#1
I kind of hate this to be an introduction, but I have about hit my breaking point. It is one thing to physically struggle learning this. I have just accepted that no matter how frustrating. It is something else entirely to not understand the lesson at all. I recently added a scale to my practice layout. From - https://www.andyguitar.co.uk/online-lessons/lesson-1-e-minor-pentatonic-scale-in-open-position/ . This shows a scale that is all of 2 frets, open or closed alternating, from Low - E to High E and back up. I can do it, just not well, in time, etc. Just starting with it really. I go to Rocksmith 2014 to have some feedback since I know it has some way of practicing scales in the "Session Mode". What I see, and yes it is set to Pentatonic E Minor, bears no resemblance to what I learned. None. Even if I just somehow accept that it is "different" on the higher(?), frets, I do not see the pattern I learned at all. I don't even understand the interface I am seeing since it has no introduction, no explanation and bears no resemblance to my previous lesson or even my previous experience in Rocksmith. In short, without cursing for now, huh? (What I really want to type bears as much resemblance to "huh?" as my lesson and the Rocksmith session.) What is the point? I'm just looking to learn patterns, which is what I know I read scales are all about, to have something to practice at my own pace. This does not make any sense at all. The pattern couldn't be the same since "Session Mode" shows 4 frets, 3 in use, 1 skipped, and no indication of the pattern it even wants. If I'm not learning a pattern then what in the world is the point?


Since I am new, I should tell you the following. I have no musical knowledge what-so-ever. As in none. As in 2 weeks ago I couldn't give you a layman's definition of a chord. Still couldn't tell you what an octave or a bar is. No clue really. Forget terms like Harmony, I've only seen that one in print once or twice anyway. I am struggling enough with Tab, justinguitar, andyguitar and Rocksmith 2014. It doesn't help matters that the website lessons have the goal of "Learning to compose music and perform live". I will not further complicate matters by trying to add any form of music theory. As stated originally, I hate this to be my introduction here BUT given what I have read as "answers" to other threads I had interest in, it seems prudent to forestall any attempt to teach me music theory in any form. Not going there. For the time being, I just want to be able to play the damned thing, eventually to play the songs I like, and then in the very long run I will worry consider something beyond that. This is the least rewarding and most frustrating experience I have had that I can remember. You would have to go back to childhood that is beyond ability to recall to find something to compare it with.
#2
Get a teacher if you want to learn how to play guitar. This could solve all of your problems.

Here's the E minor pentatonic:

 
e|--------------------------------0--3--|
B|--------------------------0--3--------|
G|--------------------0--2--------------|
D|--------------0--2--------------------|
A|--------0--2--------------------------|
E|--0--3--------------------------------|

That's it in the first position. The lowest note (fret 0 on the E string) is E. The next note is G, the next is A, then B, then D, then E. Those are the notes of the E minor pentatonic: E-G-A-B-D, and then back to E and the notes loop.

Here's also the E minor pentatonic, in the third position:
 
e|--------------------------------5--7--|
B|--------------------------5--8--------|
G|--------------------4--7--------------|
D|--------------5--7--------------------|
A|--------5--7--------------------------|
E|--5--7--------------------------------|


You might notice that the pattern is completely different. So lets look at the notes: the first note, fret 5 of the low E string is A. Then, the 7th fret is B, the 5th fret on the A string is D, then we have E, and then finally G. So, the notes we have here are A-B-D-E-G. If you compare that to our first example, you'll notice that it's the exact same notes, but in a different order. But they have the same notes, so in proper context they can be treated as the same scale.

This is where your confusion probably originally arose from. The reason E minor pentatonic looks different if you start on fret 5 or fret 7 or fret 3 is because you're playing the notes in a different order. You're playing the exact same loop of notes, E-G-A-B-D-E-G-A-B-D-E-G-A-B-D-E...... and so on, but you're starting on a different note. The reason the notes repeat is that elusive "octave" you mentioned. An octave is the "same" note with a higher frequency. Notice how the guitar has two E strings, but they still sound different? They're octaves, precisely those strings are two octaves apart. We only have 12 notes in western music theory, and when you've played through all of them they loop.

If you're at all interested in the theoretical side of music, I recommend that the first thing you do is learn the names of the strings, learn the names of the notes, and figure out how to locate them on the fretboard.


But tbh I don't think you should bother with theory and chords and scales just yet if you're feeling frustrated. Start learning some really easy songs you like, and you'll get your motivation back. Just learn to play some music, don't bother with the technicalities just yet.

If you're really serious, get a teacher. Especially if you feel stuck and frustrated you need some one-on-one guidance.
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#3
Honestly, like Kevätuhri said,  the first thing you need to do before tackling anything like this is to familiarise yourself with the notes on the guitar fretboard. A "scale" isn't a shape or a pattern, a scale is a sequence of notes - that's what defines what a scale "is". Any particular scale, as a musical concept, is the exact same thing no matter whether it's played on a piano, a tuba or an accordion.

The shapes/patterns are just where you can find the notes of that scale on your particular instrument of choice, the guitar. The difference between a guitar and something like a piano is you don't have a linear progression of notes. The same note on a guitar can appear in multiple places, which means that you usually have several options available to you when it comes to playing a specific sequence of notes. So all the different shapes and patterns you see for a particular scale are the exact same thing, just presented in different ways.

Trying to learn anything to do with scales without the underlying context of the note names is going to be incredibly confusing. You don't need to be able to immediately recognise the notes you just need to be able to work them out from the open string.
Actually called Mark!

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#4
" You're playing the exact same loop of notes, E-G-A-B-D-E-G-A-B-D-E-G-A-B-D-E...... and so on, but you're starting on a different note."

Oh Thank God. I felt like such a moron. One thing Tab does not seem to do, or it assumes you know, is the notes.


" If you're at all interested in the theoretical side of music, I recommend that the first thing you do is learn the names of the strings, learn the names of the notes, and figure out how to locate them on the fretboard. "

I've actually already partially done this. String names sure. Though I do have to think for a moment. They often get referenced by number or a graph rather than note. Names of the notes and their positions on the fretboard I started working on drawing out a little while back but stopped. Something I picked up from JustinGuitar about how he spent his 90 minute train ride to music school drawing out the fretboard. I started doing that but stopped when I was getting overwhelmed elsewhere. Managing it from memory, without looking, at the speed necessary seems unrealistic for the moment. Though since it isn't physically taxing on my hand I can do it whenever.


" But tbh I don't think you should bother with theory and chords and scales just yet if you're feeling frustrated. Start learning some really easy songs you like, and you'll get your motivation back. Just learn to play some music, don't bother with the technicalities just yet."

Problem is, I went looking for songs I like and what it would take to play them. Yeah, that was more intimidating than anything I have seen so far. The sub-millimeter precision required for your fret fingers and the speed required are a little daunting. The good news I suppose is that I refuse to let this mideivel torture device beat me. It's just going slower than I wished. Seems par for the course. I just wanted the scales because it seems they are applicable long term and I need something with a pattern to practice, at my own speed, that seems possible to do without looking. Really, if I go look at the songs I want to play they are loaded with everything from Barre chords, Harmonics (which I can manage maybe 1 out of every 5-6 attempts/ per note), or some seriously fast picking. Scales seem like good practice for the long term and the short term.


My thanks to you both. The experience I have from reading some other answers colored me a bit in my expectations. Those responses ranged from variations of "You suck." to "Look at this guy with only 2 fingers playing speed metal" when the question was about Barre chords. Incredibly unhelpful.
#5
Silenti Not too sure how much credence I'd give to a lesson on scales that define a scale as "good notes that work well played up and down".

A scale used to write a song is a collection of pitches to use, at various "distances" (semitones)  from the start pitch of the scale.  This gives you a sound palette to work with, ffrom which chords can be made.  These distances have nothing to do with note names, sound-wise.  

