#1
Hi.
Okay, back story ;
I've been playing guitar for about 12 years. I'm 24 now. Ive played in bands an gigged but I can only read tab. I have no clue how to play in a key. Don't know scales. Can't read music. Can't write it.

My dream is to be able to pick up a guitar at a jam session and someone say ok we're playing slow blues in A, then I could play lead guitar over the top.

Ive been for lessons to learn theory but I struggle with the reading of written music and struggle even more with the idea of having to revert to basics even though I can already play to an advanced sounding level. I get really frustrated being able to play stuff like hotel california, you know, pretty advanced stuff, but then having to stop and learn how to read what E is on a stave.

I understand that this sounds immensely arrogant and possibly egotistical, so thanks for bearing with me.
I really just want to jam with some buddies. That's all I want out of guitar life.

I'm sick of having to memorise tabs.

I need advice please. What is the best way forward for me to get my head around playing properly?
Do I need to learn theory? Sit and learn scales? Keys? Put it down and start on piano?

Thanks for reading,

A very frustrated electrician having a quarter life crisis.
#3
Quote by alexsmith
Hi.
Okay, back story ;
I've been playing guitar for about 12 years. I'm 24 now. Ive played in bands an gigged but I can only read tab. I have no clue how to play in a key. Don't know scales. Can't read music. Can't write it.

My dream is to be able to pick up a guitar at a jam session and someone say ok we're playing slow blues in A, then I could play lead guitar over the top.

Ive been for lessons to learn theory but I struggle with the reading of written music and struggle even more with the idea of having to revert to basics even though I can already play to an advanced sounding level. I get really frustrated being able to play stuff like hotel california, you know, pretty advanced stuff, but then having to stop and learn how to read what E is on a stave.

I understand that this sounds immensely arrogant and possibly egotistical, so thanks for bearing with me.
I really just want to jam with some buddies. That's all I want out of guitar life.

I'm sick of having to memorise tabs.

I need advice please. What is the best way forward for me to get my head around playing properly?
Do I need to learn theory? Sit and learn scales? Keys? Put it down and start on piano?

Thanks for reading,

A very frustrated electrician having a quarter life crisis.

Don't do your self down I know lots of guys that can't read music or know any music theory but can still play good .
Now I play lead guitar and strangely enough I still need to read from tabs and remember the notes for songs, you can sometimes improves if you get lost or forget the right notes - but still remembering your notes for the song is still a good thing .
Now I have just learned "metallica one solo 1 &2 and I can play lead guitar and I know a lot of music theory "scales " but knowing all the theory in the world isn't going to make you suddenly start playing complicated solos with out learning the tab or even watching some lessons . Now I am not saying I have not learnt some song by ear or basic riffs because you can but this takes many years of playing and using your ears, so I am just telling you because you seem to think that this is a fix for you not remembering the notes or in your case tabs to your songs.
#5
There are lots of aspects to the term "music theory" and you don't need to learn everything about music theory to improve your playing take some time to understand the theory that will help you play more easily. When I started to play music I was playing trumpet in grammar school and high school band and I took two years of piano lessons. These formal lessons consisted of site reading and technique but while I learned to read notes I didn't learn about actual music theory. In those days if you put a piece of sheet music in front of me and I could read it and play it but ask me to play a Cmaj7 chord and associate a scale with it and you'd get a blank stare.

When I started playing guitar I didn't take lessons because thought I already had enough knowledge about theory but I was wrong. I knew how to read music that's all. You are finding the same limitations with tabs. Tabs are like notes on a staff that show what notes to play and where to play them but not why those particular notes sound good under those chords. I started teaching myself and playing with other musicians who showed me things they learned and we shared our knowledge. After awhile I began to see that certain notes worked well with particular chord structures. Now my earlier lessons were beginning to pay off. I began to understand the relationship of scales to chords and how harmony is structured and why it was important to understand some basic theory if you want to just play with no written music.

I suggest you learn some theory because you'll discover that there is a reason and structure to music. Tabs and staff notation are the "where to play", theory is the "why" it works.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#6
I would learn things like the major and minor scales and all of the modes. As all chord progressions come from scales and modes, knowing scales and modes and how they work is good start to learning theory. also learning scales and modes can have a tremendous impact on your composition abilities as well.
I hope that helps
#8
Whatever theory you do learn relate it back to the songs you have been playing all this time. Theory gives you the shortcuts to what composers commonly do, whether they understood it or not!!

I have a few articles on my website that I write about theory in a very guitar friendly kind of way see if any of these help out:

Notes - http://www.essm.net.au/understanding-music-notes/

Major Scale - http://www.essm.net.au/major-scale/

Minor Scales - http://www.essm.net.au/minor-scales/

Modes - http://www.essm.net.au/modes-made-easy/

Chords - http://www.essm.net.au/chords/
Visit my music school site for advice on gear, music theory and lessons.
www.essm.net.au
#9
I've been teaching guitar for about 25 years now and I've found that the best approach for people who want to learn to jam/improvise is for me to teach them one scale (mode) at a time and have them jam with me over it using a matching backing track. You do one for a solid week until you know your way around that scale in your sleep. Then you discover that scale is exactly the same pattern but starting on a new fret if you want to change key. Then you move onto the next scale...

This is the beauty of learning guitar in the early stages... It can all be visual and pattern based and doesn't require learning to sight read. I certainly think it's good to learn to sight read and get deeper into theory as you advance, but to get started just making music, you don't need it.

For what it's work I have some lessons on this very stuff on my YouTube channel (see link in my sig). And there's a ton of great stuff on YouTube from guys you might like better too. It's all out there on the net!
#10
Hi There. I wrote a private message to you. I can help you out. Just read your message. I know what you are going through because, when I first started playing a guitar in 2003, it took me 3 years to actually figure out what was a SCALE, and what does it do.

I used to watch my guitar teacher and his buddies at that time, making a song out of ''thin air''. But it was not even a song, it was just a JAM.

I've now been playing music for 13 years, and now, I can jam along with friends either on a ''nostalgic feel'' , a good blues rock, an ''exotic'' ambiance, or an ''egyptian'' theme.

I can help you out. Ciao.