#1
Hey guys, looking for some help and advice regarding improving my guitar playing - musically and technically.

Now, I have been playing for over ten years, I know how to work with a metronome and can play a load of rhythm from songs.
My main issue is that no matter how much I practice I can't get my picking speed and fretting hand speed up to where I want it.

Im using Troy stetina books - metal lead/rhythm 1 and am going through each exercise slowly starting at 60bpm playing 4 times then up to 80 and then up to 100. I can play all the exercises easily like this but it never seems to improve my overall speed and technique outside of the exercises. I don't seem to be able to use any of these exercises in general jamming either and soloing over a progression I hit a brick wall with what to play that I feel sounds good.
I know all the Pentatonic shapes but can't make sounds that I want to.

Picking wise I practice on single strings with the same method, but still see limited results!
This also applies to any solos I have learnt from songs although the rhythm sections I can generally play fine.
My favourite players are Slash, Angus, Page, Schenker and Kossof. More a classic and hard rock leaning.
Has anyone got any tips as I'm out of ideas and frustrated now.
#2
To me, based on what you've said, it sounds like you've been focussed too much on the purely technical aspect of playing and haven't put enough work into the mental and aural aspects of learning how to make music.

Your fingers are only part of the puzzle, if you over-focussed on those and neglected your ears and brain then you're always going to find it a struggle to actually make use of the phsyical skills you've been working on - feel free to correct me if I'm way off the mark there!
Actually called Mark!

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#3
As advised above, listen and work out solos from the guys you like (rather than using tab if you can). Get yourself some good software for slowing stuff down and looping it (I use Transcribe from seventhstring).

Technique-wise ... sounds like you may be getting too tensed up as you anticipate difficulty in exercises. And yes, regimented exercises are almost never useful for creative soloing.

Visit a good technique teacher a couple of times ... maybe you're not being as mechanically efficient as you could, and a teacher will spot that.

You can work on phrasing at any speed, with not much concern for note choice ... and this can make a huge difference. Listen where singers or sax players start and stop against the bar. It's rare to start on beat 1. Listen to how they mix up note durations. This is way more musical practise than exercises.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 10, 2016,
#4
Quote by steven seagull
To me, based on what you've said, it sounds like you've been focussed too much on the purely technical aspect of playing and haven't put enough work into the mental and aural aspects of learning how to make music.

Your fingers are only part of the puzzle, if you over-focussed on those and neglected your ears and brain then you're always going to find it a struggle to actually make use of the phsyical skills you've been working on - feel free to correct me if I'm way off the mark there!



Well, your half right on both parts!!

I do a lot of learning by ear but mainly rhythm as I struggle quite a bit learning leads by ear.

When it comes to my own leads I can play bits that sound good but then I can't follow it up or keep it going where I want to.
I do need to work on this and am going to learn the full Major and Minor diatonics to go with the Pents I know.

This also leads into the technique part where I want to play something but can't pull it off physically. I'm not looking to shred or anything just to be able to play how I want to without hindrance.

The exercises I do don't just seem to translate into normal playing ability.
#5
Quote by jerrykramskoy
As advised above, listen and work out solos from the guys you like (rather than using tab if you can). Get yourself some good software for slowing stuff down and looping it (I use Transcribe from seventhstring).

Technique-wise ... sounds like you may be getting too tensed up as you anticipate difficulty in exercises. And yes, regimented exercises are almost never useful for creative soloing.

Visit a good technique teacher a couple of times ... maybe you're not being as mechanically efficient as you could, and a teacher will spot that.

You can work on phrasing at any speed, with not much concern for note choice ... and this can make a huge difference. Listen where singers or sax players start and stop against the bar. It's rare to start on beat 1. Listen to how they mix up note durations. This is way more musical practise than exercises.


I do have transcribe but I also have a ridiculously shitty laptop too.