For example, here's a recipe for choosing pitches in the major scale.  (0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11), which says that. once YOU have chosen a starting pitch, ANYWHERE on the guitar (or piano etc), then the other pitches are found at 2, 4, 5 etc semitones above your choice.

So, if you chose E (the open 6th string) as your starting pitch, you could create this scale all on one string, by going up 0, 2, 4, 5 etc frets from E.  The whole thing just starts again at the next E (12th fret).  Because you started on E, and used the "major" scale recipe, this is the "E major" scale.

Obviously, on guitar, there are many places to find the same pitches implied by the scale recipe (i.e. using more than one string), but that is a detail (a big one. mind).

If you chose to start at G (say, 5th fret, on D string), then apply the recipe from there ... you'd get frets 5, 7, 9, 10 ...  the same basic layout aa above. The same sound palette as above, just higher overall.  Now you have a "G major" scale.

Different "recipes" exist for different scale types.  The recipe for a minor pentatonic is (0, 3, 5, 7, 10).  Start at open E, on E string, then frets 0, 3, 5, 7 and 10 provide the pitches identified by this recipe.  This would be "E minor pentatonic".  Start this at say the 5th fret on the G string (the pitch C) , getting frets 5, 8, 10, 12 and 15, and you have the pitches for "C minor pentatonic"

A scale is then used to make a melody ... you can hear that some of the pitches in the scale sound like they should be followed by a neighbour in the scale.  Melodies make use of this, and usually end up on the start note of the scale.  A melody does NOT usually consist of a run of pitches from the lowest pitch in the scale to the highest, and back.

I suggest you learn a little about intervals ... they are way easier to learn than learning scales and chords by the names of the pitches involved.  You've just seen above that the major scale recipe is (0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11) which you can apply to any pitch you like.  Whereas, by note names you have to learn that E major has the pitches (E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#), and G major has pitches (G, A, B, C, D, E, F#) ... it's far less obvious that a simple recipe is being used to select these pitches.  Moreover, each of the semitone distances creates its own unique sound quality with the start pitch selected.  These can be recognised by ear.  If you change the start pitch, these sound qualities are unaffected, buty everything just sounds higher or lower.

You may find this lesson helps you get going ... https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 21, 2017,
#6
Silenti one tip to remember..you have a long way to go..be patient with the learning process..you are about to reorient your abilities to do things with you eye ear hands and memory that you have not done before..

If you can afford a GOOD experienced teacher do so for the short term at least to get some basic principles established and under your fingers from there you can grow to other material..

the two guys who responded to your post are experienced at helping folks on this forum..Steven Seagull (Mark) has been here for years..really knows his stuff..

good luck
play well

wolf
#7
Silenti You do realize that lesson is part of Andy's lead guitar course, which is meant to be done AFTER you have completed his THREE earlier courses?
#8
Quote by pjmorley
Silenti You do realize that lesson is part of Andy's lead guitar course, which is meant to be done AFTER you have completed his THREE earlier courses?

Not that surprising considering how unclear and sometimes poorly structured online courses tend to be.
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
#9
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Silenti Not too sure how much credence I'd give to a lesson on scales that define a scale as "good notes that work well played up and down".

A scale used to write a song is a collection of pitches to use, at various "distances" (semitones)  from the start pitch of the scale.  This gives you a sound palette to work with, ffrom which chords can be made.  These distances have nothing to do with note names, sound-wise.  

For example, here's a recipe for choosing pitches in the major scale.  (0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11), which says that. once YOU have chosen a starting pitch, ANYWHERE on the guitar (or piano etc), then the other pitches are found at 2, 4, 5 etc semitones above your choice.

So, if you chose E (the open 6th string) as your starting pitch, you could create this scale all on one string, by going up 0, 2, 4, 5 etc frets from E.  The whole thing just starts again at the next E (12th fret).  Because you started on E, and used the "major" scale recipe, this is the "E major" scale.

Obviously, on guitar, there are many places to find the same pitches implied by the scale recipe (i.e. using more than one string), but that is a detail (a big one. mind).

If you chose to start at G (say, 5th fret, on D string), then apply the recipe from there ... you'd get frets 5, 7, 9, 10 ...  the same basic layout aa above. The same sound palette as above, just higher overall.  Now you have a "G major" scale.

Different "recipes" exist for different scale types.  The recipe for a minor pentatonic is (0, 3, 5, 7, 10).  Start at open E, on E string, then frets 0, 3, 5, 7 and 10 provide the pitches identified by this recipe.  This would be "E minor pentatonic".  Start this at say the 5th fret on the G string (the pitch C) , getting frets 5, 8, 10, 12 and 15, and you have the pitches for "C minor pentatonic"

A scale is then used to make a melody ... you can hear that some of the pitches in the scale sound like they should be followed by a neighbour in the scale.  Melodies make use of this, and usually end up on the start note of the scale.  A melody does NOT usually consist of a run of pitches from the lowest pitch in the scale to the highest, and back.

I suggest you learn a little about intervals ... they are way easier to learn than learning scales and chords by the names of the pitches involved.  You've just seen above that the major scale recipe is (0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11) which you can apply to any pitch you like.  Whereas, by note names you have to learn that E major has the pitches (E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#), and G major has pitches (G, A, B, C, D, E, F#) ... it's far less obvious that a simple recipe is being used to select these pitches.  Moreover, each of the semitone distances creates its own unique sound quality with the start pitch selected.  These can be recognised by ear.  If you change the start pitch, these sound qualities are unaffected, buty everything just sounds higher or lower.

You may find this lesson helps you get going ... https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html


This is pretty much the exact kind of answer I didn't want. I know you are just trying to help but: Short version, not touching this. No. If that is the simplest explanation that is supposed to be an easier method than scales by notes, then maybe I want nothing to do with either for now. I might get more out of reading ancient Greek than that. As of now:

1. I cannot pick the correct string without looking with any real consistency. 

2. Fretting without looking better be extremely simple. As in 8, 10, 8, 10 on the same string. With a decent pause if you want me to switch strings and it better be an adjacent string. That is if there is enough time for me to look down and set up my fingers before hand.

3. I have had more alcohol in the past 2 weeks than in the previous 2 years thanks to this thing.

4. I cannot actually slow Rocksmith Riff Repeater down far enough for me to look back and forth and figure out what I'm doing much of the time. Attempting to do this without looking is a poor joke.

5. I am stuck with Rocksmith as my only method of feedback.

6. I am using a hand-me-down 20 year old Ibanez with what I think are the original strings.

7. No. No way can I afford a guitar teacher.

That is after around 50 hours put in. Rough guess. Stretching, alternate picking, efficient finger fretting (total failure in actual use so far)  and strengthening. Working through some of the lessons on RS2014 (Which is a terrible design. You go from something that you can learn within a few hours to something that you cannot touch in a single lesson step.) This is all before we get into me having short fingers, narrow palms, and long arms to go with a crooked pinky. (I will straighten that thing out even if I have to build and wear a brace.) Some of the "simple" chords require stretches I can barely do. I certainly cannot do them in any timely fashion when it takes everything I have to get my index on Fret 1 and my Ring on Fret 3 - in the actual proper position.

Until I can do all the above and more I am not touching music theory. Everyone keeps saying, not just here but in any advice reply - "Go play a song." and remind yourself why you are doing this. Well, I cannot play anything much so far. Fun - Some Nights I can barely get out of the first riff section, at the lowest speed, and that is after a couple of hours of work. Playing a song isn't fun, it is just a reminder of what I cannot do. Thus, back to the lessons and practice. I am not a positive person when it comes to personal incompetence. I focus on the negative until I get it right, consistently, and then I'm happy for about 10 seconds and move on to the next. 
#10
Quote by Kevätuhri
Not that surprising considering how unclear and sometimes poorly structured online courses tend to be.

