#1
So, I picked up my first guitar this week (SX strat), spent a day setting it up and changing the strings, and finally got around to playing it. Well, of course I suck.

I've just been playing chords for the most part, I've got the 7 major chords down, but I'm still slow changing between them. I can play along with songs, but I have a hard time figuring out strum patterns, what are the best ways of practicing these, just keep playing and it'll come?

Second: I've been playing a few easy lines (intro to enter sandman, black dog, etc) and I can do them pretty well, but when I try to speed songs like black dog up to full speed I miss strings. When I skip strings while picking I tend to hit the wrong string every now and then, I can't keep it consistent without looking. Same for doing powerchords, sometimes I hit 4 strings, somethings I hit 2 right and 1 wrong, etc. Is there any good exercise that will help me with this? Or should I just keep staring at my picking hand while I play lol.
#2
Watch your picking hand while you're playing, and start slow.

After practice, you'll be able to change chords and play fast without looking
#4
Just remember to use a constant down, up, down, up motion when picking. Even when changing strings. you'll get better in a while, don't worry. Just keep playing although it might seem a little frustrating at times.
#5
Watch your hands and fingers, making sure you're in hte right place. Play as slow as you need to until you can get through a riff without mistakes. Eventually you can increase your speed while retaining accuracy.

Once your hnads are used to moving and forming chords, you will naturally start to feel mroe comfortable and speed will increase. It takes a lot of time and practice to develop your playing skills but in the end it's worth it. Once you're over the basics, things will come faster.

Feel free to send me a message here if you have any questions.
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#6
Don't give up! You'll reach a day when you can pick up your guitar, and it'll feel like a steering wheel or xbox controller or whatever else you're used to picking up and using. It might take a while to hit that point. (took me about a year and a half :P) Just be patient, and keep practicing.
#7
Oh, my other question. How important is reading notation? Tabs are easy, as are chord charts, but will it really hinder my advancement if I don't bother to learn to read the notation? I'm not looking to become a professional player or anything, just someone who can play guitar.
#8
Reading notation will definately help you in the future, when using tabs they generally don't tell you how long the note lasts as well as a few other things.
As far as your chord changing goes, i guarantee results if you do the following.....
write out a small chart and at the top of each put in your chord change e.g. C - D.
Then see how many imes you can change from C to D in 1 minute. Do this for your other chords and practice changing as fast as you can for 1 minute. Make a note of how many times you change in that minute, do it every day for a week and i promise you you'll be happy with the results.
Feel free to PM me if you're not too sure of anything i've said.
Good luck.
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#9
it will seem very frustrating. there was a point when i considered quitting. dont quit.


i cant read notation very well. it will help, but its not a necessity. you have to know theory though, or else your solos will sound like crap.

Jack my swag
#10
Quote by gopherthegreat
it will seem very frustrating. there was a point when i considered quitting. dont quit.


i cant read notation very well. it will help, but its not a necessity. you have to know theory though, or else your solos will sound like crap.



totally gonna disagree with this, learn to play by ear first, then if you feel the need learn theory. There are hundreds of great guitarists who don't know any theory at all who still come up with great solos/songs
#11
Quote by sytharnia1560
totally gonna disagree with this, learn to play by ear first, then if you feel the need learn theory. There are hundreds of great guitarists who don't know any theory at all who still come up with great solos/songs

true. but most people ive met havent been able to learn by ear first. i learned theory before i learned by ear. but you have a point.

Jack my swag
#12
Quote by rymep
So, I picked up my first guitar this week (SX strat), spent a day setting it up and changing the strings, and finally got around to playing it. Well, of course I suck.


I strongly recommend you get the books here: http://www.guitarprinciples.com/
which will get you on the right track. Especially if you're going it on your own.

Missing strings, hitting wrong notes, being inconsistent... all goes with the territory.
You should learn how to practice right from the start. It's the biggest differentiator.

The typical learning trajectory goes: At first it seems impossibly hard (you're actually
in the quickest learning phase at the beginning). Then, you starting getting the
hang of a few things. At this point you begin to think you'll actually get good and
actually know something. The head begins to swell. Between the 1 and 2 year
mark you know a bunch more things. Your playing is still mediocre, but you're
getting to be an "expert" on some advanced techniques. At about 2-3 years,
the "boredom" sets in. You've never really practiced correctly and you don't have
a clue how to get better. You play the same stuff over and over. You post on
UG whining about how to get inspiration. You buy some more pedals.

At this point its dawning on you that the only way to really get better is how you
practice. So, either you change, or you linger on a bit longer and most likely quit.

So, learn how to practice!
#13
Good advice all, I have a book a friend used that he gave to me. It's A Modern Method For Guitar by William G. Leavitt, so I'll probably start with that.

My last question for now is about finger position. I know that when I'm playing basic stuff I should keep my fingers one to a fret so I can get from open to 5, but how important is knowing how to use my fingers with chords? Like for a G chord what I've seen tells me to use 2,1,3 for the three strings, but I use 3,2,4. Is this going to be an issue later on or should I just do what I'm more comfortable with?
#14
Quote by gopherthegreat
you have to know theory though, or else your solos will sound like crap.


For mere mortals like myself, I would say that's true. But the Jeff Loomis's of the world would disagree with you. LOL
#15
take everything slowly to start, and don't look at your oicking hand, make sure your fretting hand is correct, eventually you should just be able to tell which string to hit without needing to look at your picking hand, the sooner you can do this the better
unless, you can remember where your fretting hand goes perfectly, but that took me a while to master, its great when you get both down though,, cos you can play with your eyes closed, it looks skilled and impresses people

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I think the TS will know what to do next

#17
Also, if you want to look at where your hands are while reading a tab or something, if it's a tab that is printed keep it close to you (like flat on a desk so it is close to your hands).
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#18
hi rymep,

I know it's very frustrating, but keep on practising, and Giant Tool is right, try slowly at first, if you have a metronome use it, when you can play it in slow bit without making a mistakes, only than you can increase the bit, and repeat the process, until you can play it in full speed.