Do you think it's better to learn songs and solos by ear and work them up to speed rather than practice isolation exercises like in the method books I'm using?
#6
It's actually better to learn entire solos. Believe be, I'm doing it since 3 days right now as of January 9 / 2016. My playing significantly improved. Since I mostly played in band context for more than 10 years, and quite put aside the soloing abilities, I now invest MAJOR BLOCKS of time into reproducing solos.

I can now play the solos from the following songs...and it's been only 3 days :
- Edenbridge ''The Palace''
- Death ''Overactive imagination'' both solos in the song
- Death '' Trapped in a corner '' about half of the solo
- Black Sabbath ''Paranoid''
- a few other instrumental songs with an exotic style.

I RECOMMEND THIS VIDEO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51yqsTS-Yz0
#7
Quote by LTaces
I do have transcribe but I also have a ridiculously shitty laptop too.

Do you think it's better to learn songs and solos by ear and work them up to speed rather than practice isolation exercises like in the method books I'm using?


Both have their place. Isolation exercise forces yoiu to deal with a particular mechanical challenge ... but it'll only help (possibly) if that form of technique turns up in the solos you like.

Personally, I'd spend way more time on working out solos (Transcribe) than technique exercises (say 90 mins transcribing, 15 mins technique (if that) or less (if the technique is implied by the solo). That also improves your ear, your vocab, your phrasing, your attention to detail, your musical knowledge.

Ultimately, to have your own voice, you need to develop musicality. Typically that comes from playing longer (and more considered) notes, thinking on phrasing, and having bursts of technique as required. There are gazillions of folk that can play blindingly fast, but have little to say with those notes. I've been there too, and it was only after several arm/hand injuries that made it impossible to shred for a long time, that I got stuck into the non-technique aspects ... and that massively improved my playing and enjoyment.

I see shredding as one tool out of many in the toolbox of music improvisation.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 12, 2016,
#8
Quote by zordan123
It's actually better to learn entire solos. Believe be, I'm doing it since 3 days right now as of January 9 / 2016. My playing significantly improved. Since I mostly played in band context for more than 10 years, and quite put aside the soloing abilities, I now invest MAJOR BLOCKS of time into reproducing solos.

I can now play the solos from the following songs...and it's been only 3 days :
- Edenbridge ''The Palace''
- Death ''Overactive imagination'' both solos in the song
- Death '' Trapped in a corner '' about half of the solo
- Black Sabbath ''Paranoid''
- a few other instrumental songs with an exotic style.

I RECOMMEND THIS VIDEO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51yqsTS-Yz0


Thanks for the video man , I'll check it out tomorrow night when I get in.

How long does it take you to figure out those solos? Do you do it by ear? I struggle pretty badly with solos but maybe I just need more practice and patience with it.
#9
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Ultimately, to have your own voice, you need to develop musicality. Typically that comes from playing longer (and more considered) notes, thinking on phrasing, and having bursts of technique as required.


Quote by steven seagull
haven't put enough work into the mental and aural aspects of learning how to make music.



Iv been thinking about these two statements a lot these last few days and they both ring very true. Iv mainly been focuses on the doing of guitar, learning how to play songs, exercises and techniques to physically play better but have never really sat down to play things from my own head and imagination, although I have learnt songs by ear.

Last night I tried both - I tried to play a nursery rhyme from my head ( Humprey dumpy is hard lol ) and learnt a solo kind of.

I found I struggled with both quite a bit but found trying to do my own thing more interesting overall really, although it was a solo and song iv been playing and trying for years now.
I tried to write a song or riff too and although I did come up with a few bits I found it hard as I don't really have many musical ideas .

I'm thinking of doing more of trying to play my own things on one string to start with and a lot more working out whole songs and solos by ear instead of isolating techniques by themselves.

