#1
Hi everyone,

I know 2 or 3 intermediate-professional guitar players.
We playing the same song on the same guitar and I able to play in tune and done all the thing correct, but I just feel like my guitar doesn't sound as good as them.

What am I missing? I change chord to chord at a good speed. I play on the beat.
I have rhythm but It still doesn't sound great.

When they playing, they sound way better even on a 40$ guitar. And me, I just can't get it to sound any good. I admit that I miss the beat sometime but not the whole song.

I don't want to give up but at least give me some reason on what am I really missing to be a decent guitarist.

I strum hard, It doens't sound great. I strum a little, It also doesn't sound great.
Like I've try everything and it doens't sound great.

Sorry for my grammar because English is not my first language.

I've been in this group since the first day I got my hand on the guitar.
I thank everybody for helping to get this far.
#2
The same applies to all instruments. A good player will sound good no matter what gear they use and a bad player will sound bad no matter what gear they use. "Tone is in your fingers" is a cliche but it is true. Your technique just isn't as good as theirs.

Would you expect a beginner violinist to sound good on a Stradivarius? Would you expect a professional violinist to sound bad on a cheap violin? (I wouldn't - the professional violinist would sound much better than the beginner violinist, no matter what violin they used.) I don't know why the same thing wouldn't apply to guitar. It applies to all instruments. You need good technique to sound good.

Your friends just have better control over their dynamics, vibrato, bends, rhythm, muting and all that. They have practiced their technique more so of course their technique is going to be better. Good tone is the result of good technique.


Good gear doesn't make you sound like a good guitarist. It can't fix sloppy technique. Good gear makes you sound like you are playing through good gear, but you still need to play well to actually sound good. Of course your tone will be better through good gear, but your playing itself won't sound better.


You can't improve your sound in the blink of an eye. Learning to sound good takes time. It doesn't happen just by "trying" to sound better. Just keep on practicing and you will also start sounding better. But it takes time.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Apr 8, 2016,
#4
Quote by sosxradar
No, I'm actually talking about Acoustic guitar with finger picking.


How does that matter? Mags' post is is completely relevant to acoustic guitar as well.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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*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 Kevätuhri
How does that matter? Mags' post is is completely relevant to acoustic guitar as well.

And you could argue that it applies even more to acoustic guitar than electric (because on electric you can modify the sound a lot more).

The differences between different acoustic guitars aren't that big. Of course a good acoustic will sound better than a bad acoustic but the tonal variety is much smaller than on electric guitars - all acoustic guitars have a similar kind of tone (and the same applies to all acoustic instruments). On electric you can at least add some cool effects to your tone if your playing on its own doesn't sound that great. But acoustic instruments especially are all about who's playing them, not that much about the instrument itself.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#6
Control, confidence, and intention. Overall, l like to call this collection of skills "expressive technique". It's the ability to use your instrument to play music with meaning, rather than just notes and rhythms.

You have to have the technique ready to control what you're playing - vibrato, dynamics, and all those little touches like a tiny slide to or from a note

You need the confidence to put your technique to use without hesitation. You want big sound, you have to play big.

And very importantly, you need to have these sounds in your head and know when they're going to sound good.

A lot of this is just a matter of experience and practice. Much of that process is just listening and really working on getting those sounds. The stuff you're looking for is hard to quantify beyond the techniques already listed, so it's really up to the player to sit down and work out just how to connect the technique with the sound. To some extent, you really do have to feel the power and meaning of each note before you can apply your technique to it.

One concrete step you can take is practicing accents. When you practice anything, make sure you are making the accents extremely obvious. And what's obvious to the player is often lost on the audience, so it's important to really exaggerate the dynamics.

It's just the same as acting - actors wear tons makeup and make ridiculous faces, and we the audience hardly notice because only a fraction of it really comes through on the screen. When you play or record music, go out of your way to make sure that nobody could be confused as to whether that note was supposed to be loud or quiet or long or short.
Last edited by cdgraves at Apr 8, 2016,
#7
This may sound obvious, but are you currently taking lessons?

I agree with just about everything in the previous posts. You absolutely have to be able to imagine the sound you want before you can produce it. Then you need the technique and the confidence to achieve it. A good instructor will help you find your weaknesses and show you how to strengthen them.

I've been an instructor for many years now and I can tell you that the most fundamental technique I see ignored with beginner students is holding the guitar properly. Holding it in certain ways will make everything more comfortable. Holding it in other ways will make some things impossible. It's not a glamorous aspect of the technique, but it's important.