RS2014 is worse. Almost no direction at all. I am just going to have to walk away from scales for now. Seems pointless additional frustration for the moment. God I hate this.
#11
Silenti Well, good luck anyway.  I'm very surprised you find it off-putting counting frets from a given fret to be able to build a scale.  But maybe you're more concerned about technique judging by your response? (i.e. fretting being simple).  At some point, you'll realise that just using shapes can become less than inspiring, and when that happens, look back into how scales and chords work together.  (which isn't guitar-specific by the way).

BTW: your approach to practising, find problem and fix, is exactly what practicing is all about. On a given day, it's not to do with becoming an amazing player. That's the eventual goal.  You are actually taking a really positive approach.

With rocksmith, I guess you're just learning to react to visual prompts on the screen, without thinkiing?  That really isn't playing music.  It will develop your hand-eye coordination, but at the expense of not knowing what's going on musically.

If you can handle guitar-tab, perhaps try that, and ditch rocksmith ... if you don't feel ready for getting into why certain scales etc are used, then tab will let you spend all the time you need to work on bits of a tune.  What would then really help you is something that can play mp3's and slow them down and loop sections.  You can use that along with the tab, to get the rhythm right.  

For example, Audacity is free, available for Windows and Mac.  https://www.lifewire.com/audacity-tutorial-change-songs-speed-without-affecting-pitch-2438167
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 22, 2017,
#12
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Silenti Well, good luck anyway.  I'm very surprised you find it off-putting counting frets from a given fret to be able to build a scale.  But maybe you're more concerned about technique judging by your response? (i.e. fretting being simple).  At some point, you'll realise that just using shapes can become less than inspiring, and when that happens, look back into how scales and chords work together.  (which isn't guitar-specific by the way).

BTW: your approach to practising, find problem and fix, is exactly what practicing is all about. On a given day, it's not to do with becoming an amazing player. That's the eventual goal.  You are actually taking a really positive approach.

With rocksmith, I guess you're just learning to react to visual prompts on the screen, without thinkiing?  That really isn't playing music.  It will develop your hand-eye coordination, but at the expense of not knowing what's going on musically.

If you can handle guitar-tab, perhaps try that, and ditch rocksmith ... if you don't feel ready for getting into why certain scales etc are used, then tab will let you spend all the time you need to work on bits of a tune.  What would then really help you is something that can play mp3's and slow them down and loop sections.  You can use that along with the tab, to get the rhythm right.  

For example, Audacity is free, available for Windows and Mac.  https://www.lifewire.com/audacity-tutorial-change-songs-speed-without-affecting-pitch-2438167

Thanks. Strangely enough I already have and am (in minor fashion) familiar with Audacity. It is not the counting frets part that throws me. It's everything else included in the surrounding statements. I guess minor means half step (1 fret) and major means full step (2 fret)? The Rocksmith thing is I need feedback of some kind. Something to work with. I know 1 person who is a musician and he is in another state a good 1000 miles away as the crow flies. So Rocksmith is what I have. My biggest problems with RS2014 come down to 2 little things. The lack of any kind of real system of progression - as in, finish here, go to the next, play this song, etc and its inability to recognize that yes, I kind of hit that note, but it sounded terrible since I didn't fret it or pick it properly. Until I get basic technique down the rest seems superfluous. Which is why I wanted scales. They seemed a good method of having something to play, in a pattern, that I coudl work on without looking and get my picking and fretting down more unconsciously. I'm not trying to be a musician for now. I just want to learn to play this thing. I will worry about the rest at a later date when I can actually play some of the songs I like. This is the least rewarding experience I have encountered in memory. I've heard it compared to a spinal injury victim learning to walk again. That sounds about right so far. 
#13
Silenti I empathise with you ... I had a period where I couldn't play a note, literally, from injuries ... and prior to that I had excellent technique.

Learning guitar seems to always be a mix of emotions, and frustrating for sure, at times, when those damn fingers don't do what I want them to.  But there should be pleasure involved ... especially if you are fixing problems.  That's something to feel good about.

I agree that if the notes aren't sounding good to you, because of technique issues, then yes, that needs fixing.  There are a few basic things you can investigate.

1/  Experiment whether the finger tip or upper finger pad suits you better for fretting a note.
2/  How close to the fret (as opposed to in the middle between two frets)  are you placing the finger?   The nearer the fret, the better (less effort to press string to touch the fret)
3/  Experiment with the angle your finger is coming down onto the string (vertically, sloped).  Also the angle of your hand to the neck.  (Right angles to the neck, slanted)
4/ Is a finger touching an adjacent string when you don't want that, or is another finger on your fretting hand inadvertenly touching the string you want to play (so, muffling or killing the note)?
5/  How much force are you using to press down?  This can be very revealing ... press down as hard as you can and pick the string.  Now keep gradually using less and less force, picking each time.  You should find that very little force is actually needed.  As a general rule, you want to use the bare minimum for the technique you use at any time ... the amp settings (if you're using electric) will also affect how you perceive this.
6/ Are your strings a heavy gauge (hard to budge)?
7/ Is your guitar action high, so the string has a long way to be pressed down?
8/ Check angle of wrist.  Mostly wants to be neutral (in line with forearm,  not bent ... but this changes as you get to bass strings).  You don't want the rest to be bent back (like pushing against a door).

On the picking hand, 
1/ experiment with how you hold the pick.  For me, I hold the pick fairly loosely ... tight enough so I don't drop it, but loose enough so it'snot fighting with the string I'm picking ... in other words, I can feel a slight rebound movement between my thumb and 1st finger as the pick catches a string and then is released as it moves past the string.
2/ experiment with much of the tip of the pick is lower than the string (nearer the body).  I keep this as shallow as I can get away with (again, less fighting with the strings)
3/  experiment with the angle of the pick face to the string (between parallel to the string, to heavily angled so just one edge of the pick contacts the string)
4/ Especially experiment with the angle your palm makes with the strings, from flat on top of the strings, to more resting on the pinky edge.  I'm somewhere between the two,  but not flat ... this means my hand/wrist is moving at a slight angle, so my pick comes up a little into the air away from the guitar body, which gives it more room to cross strings.  That wrist angle also means I can generate more picking force, and gives me a lot of control over how hard or soft I pick the string.  This may be a personal thing ... I know that when my palm is flat to the strings, I don't have that force or control.
5/ For soloing, you don't want a bendy pick.  That will throw your timing.

Make a few different finger combinations for your fretting hand (eg. 1st and 3rd finger, or 1st 2nd and 4th) and a few simple repetitive patterns (e.g. 1,3,1,3, ...) and play this just on one string, without using your picking hand ... and play against a metronome.  your job is to observe what yor upper body is doing as you perform  the movement, especially checking for tension (jaw, holding breath, tight fingers), and for playing out of time.  This has to mega slow (e.g 40 bpm, 1 note per click).  You want accuracy, and relaxed fingers.  This really allows your brain to figure out how best to control your fingers, whereas if this is always done at high speeds, that actually cuts out part of your brains's feedback loop to fine adjust the joints and muscles ... and that's what's needed to get the ball rolling.  Doesn';t need long ... 10-15 minutes, or until it feels controlled to you.  Try this on each string in turn (because this requires different joint positioning (wrist, fingers) as you get to the bass strings

You'll be tempted to speed up almost immediately, but resist.  Give it a few days, and maybe do this twice a day.

Then play a pattern using 2 adjacent strings.  Invent a few. Same idea.  Again, no picking hand.

Separately (e.,g. on the same day), just practice picking a string in time with metronome, but no don't use any frretting hand patterns.  Either use an open string, or just hold down one fret.  Say 10-15 minutes.  Once it feels steady on one string, then start bringing in another string, and pick each one 4 times in turn, using a repeated down/up pattern.

