#1
I have been playing on and off for years, learning only to play tabs. Never really learned any chords and don't know how to play any scales.

I am picking it up again and wanted to ask you experts on what you think is the most efficient/optimal way to improve/practice. Back when I first started we did not have the interwebs. Now that we do, I'm sure there are some pretty awesome interactive guitar lesson website/software out there. If so, can you name a few? Money is not a problem.

Also, what do you think is the best way to practice, without saying to "just practice." Do I learn and practice scales? Do I look for lessons on YouTube? I want to progress as efficiently as possible, learning as much as I can, so any help is appreciated!

Thank you all!
#2
I recommend:

1] Never look at tab, ever.

2] Forget website/software lessons.

3] Practice only playing songs by ear.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#3
I would add to that - play several hours per day consistently for at least a year or two - that will boost past the difficulty hump that keeps people trapped and bored. The more you play the funner it gets.
#4
I tried the DIY method for a year and a half but once i took private lessons i progressed more in a month with a teacher than i could in 4 months on my own

Seriously consider in person lessons. Theyre cheap and you have a real person telling you the best way to play
Country music sucks
#5
Try to cover a few bases every day - technique, repertoire, learning new tunes, chord/scale knowledge. Don't have to do everything every day, but try to get a couple of things done. Use a metronome.

Having a teacher is ideal. 
#6
Don't get too hung up on where you want to be in x years time and don't worry about not being able to do stuff that's way ahead of where you are. Focus on building on your current skills by setting achievable, short term goals - each time you reach them set new ones.
Actually called Mark!

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...it's a seagull

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#7
start learning open chords and intervals. get a good grasp on basic theory, then move onto scales. good place to start.
#8
From my own experience, I think both tabs and playing by ear are helpful. (Though I dont really deviate from that so I cant speak for other ways). I use a fair bit of tabs and it has helped me go from barely being able to play to doing reasonably well (I love to play iron maiden). I think using tabs to learn at least helps you get a better feel for your instrument and familiarity with finger movement and such. But definitely dont neglect playing by ear. Its not something you will pick up overnight but after a while it becomes easier and helps a ton.
#12
Quote by KGC1
thecrouch I hope that's a joke lol

KGC1 nah I'm serious lol, I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but it works for me. 
#13
In my opinion the best way to improve is to create a disciplined structure schedule and stick to a daily practice routine.

In addition to the above, get great education. (Perhaps a teacher with a great reputation in your local area)

Follow his or her advice and keep pushing your playing.

Also, practice the guitar away from the guitar. (In your mind's eye)

When you do that you will internalise your scales, modes and chords so much more!

Keep going keep trying and above all BE consistent!
#15
emd0231 I am not an expert. And frankly I think your premise about asking "experts" can be fraught with danger.

Let me equate this with golf. All my golf teachers started the game as kids or teens. None of them ever significantly improved my game, or any other adult's that I could see. None of them truly understood how "they" learned the game because you don't learn mechanically when you're young (or old). So they just parroted the common lesson techniques from the big name teachers that don't work. I had instinctively learned to swing so efficiently that I was competing in the ReMax long drive competition and outdriving all these teachers by 50 yards, but they were destroying my swing with "mechanics". They were turning me into an inconsistent robot. It wasn't until I dropped them and self-taught a technique that made sense to me (then found a teacher who taught it) that I actually learned to self-correct and play non-mechanically... and still hit it as far as ever. 

On to guitar ... I started in fits and starts as a late teen. Gave it up in frustration. Picked it up again at 25, and stuck with it casually for about 10 years. What was different this time? Tabulature. It let me play the songs I wanted to play instead of Michael Row the Boat Ashore or boring chords and scales. I got into acoustic fingerpicking too. But never had time or understanding to progress very much beyond some Zeppelin, Tull, easy Metallica, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, etc. With life's responsibilities, I kinda drifted away again. Now I've just recently come back and have been astounded by the technology. Not only is the tab more plentiful and easier to access, but computer-based models for all the songs are there too (I use ToneBridge thru an iPad and iRig). And computer-based backing tracks too. Now I can actually sound like the song I'm trying to play without buying a bunch of pedals  (or fidgeting with my first-generation modeling amp), and easily take the place of the guitarist in it. It makes it much more interesting. And now that I've gotten older I actually like to play scales.