So, if you haven't considered it already, it might be time to think about private instruction. While there are some notable musicians who did it "all on their own", the rest of us mere mortals can learn what we need with proper guidance.

Good luck!
#8
There really is no substitute for time and experience. You can play the same chord progression as the next guy and the two can sound worlds different. Put in the time on the instrument and then the combination of strumming, rhythmically palm muting, etc will sound better and better. No magic pill for this, unfortunately.
#9
All the above answers are valid. What it usually comes down to it pick attack, vibrato, timing, fretting cleanly and confidence. No quick way to conquer these things, it's just time and patience, with a focus on listening to yourself.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#10
Guitar face.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#11
Although what everyone else is saying about time and experience is true, I've always been one to think that music doesn't come from your hands, it comes from somewhere inside of you. Reach down and find that special thing that listening to great music gives you, and just let it flow out of you through the guitar strings. Don't try so hard. Yes, you should play the correct notes at the correct time, but if you've got that down you need to put a piece of yourself into every song you play. The same goes for any type of art. It has to be a part of you.
#12
There are a lot of subtle things that go into how great something sounds. Little bends, a little vibrato, slides, and little changes in timing. All of that is what they call "feel".

You can try practicing feel, but some of that also comes with just being comfortable on the instrument. I personally never really practiced using slides, and vibrato, or bends or anything like that. Never put time in on just those things. But as I got better at guitar, I started naturally throwing them in. Once what you're doing becomes easy, then you are free to really shape the sound. If you are kind of struggling or focused on just getting the right notes at the right time, then it will sound more sort of dull or mechanical, or lifeless.

If everything is easy for you, then let go, don't think of it as accomplishing a task, try and let your more basic instincts lead you.

Maybe another approach is better for you, I don't know you, but all of that stuff is stuff I never consciously think about. My hands just dance that way. I find it is better to approach most things as a reaction, rather than action. Listen, rather than do. People always want to know how to do, and what to do, but I find it is better to listen and react, and then doing takes care of itself.

Quote by MaggaraMarine


The differences between different acoustic guitars aren't that big. Of course a good acoustic will sound better than a bad acoustic but the tonal variety is much smaller than on electric guitars - all acoustic guitars have a similar kind of tone (and the same applies to all acoustic instruments). On electric you can at least add some cool effects to your tone if your playing on its own doesn't sound that great. But acoustic instruments especially are all about who's playing them, not that much about the instrument itself.


I know what you mean, but the differences between acoustic guitars actually are pretty significant. Not just a "good" acoustic guitar as compared to a "bad" one, but in body shapes, and tone woods, solid wood or laminate and all that does make a significant difference.

Although, sure, it's not the same sort of difference between clean Joe Pass hollow body, and Van Halen 80s electric sound, which I think is what you're getting at, there are still pretty significant differences between acoustic guitars.


But I agree with you also, in that to me, for any guitar, more of the "goodness" comes from the player, not just in creativity and note choice, or playing the song correctly, but in the intangibles of feel like OP is talking about, which is almost kind of tonal quality.

That's why for me, the priority on a guitar is always the feel of it. Obviously you need to get something that sounds right for the genre you want, but if you have a guitar that sounds beautiful but you can't play it well because of the setup, or neck shape, or what have you, then it won't sound great.

I'm not sure how much "tone" can do a good job of replacing feel though, to any significant degree. Or masking lack thereof I guess was more your point. I mean, it might impress some people for 3 seconds as you run through a little riff, but music is almost subconscious the way it affects you. That's why those little subtle things are hard to pin down, and hard to teach, but they are there, and they are working their magic.

So, for me, I think feel goes a long way on all the instruments, regardless of what sort of effects you can run them through, unless you are running them through computerization which is adding feel for you in some way.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Apr 13, 2016,
#13
I agree it's about this elusive thing called "feel", but there's a danger of getting too mystical about it.
We all have a feeling for music, we all have it "in our hearts" (or soul or whatever other fanciful internal organ you want to name). The musician's problem is technical - and purely technical, IMO. That's what lets you "reach inside" - technique. Nothing magical.

That doesn't mean the flashier and faster you are, the better! It's about achieving control, mastery of the instrument - and to the point where it becomes subconscious, a second language you don't even think about. That's where experience (length of time playing, broadness of influence, refinement of ear, etc) comes in. That's how your inner "feeling" can pass straight through to the instrument. Your conscious mind is on "higher things" - expression, accent, dynamics, tone. The rest (notes, rhythm) is automatic.