Aftetr a week or so, repeat with higher bpm (e.g. 60 - 80 bpm, 1 note per click), for another few days.

Then try cranking the metronome to high speed (e.g. 180 bpm), and repeat above, one note per click.  If that starts going wrong (tension, poor timing), drop the speed until it feelsw more or less ok, and practice for a few minutes.  Then drop it until it feels cxomfortable, in time.  You can do this to iteratively build your speed and accuracy, and there's a very good chance it will come, so long as you are 100% focused on the task in hand each time you practice (move, observe, correct).

When you have reasonable confidence in each hand, them bring together, synchronsing the picking with the fretting ... again, mega slow and build up.

I am prepared to bet that after 6-8 weeks, with daily short practice, you will be playing very differently.

Then you can bring in all the musical stuff, and then you stick your toe in the water learning how music works.


(BTW:  "minor" means that a chord or a scale contains a pitch that is 3 semitones higher than the starting choice for scale.  So, if you play the blues scale along 1 string (e.g. at frets 0, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10), the scale starts at fret 0  (E), and it has a note 3 semitones (3 frets on same string) higher than the E.  This means this scale has a "minor" flavour to it.  Whereas a scale that has a pitch 4 semitones higher than the start is some sort of "major" scale.  E.g. you canplay the major pentatonic scale on bass E string as, say, frets (3, 5, 7, 10, 12, (15)).  The start is G (3rd fret).  Fret 7 is 4 semitones away, so this scale is some kind of "major" scale.  It has a very different feel to it.

I agree the jargon is enough to drive folks nuts.  That's I try and avoid using as much as possible with new players.  The sounds, and how to find them, stand for themselves!
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 23, 2017,
#14
jerrykramskoy 
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Silenti I empathise with you ... I had a period where I couldn't play a note, literally, from injuries ... and prior to that I had excellent technique.

Learning guitar seems to always be a mix of emotions, and frustrating for sure, at times, when those damn fingers don't do what I want them to.  But there should be pleasure involved ... especially if you are fixing problems.  That's something to feel good about.

I agree that if the notes aren't sounding good to you, because of technique issues, then yes, that needs fixing.  There are a few basic things you can investigate.

1/  Experiment whether the finger tip or upper finger pad suits you better for fretting a note.

I try to use the tip, my fingernails are short enough, but often times the pad get used by the index or the pinky. This is especially true on the top 2 strings or so. At the top of the neck and either of the top 2 strings (and even a bit down from there) my hand just cannot span to put my index on fret 1 and my pinky on 4. I can just make it, but it is slow and takes a lot of pressure for me to reach it.

2/  How close to the fret (as opposed to in the middle between two frets)  are you placing the finger?   The nearer the fret, the better (less effort to press string to touch the fret)

If I look, then I'm mostly ok. When I try and not look I, often am off a fret and/ or more towards the middle. This is assuming I have to move my fret hand. If I can just stick it in place and use the 4 fingers then I am mostly ok. Teething problems really. So far.

3/  Experiment with the angle your finger is coming down onto the string (vertically, sloped).  Also the angle of your hand to the neck.  (Right angles to the neck, slanted)

This is something that is causing me continual problems. Take a D chord, as an example. Not easy to form for me, or anyone new apparently, but the problem is between my middle and ring finger. The ring finger hits the High E string and the way to change it so that I clear the High E AND the G is so small a difference that it literally cannot be seen. When I manage to get the position correct, by literally having all my fingers in place and then imperceptibly wiggling the tip of my ring finger, it tends to reduce the pressure the middle finger puts on the High E. To where that string now fails because of lack of pressure.I cannot imagine trying to form this at speed after switching from something else. This problem follows me around fairly consistently. It is just most pronounced with the D chord practice.

4/ Is a finger touching an adjacent string when you don't want that, or is another finger on your fretting hand inadvertenly touching the string you want to play (so, muffling or killing the note)?

Yep, as above, happens plenty when moving at any speed at all. Even 40 bpm is often too fast for some switches and my fingers get crossed up.

5/  How much force are you using to press down?  This can be very revealing ... press down as hard as you can and pick the string.  Now keep gradually using less and less force, picking each time.  You should find that very little force is actually needed.  As a general rule, you want to use the bare minimum for the technique you use at any time ... the amp settings (if you're using electric) will also affect how you perceive this.

This is part of my practice. I tend to combine this with economy of motion and the 1,2,3,4 exercise. It is just a lot to remember at one particular moment. Slowly I have stopped making some basic mistakes, but even now I still will look down and realize I am holding the pick with my thumb and middle fingers sometimes. I don't generally practice through the amp but the PC speakers (which are decent) and the RS cable.

6/ Are your strings a heavy gauge (hard to budge)?

I do not believe they are, but truthfully I have no idea. I have some Ernie Ball Titanium 8's I ordered but I hesitated to put them on for a few reasons. Heavier strings build up better calluses more quickly. I have trouble feeling the High E and B strings with either my index or middle finger so putting lighter strings on feels like a questionable choice. Last - I may have to get a setup at some point. If I have to have someone else do it, they would replace my strings. I do have some EB 10's coming on Tuesday.

7/ Is your guitar action high, so the string has a long way to be pressed down?

Honestly, I have no way to judge this really. Wouldn't know it if it bit me on the butt.

8/ Check angle of wrist.  Mostly wants to be neutral (in line with forearm,  not bent ... but this changes as you get to bass strings).  You don't want the rest to be bent back (like pushing against a door).

Now here is a problem. So much of what I am doing right now seems to be on the Low E and A strings that my palm ends up 90 degrees from my forearm so I can reach the damned strings. Even that often doesn't get me enough reach to actually bend my pinky properly on the Low E. As a result my wrist ends up pretty sore from the various exercises. Not even sure if that is normal or I'm doing damage.
 

On the picking hand, 
1/ experiment with how you hold the pick.  For me, I hold the pick fairly loosely ... tight enough so I don't drop it, but loose enough so it'snot fighting with the string I'm picking ... in other words, I can feel a slight rebound movement between my thumb and 1st finger as the pick catches a string and then is released as it moves past the string.

Just now figuring this out in part thanks to your words here. I constantly had problems getting the string to ring out properly, so I used more exposed pick and harder, then that caused me trouble moving or picking quickly or strumming. Choking up seems to have helped a lot. Also have a problem that I tend to lift off the strings when I have picked one instead of just going straight through and letting it rest on the next string in whichever direction.

2/ experiment with much of the tip of the pick is lower than the string (nearer the body).  I keep this as shallow as I can get away with (again, less fighting with the strings)

This caused me enough problems that I was hitting pickups and sometimes scraping the guard.

3/  experiment with the angle of the pick face to the string (between parallel to the string, to heavily angled so just one edge of the pick contacts the string)
4/ Especially experiment with the angle your palm makes with the strings, from flat on top of the strings, to more resting on the pinky edge.  I'm somewhere between the two,  but not flat ... this means my hand/wrist is moving at a slight angle, so my pick comes up a little into the air away from the guitar body, which gives it more room to cross strings.  That wrist angle also means I can generate more picking force, and gives me a lot of control over how hard or soft I pick the string.  This may be a personal thing ... I know that when my palm is flat to the strings, I don't have that force or control.
5/ For soloing, you don't want a bendy pick.  That will throw your timing.

I have to constantly watch this. Gets very annoying. My hand does not like the "correct position" of base of the thumb on the body or the palm near the pinky on the bridge. Anything you can direct me to here would be appreciated. I have problems strumming up, somehow over-vibrating the Low E, not picking hard enough and hardly getting any sound. Just all over the place. Every correction I make seems to fix say a problem when picking individual strings but cause a problem strumming.