As far as technique, I'm already growing at a far faster pace than ever because of some of the online lessons I've found. As in golf, you have to figure out which lessons make sense and discard the other 95%. So far for me, Claus Levin clicks. I sit in front of the TV every night noodling with his "loop" lesson and my speed has picked up profoundly. But there are several other individual lessons that I've bookmarked, such as a few of the Rob Chapman and Robert Baker lessons, and others I can't recall at the moment. I also like the Guitar Center John Petrucci interview where he gives the easiest lesson on sweep picking I've ever seen.

I'm not trying to play professionally or be a composer. I don't have time to sit and figure things out by ear, nor do I want to. I don't have time to drive somewhere for lessons, and frankly I think finding great teachers on the "world-wide" Web is more likely than finding one within easy driving distance. I just wanna have fun and be able to play most of the songs I want to play. If that's your goal don't get swept up in all these "must do's". They're no more valid than the "must do's" in golf. Just figure out what your goals are then find the method to achieve them. I think I've learned more watching YouTube over the last six months than all the materials I read or watched in that 10 year period where I noodled with the guitar.

It's even so fun now that I've treated myself to a few new (and used) guitars. Good ones are a lot cheaper now too.

Hope some of this is useful. 
#16
emd0231 send me a private message ... I may be able to help you out re-music software.  

PlusPaul's advice is draconian, but he is spot on that the ability to recognise the language of music by ear is a great skill to develop.  I disagree about just using the ear, however ... for me, and I suspect many others, it's a lot easier to connect the sounds with a theoretical / visual / mechanical framework, rather than purely isolated sound.  

That said, I assume that it worked very well for PlusPaul. I'd be fascinated to know how he associated the sounds with named things (chord types etc) and how he pieced together the chord / scale relationships ... maybe he could do a post on this?  Hint :-)

I suggest the most important step is moving to practice where you build the knowledge of musical concepts, build your "musical toolbox", that can be re-applied in many musical situations.  That is, if you have a reliance of shapes (e.g scale box patterns), but just play these with out appreciating the intervals and the expectations they may set up in the listener, then you are missing a trick ... a big trick.

Knowledge is power as they say ... so I'd suggest you spend equal or more time on learning about music concepts, starting with intervals, and working on ear training, compared to time on technique.  No point in having blinding speed if there's nothing to be "said" musically, really ... too much shredding sounds like scale and arpeggio practice, and the real test is how to handle the slow(er) melodic stuff ... how to build interest.

I suggest intervals as these underpin everything, note choice wise, in music.  The other major area of study, and huge opportunity for development, is rhythm ... not as  in rhythm guitar, but as in learning how to use different note values, and silence, for building interesting phrases, riffs, melodies etc.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Nov 14, 2017,
#17
Quote by jerrykramskoy
PlusPaul's advice is draconian, but he is spot on that the ability to recognise the language of music by ear is a great skill to develop.  I disagree about just using the ear, however ... for me, and I suspect many others, it's a lot easier to connect the sounds with a theoretical / visual / mechanical framework, rather than purely isolated sound.  

That said, I assume that it worked very well for PlusPaul. I'd be fascinated to know how he associated the sounds with named things (chord types etc) and how he pieced together the chord / scale relationships ... maybe he could do a post on this?  Hint :-)

That's a very kind invitation, so I'll give it a try, but keep in mind that I really don't know for certain how it works and it doesn't really lend itself to explanation; I will try to express how it seems to work from my view of it.