The other thing is that those people who always seem better than you are never playing at the peak of their skills. They're always well within their comfort zone - technically at least. They never show off how fast they can play. They know that each note counts, and they make it count.

BUT - for the OP - the upside of all this is: there will be other players looking at YOU and wondering "wow, how did he get to be so good?" IOW, if you get depressed comparing yourself to those better than you, take some time off and look at all those worse than you. Hey, there are even some people who can't play guitar at all! (poor saps....) But in the main, of course, you should never compare yourself to anyone else anyway - except yourself in the past, maybe. You're better than you were, almost certainly. And you will steadily get better in future. Happens to all of us...
Last edited by jongtr at Apr 14, 2016,
#14
For me feel comes from a completely mystical and magical place. Like truly laughing. Someone might say; "I don't get how to laugh the way I hear other people laugh. I put all the HAs in the right place, but there is something about it that sounds bland."

Well, you just trust your sense of humour, and when something funny comes along, let it go, and it will sound genuine, whatever style yours might be.

Idk where laughing comes from. Idk where that feeling of funny comes from, and I don't know how to make someone feel like that.

It's pretty difficult to fake laughter very convincingly, but not impossible.

Feel is like that to me. Music does to me something like like funny things do, except rather than feeling like laughing, I feel like dancing, or moving, or phrasing.

I don't understand it, it's not logical, it's mystical and magical to me, just like a sense of humour is.
#15
I think it's about giving yourself the tools to express whatever undefinable feels you feel. Laughing is instinctual, but you have to get the joke first.

I also only rarely practiced using technique expressively. Once I really started hearing the nuance of technique, I just started playing that way. But, I think the ability to "just play that way" is rooted in technique. Even before I was able to make real expressions with the guitar, I had used the standard pallet of techniques, just not to very strong effect.

There's also kind of a chicken/egg thing. When you hear an experienced, but unexpressive player, is the shortcoming technical or emotional/mental? There are plenty of players who do their damndest to play with expression, but they're either lacking the ability to play the mystical sounds they hear in their heart of hearts, or those are really just the best sounds they've got in them and no technique would improve it.
Last edited by cdgraves at Apr 14, 2016,
#17
Because: to get a joke, you have to first, speak the language, and second have a mental library of reference points to understand why it is funny in context. Completely analogous to music. Just like with a joke, once you have the language and the reference, you don't have to manually analyze the words and think about why it is funny and then laugh. Just happens. So it is with playing. You draw on your tools and experience to where it all at least appears to be automatic.

I'm always the most impressed with athletes, comedians, musicians.. Any skill really, who make things look like they are ridiculously simple - until you try and do it. That's when you smack yourself on the forehead and go, "man, have I got some work to do."
#18
Absolutely definitely you need a certain level of skill to play honestly and put some mojo in there for sure. Guitar is not easy also it's hard enough just to get the basics at first.

It's the same as how you need to really have a good command of language to be a comedian. But there is also the other intangibles like sense of humour and timing also. It's not just knowing the language. Being a really good comedian also isn't really something you can learn in a class like borat went to.

There is learning you can do of course, but "funny" is kind of an elusive mystical thing. You can't capture it properly in theory of funny. You could come up with a lot of observations about it, and discuss it, and all of its aspects, a number of different styles and all that, but there is still something sort of magical and special about funny. And music also a lot of subtle things go into making cool music, and it works, it's awesome, but you can't capture it all in theory or algorithms. There is no guaranteed method to create hilaroous bits. You can't completely grasp it with objective analysis and observation. There's something more awesome to it than that.
#19
I agree about...90%. This gets in to the "is talent a thing" philosophical discussion.

I think to a small degree some of us have a "good ear" or are prodigies to varying extents, but I don't think it's as mystical as we'd like to romanticize it as being. I honestly feel much more pragmatic about it.

Any inherent ability that one of us has over the other is easily and quickly trumped by each of our individual levels of dedication to what we're doing. If one is motivated to be a better guitar player, one will put in the time to make that happen. If you look at a "virtuoso" like Mozart.. he didn't sit down and bang out a concerto his first day - you can bet he had his knuckles busted for the 10,000 hours it took to get there.
#20
Quote by fingrpikingood
For me feel comes from a completely mystical and magical place. Like truly laughing. Someone might say; "I don't get how to laugh the way I hear other people laugh. I put all the HAs in the right place, but there is something about it that sounds bland."

Well, you just trust your sense of humour, and when something funny comes along, let it go, and it will sound genuine, whatever style yours might be.

Idk where laughing comes from. Idk where that feeling of funny comes from, and I don't know how to make someone feel like that.