Make a few different finger combinations for your fretting hand (eg. 1st and 3rd finger, or 1st 2nd and 4th) and a few simple repetitive patterns (e.g. 1,3,1,3, ...) and play this just on one string, without using your picking hand ... and play against a metronome.  your job is to observe what yor upper body is doing as you perform  the movement, especially checking for tension (jaw, holding breath, tight fingers), and for playing out of time.  This has to mega slow (e.g 40 bpm, 1 note per click).  You want accuracy, and relaxed fingers.  This really allows your brain to figure out how best to control your fingers, whereas if this is always done at high speeds, that actually cuts out part of your brains's feedback loop to fine adjust the joints and muscles ... and that's what's needed to get the ball rolling.  Doesn';t need long ... 10-15 minutes, or until it feels controlled to you.  Try this on each string in turn (because this requires different joint positioning (wrist, fingers) as you get to the bass strings

Going to work on this. I do something similar that is supposed to make you fingers stronger. They are like exaggerated Hammer-Ons I think. I certainly have timing and accuracy issues. Everything tends to be relaxed except when I am trying chords (which often requires such contortion of my hand that there is no avoiding it is going to take some serious pressure on my part) or stretching. Jaw tensions and breath holding are not a problem that I can tell.


You'll be tempted to speed up almost immediately, but resist.  Give it a few days, and maybe do this twice a day.

Not a problem. I am mostly playing/ doing everything quite slowly.


Then play a pattern using 2 adjacent strings.  Invent a few. Same idea.  Again, no picking hand.

Separately (e.,g. on the same day), just practice picking a string in time with metronome, but no don't use any frretting hand patterns.  Either use an open string, or just hold down one fret.  Say 10-15 minutes.  Once it feels steady on one string, then start bringing in another string, and pick each one 4 times in turn, using a repeated down/up pattern.

Yep, that is getting added to my practice sheet right now.


Aftetr a week or so, repeat with higher bpm (e.g. 60 - 80 bpm, 1 note per click), for another few days.

Then try cranking the metronome to high speed (e.g. 180 bpm), and repeat above, one note per click.  If that starts going wrong (tension, poor timing), drop the speed until it feelsw more or less ok, and practice for a few minutes.  Then drop it until it feels cxomfortable, in time.  You can do this to iteratively build your speed and accuracy, and there's a very good chance it will come, so long as you are 100% focused on the task in hand each time you practice (move, observe, correct).

When you have reasonable confidence in each hand, them bring together, synchronsing the picking with the fretting ... again, mega slow and build up.

I am prepared to bet that after 6-8 weeks, with daily short practice, you will be playing very differently.

Then you can bring in all the musical stuff, and then you stick your toe in the water learning how music works.


(BTW:  "minor" means that a chord or a scale contains a pitch that is 3 semitones higher than the starting choice for scale.  So, if you play the blues scale along 1 string (e.g. at frets 0, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10), the scale starts at fret 0  (E), and it has a note 3 semitones (3 frets on same string) higher than the E.  This means this scale has a "minor" flavour to it.  Whereas a scale that has a pitch 4 semitones higher than the start is some sort of "major" scale.  E.g. you canplay the major pentatonic scale on bass E string as, say, frets (3, 5, 7, 10, 12, (15)).  The start is G (3rd fret).  Fret 7 is 4 semitones away, so this scale is some kind of "major" scale.  It has a very different feel to it.

I agree the jargon is enough to drive folks nuts.  That's I try and avoid using as much as possible with new players.  The sounds, and how to find them, stand for themselves!

Yeah, this is still kinda ancient Etruscan to me.

Thanks for this. Should be stickied somewhere.

Woke up at about 4:30 and immediately read this and implemented  some of it in my first practice about 5:30. Already helped with the depth of the pick. Plenty of times I was hitting the pickups so I "choked" up on the pick and that helped immensely. Here's my basic practice schedule right now. That first line is just a reminder to me when I first pick up the guitar. The "lessons" in reference are generally RS2014 lessons and still just the basic ones at that.

Posture, Low Pressure Fret, Pick posture, Mute, Slow, Thumb middle of the neck

Work on completed lessons - max 10 min - warmup
Work on incomplete lesson - 3x day - 5 min
Compact movement - 3x day - 5 min
Stretch on Guitar - 3x day - 5 min
1234 Technique - 3x day - 5 min
Stretching Hand manually - 3x day - 10 min
Extra Pinky work - 3x day - 5 min
Chord practice - 3x day - 5 min
Low pressure work - 3x day - 5 min

Work on "Some Nights" a lot in 5 min increments

Things to add
Spider
Fret board memorization in sections


That is what I am aspiring to. I am trying to get up to 3 hours/ day right now. Hope to exceed that later. I have found the stretching and chord exercises to take a while to recover from though. It has undergone many changes over the past couple of weeks. I have only managed the times seen a couple of days. But this was also only put in place in this form on Saturday.
#15
Honestly, the spider exercise is a waste of time - nothing wrong with running it for 5 minutes as part of your warm up but I wouldn't recommend investing any time or effort into it beyond that.
Actually called Mark!

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#16
Silenti General comment ... remember that the physical approach to the guitar will vary depending on each person's physical capabilities, so hand positioning etc are general guidelines, and not absolute rules.  The only "rules" are ones wrt injury-free playing (frequent breaks, relaxed, no excessive bends in joints for extended periods.   But stuff to do with thumb positioning, finger (tip) angle, is far more up for grabs, as it were.  And also positioning has to change to deal with which strings youi're reaching for, which end of the end you're playing, and whether you're playing chords versus lead.

Thumb in the middle of the neck is definitely not something to be strived for at all times ... if you imagine a vertical cross section through the neck, parallel to a fret, then the thumb can travel the path of where the cross section meets the back of the neck (the "arc"), as feels comfy.  Plus, when doing bends or vibrato (other than a blues shake), the thumb more often than not comes up over the neck edge, for more strength to a squeeze.

The D chord issue is almost certainly a finger/hand angle.  If you're trying to play this with you thumb behind the neck, that will very likely cause your ring finger (and the others to flatten out (move off "vertical"), which will cause the treble E string to be muted by ring finger.  If instead, you move your thumb towards the bass E edge of the neck, even slightly over it, that will allow the fingers to go more vertical, and not touch other strings.

In fact, trying to playing most chords needs the thumb where I've just described ... if it's behind/in middle of the neck, you have to use a lot more pressure, which you don't need.

In terms of guitar action, can you slide one (two?)  credit cards or equivalent, between the 1st/2nd fret and the strings?   The bigger that fret to string gap, the harder you have to work.

Guitar strumming is  a different motion again ... if you're playing all 6 strings, this often comes from elbow/forearm ... not just wrist.  That combined with pick angle will determine how much energy is put into the strings, so how loud they sound.  If you were mainly playing acoustic guitar, say, and strumming out chords, as in folk playing, say, then a lighter, more flexible pick is used.  The stiffer the pick, the harder it can be to strum accurately.

But rhythm playing (e.g. chugging on 2 or 3 strings) does (for me at least) come from a loose wrist, and by palm coming off and back on the strings to control the level of damping I want to thicken the sound.  Here, it usually sounds better with a non-flexible pick.

Finger strength:  ... this is actually a fallacy (assuming guitar is well set up to suit you physically).  It's true that, with heavier strings, the sound is fuller, and then that may require more strength.  I remember playing Gary Moore's Les Paul once (we were rehearsing in same studios) and you could drive a bus between the strings and frrets, and the strings were very heavy ... I couldn't play his guitar at all.  What is needed is nimbleness, control and stamina, not strength.  The last thing a guitarist wants are for fingers to stiffen up, or tighten up.

