and strum for strum, or do u do ur own thing with the chords, specifically if it a struming based song, will you try and get each exact strum down or just make up a rhythm as long as ur following the right chord changes
I improvise all of it if i want, i never learn things strum for strum or note for note. For chords i jus do what i like sort of thing as long as it is similiar to the original and for solos i tend to learn like the really memorable bits and the ending to it. So yeah.
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I usually learn songs note for note and strum for strum first and then try to improvise a little when i'm playing live, if people wanted to hear a song played exactly the way it's played on the cd then they might aswell go listen to the cd!
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It depends on the song. I make sure to have the memorable parts right, then improvise around that.
i try to play as close to the original
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Some songs I will start to play along with then go off onto my own thing to try and find something that goes well with it. Most of the time I play note for note, but for strumming songs I will make my own rhythm as long as the chord changes are right.
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i'll usually alter a chord to make it sound better in context or resolve more "gracefully" then most songs out there with the G, C, G, D progressions
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I learn riffs and melodies note for note. As for strumming, my job in the band isn't to handle acoustic strumming, so I don't have to worry about that. 90% of the time I'll improvise the solo, but I'll usually throw in some licks from the original.

That's in my band, but when I do acoustic songs on my own the strumming is probably almost never the same.
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I improvise over the specified note im givin in the song. When I want to create my own chords over a song i'll create my own chord progression in the same note and change the rhythm a bit.
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I learn it generally, i never play a song twice the same way, at least the distortion stuff. i always improv.
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I learn it the right way first, then when I know it by heart I just kinda improvise.


I think there's two different ways to learn a song, depending on your goal.

If your goal is to play the song in a gig or record it, I always like to hear people do something a little different with it. What's the point in hearing a carbon copy?

(except if you're in a bar band playing a gig out in the middle of nowhere, and you know those biker dudes sitting there at the bar are gonna get your ass if you try and do a samba version of Hiway to Hell....)

But the other much more important goal I think is to get your fingers to do something different. To break out of a rut by learning something new. And for that, I think learning the song or solo or lick exactly as possible, even down to the fingering and position, can be worthwhile.

You learn it, you get your fingers used to doing something new, then you forget it. Or try and do something different with it, work it into your own bag of tricks.
from a guitar magazine:

reader: "Most guitarists go through a phase in which they learn other people's material note for note. What did you master this way, and do you still do it now that your playing has reached such a high level?"

John Petrucci: "Of course I did it. I learned by figuring out stuff like Steve Morse's "Introduction", the Dixie Dregs' "The Bash", Randy Rhoads' solo on "Over the Mountain" and tons of stuff by Yngwie, Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Working on other people's solos always gives you fresh perspectives and develops your ear, which is why I still do it. It's always good to challenge yourself. That way you don't get to a point where you've learned enough and say 'That's it.' "

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I try and play note for note, strum for strum exactly as the original and then eventually it evolves slightly and becomes slightly different as I play it. Over time, it will have the unique twist of me while I play it.

Some songs, however, I maintain the upkeep of being able to play note for note.
Rhythmically (sp?) I do whatever I want, jsut so long as I play the right chords. Until like 2 months ago I was obsessed with playing solos note for note but then I discovered the beauty of soloing with the pentatonics and never looked back.
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it's considered bad form to play Primus note for note
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I don't have the patience to learn songs.

But the bits that I know, I usually play around with them. Rarely note for note.
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i love to improvise and also write music so thats why i never play note for note.
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I usually end up improvising some part of a solo, when I was 11 I wrote my own solo for Goldfinger's cover of "99 red Baloons". LOL. But I try to play songs note-for-note.
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The songs written in my band are usually done a little differently each time. It's usually just a thing that the drummer and I do, because him and I are so used to playing together that we know where the other one is going. In a few of my solos, I have solidified melody lines, but usually I'll just work those into an improved solo.