Is that a good way to go about things? The process of trying to learn to play has always had me very confused, frustrated and stressed out with very small limited success.
#10
ok first off you're doing to much thinking and that is what is slowing you down. you want to learn a solo then you need to know it without thinking about it first. if your fingers know where to go then the speed will follow. as for doing original stuff well again you're thinking to much instead of just playing. you can't expect to write a great solo or riff when you first start trying. if you just sit back relax and noodle a bit here and there you'll be suprised what pops up out of no where. i do this all the time. if i play something i like then i'll go over it a few more times and add it to my riff bank. from these i write songs. often i'll come up with something and say hey ya know that other riff i came up with a few months (years) back might work with this.

(originals found in link in profile
#11
Quote by monwobobbo
ok first off you're doing to much thinking and that is what is slowing you down. you want to learn a solo then you need to know it without thinking about it first. if your fingers know where to go then the speed will follow. as for doing original stuff well again you're thinking to much instead of just playing. you can't expect to write a great solo or riff when you first start trying. if you just sit back relax and noodle a bit here and there you'll be suprised what pops up out of no where. i do this all the time. if i play something i like then i'll go over it a few more times and add it to my riff bank. from these i write songs.


Your right, I am overthinking this a lot and it stresses me out. I think as well that I'm massively overwhelmed with the amount of things I have and want to learn, for example I have

Metal Rhythm 1
Metal Rhythm 2
Metal Lead 1
Metal Lead 2
Total Rock Guitar
Fretboard Mastery

As well as a list I made of songs Iv learnt over the years, maybe the whole thing or just bits, that I want to finish properly that totals to 48!!!

I need to slim this down into something reasonable that isn't gonna kill me before I start.

With the writing the way you said about noodling is basically what I do, I think I just get too impatient with myself or frustrated and stop. I did write a few bits the other night and actually wrote them down too.
#12
Quote by LTaces
Your right, I am overthinking this a lot and it stresses me out. I think as well that I'm massively overwhelmed with the amount of things I have and want to learn, for example I have

Metal Rhythm 1
Metal Rhythm 2
Metal Lead 1
Metal Lead 2
Total Rock Guitar
Fretboard Mastery

As well as a list I made of songs Iv learnt over the years, maybe the whole thing or just bits, that I want to finish properly that totals to 48!!!

I need to slim this down into something reasonable that isn't gonna kill me before I start.

With the writing the way you said about noodling is basically what I do, I think I just get too impatient with myself or frustrated and stop. I did write a few bits the other night and actually wrote them down too.


yeah to much on your plate. if you try to learn all of that stuff then you'll end up learning almost nothing as tha is overwhelming. i've been playing for well over 30 years now and elieve me i don't know everything not even close. with the writing i find that if i sit there and try to write a song that more often than not i can't. again to much thought not enough play. as i mentioned i have a riff bank as i go along if i find a couple of things that go together at that point i'll see if i can make a song out of it. sometimes the answer is no (for right now). don't try to force it as that does just lead to frustration. you really need to start simple. once you put together something and have a little success then it gets easier as you go along. don't try to cram every riff you've ever thought of into one song.
#13
Quote by LTaces
Iv been thinking about these two statements a lot these last few days and they both ring very true. Iv mainly been focuses on the doing of guitar, learning how to play songs, exercises and techniques to physically play better but have never really sat down to play things from my own head and imagination, although I have learnt songs by ear.

Last night I tried both - I tried to play a nursery rhyme from my head ( Humprey dumpy is hard lol ) and learnt a solo kind of.

I found I struggled with both quite a bit but found trying to do my own thing more interesting overall really, although it was a solo and song iv been playing and trying for years now.
I tried to write a song or riff too and although I did come up with a few bits I found it hard as I don't really have many musical ideas .

I'm thinking of doing more of trying to play my own things on one string to start with and a lot more working out whole songs and solos by ear instead of isolating techniques by themselves.

Is that a good way to go about things? The process of trying to learn to play has always had me very confused, frustrated and stressed out with very small limited success.

Ultimately the goal here is familiarity - familiarity with the sounds that come out of the fretboard. The better you know your way around the fretboard sonically, the quicker you'll be able to play. It's not really about scale patterns, it's simply about knowing how the sound will change if you move a certain difference from a certain note. That's why working through seemingly simple melodies is actually really valuable as it does really hit home how much work you need to put in to something like this.

