I have been thinking that if I am not able to play by ear should I not bother trying to play guitar in the first place? Should someone only pursue guitar if they can play by ear? Or can you be taught to play by ear? Any advice or exercises to learn by ear would be great! Thanks!
These things are learnt with time. The more you play, the more you become familiar with the sound of each note until you can recognize just by hearing them. Patience.

You can sit there playing an A over and over until you remember the sound of it or you can just play guitar. You will learn the sounds of the notes either way and start to be able to figure out guitar parts by hearing them only.

You can start with very, very simple melodies and try to find where they are on the guitar, if you really want to train yourself to do that. Sing a very simple melody and try to locate the first note of the melody on guitar. Doh, ray, me. Play the notes on guitar as you sing them. Remind yourself of the note name as you hear it on the guitar. C, D, E.

Don't give up guitar, its very fun.
Last edited by V3n0m777 at Nov 17, 2016,
I have as bad an ear for music as you can imagine, but it hasn't stopped me from playing the guitar and enjoying it. - I have focused on simple melodies and developing good technique. Just keep trying.
Tony Done

Were you born knowing how to talk? No, you spent months listening to others speak and after a few months you could exert enough control over your facial muscles to make certain sounds on demand, over time this progressed into actual words and after a few years you could construct whole sentences and have a conversation with someone.

Learning music is the same, nobody is born "knowing it", it's a language you have to learn and you also need to learn how that language translates to your guitar. Like any language it takes time, but the reason you can't do it is because you've never tried before - you're still at the baby stage at this point. You need to learn to recognise the sounds and learn how those sounds correspond to the physical part of playing the guitar...strings, fret positions, picking techniques etc.

Start simple, for example can you pick out the melody to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Happy Birthday? Those are melodies you've known since childhood, they're practically part of your DNA...you can hum or sing them without even thinking - so surely they'll be easy on guitar right? You may be surprised at how difficult it is, but that also puts it all in perspective - what's the point in trying to work out a complicated, mulit-instrument song by ear if you can't even do the simplest of single note melodies? Working with those simple melodies is incredibly valuable as they also contain commonly used intervals, learning to recognise them is a big part of training your ear.

It all takes time, but it'll take forever if you never start trying to make those connections
Actually called Mark!

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Unless you have some massive genetic defect, you should be able to learn how to play by ear. start by doing this:

1) get your guitar setup by a professional tech - proper intonation is necessary to learn by ear.

2) tune your guitar to a tuner.

3) pick a song that has a simple melody that you can hear clearly - for example the melody intro to Alexander the Great from Iron Maiden.

4) do this : let the music play for a few bars and then stop the music. then try to find the first note. when you think you have it, play it along with the recording to check. Then stop the music and listen to the next note or two - then try to find those through trial and error - repeat. At first it's a painstaking process but in time it becomes second nature.
You have to work at this. In many ways, it's actually quite nice not to be able to absolutely hear in your head what you want to play ... espacially if you have some knowledge of theory, as you can then do a mix of roughly hearing what you want with letting your fingers guide your note choices based on this knowledge. This can lead to some great surprises that you may not have conceived of. Of coiurse you can still do this if you canhear every note in your head.

That said, I highly recommed learning the sound of a few intervals (p4, 2, 3, and 1) ... and humming these, as melodies, and thinking of nuresery ryhmes and the like, and recognising these intervals in those tunes (Frere Jacques, Silent Night ...). Surprisingly hard initially, and then it starts to click. They are everywhere ... then you can start recognising chords rooted at these intervals from the key of the song,

This is a lot more useful than recognising intervals between successive notes in a melody.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Nov 18, 2016,