It's pretty difficult to fake laughter very convincingly, but not impossible.

Feel is like that to me. Music does to me something like like funny things do, except rather than feeling like laughing, I feel like dancing, or moving, or phrasing.

I don't understand it, it's not logical, it's mystical and magical to me, just like a sense of humour is.
Sure, but I don't supposed that's much help to the OP, is it?

I probably feel much the same way about music as you do. It's something primal, that speaks to something deep within us, and seems to emerge from there too. But do you remember what is was like when you were learning? I bet it didn't feel so intuitive or magical back then, right? You struggled not sound crap, like we all do at the start. You gazed in awe at players who just seemed to have "it", and wondered how they did that. Yes?
But eventually, gradually, it all got smoother and smoother and now it connects. Now it feels like it comes "magically", "mystically" from somewhere within. But it only does that because you've practised so that you have mastery over your instrument. The magic can't flow if your hands won't let it.

There is a kind of parallel with humour, but that's in being able to appreciate music, as a listener: understanding the references, the language, the forms, etc.

What we're talking about is more like becoming a comedian - getting up there and being funny. That takes work and study.
And being a musician is harder precisely because you have a physical object you have to learn how to manipulate. You have to get your "Magic" to come out via that lump of wood and wires you're holding in your hands. That's the tough part.
A comedian only has to use his/her voice (which is maybe more like being a singer...skill still required, but working with voice and delivery).
Last edited by jongtr at Apr 15, 2016,
#21
Expression requires a fundamental understanding of what's going on in other people's heads. I guess I usually refer to that as "audience expectations", which is a bit more mechanical, but the abilities of both understanding and reacting to "expectation" develop side by side. Sometimes you learn or invent something before you understand how other perceive it, and slowly gain insight into how to express yourself as you see other people react to your attempts.

I think this sort of interactive learning is what makes music very much like a proper language. When you're doing it right, it really is two-way, real time communication with the audience and fellow musicians.
#22
Quote by jongtr
Sure, but I don't supposed that's much help to the OP, is it?
It is what it is. I believe knowledge is always good, even if it wasn't "how to" step by step, so yes I think it is.

I probably feel much the same way about music as you do. It's something primal, that speaks to something deep within us, and seems to emerge from there too. But do you remember what is was like when you were learning? I bet it didn't feel so intuitive or magical back then, right? You struggled not sound crap, like we all do at the start. You gazed in awe at players who just seemed to have "it", and wondered how they did that. Yes?


I was always impressed with some players and still am, at their technical abilities, and I always appreciate ideas other people have that I don't have.

I was very quickly good enough to play basic things well. So, my writing and improve was more basic. My learning experience has been to learn how to evoke the ideas in my mind, so that part was always there. I could tell what was physical limitations for my timing and what was knowing my instrument, and what was creativity. I definitely got more at ease and comfortable with my instrument as I got better, and like I said I developed a lot more in terms of slides and vibrato and stuff like that for sure.

There is a physical aspect, and there is a mental assimilation of the instrument, and then there is the completely mystical. To me, anyway. I don't find the magic can be overstated. It is completely primal to me, like you said. That's something very real and intangible to me, and that makes a big difference imo. Maybe OP doesn't have much feel, or maybe they just need better dexterity. Idk, I don't know OP.


But eventually, gradually, it all got smoother and smoother and now it connects. Now it feels like it comes "magically", "mystically" from somewhere within. But it only does that because you've practised so that you have mastery over your instrument. The magic can't flow if your hands won't let it.
Well, I've always had the mystical magic from somewhere within, I've just not always been able to accurately channel it through a guitar. Guitar is difficult, my imagination still exceeds my ability on the guitar. So, it doesn't feel magically from within because of practise for me. It is magically from within, and practise enabled me to release it. It let me show you some of the magic, but I've always experienced it before any instrument.



What we're talking about is more like becoming a comedian - getting up there and being funny. That takes work and study.
And being a musician is harder precisely because you have a physical object you have to learn how to manipulate. You have to get your "Magic" to come out via that lump of wood and wires you're holding in your hands. That's the tough part.
A comedian only has to use his/her voice (which is maybe more like being a singer...skill still required, but working with voice and delivery).

Yes, but there is still innate timing and sense of humour that some people have that others don't. That is not to say that no work and study goes into being a comedian. But it is to say that work and study is not sufficient to guarantee that you will be a great comedian. There is something else magical involved. Some people are just really hilarious without ever putting any effort in whatsoever.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Apr 16, 2016,