Everybody in the western world knows the melodies to things like Humpty Dumpty, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday. As kids we learn them as single notes, there's no other instruments getting in the way, no arrangement to consider, just single notes. Yet despite that you've found it tricky to figure one of those out on the guitar, so it shouldn't surprise you that you're struggling with the far more complex music you enjoy.

What you've done is open your eyes to the fact that there's an aspect of your music that you've been neglecting, which is great as it means you can start to work on improving things. It's slow going at first, but so was trying to play the A chord when you first picked up the guitar - the more work you put in better you'll get at it. Just muck around with familiar melodies, just as there's little point trying to play Cliffs of Dover when you start learning there's little point trying to start with something so complex when training your ears. Go for simple, singable melodies at first like nursery rhymes, simple pop songs, advert jingles and spend a little time just trying to pick out those melodies on the guitar.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#14
1 - - Slow down the music with the help of TRANSCRIBE ! software. It allows you to analyze everything at a slower pace.

2 - - Access TABS if necessary with TAB PRO from Ultimate-Guitar ; it's a mere 40 $ for the entire lifetime access. Or get GuitarPro.

3 - - Beware, TABs do not give you proper instructions about finger placement and strategic picking. If you doubt of your capabilities, go see an experienced guitar teacher and ask him to fix your HANDLING and GUITAR TECHNIQUE.

4 - - Having a mediocre technique and bad handling on the guitar will handicap your progress SIGNIFICANTLY. I know about it ; I played with a mediocre picking technique during 3.5 years until I met a virtuoso guitar player/teacher who told me I was wrong. Then I finally nailed most of my favorite metal songs about 3 weeks later just because of that.

I hope this really helps.
#15
Technically, proper posture and instrument setup will help you greatly. When it comes to speed it main aspect of it is efficiency. Great deals of unnecessary movement will take a toll on your optimal speed. Try this when practicing scales, you can do this with the pentatonics you have been playing with or look up something as simple as a chromatic scale for this exercise. Keep your fretting hand in a natural relaxed curved shape, your fingers ready to go down on the strings (keep them very close, to prevent unnecessary moment). Play the first note with the least amount of pressure to make the string ring when picked. Try to keep your body relaxed. Watch your other fingers do they want to follow the others? Carry on the next fretted note until the scale is finished. Now reverse the scale. Once you've practiced enough you'll eventually build up your finger independence and muscle memory will make these movements second nature.

Now musically, this comes with practice and ear training. Go out find some people that are willing to play, play along to some commercials while watching tv, go play with some Jam tracks, PLAY, PLAY, and then PLAY some more!

Don't forget, have fun!
Doowop dooby doo doowop doowah doolang
Blue days black nights doowah doolang!
#16
Hey guys, thanks for all the great replies and help it's greatly appreciated.

Iv been working a lot on playing simple melodies on one string a lot these last few days and have learnt a few quite well. It's starting to get a bit easier for me to hear what's wrong or right. I usually start with the open string and then try and move it to a new fretted root note and then try and hear the pattern again. It's been good fun and opened my eyes a bit too.

Technique wise I have tried changing the angle of my pick more and this has definitely helped picking wise but my guitar does need a good set up too.

One thing Iv hit though is that Iv kind of lost interest in playing what I was before, music wise. I still have the desire to learn these songs and finish my books but no motivation to. Maybe I just need to stick to doing it.
I was thinking of going through each song learning all the rhythms and then go back to the solos, or sticking on one album and trying to play along with it for a week. A big problem I have is finding a structured way of going through all these songs I want to learn.

One at a time until completely learnt and mastered?
Learn rhythms first?
Two or three at a time?

I have booked a guitar lesson for this week too!! I'm looking forward to it and hoping he can help me out with a structured approach to help stop overwhelming myself.