Associating the sounds with named things is an association of phenomonological qualia with verbal-logical labels. I don't use named things when I play because the names do not directly show the sound, they only serve as an instruction for how to construct something that will make that sound. What I do is associate the outside played or heard sound with an internal representation in my mind of how it sounds (like a mental recording) skipping the construction process. I don't name them nor need to do so because the mental sound is completely informative.

Like wise, I don't think in terms of chord-scale relationships; if I used labels, I'd need to build a verbal-logical vocabulary or geometric-graphic image library of relationships between chords and scales, but by holding them internally as sounds, the possible choices of association are direct because I'm just comparing sounds entering my mind with those held inside my mind.

To me it is like choosing the paint colors to use for painting a picture... for a realistic picture you use the colors that you see of the object or scene; for a more abstract picture you chose the colors that go together the way you want. In both cases the choice is direct - no need to know the names of the colors because the colors are self identifying when you see them both in the scene and on the pallet, so you just paint what you see, either out there or in your mind.

Another analogy might be the analog strobe tuner - it works instantly without calculations, whereas the common electronic tuners are performing a series of samples, calculating a sample frequency, doing the arithmetic calculation of the sample and reference frequency to find the difference frequency, and then processing all that to produce a readable output of the comparison error.

Now, what none of this addresses is how the internal becomes external (how the mix of heard sound from outside and inside ends up producing something that is played). This is where my view of what's happening is different from the stock standard answer that it is about the finger board and location of notes, intervals, and chords, shapes, positions, patterns, etc. The common answer is that there is some chain of connections among these that might look something like this:


identify chord and type:
- by name (Db(b13))
or
- relation symbol (Vb13)
or
- function (altered dominant)

recall possible matches from:
- known notes, intervals from verbal-logical library of theory relationships
or
- known shapes, positions, patterns from mental graphic finger board library

choose what to play


My approach contains as few links in the chain as possible. Something more like this:

recognize chord by the way it sounds (like recognizing a friend's face without effort or analysis or needing to recall their name)

select from the multitudes of inner sounds intrinsically qualified as musical candidates requesting to be expressed


This does not yet answer the last part - how the hands know what to do. This is my main departure I mentioned above from the usual view of it being about the finger board (note names, chord names, shapes , positions, patterns, diagrams, charts, etc.). When I think about what is happening, for me it is not about the finger board but about the fingers. I don't view the finger board as a primary layout of pitch positions (althought is is) but more that it is just a place for the fingers. It is the fingers themselves that are the holders of the pitches, and the association of the fingers to the pitches at any moment is direct. I'm probably not expressing this clearly because it is very subtle, but when I play I'm not targeting the finger board with my fingers; I'm targeting sounds with my fingers and the finger board is just a mechanical and incidental means of that happening.

My hands "hear" the sounds in my mind directly and don't utilize a verbal-logical or geometric-graphic proxy to manifest the sounds. This is why I often use the phrase "singing with your hands" because it is so close to what it feels like.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#18
Quote by PlusPaul
I recommend:

1] Never look at tab, ever.

2] Forget website/software lessons.

3] Practice only playing songs by ear.

I completely disagree with you.

1) Tab ar just tab, it’s not good to be slave of tabs (as of music sheet) but if they can help you with something you don’t understand i don’t see the reason to say no, try to learn something very difficult without a tab for example a piece of Gutrie Govan, not really a thing for 99% of people, with tabs it goes to maybe 90% but for the 100% of guitarist it can be good just to learn something or some licks, so way no tabs? 

2) Why? it’s like a face to face lesson, there are good as bad teacher as good or bad software lesson, you just have to choose with attention the right teacher or the right software. 

3) Learn music by ear it’s an important thing of every musicians not only of guitarist but is not the only, being able to read music it’s the best thing you can do to really learn music and to be free. It takes time, lots of time but then the result is that you can see a melodic line, recognize intervals and chord progression and everything becomes more clear and not a bunch on notes or chords.