I agree with steven-seagull about the spider exercise.  It's a much better idea to focus on finger moves that will crop up in the music you want to play.  So, even playing 1-2-3-4 finger exercise is kind of artificial.  Be better to concentrate on using fingers 1-2-3, 1-2-4, 1-3-4, across 3 to 4(5) frets, in various patterns ... as these will occur in scale and lick playing.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 24, 2017,
#17
jerrykramskoy 
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Silenti General comment ... remember that the physical approach to the guitar will vary depending on each person's physical capabilities, so hand positioning etc are general guidelines, and not absolute rules.  The only "rules" are ones wrt injury-free playing (frequent breaks, relaxed, no excessive bends in joints for extended periods.   But stuff to do with thumb positioning, finger (tip) angle, is far more up for grabs, as it were.  And also positioning has to change to deal with which strings youi're reaching for, which end of the end you're playing, and whether you're playing chords versus lead.

Thumb in the middle of the neck is definitely not something to be strived for at all times ... if you imagine a vertical cross section through the neck, parallel to a fret, then the thumb can travel the path of where the cross section meets the back of the neck (the "arc"), as feels comfy.  Plus, when doing bends or vibrato (other than a blues shake), the thumb more often than not comes up over the neck edge, for more strength to a squeeze.

My thumb tends to roll a bit as  I approach the very high or very low frets. This may be caused by the length of my forearms. Basically my thumb ends up parallel to the neck and there is just no other way to shape my hand that works at all. That or push the guitar way out away from my body. (While sitting. I don't play standing yet.)


The D chord issue is almost certainly a finger/hand angle.  If you're trying to play this with you thumb behind the neck, that will very likely cause your ring finger (and the others to flatten out (move off "vertical"), which will cause the treble E string to be muted by ring finger.  If instead, you move your thumb towards the bass E edge of the neck, even slightly over it, that will allow the fingers to go more vertical, and not touch other strings.

The problem appears to be my ring and middle fingertips. They have something of a fleshy balloon on the pad. When I press down enough to properly fret, my finger tip flattens out and sinks in till this fleshy bulb is striking the High E. When I switch to using fingers 2,3,4 instead of 1,2,3 - the problem is much easier to deal with because my pinky finger is doesn't have this "feature". Changing the location of my thumb didn't really change anything here. I still have a problem of losing power in my middle when trying to worm the ring into the proper position. Which is damned near impossible because of the above. 


In fact, trying to playing most chords needs the thumb where I've just described ... if it's behind/in middle of the neck, you have to use a lot more pressure, which you don't need.

In terms of guitar action, can you slide one (two?)  credit cards or equivalent, between the 1st/2nd fret and the strings?   The bigger that fret to string gap, the harder you have to work.

1 Card, and a thin one at that, just barely fits. Guess I cannot blame the equipment?


Guitar strumming is  a different motion again ... if you're playing all 6 strings, this often comes from elbow/forearm ... not just wrist.  That combined with pick angle will determine how much energy is put into the strings, so how loud they sound.  If you were mainly playing acoustic guitar, say, and strumming out chords, as in folk playing, say, then a lighter, more flexible pick is used.  The stiffer the pick, the harder it can be to strum accurately.

It's the pick getting caught on the high E on the upswing that screws it all up. I can produce a pretty clean sound going down. Going up however is a mess. Tried pick angle and twisting it so it is edge then point that hits the string. Doesn't really change anything.


But rhythm playing (e.g. chugging on 2 or 3 strings) does (for me at least) come from a loose wrist, and by palm coming off and back on the strings to control the level of damping I want to thicken the sound.  Here, it usually sounds better with a non-flexible pick.

I have been using 2 different picks. One is Chromacast .88 Heavy and the other is a Dunlop Jazz III heavy. The Jazz is a lot smaller. I actually like the junky Chromacast pick better at this point. Changing between them though doesn't change the problems. Not really. Thinner picks bent when I used them and it didn't feel right.


Finger strength:  ... this is actually a fallacy (assuming guitar is well set up to suit you physically).  It's true that, with heavier strings, the sound is fuller, and then that may require more strength.  I remember playing Gary Moore's Les Paul once (we were rehearsing in same studios) and you could drive a bus between the strings and frrets, and the strings were very heavy ... I couldn't play his guitar at all.  What is needed is nimbleness, control and stamina, not strength.  The last thing a guitarist wants are for fingers to stiffen up, or tighten up.

I agree with steven-seagull about the spider exercise.  It's a much better idea to focus on finger moves that will crop up in the music you want to play.  So, even playing 1-2-3-4 finger exercise is kind of artificial.  Be better to concentrate on using fingers 1-2-3, 1-2-4, 1-3-4, across 3 to 4(5) frets, in various patterns ... as these will occur in scale and lick playing.

Ok. So no Spider or 1234 and forget finger strength. I'll use your suggestion in their place.

Would old strings make Hammer-Ons harder to near impossible? I have trouble generating enough power, even if I draw the finger back like a bow string, to have it ring out on frets 10+ or so.
#18
Silenti You got Skype?  Be much easier just to show you and see what you are doing.  Upstroke will be very easy too fix. Just send me a private message if you'd like to try that.  Alternatively can you video yourself strumming?

However, I think you need to use your forearm more, to drag the pick through the E string and B string etc on the upstroke.  Imagine you are pulling a door open.  Try that kind of motion.  Dig in with the pick for that (as opposed to minimum tip catching the strings when playing single notes in a solo).  Just try repeated up strokes on the top 3 treble strings, with no down strokes in between, at slwo to moderate speed so you can clearly see/feel/hear you're catchingt all 3 strings.  If that makes a difference, then go for more strings (1st to 4th< 1st to 5th, 1st to 6th), and then start experimenting with using your forearm in a side too side motion like you would if you were polishing a car, but again, just contact the strings with the up strokes, and forget the down stroke.

 As for fingering chords, if you need to refinger to play clean, then that's what you should do.  I still suspect your pushing down too hard.  Another way you can play D is to hold your first finger down over the treble strings at the second fret, and then add another finger of your choice to play the 3rd fret, 2nd string.
#19
I threw together a Skype account but have some camera issues. Going to have to test things as well. See how Skype handles 3 different microphones plugged in. And my camera is a junky 720p/30 MS life something-or-other.

I tried this and it seems to help. Perhaps I am just being too gentle. The way the Low E vibrates and makes unpleasant sounds has had me reducing the power I put behind the pick since day 1. Seems to work for up strumming though. If I am just hitting the 3 Treble strings on the upswing though, my arm really doesn't move much. Looks more like an exaggerated picking motion with a bit of forearm movement. Haven't tried the back and forth motion yet.

Strangely enough, just last night I was trying to figure out how you play this treble power chord with an immediate Hammer-On several frets away. Went and watched and he cheated. He used 1 finger since it was all on the same fret for the power chord. Tried that same and I can get it to work. The D chord this way though has proven a bit difficult to hold both end strings down. I may need to move my finger over closer to the fret. It does work, but I still end up needing to use the pinky for the B string.
#20
Progress is slow but steady I suppose. Your exercise of picking alone, fretting alone, then trying to do them together and slowly increasing the time has made a fairly noticeable difference already I would say. Had to play at 70bpm thanks to RS Session mode limitations. Didn't have any trouble really. A little here and there, but mostly ok.

Still have to work on the strumming and chord formation. Ugh.

I'll PM you if I can get Skype working and you can take a look. Thanks for the offer by the way.
#22
With my health problems, I totally understand. 

I am in CST, I think you are +6 to me. I would be a very poor student at the moment. I'm only managing about 90 minutes a day and getting annoyed again. (Doesn't help that what I thought was a power chord is something called a double stop.) I run the exercises which have gotten easier and let me run through more variations up to about 70 bpm. This has not helped my consistency when attempting to play a song, not look at the fret hand or the pick hand. I really do not think that 22 days in I should still be having such really basic trouble. Hell, I even get the wrong set of frets sometimes when I do look. It's to the point where I may paint the numbers on the guitar. Just angers me. Between that and the 3 sets of pickups where it seems like I am going to brush the rear or center set with my pick - it still gets caught on the bare poles of these pickups, at times. Going to walk away for a few hours. Sleep on it again. Try more tomorrow. Otherwise I may just re-enact the manner in which I suspect the slang term "axe" was originally applied to the guitar.
#23
Silenti

22 days isnt very long, it will take months-years to master the basics. I still have alot of the same problems you do and im six months in, but progressing.

