#1
I'm not really sure where my guitar playing is going, but I know that I am better than when I first started a year ago, I now feel a little stuck on where to go next to get any better, I've never had a lesson as I am just self-taught. The only problem I have is just not knowing how to get better and would like some advice. I know people say practice makes perfect... but what should we be practicing... What kind of exercises help us to improve in certain areas?

Its hard to know where to go when you've not got something mapped out in front of you saying practice this to be able to do this then do this or this etc. I have no structure to improve and I need some structure

What things do I need to do to improve my guitar playing?

What exercises will help me improve? (Be more accurate and fluent)

I want to be more accurate and be able to play smoothly, I want to play chords and lead at the same time.

My ultimate goal is to be able to play like ''Dan Auerbach'' of the Black Keys, but it looks so difficult! but he makes it look so easy


Some advice to help me get some structure to my practice as well as playing would be much appreciated

Thamk you
#2
Honestly, you need lessons if you want to get anywhere musically. If you don't, you'll be that guy who only knows how to play a few riffs to songs. If you can't afford a teacher, I recommend something like Learn and Master Guitar by Gibson. that's what I've been using and I've learned A LOT.
#3
Quote by Granata
Honestly, you need lessons if you want to get anywhere musically. If you don't, you'll be that guy who only knows how to play a few riffs to songs. If you can't afford a teacher, I recommend something like Learn and Master Guitar by Gibson. that's what I've been using and I've learned A LOT.


Honestly, yes, you can become a great guitarist without lessons. I do advise you to get a teacher, but saying that you can't "get anywhere musically" without one is bollocks. Plenty of great, self taught musicians out there. And if I know Gibson at all, their resources are competent but still pricey enough to consider them a scam.

OP, what you need to do is start learning by ear right now, and get a band. Getting a band helps a ton, even if you suck. And learning by ear is almost mandatory if you want to become a musician. And learn a lot if songs, stop thinking in exercises, instead if you want to learn sweep picking for example, find a song that uses sweep picking and practice that. One of the biggest mistakes beginners do is to focus too much on lessons and exercises and actually forgetting that they're supposed to play music. So to really get better at what you do, constantly practice new songs, and do it preferably by ear.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#5
Quote by percydw
try a peek at some "6 month" or "year" progression videos on youtube , i did last night, it gives you a (probably awful) general idea of progression


(this guy practiced like all day coz he had no job yet fyi)


While it might prove very insightful, you're right on with thinking that it gives an awful general idea. Seeing how much someone else has progressed in a year gives you exactly zero insight on how fast you yourself are going to progress. At worst, watching these videos can turn out depressing and unmotivating due to the fact that they're often made by people who want to boast with the speed of their progress, making regular guitarists think that they suck in comparison and are progressing too slowly.

OP, you can't progress too slowly. You can never practice enough. So take it easy, don't sacrifice your job or social life for guitar playing. Two hours a day is plenty enough time to progress fast, and taking breaks is only beneficial and keeps you motivated. Instead of thinking that there's some time limit you need to reach each day, set realistic goals for each day and play until you reach them. For example, you might decide that you'll learn the rhythm guitar to a certain song this day, and then you'll practice the song until you can play it well enough. If you can't get it down in a few hours, take a break and continue tomorrow. For me for example, a realistic goal would be to learn two new songs by ear per day. Depending on the songs, that would probably take me a few hours. Guitar solos and other tricky parts would probably take a while longer, so I might decide to dedicate an another day for them. If there's a really difficult part, I might spend a few weeks practicing it "on the side" for ten minutes a day or something. Of course, this explanation probably doesn't help as we're all individuals. I'd suggest that you do some self analysis, try to figure out how fast you can learn certain things and find your weak spots, and plan ahead accordingly.

And by the way, please do not completely ignore theory. While you don't need to learn classical composition to become a great guitarist, some basic theory will only help. I'd suggest looking up some beginner courses in music theory or checking out some books on the subject to get a general idea on how music works. Teacher is of course the best way to go here, but the internet is also your friend. Just make sure you're reading trusted articles and be critical of what you read. There's some horrible misinformation floating around, that's why I prefer highly reviewed books.

Whew, that's a lot of text, sorry. Here's a quick recap: learn a lot of songs, use your ear as much as possible, analyze your own skills and get a basic grasp of music theory. Might work, might not. That's why you need self analysis.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#6
Quote by heaven086


My ultimate goal is to be able to play like ''Dan Auerbach'' of the Black Keys, but it looks so difficult! but he makes it look so easy




Learning by ear using a slowdowner program like Transcribe is the best way.

Keep practicing it every day. It may take you some months to get it but that is how you do it.

No shortcuts. Just learn it bar by bar. Play it slow over and over until you learn the entire song of his part. Then gradually speed it up.

Nobody plays a song exactly the same. You may use different fingerings. Don't worry about it. Do the best you can.