Sorry for disagree with you on all the points, of course, it’s just my opinion.
#19
emd0231 Most of guitarist out there think they can teach themselves just using some youtube lesson or picking things they need to know from a forum. In my opinion that can work only when you are an expert because then you can distinguish the good from the bad and once you learn bad and you study bad it’s hard to get rid of bad habits.

My first advice is to get a teacher online as live teacher, choose wisely there are LOTS of people who teach who really shouldn’t. It’s an investment but it’s worth it and it can help you is save time and to stay away from bad habits.

Then make a program with you teacher, it’s all about time and about what is your goal. When i was in conservatory i was used to study at least 6 hours each day on 7/7 days. I always make a program with my students, it can be small as big it depend on what my students wants but it’s good to make a program together, it keeps you in tension, you know you have to  respect the schedule of work.

If you really want to become a good guitarist be prepared to study a lot and not only the instrument, random, not in order of importance..

- you should learn to read music sheet a little, that helps you to really learn music and to not be slave of music (this could be very long to explain)

- spend some time on ear training with and without the instrument, sing scales and scales with intervals, that help a LOT your brain to learn music and to recognize intervals. Sing, just sing a piece of music or a melody line but then transpose on the instrument what you sing.

- harmony, this is connected to read music, i’m not saying that you have to be able to explain a Rachmaninov sonata but at least some basic harmony, this will help you in understand how music work and which notes you can play on a chord

- mechanics practice, once you make the right movements you will want to improve your speed, it takes time to build a solid technique and the old saying practice slow is not really true, it works at the beginning or when you are studying something new, then studying slow will not make the differences, there are many tricks as dotted notes or speed burst or mind playing with a metronome. And to say it all, speed is not everything, mechanics studies help you to build speed but the goal is to be able to play what is in your mind not just to pump your muscles and be able to play 4 notes per beat at 200 or more bpm. That is just music masturbation... obviously it's just my opinion.

- repertoire, you have to work on your repertoire, it doesn’t matter what kind of guitarist you want to be but you have to work to study new music pieces and to consolidate what you already know. And as PlusPaul said it’s a good thing to learn a piece of music just by ear.

- Vibrato, vibrato is the guitarist signature, seems so easy to do it but it is not, vibrato is how a guitarist sing.

Sorry for writing a book, had a lot to say. More or less that’s it, this is a big program and not everybody have all the day to study but even with 2 or 3 hours of time, if you make a good program with your teacher you will improve a lot. And of course all i said it's just my opinion.
Last edited by Iconte at Nov 24, 2017,
#20
Quote by PlusPaul
That's a very kind invitation, so I'll give it a try, but keep in mind that I really don't know for certain how it works and it doesn't really lend itself to explanation; I will try to express how it seems to work from my view of it.

Associating the sounds with named things is an association of phenomonological qualia with verbal-logical labels. I don't use named things when I play because the names do not directly show the sound, they only serve as an instruction for how to construct something that will make that sound. What I do is associate the outside played or heard sound with an internal representation in my mind of how it sounds (like a mental recording) skipping the construction process. I don't name them nor need to do so because the mental sound is completely informative.

Like wise, I don't think in terms of chord-scale relationships; if I used labels, I'd need to build a verbal-logical vocabulary or geometric-graphic image library of relationships between chords and scales, but by holding them internally as sounds, the possible choices of association are direct because I'm just comparing sounds entering my mind with those held inside my mind.

To me it is like choosing the paint colors to use for painting a picture... for a realistic picture you use the colors that you see of the object or scene; for a more abstract picture you chose the colors that go together the way you want. In both cases the choice is direct - no need to know the names of the colors because the colors are self identifying when you see them both in the scene and on the pallet, so you just paint what you see, either out there or in your mind.

Another analogy might be the analog strobe tuner - it works instantly without calculations, whereas the common electronic tuners are performing a series of samples, calculating a sample frequency, doing the arithmetic calculation of the sample and reference frequency to find the difference frequency, and then processing all that to produce a readable output of the comparison error.