Try lowering the middle pickup, careful to not take the screw out completely, to give you more room. I seldom use the middle position and gives me one less thing to worry about when practising.

Power chords, this is where understanding a bit of theory helps. Root note and 5th note (ex. index finger low E, fret 3 and middle fingers A string, fret 5 produces a G power chord. This shape can be moved to any fret/string. Try practising Smells Like Teen Spirit)
#24
Quote by ruready1994
Silenti

22 days isnt very long, it will take months-years to master the basics. I still have alot of the same problems you do and im six months in, but progressing.

Try lowering the middle pickup, careful to not take the screw out completely, to give you more room. I seldom use the middle position and gives me one less thing to worry about when practising.

Power chords, this is where understanding a bit of theory helps. Root note and 5th note (ex. index finger low E, fret 3 and middle fingers A string, fret 5 produces a G power chord. This shape can be moved to any fret/string. Try practising Smells Like Teen Spirit)

Then I shall quit complaining in public. In private, however, I reserve the right to berate myself for screwups. :p Probably be a touch before I mess with the pickup height. Need a string winder and then I shall probably do the new strings and the lowering at the same time. Have to see about Smells Like Teen Spirit. Have to run so this is written in haste.
#25
Silenti The guitar becomes a lifetime's work, never completed for most, no matter how good they are.  So long as you're trying to build a new skill, closely observing what happens each time, and focus on carefully correcting problems you spot, then youi're practice is exactly the right thing and is achieving its goal, whatever area you work on ... the benefits build gradually.  So don't bash yourself up too much!

As for double stops ... actually, if you play the double stop using same fret (or just open strings)  on any string pair (except for G,B), you could be playing a power chord, depending what else is going on.  If it's just you, and you do this on say the 7th fret of the E and A bass strings, this can work as an E5 power chord.  The two notes are B (on the E string) and E (on the A string).  Notice the root of this chord is on the A string (the upper pitch in this straight line shape).

Another version of the same chord could be played using the open E string and the 2nd fret on the A string (which is a B note).    Here the root is the lower pitch of the pair.

Or you can stack both of these as follows

e:
b:
g:
d:   9  (B)
a:   7  <=== the chord root, E
e:   7  (B)
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 27, 2017,
#26
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Silenti The guitar becomes a lifetime's work, never completed for most, no matter how good they are.  So long as you're trying to build a new skill, closely observing what happens each time, and focus on carefully correcting problems you spot, then youi're practice is exactly the right thing and is achieving its goal, whatever area you work on ... the benefits build gradually.  So don't bash yourself up too much!

As for double stops ... actually, if you play the double stop using same fret (or just open strings)  on any string pair (except for G,B), you could be playing a power chord, depending what else is going on.  If it's just you, and you do this on say the 7th fret of the E and A bass strings, this can work as an E5 power chord.  The two notes are B (on the E string) and E (on the A string).  Notice the root of this chord is on the A string (the upper pitch in this straight line shape).

Another version of the same chord could be played using the open E string and the 2nd fret on the A string (which is a B note).    Here the root is the lower pitch of the pair.

Or you can stack both of these as follows

e:
b:
g:
d:   9  (B)
a:   7  <=== the chord root, E
e:   7  (B)

For better or worse, my beating myself up is my version of self-motivation. It's not something I spew to others, just to myself as a "fix this you twit, come on, do it again". Only that is the sanitized version of course.


That almost makes sense to me. Least I wasn't crazy, which is how I felt with the power chord/ double-stop thing. I think I even figured out a strumming fix for the double-stop thanks to you. I am very slow at it, but it has started to sound correct. Or at least, more correct. The fretting of chords is still a major issue. Or single notes without muting the surrounding strings. My fingertips have toughened up but not enough to keep from deforming too much. Soon as I can get some stuff sorted tech wise around here I can at least send you a video. Might just be a bit.

And thanks for the on-going help. I don't expect to master this thing. Pretty much ever. Would just be nice to play some stuff and maybe eventually work on my own stuff (very far down the road.)
#27
Silenti My pleasure.  I had friends help me when I first started (no web back then !), and I'm happy to pass on bits and pieces.

You'l defnitely find that a few mechanical things will just click after some practice, and that's weeks away, not months or years.  As for your own stuff, you can start exploring as soon as you start hearing ideas in your head.  That's where some fundamental knowledge about what shapes make what sounds come in, and that stuff is very easy to understand and start applying.  Doing a simple jig saw is way harder.  It's just that usually what's going on gets dressed up in mountains of jargon and notation, and as such makes it very hard to see the wood for the trees.  But that can be cut right through.

Even with zero knowledge, there's a well known fact that always works ... if you play a note that sounds "clashy" against a chord (riff), just shift that note one fret higher or lower on the same string.  So you can experiment, play bum notes, and get out of trouble just using your ears and this tip.  Try it against any track ...just take a wild guess where to put your finger on the guitar and listen.  It's good fun, and avoids the usual fear of what can I or shouldn't I play against something.  There is a simple explanation for why this always works, but you needn't worry about that for now.  Just try it.  Be more obvious with a tune that has only a few chords which don't change too rapidly ... gives you more chance to experiment.

Offer is open for skype, or put up a video, or just send it to me ... whatever you're comfortable with.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 27, 2017,
#28
Quick question: Thumb position. When I am stretching my hand and trying to reach the bass strings. The further up I go my tendency is to roll my wrist forward and down, thus moving the thumb down, to increase my reach. So thumb goes down, fret fingers go up. This only happens on the low (farther apart) strings. I noticed when I was playing the higher frets where I do not have to stretch, my thumb tends to move up and my wrist doesn't bend. Basically, which should I be doing? Thumb higher up the back of the neck as you approach the Low E or thumb lower and wrist rolled forwards.
#29
Silenti Place your fretting hand palm down on  a table.  Now lift your forearm, but keep finger tips in contact with the table.  That is the kind of bend you may need in the wrist to reach the bass strings.  Thumb placement wants to be comfy ... if you imagine your fretting fingers all laying on the neck, parallel to the frets, and you were looking down on the neck, with x-ray vision (a must for all guitarists! ).  Roughly in line with your middle finger, at the back of the neck, is the arc of movement for the thumb (imagine you've sliced a cross section through the neck, parallel to a fret).  For me, I don't move my thumb that much (other than moving positions to other parts of the neck)... I mainly change my wrist angle, but I have large hands.  Some players keep roughly in centre of the arc (i.e. middle of neck, rather than towards either edge), and move either way as needed for the reach.  This is a very personal thing ... no right and wrong, so long as you're not hurting yourself, and can cleanly fret the strings.
#30
OK. Odd question I suppose. Been trying to work on the pull-off. Seems no one can agree on what this is or how to do it. Methods seen so far:

1. Just pluck the string down.
2. Pluck the string down while holding the same string 2 frets higher with your index finger.
3. As #2 only push the string up with your holding finger and pluck it down with your ring.
4. Hover your fret finger over the fret itself, barely touching, then pick the string and release at the same time.

#3 I cannot do to save my life. #4 I would have maybe 1 chance in 20 to live. What should I be doing here?

Side note: Going to do a monthly update later this week. Figure I will do 1 a month for awhile it people remain curious enough to read these threads.
#31
Silenti Again ... this is a personal thing as suits your body mechanics, the speed you want to play at, and how much energy is put into the string from the picking hand (if any).

