#1
I've been playing guitar for since i turned 16 (so 2 and a half years) and have over 100 hours of practice and most of it under the guidance of programs like rocksmith and yousician  and I just don't feel like i'm getting anywhere and after reading several articles about how shit those programs are I have decided to restart. So people understand where i'm coming from I can't any real songs based on sound, I know how to read tab music sheets, I know some basic chords, so I guess i'm slightly better than beginner. So I need advice, what do you guys recommend? What is a good practice schedule? What should I learn? Anything really.
Last edited by tony00237 at Jul 2, 2017,
#2
That's pretty refreshing; two and a half years is just about the time most guitarists start thinking they have gotten pretty good and have a firm grasp of things (and a few years later they will laugh at themselves for being so clueless and wrong).

The best thing you can do is learn songs by ear, whatever effort it takes. It is perfectly fine to consume every minute of your practice time doing so.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#3
Well, I wouldn't say every minute, but learning songs by ear is one of the best things you can practice by far. But if you have trouble with your ear still, start with easier songs, but keep learning new music through whatever method you can. A lot of people rag on tabs, but if that's the only way you can learn music, use it. Just try to develop your ear on the side, since learning by ear is definitely more rewarding.

So, a good skeleton for a practice routine is to learn new songs and practice techniques involved in those songs. If there's a song you really want to learn, and it involves alternate picking and power chords, you should probably practice those. If you want to learn a songs that uses a lot of barre chords, maybe focus on barre chords for a while. This is a good start that lets you learn some real music while improving your technical ability.

Also, if at all possible, get a teacher. Real, one-on-one teacher. This is the best thing you can do if you seriously want to get better.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*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
#4
I think that a big problem with programmes like rocksmith is the music effectively flies by, and you are responding to visual triggers (not aural triggers) ... but that's developing reflex responses ... it is probably not developing an inquiring mind into why the music sounds as it is, so any learning may be very surface level.

Learning by imitation of your favourite players (with tunes that are in and slightly beyond current capabilities) is a good way to move on.  But be wary of playing parrot-fashion.  That is eventually a dead-end street.

If you want to imitate someone, then this is best done by appreciating what (notes, chords, note placement) goes into the tunes, and how they are played (feel, guitar sound, how notes are dressed up ...).  How does the note choice complement the chord?  What's going on at chord changes?  How does the phrasing complement the rest of the band?  What's happening with dynamics?  There's a long list of things to listen out for.

Along the way, record yourself, if you can, and compare ... listen closely, and critique yourself.

As a general point, there is no gain from working on what you are already good at ... it's the weaknesses that offer all the opportunities.  Just remember that the goal of practicing is improvement, so if you are working on something to improve, your are meeting your goal, all the time ... with an end goal of being able to play at whatever standard you ultimately want.

There are many areas that can be profitably looked into, and my strongest advice would be make technique (at least shredding) low in your priorities.  There are a zillion players out there can rip through scales and arpeggios, at the speed of light, but it usually sounds like technique practice, and when it comes to doing anything slow or medium speed, there's nothing to be musically said.

Understanding how chords and scales relate is very useful, combined with aurally appreciating this.  It's a source of many ideas even when you can't hear them in your head (as you wouldn't probably think about some of the possibilities).  Definitely build your chord vocabulary, at least up to all the different types of seventh chord, and know where the thirds and sevenths (intervals) are in the chords, and work on recognizing their sound in the chord, and the overall sound of the chord.  Do some research into chord tone playing ... just look at simple stuff initially.

Try and learn say 3 chords a week (different voicings, and/or different types).  And put them into use.  If a tune you like has some chords, learn these, and then other voicings.

Realise the same shapes are cropping up again and again in chords (where the intervals are), and you will start to make sense of what's written in tab, even if your ear doesn't help you.

Explore rhythm ... playing with 1/4, 1/8th notes, 1/16th notes, triplets ... explore when to start and stop against the bar.  Listen to how vocalists do this.  Very rarely do they start on beat 1.  Rhythm offers the most chances for developing musically, not note choice.

Being a musician is a life's work (wrong word for it) ... it can't be rushed, nor should it be.  I've been playing guitar for well over 40 years now, and I'm constantly learning new ways of doing things.

It's not about the end goal ... you'll never get there if you are a true musician ... it's about the journey!
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 3, 2017,
#5
First of all thank you for all of the really helpful responses, I already am trying the ear training advice you guys have given (although apparently I was a bit off) with songs like 7 nation army (so you know something basic to get the hang of it)  but I have a real quick question for Jeremy Kramskoy, do you think watching you tube videos about the composition of songs would help? I ask because last night I found a you tube channel called "Hollistic Songwriting" and it seems like they get into how song writers write and the chords they frequently use and it kinda like what you were saying about appreciating what goes into music.
#6
Quote by jerrykramskoy
I think that a big problem with programmes like rocksmith is the music effectively flies by, and you are responding to visual triggers (not aural triggers) ... but that's developing reflex responses ... it is probably not developing an inquiring mind into why the music sounds as it is, so any learning may be very surface level.


I completely agree with that. These games and learning programs are aimed at people who want to learn how to play quickly, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're gaining any musical skills from learning a song fast. It's made to just achieve a perfect score from following the prompts whereas learning a song from a tab or by ear, you get more of a feeling for when each note is to be played, the length of each phrase etc.
#7
tony00237 You'll really benefit from a basic appreciation of how chords derived from major scale, and natural minor scale, can be used to create a sense of tonality, which are complemented by melody and soloing.  This is very quick to learn about, though it may take awhile to employ well.