Now, what none of this addresses is how the internal becomes external (how the mix of heard sound from outside and inside ends up producing something that is played). This is where my view of what's happening is different from the stock standard answer that it is about the finger board and location of notes, intervals, and chords, shapes, positions, patterns, etc. The common answer is that there is some chain of connections among these that might look something like this:


identify chord and type:
- by name (Db(b13))
or
- relation symbol (Vb13)
or
- function (altered dominant)

recall possible matches from:
- known notes, intervals from verbal-logical library of theory relationships
or
- known shapes, positions, patterns from mental graphic finger board library

choose what to play


My approach contains as few links in the chain as possible. Something more like this:

recognize chord by the way it sounds (like recognizing a friend's face without effort or analysis or needing to recall their name)

select from the multitudes of inner sounds intrinsically qualified as musical candidates requesting to be expressed


This does not yet answer the last part - how the hands know what to do. This is my main departure I mentioned above from the usual view of it being about the finger board (note names, chord names, shapes , positions, patterns, diagrams, charts, etc.). When I think about what is happening, for me it is not about the finger board but about the fingers. I don't view the finger board as a primary layout of pitch positions (althought is is) but more that it is just a place for the fingers. It is the fingers themselves that are the holders of the pitches, and the association of the fingers to the pitches at any moment is direct. I'm probably not expressing this clearly because it is very subtle, but when I play I'm not targeting the finger board with my fingers; I'm targeting sounds with my fingers and the finger board is just a mechanical and incidental means of that happening.

My hands "hear" the sounds in my mind directly and don't utilize a verbal-logical or geometric-graphic proxy to manifest the sounds. This is why I often use the phrase "singing with your hands" because it is so close to what it feels like.

That's very interesting, for sure you have a gift... seems you have a perfect pitch, do you? 
Last edited by Iconte at Nov 24, 2017,
#21
I personally believe that the best way to improve (especially if you have the funds) is to look for the best quality private guitar instructor that you can find.

Avoid learning with a 'guitar star' online via Skype. (He or she will generally not be dedicated to you - of course there are always exceptions!)

Rather look for a very good local teacher who has a TRACK RECORD of successful students. 

You can even look at their reviews on google and actually contact their past students to get some feedback.

If you find the right instructor your entire game will change.

Then point nr. 2: STICK WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR for 5 years.

If you stay faithful and loyal (make sure it is an excellent teacher), then you will improve and after 5 years you will be unbelievably good.

Of course, you need to practice daily and put in the time and effort required to become good.

Trust me... this is the approach I took when I was younger and it made ALL the difference


I wish you the greatest success in your guitar journey!
#22
Quote by emd0231
I have been playing on and off for years, learning only to play tabs. Never really learned any chords and don't know how to play any scales.

I am picking it up again and wanted to ask you experts on what you think is the most efficient/optimal way to improve/practice. Back when I first started we did not have the interwebs. Now that we do, I'm sure there are some pretty awesome interactive guitar lesson website/software out there. If so, can you name a few? Money is not a problem.

Also, what do you think is the best way to practice, without saying to "just practice." Do I learn and practice scales? Do I look for lessons on YouTube? I want to progress as efficiently as possible, learning as much as I can, so any help is appreciated!

Thank you all!


It depends on every guitar player and what they want to get out of their guitar. You know you and that is the key. What makes you improve the best? What do you want to play to what level of knowledge? Set the goal and find the way to get there.

Practice your weak spots can take a life time. What ever lack is weak spot.

Learn what you want. There is no rules saying what you have to learn or in what order.

If online teaching helps then go for it. What ever is needed to master the goal or weak spots.

A metronome is essential for you to get the repetition of what you want to learn to become a habit and once stored in your sub conscious mind it is part of your skills to use playing guitar.

Knowing that is the most convenient method for improving and getting stuff down.
#23
Quote by PlusPaul
That's a very kind invitation, so I'll give it a try, but keep in mind that I really don't know for certain how it works and it doesn't really lend itself to explanation; I will try to express how it seems to work from my view of it.