Body mechanics mean that everyone can hammer one harder (more forcefully) than they can pull off the string.  So, one style relies on this, so that the pull-off is just ending the current sound by relaxing off the string (no force), and the next note is sounded by a hammer-on.  When synchronised properly, this can reduce the overall tension and energy expended with the fretting hand, in turn meaning that very fast lines can be played.

A side-effect of the above is only finger is on the string at one time ... if you think about this, this is beneficial because another finger can prepare for a string change in advance, rather than just at the last moment.  For example, if you're ascending, as in the following, the 1st finger can already be in place to hammer down on the 2nd string while you're still holding down or preparing to release (pull-off) the 3rd string. 4th finger (7th fret):

e:
b:               5  6   8
g:   4  5  7
d:
a:
e:

The same is true in reverse, for descending, where you can have your 4th (3rd) fingerc ready for the hammer on on the lower pitched string.

The above doesn't require very hard hammer-ons either, and the pull-offs are better thought of as "relax off the string".

With this approach, I got up to around 260 bpm with 4 notes per click.  I could never get anywhere near that using energetic pull-offs (190 - 200 bpm).

This approach really requires extremely slow practice for a few weeks to get perfect coordination.  I was playing short scale patterns at 40 bpm, 1 note per click, for 2 weeks, without playing anything fast at all ... but I was also coordinating this with my other hand (picking each note).  The fretting hand motion doesn't change, pick or no pick.  I was staggered by the results when I did go for it.  Felt totally effortless.  Not much use though, musically, other than for a brief flash of showiness :-)

As for finger height off the strings ... if you guitar set up allows it or your fingers can move quick enough to produce sound from a short distance to  the string, then you want to be as near to the string as possible ... less motion, faster you can play.  This is general, regardless of how you decide to deal with hammer-ons and pull-offs.

The other approach requires you to generate force with the pull-off, and if you are keeping the index finger down (e.g. in a repeated lick like 4,5,7,4,5,7, ...) then this means you have to generate more force on the pull-off .  In a rolling pattern, like 4, 5, 7, 5, 4, 5, 7, you may feel like fretting 4, and additionally 5, then 7, and start "peeling" back ... now you really are having to work hard (at a disadvantage) as this massively relies on the energy of each pull-off to sound the next note.

To generate force, there needs to be enough friction between your finger tip (or pad) before it slips during thye pull-off motion.  This can be done pulling down towards the floor. or even pulling away roughly parallel to the string, but heading towarsd the guitar body slighly, and variations in between.  Your finger angle to the string will drastically affect this.  (e.g. all fingers are slanted across the frets, rather than parallel to the frets).  Personally, when I do actively pull-off the string, then main thing for me is that the finger tip / top of finger pad is engaged to create the friction, and I prefer a slightly slanted approach, as this makes it easier for me to get into rock-based lick with bends and vibrato, as well as handle legato.

I would recommend one finger on a string at any time, with other fingers floating as close as possible to the strings, regardless of whether you use an active pull-off or just relax off the string.

What you don't want are high-tensile talons for fretting fingers ... you must be as tension free as possible for what you are doing.

And of course, if a pick is involved, the corresponding fretting hand finger at that tiime has very little energy to expend ... enough to make a clean note, and anymore enrgy is wasted, and slows you down.

(Very good idea about tracking your progress ... just be honest with yourself, and keep on doing, observing, correcting)
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 3, 2017,
#32
So barring a need to exceed 200bpm I can do the "pick the string with the fret finger and do nothing else" version since that is the one that seems possible?
Quote by jerrykramskoy


Body mechanics mean that everyone can hammer one harder (more forcefully) than they can pull off the string.  So, one style relies on this, so that the pull-off is just ending the current sound by relaxing off the string (no force), and the next note is sounded by a hammer-on.  When synchronised properly, this can reduce the overall tension and energy expended with the fretting hand, in turn meaning that very fast lines can be played.


Still not sure how this works. Fret and pick the note, then what? Touch the string 2 frets up or down with the unused 1 or 3 finger? I try that and it mutes the string and has no other effect that I can tell. I would love to work on this, well no actually I will hate it but needs must and all, but I don't even see how this works. 
#33
Silenti   (One thing I should point out ... this type of hammer-on/pull-off technique requires good muting technique with your plectrum hand, which mutes every string apart from the one your playing.  However, ignore that for now ... but this is something that is critical to electric guitar playing in general (muting technique) so you need to start getting into it sooner than later.  For now, tie some rag, or a hair band, around the neck near the nut ... this is a very temporary fix!!)


Here's an example.  Suppose you want to play the pattern 5 6 8 over and over (i.e. 5th, 6th and 8th frets) on the treble E string.

Let's ignore using the right-hand (no plectrum).

With the left hand:

1/  Hammer-on fret 5 with your 1st finger (index)
2/ Relax this finger off the string before the sound has died (don't worry about timing for now)
3/ Hammer-on fret 6 with 2nd finger
4/ Relax it, same idea as 2/
5/ Hammer on fret 8 with your 4th (or 3rd) finger
6/ Relax it, same ideas as 2/
Go back to 1/ and repeat.

The above is just to get used to the mechanics, what it feels like.


Then, start doing this to a metronome ...

The hammer-on must be made in time ... therefore the relaxation must occur before the next hammer-on.  You could relax off almost immediately, and then have silence until the sound from the hammer on is due at next click, for a staccato effect.  You could wait till the very last millisecond to relax off before the next hammer-on is made.  This gives a legato effect.  If you're using distortion, then you have more lee-way in when you relax off.  But no matter what, the hammar on is always on time.

If you introduce you're picking hand as well, the pick stroke must be timed with each hammer-on, and the hammer-on just needs to be hard enough so you get a note rather than a muted note or nothing.

The exact same idea applies if the pattern is 8 6 5 repeat.  You begin hammering on the 8th fret with your 4th (3rd) finger, relax it off, hammer on 2nd finger on 6h fret etc.

What about 6 5 6 8 repeated?  Exact same idea.  Hammer 6. Relax. Hammer 5, Relax,Hammer 6, Relax, Hammer 8, Relax.

In general the finger relaxing can be coming up as the next hammer on is going down.  Experiment.

If you're doing a string change (e.g. 5, 6, 8 on 2nd string, then 5, 6, 8 on 1st string, and repeat this whole pattern), then while the hammer on at fret 8 on 2nd string is still sounding, you can be moving your index finger over fret 5 on the 1st string, ready for the next hammer-on.  Relax off the 8th fret on 2nd string.  Hammer the 1st string with your already in-position finger.  When you get to play the 8th fret on 1st string, you can be moving your 1st finger over the 5th fret on the 2nd string, in preparation for itsw hammer-on.
The key to this, when practicing really slow, is to consciously think "relax" each time the finger should be doing that.  And really feel that relaxation as the finger comes up slightly off the string.

You now officially owe me a bottle of beer to be left behind the bar at my local pub :-)

Let me know how you get on.  Enjoy building the skill!
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 3, 2017,
#34
LoL. If I ever have a way to get across the Pond then I will happily buy you a beer!

Haven't had a chance to work this yet. Yesterday, last night, just a mad house whirlwind.

Have to do the 30-day write up later. Still so many basic mistakes. Not even sure I am getting better. Just assuming it will really. Probably everything will suddenly work, once, all at the same time somewhere down the road.
#35
I kind of thought I was going nowhere fast and was working my but off at it. Until I sat down and tried to play to some backing tracks, I kinda blew myself away...all those things I had been working on for so long, just picking for hours, scales, chords, working on my fretting, all that stuff just came out and the next thing I knew I was actually playing music and not just some technical scale stuff. Not just that but I discovered feel, rhythm, groove or mojo...whatever you want to call it I felt it man. At that time I was getting pretty frustrated with practicing the same stuff over and over again, just tired and bored from it, after my little revelation I want nothing more than to continue practicing those same things over and over again, because I know the outcome, the reward is pretty powerful.
Flying in a blue dream