I've also learned songs by tab using GuitarPro. If you can get a good tab this is fine too. It's all good.
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln
Last edited by Virgman at Sep 7, 2015,
#7
This is all good advice. I'd also add that you should learn to play songs from any genre of music. If you are stuck it may be because you have limited yourself to one style of music.

Stay with me here. Years ago when my then current rock band was working less than I liked or needed, I was asked by a former music teacher I studied with to play guitar in his Polka band!! Honest, no kidding. The fact is they played several jobs a month and were making three to four times more money than my own rock band so I appreciated the money aspect and pushed my pride aside so I could pay my bills. The actual playing part was easy. Very basic chord changes but the timing of the music was incredible. They played songs in time signatures that no rock, pop or metal will ever get around to and it was quite difficult for awhile but an awesome learning experience. It improved my own sense of timing, paying attention to the other players and it taught me how to fit in a larger band and not overplay. I did this sporadically over a two year period. In the 80's I occasionally played with a country artist who worked 4-5 nights a week in the Catskill resort circuit in New York. He did a one hour square dance session every night. (talk about boring!) I am not suggesting you go out and join a polka band or country band but it's an example of how playing a style of music I was totally unfamiliar with improved my playing.

The great John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson,Alice Cooper, Rob Halford's 2wo band etc.) started his professional career touring the world for two years as the guitarist for K.D. Lang a Country/Jazz artist. Jimmy Page was the go to session guitarist for pop bands in London in the 60's and played on dozens of pop top 10 records and even elevator type musak instrumental stuff. Just get out and play. It's the experience that counts.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Sep 7, 2015,
#8
You know there is a lot of generalized advice here without actually going into depth. Getting good at guitar is actually the easiest thing on this earth to do. You just have to get past the time it takes to get good.

All you have to do is play each note precise and clean. Don't make a mistake ever, and if you do, stop and do it again until it is right. Music is pretty much all the same when you boil it down. You play the same notes, just in a different order under different chords. So learning a bunch of different styles isn't necessarily going to make you better, maybe you can jam with a diverse group better, but it won't make you a better player.

Instead, focus on technique, because you did say you want to get better right? If you are practicing on an electric guitar, I suggest practicing all the time in clean because you can really hear the difference in mistakes you make versus distortion practice.

Your mind plays a huge part too in getting better. The brain has to make new connections as you learn and it is a slow process, hence the amount of practice it takes to get good. You really have to visualize yourself playing and thinking ahead which note to play next. It's ok to practice while watching tv or something as long as you aren't actually focused on the show. It's more like a background noise or for short breaks so I don't get mentally fatigued from focusing on guitar so much.

It will takes many months of good hard practice before you really begin to see results. Sometimes you see results the next day, but it's only like a "preview." Sometimes you can connect the notes but overall you still haven't mastered it.

I like to imagine my fingers are like little machines. While practicing, I try to keep my fingers as close to the string as possible so when I eventually get to playing faster, it takes less movement to play. Little things like that really do matter in the long run. The brain is a really weird powerful thing and you can actually make reality conform to what you want.

You just have to remember this physical reality is dense and SLOOOOWWWWW ... that's why it takes so long to get good. But as long as you don't make any mistakes and put the time in, you will get better effortlessly.
#9
Quote by apothegm
You know there is a lot of generalized advice here without actually going into depth. Getting good at guitar is actually the easiest thing on this earth to do. You just have to get past the time it takes to get good.



Probably because going in depth in a forum post is dumb, and unnecessary anyway due to us not knowing what kind of a guitarist TS is at all We can't give him deep and tailored advice because we don't know him. Advice like "this is the correct way to practice, just do exactly this and you'll get better, worked for me" is completely void here. That's why teachers help so much, they can learn to know you and help you with exactly what you need.

Otherwise your post was spot on, except that TS shouldn't fear mistakes. Everyone makes them, no need to get unmotivated because you're not perfect. And for gods sake, no, don't stop if you make a mistake. That's one of the most backwards tips I've ever heard. What if you're playing a gig, and you make a mistake? Do you stop playing? Do you start again? No, definitely not. It's a really bad habit.

But I agree on taking it slow. It takes time and you need patience. And having a clean technique is important but often overlooked, so things like using the wrist and the pinky should be the standard.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#10
Quote by Kevätuhri
And for gods sake, no, don't stop if you make a mistake. That's one of the most backwards tips I've ever heard. What if you're playing a gig, and you make a mistake? Do you stop playing? Do you start again? No, definitely not. It's a really bad habit.


Oh first off, I didn't quote, but if you think giving good insight and advice on a forum is a bad idea, you should probably find a new home. I want to help people get past the struggles I've had and the changes I made actually work so I am here to pass on the knowledge I have researched and accumulated. If you don't like it, then don't talk to me.