Without going into the precise details (which you can find on youtube etc, and indeed here at UG):

1/ The major scale built from a given fret, will have its member pitches found on the string at 0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 frets above the chosen start fret.  So, E major scale pitches are found at frets 0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 on the bass E string,  G major scale pitches are found at frets 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12 and 15 on the bass E string.  And so on.  (Obviously, more than one string is usually used, but this is a simple explanation for now).  The exact analogy holds on piano, but count piano keys (regardless of colour black or white) from your start choice, to get the major scale.

2/ Combinations of these scale pitches produce the triads.  For brevity, I'll skip this bit, but the result is ...

3/ At fret 0, 5 and 7 relative to your start choice (so, frets 3, 8 and 10 if you chose G at 3rd fret on bass string), you have major triads (so G, C and D, if you started on G).  At fret 2, 4 and 9 relative to your start choice (so frets 5, 7 and 12), you have minor triads. (so, Am, Bm and Em).   At fret 11 relative to your start choice, you have a diminished triad (rarely used). 

4/ A chord progression will  typically start and end on the major triad found at fret 0 relative to your start choice (so G major).  Progression very often goes to the major triad at fret 5 or fret 7, relative to the start choice, and back again to the start choice triad.   The minor triad at fret 4 (relative to start) has two pitches in common with the major triad at fret 0 (relative to start).  Ditto the minor triad at fret 9 (relative to start) has 2 pitches in common with the major triad at fret 0 (relative to start), so these are frequently used as a replacement for the major triad at fret 0 (relative to start), though not at the end of a tune, usually.

This should be enough for you to put some progressions together, rooting your triad shapes off the bass string.  Of course, you can find the same major scale members on other strings, for example, the B minor triad could be played rooted at the 2nd fret on the 5th string (the A string).  Similarly, the C and D major triads could be rooted on the 3rd fret (5th string) and 5th fret (5th string), or the D major triad could be rooted off fret 0 (open string) of the 4th string (the D string), giving the hugely popular progression G, C, D, played using the "cowboy chord" shapes.

If you grasp this, then take a look at some song writing videos. 
#8
Jerrykramskoy you are awsome for writing this out im a bit confused at bits but I think I'm going to spend the rest of today reading more into this until I completely understand  thx
#10
Yeah, thx for your help, all of you guys!☺
Last edited by tony00237 at Jul 11, 2017,
#11
Quote by tony00237
I've been playing guitar for since i turned 16 (so 2 and a half years) and have over 100 hours of practice and most of it under the guidance of programs like rocksmith and yousician  and I just don't feel like i'm getting anywhere and after reading several articles about how shit those programs are I have decided to restart. So people understand where i'm coming from I can't any real songs based on sound, I know how to read tab music sheets, I know some basic chords, so I guess i'm slightly better than beginner. So I need advice, what do you guys recommend? What is a good practice schedule? What should I learn? Anything really.

Hi Tony! If you want to advance your skills, the most important thing about your practice is quality over quantity meaning that you ask yourself, "what do I hope to achieve by the end of this hour, this second hour etc., rather than simply putting more hours and effort to your guitar practice. The other is to play songs that you truly enjoy, and if you can't find sheet music for it, then try learning it by ear. If you want to improve on learning a song by ear, here are four things you could do:

The first is to learn how to sing the solo. This is the way people learned how to play solos pre-internet age. Besides playing the solo repeatedly, they learned how to sing it too. Singing the solo helps a lot with the phrasing of the solo as it’s a lot easier to phrase things with your mouth as it is the instrument you use most often. When you learn how to sing the solo at full-speed, you can also slow down the solo with your voice which helps immensely in finding the right (or what you perceive as right) notes. Obviously, this does mean you have know how to sing in pitch. You don’t have to sound good; you just have to sing in pitch.

The second thing is to try slowing down the solo to make it easier to pick out the notes. Just like how you’d slow down the solo when singing it, you can also slow down the song using various apps. YouTube has a great playback speed function that allows you to playback songs at 50-75% of the original speed while keeping the pitch of the song the same. Another app you can check out is The Amazing Slowdowner.

The third thing is to always work on the solo in small chunks. Don’t overstretch yourself by attempting to learn the entire solo in one sitting; you’re going to end up disappointed and discouraged. Instead, work on a bar or two and try to get the notes and phrasing as accurately as possible. Move on once you’ve truly absorbed and memorised the solo.

Finally, always keep in mind that the process of learning songs by ear will take some time so please be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up or you will lose all motivation to keep working on it. A lot of people end up with the mentality of, “maybe I’m just not cut out for this,” and that is such a pity because I truly believe that it’s something everyone can learn. Obviously, some people will learn faster than others, but if you stick with it, regardless of your aptitude or lack of it, you will get there. You will only fail when you stop trying. 

Hope this helps! Oh, and if you want ideas for guitar songs, there are a few right here: https://www.libertyparkmusic.com/courses/learn-guitar-songs/ 
Last edited by lpm13 at Jul 11, 2017,
#12
I don't know if you or anybody mentioned it but, do you play to any backing tracks. Something like a 12min long Blues in A minor backing track, and just solo over it in your own way, the first time for me was like somebody opening a door to a whole new world. Everything can seem so freakin technical, and sometimes takes to joy out of it. When I play to back music I can actually feel what they may call mojo or grove happening, I work hard on chords and scales and stuff but when I play to music it just seems to flow without much effort and I just go along creating my own thing. Its actually a pretty wonderful thing happening.
Flying in a blue dream
#13
SanDune65 no I haven't tried that yet actually. I think maybe I'll have to try that sometime soon (still trying to memorize scales and modes so I got a while to go yet) !
#14
tony00237 

Keep at it. I've been pro for 28 years. I practice/play 8 hrs a day, I still don't think I'm getting anywhere.  Just be better than yesterday