Associating the sounds with named things is an association of phenomonological qualia with verbal-logical labels. I don't use named things when I play because the names do not directly show the sound, they only serve as an instruction for how to construct something that will make that sound. What I do is associate the outside played or heard sound with an internal representation in my mind of how it sounds (like a mental recording) skipping the construction process. I don't name them nor need to do so because the mental sound is completely informative.

Like wise, I don't think in terms of chord-scale relationships; if I used labels, I'd need to build a verbal-logical vocabulary or geometric-graphic image library of relationships between chords and scales, but by holding them internally as sounds, the possible choices of association are direct because I'm just comparing sounds entering my mind with those held inside my mind.

To me it is like choosing the paint colors to use for painting a picture... for a realistic picture you use the colors that you see of the object or scene; for a more abstract picture you chose the colors that go together the way you want. In both cases the choice is direct - no need to know the names of the colors because the colors are self identifying when you see them both in the scene and on the pallet, so you just paint what you see, either out there or in your mind.

Another analogy might be the analog strobe tuner - it works instantly without calculations, whereas the common electronic tuners are performing a series of samples, calculating a sample frequency, doing the arithmetic calculation of the sample and reference frequency to find the difference frequency, and then processing all that to produce a readable output of the comparison error.

Now, what none of this addresses is how the internal becomes external (how the mix of heard sound from outside and inside ends up producing something that is played). This is where my view of what's happening is different from the stock standard answer that it is about the finger board and location of notes, intervals, and chords, shapes, positions, patterns, etc. The common answer is that there is some chain of connections among these that might look something like this:


identify chord and type:
- by name (Db(b13))
or
- relation symbol (Vb13)
or
- function (altered dominant)

recall possible matches from:
- known notes, intervals from verbal-logical library of theory relationships
or
- known shapes, positions, patterns from mental graphic finger board library

choose what to play


My approach contains as few links in the chain as possible. Something more like this:

recognize chord by the way it sounds (like recognizing a friend's face without effort or analysis or needing to recall their name)

select from the multitudes of inner sounds intrinsically qualified as musical candidates requesting to be expressed


This does not yet answer the last part - how the hands know what to do. This is my main departure I mentioned above from the usual view of it being about the finger board (note names, chord names, shapes , positions, patterns, diagrams, charts, etc.). When I think about what is happening, for me it is not about the finger board but about the fingers. I don't view the finger board as a primary layout of pitch positions (althought is is) but more that it is just a place for the fingers. It is the fingers themselves that are the holders of the pitches, and the association of the fingers to the pitches at any moment is direct. I'm probably not expressing this clearly because it is very subtle, but when I play I'm not targeting the finger board with my fingers; I'm targeting sounds with my fingers and the finger board is just a mechanical and incidental means of that happening.

My hands "hear" the sounds in my mind directly and don't utilize a verbal-logical or geometric-graphic proxy to manifest the sounds. This is why I often use the phrase "singing with your hands" because it is so close to what it feels like.

I missed this post, hence late reply.  Thanks for this.

This is fascinating, and I understand (pretty much) your approach.  Can you discuss how you went about finding these sounds on guitar initially, how much trial and error there was there?  Did you reach a point where you conceptualised a new chord say, as an edit of an exitsing one (e.g. maj7 vs dom7) to figure out how to construct it physically?

I'm probably somewhere half way between where you are in approach, and half visual (??).  With sounds I recognise, that translates straight to playing, and I certainly never think of names when improvising.  I also never go through a mental process of selecting every single note (at leeast not for fast playing ...I just have a general idea of what I want to "say", what emphais I want to place, and then it's an automatic process I guess ... though often as this unfolds, I'll react on the fly (to the context)  and go off on another path.  

I definitely have a very visual map of the fretboard, and constructs found on it ... learned over the years, and still learning now (continually discovering new chord voicings, and of course picking up on ideas from everything I listen to)
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Nov 27, 2017,