is only capable of handling a limited number of "items". Similarly breaking a sequence of numbers (like a phone number) into smaller segments helps memorizing it.

3. Do mental exercises. Sometimes I come up with a riff and don't have the time to practice it well enough to completely register it to my muscle memory. Sometimes I imagine myself playing it through a few times to make sure I'll remember it later. Obviously, you can do this anywhere like at work, train, while walking...

4. Simply practice until you can play the part without thinking. TV is my best friend here. Also, when you can play the part on your own, make sure you practice it in the context with the track. It's harder to play in the right tempo and with all the "distractions" of the surrounding instruments. Play and rewind when you have difficulties.

Hope some of these helped. Have fun practicing!
It happens. If you're a hack like me, you'll practice a thing until you get it right, then move on.

Then you'll go back, and it'll be all of the nope.

This kinda thing is why pros start rehearsing all day, every day weeks before they tour.
Quote by Diemon Dave
Don't go ninjerin nobody don't need ninjerin'
There was a documentary that depicted the behind the scenes of a major tour of a trio that had big hits in the 1980s-1990s, as well as successful solo releases for at least 2 of the members.

One scene involved watching the trio practice; another, an interview with the guitarist who had been a touring guitarist for them for @20 years.

The band, despite having written the songs and playing them countless times, hadn't played the songs together in a while- they were clearly out of synch and missed brats, transitions, and other details.

The touring guitarist noted that he knew the songs better than the guy who wrote & recorded them because he'd played them so many more times...but that he wouldn't be playing the more recognizable parts because the fans expected the guy who wrote & recorded them to play them on stage.

Why it matters to you: in each case, practice is the key. You have to practice music to memorize it. And it doesn't matter who well you know it today, if you don't practice it, at some point, you will forget it.
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Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Means it isn't part of your muscle memory yet. Keep working at it. You really need to hammer it into your longterm memory part of your brain (Limbic is that the part i dno). Maybe record yourself (even just from your phone) of you playing it right, that may help you remember you can play the riff?
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Just to clarify, I didn't literally mean forget. I know where my fingers should be, but they can't quite do it in time.
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