#1
Hey folks -

I was gonna say "first time long time" but it turns out that I did post here a couple of times in 2013...

Where to start...

I've been playing guitar for 35 years. Sounds impressive, huh? The only reason the statement is true is because I first played a guitar 35 years ago, last played one yesterday, and have played guitars many times in between. Also, I have never owned less than one guitar during that time.

My skills? Laughable... I know chords, bar chords, a few licks here and there, etc. The fact of the matter is if I pick up a guitar and noodle around a bit, many would think I am fairly proficient. I'm not. I don't know any complete songs, I can't improvise any sort of leads or anything.

Don't get me wrong - I have no desire to be the next shred-master general. Check out Samantha Fish. I would give anything to play guitar in a similar fashion. Not too fast but with lots of soul. Blues isn't even my favorite listening music but the guitar work sure speaks to me...

I'm having a hard time learning new things and improving my overall skills. There was a time when I spent a lot of time on CAGED scales, major and minor pentatonic scales, etc. I memorized a lot of the patterns. Some might call that improvement but it wasn't - I never got the gist of what to do with the scales or how.

if I try to learn a song, I get lost very quickly no matter how familiar I am with the original tune. I have a hard time playing alone and keeping time but playing along with a track doesn't work, either. I quickly get out of synch - especially if I flub a note or chord.

I'm eager for some great responses to this. I'm sure the responses will help me respond with more details about my struggles.

All I want is to have a little enjoyment from playing the instrument I love so much! FRUSTRATING!

Thanks for reading...
Carvin DC400A / Boss ME-50 / Cube Micro GX
Last edited by Hawt400A at Jan 27, 2016,
#2
By the sound of it, I suggest you break tunes down into small pieces that you perfect, and gradually glue them together. If you have a computer, try "Transcribe" from seventhstring. You can load up a tune (mp3, video...) and then select a portion of it, to loop it, and slow it down. Then you can pick up the nuances of the playing. If you struggle working out by ear, then get hold of guitar tab that's accurate, and follow that as you do the above.

Understanding chord progressions helps memorize, as does understanding their relationship with scales.

Just had quick listen to Samantha Fish. That's blues scale, a few rock chords. Ideal to slow down, as you like her stuff. But her timing for lead playing is not great, so I wouldn't copy it too verbatim.

Take a look at Justin Guitar's blues lessons.
#3
Sounds like you are just frustrated from not being able to play fluently. First you have to mentally prepare yourself that you will have to practice and practice correctly.

This means

1) Practice with a metronome, always, all the time, forever.

2) Practice slow. Yes I'm sure you've heard this but it seriously does work. I'm talking 50bpm. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to play notes really really.... really slow.

3) Realize it will take time. 35 years is a long time and I'm sure that only adds to the frustration of not being where you'd like to... but it's just the way the brain works. And that's where the previous 2 points come into play... you have to get your technique right and your brain will speed up the process over time.

I will check back on this thread if you want more detail or have other questions.
#4
Some things I suggest you do.

1) If a song is beyond you, find a less difficult song. Master the less difficult song and then go for something a little more difficult.

2) Like apothegm said above, always practice with a metronome and reduce the speed of the song. As soon as you master it at a particular speed, increase it slightly.

3) Isolate difficult notes. Let's say you're learning a lick and 5 consecutive notes in particular are giving you a hard time. Reduce the tempo and play just those 5 notes until you get them perfect. Then increase up to actual speed. Then play the lick again, it will become much easier.

4) Record yourself. Practice the lick for a while and record yourself again. You'll see the difference and you'll notice where you need to adjust to make the lick better

5) You may need to find a good teacher to show you what and how you need to practice. If after 35 years you're still frustrated you've probably been practicing the wrong things, or things in the wrong order. A teacher's guidance may put an end to your frustration
#5
Gentlemen! Thank you SO much for taking the time to provide thought-out and highly informative responses! I am truly grateful and will be taking all of your advice to heart.

My issue for 35 years has not been practicing the wrong things. Well maybe I've been practicing the wrong things but mostly I just haven't been practicing. I'm in the midst of change in my life. Going forward, I will be creating time to work on writing (book, not songs) and playing guitar. Looking forward to it!
Carvin DC400A / Boss ME-50 / Cube Micro GX
#6
Lots of great ideas here. I'd like to add one more, which is really important for making progress:

Set goals!

It's hard to hit a target if you don't know what the target is. So whenever you practice, whatever you're working on, there should always be an attainable goal in front of you that you're striving for. Write it down. As you make a habit of establishing and achieving little goals you set for yourself, you'll build more and more confidence in your ability to progress and ultimately will have way more fun with it.

A goal can be as simple as: "in the next half hour, I'm going to have this chord progression memorized." Or: "I will be able to play this lick comfortably at (insert tempo) by Friday.

As long as you habitually set and achieve goals, you'll be creating forward momentum. Hope that helps!
#7
It would have been so much different, if 35 years before you would have have joined a music school, by this time you would have been a lead guitarist in some band. However, it’s never too late, forget rest join Guitar Lessons or hire an affordable guitar teacher if you seriously wanna learn. It is the best solution if you are passionate enough.
#8
Quote by Hawt400A
Gentlemen! Thank you SO much for taking the time to provide thought-out and highly informative responses! I am truly grateful and will be taking all of your advice to heart.

My issue for 35 years has not been practicing the wrong things. Well maybe I've been practicing the wrong things but mostly I just haven't been practicing. I'm in the midst of change in my life. Going forward, I will be creating time to work on writing (book, not songs) and playing guitar. Looking forward to it!


If I may chip in again, I think you should also work on your attitude towards practicing. It's quite likely frustration comes from that.

1) You actually know quite a few things. You're definitely not a beginner but an intermediate player. If you practice a for a significant time every day you'll become an advanced player in a couple of years.

2) Don't think about what you don't know (that's infinite, you never know enough) but appreciate what you know and add something to it every time you practice. It is important that you learn something new (no matter how small it is, it could just be 4 notes from a lick) every time you practice. That way you'll improve and see yourself improving, thus you'll keep yourself motivated.

3) Before you practice - dream!. I do it every single time I practice. I spend a few minutes thinking about my goals and fantasizing that I have achieved them. Let that set you on fire and go practicing. Don't see it as a chore but as the only way you can make your dreams a reality.
#9
I think the best advice you can have is simply to get yourself a guitar teacher. There's no substitute for one-to-one tuition and having to face someone once a week, in order to get some discipline into your practicing.