Now second, I must whole heartedly DISAGREE vehemently with the quoted section above. We are not talking about playing a gig here. Improvisation is what helps during a gig if you screw up.

Now if you want to actually practice and get good, then yes you must stop and analyze why you messed up. If you keep playing and messing up you are learning bad technique. You sir are the one giving bad advice and I take great offense to it. So whether you are just trolling or are actually genuine, I'd suggest not giving out advice that you think is right, because it is not.
#12
Quote by apothegm
Oh first off, I didn't quote, but if you think giving good insight and advice on a forum is a bad idea, you should probably find a new home. I want to help people get past the struggles I've had and the changes I made actually work so I am here to pass on the knowledge I have researched and accumulated. If you don't like it, then don't talk to me.

Now second, I must whole heartedly DISAGREE vehemently with the quoted section above. We are not talking about playing a gig here. Improvisation is what helps during a gig if you screw up.

Now if you want to actually practice and get good, then yes you must stop and analyze why you messed up. If you keep playing and messing up you are learning bad technique. You sir are the one giving bad advice and I take great offense to it. So whether you are just trolling or are actually genuine, I'd suggest not giving out advice that you think is right, because it is not.


No need to get your jimmies rustled. You're bound to run into people who disagree with you, and you need to realize that there are multiple ways to approach different problems. Just for the record, I don't completely disagree with anything you said, just that learning a new skill isn't so black and white as "this is what you absolutely have to do and there are no other ways to approach it properly".

What I mean with in depth advice being a bit unnecessary is that you can never tell exactly what kind of people you're talking to and how fast they progress, and how they learn new things the easiest. You can't tell someone to practice a certain lick for example for 15 minutes a day just because it worked for you; it might not work at all for them. You can't tell someone to use this exact practice schedule you came up with that works for you, since it might not work for them. I never meant that when given a specific question you couldn't give a detailed answer. But asking a hugely vague question like "how do I learn guitar?" should not yield highly specific answers. That's why generalized answers are exactly what this kind of thread needs.

And I'm not saying that you shouldn't stop to think about your mistakes. But everyone makes mistakes. You simply can't form a habit of stopping at every thing you play wrong, you can't play guitar like that. Now, if you think I meant that you shouldn't stop at tricky parts while you're learning new songs and just blaze through them without thinking at all about your mistakes, you've misread my post. Of course, if you're practicing a song it's okay to chop it up into smaller chunks and focus on the tricky parts. But playing a song that you already know and stopping when you make a small mistake is not a good habit in the least. There might have been a miscommunication here, but I strongly think that stopping at every mistake you make is a really, really harmful habit. I'm not talking about practice here, I'm talking about actually playing the instrument.

And I am certainly not trolling, at least not intentionally. My advice in this thread boils down to "learn new songs, use your ear, learn basic theory and consider a teacher", if you think this really is bad advice as you said that is of course your opinion, but you must realize that there are people who believe that it isn't. Just because you don't share that opinion does not make me or anyone else a troll. I'm certainly sorry if I really did offend you since it was not my intention, however I do stand behind the points I made in that post, namely that specific advice might not help TS at all and that you shouldn't develop a fear for mistakes. You might have misunderstood my point, but I still hope I'm not coming across as a troll, since everything I've said here is worthwhile advice in my opinion, and I'm in no way a beginner musician. It's up to TS to decide what to take home from this whole thread.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#13
interesting thread. first let me say that progress comes as it comes there is no time table and as soon as you impose one then you'll have unneeded issues.

believe me it will seem lie you are getting nowhere at times and the truth may be you aren't. more often though it's that the progress may not be taking the form you assume it should. everyone thinks that you should suddenly be able to play awesome and that's not how it goes. believe me i've been playing for well over 30 years and i don't see much sudden progress. what does happen is that you get more comfortable with your playing ant it's easier to identify specific areas for improvement.

i do agree that when practicing you do need to stop and go back for mistakes. work on them til you have it down. live you have to just go for it and hope you have the skills to cover screw ups. this comes from knowing the song inside and out so you can at least make sure you recover on time and where you need to be in the song. a flubbed note or two in the solo most likely won't be noticed. no need to fear mistakes just learn from them. we all make them.
#14
There are many many paths to getting good at the guitar. What you want to try and do is find the shortest route to get there. I am now teaching guitar and have been playing 40 years. It took me 40 years to get REALLY good. It doesn't have to take you that long.

I would STRONGLY recommend you check out www.guitarprinciples.com. I have no affiliation. Lots of free stuff there. About 10 years ago I took a Skype video lesson with Jamie and I think the method taught is about the FASTEST to get where you want to go.

It's really best to start with SIMPLE STRONG fundamentals and take it in baby steps.

There is a key inside everyone that I believe can unlock all the talent. It might happen quite suddenly to you like it did to me, but I also put in some time. Everyone has the capacity if they are really sincere in their efforts.