Remember any kind of music playing is all about repetition, the more repetition you make the more good you can play.
#19
I'm not getting frustrated, I know I'm going to sound terrible for a while and it'll take me a long time to improve, that's how it is with everything. I just don't want to get into bad habits that will hinder me in the long run.

So far I've just been doing chromatics to warm up, then writing down random chords and playing what I wrote down forwards and backwards over and over, my speed in chord changing is already improving, and it's helping me get more used to where my fingers and pick are.
#20
Quote by gopherthegreat
true. but most people ive met havent been able to learn by ear first. i learned theory before i learned by ear. but you have a point.


Yeah it does take a while to learn by ear, I was lucky in that it came really easy for me. The unfortunate thing for me was/is that when I tried to learn thoery once I heard the music a couple of times generally I could figure it out so I couldn't force myself to read the notation. Samething happened when I started to learn violin, my teacher would put the music in front of me and play it through twice and then get me to play to the sheet music but I would just play it from ear/memory and he would have to keep telling me to read the score

My biggest regret with guitar is never learning theory, when you play by ear only, if you get to a point where you can't come up with new riffs and stuff it's really tough getting out of that rut. Theory would be a huge help in those cases
#21
Quote by gopherthegreat
true. but most people ive met havent been able to learn by ear first. i learned theory before i learned by ear. but you have a point.


try Fretboard Warrior then if you wanna learn by ear, tap it in on google
#22
Quote by sytharnia1560
Yeah it does take a while to learn by ear, I was lucky in that it came really easy for me. ...


Um, you may be confusing what "theory" is. The ability to read notation and find
the right notes on your instrument is not theory. That's sight reading and it's a
skill. A skill that's quite separate from theory.

Theory is pretty much independent of particular notes and deals with the relationship
between notes. You can know quite a bit of theory, but not be able to read a single
note on paper.

"playing by ear" as you call it, is pretty much just random guessing. As you do it
more your guesses can get better, but you're still guessing a lot. As you're guessing
gets better, you wind up just converging on what theory describes in the first
place without really understanding anything.

You can be sure any good player -- especially one that improvises -- understands
the theory behind much of the style of music they play. They may not be able to
read a note, but they understand what they're doing with notes.
#23
Quote by edg
Um, you may be confusing what "theory" is. The ability to read notation and find
the right notes on your instrument is not theory. That's sight reading and it's a
skill. A skill that's quite separate from theory.

Theory is pretty much independent of particular notes and deals with the relationship
between notes. You can know quite a bit of theory, but not be able to read a single
note on paper.

"playing by ear" as you call it, is pretty much just random guessing. As you do it
more your guesses can get better, but you're still guessing a lot. As you're guessing
gets better, you wind up just converging on what theory describes in the first
place without really understanding anything.

You can be sure any good player -- especially one that improvises -- understands
the theory behind much of the style of music they play. They may not be able to
read a note, but they understand what they're doing with notes.


*claps*

Thank you for breaking that down for us. I just now learned something.
#24
Here's some things i've wished some one would have told me....

-Relax! Don't tense up, the more relaxed and confident you are the better, faster, and cleaner you'll be able to play.
-Think of economy of movement (like don't lift your fingers 3" off the fret board between notes, try and limit it to as small as possible), and always try and don't settle for anything half-assed sounding technique wise. Practice!
-Alternate pick (constant down the up, even when changing strings) whenever possible, but still do what's comfortable (for example somethings like heavy metallica rhythms are meant to played with all down strokes, mainly cause it sounds heavier...but it is also a little bit of a comfort thing i think)
-Strumming. Give it time, I've struggled with it for a while - it is really one of those things that only gets better with practice. Just make up a strum pattern if you're listening to something like on an ipod or in the car (even if you don't have a guitar on hand) and just get that rhythmic motion going.
-Theory helps especially scales because they help you find notes that just sound good, instead of straight trial and error. I recommend this website for learning theory whenever you feel like starting:

http://scenicnewengland.net/guitar/

-You'll probably suck at the start, everyone does. You'll get better at a lot of things, just make sure you always develop your weaknesses. It's really easy to just decide to learn a song in a style you're more comfortable with, instead of taking the steps to really improve.
-And lastly. At least touch the thing every day, 30 mins a day for a week is better than 6 hours in one day.

Hope this helps! Good luck
#25
Again, thank you all for your advice.

I do have one more question though. I've yet to buy an amp, I've just been playing without anything so far. What's a good basic amp? I don't want one with a ton of effects, or a fancy tuner, or anything like that. I just want a 100-150 dollar amp that sounds good for the price.

Any advice?
#26
Quote by edg
Um, you may be confusing what "theory" is. The ability to read notation and find
the right notes on your instrument is not theory. That's sight reading and it's a
skill. A skill that's quite separate from theory.

Theory is pretty much independent of particular notes and deals with the relationship
between notes. You can know quite a bit of theory, but not be able to read a single
note on paper.

"playing by ear" as you call it, is pretty much just random guessing. As you do it
more your guesses can get better, but you're still guessing a lot. As you're guessing
gets better, you wind up just converging on what theory describes in the first
place without really understanding anything.

You can be sure any good player -- especially one that improvises -- understands
the theory behind much of the style of music they play. They may not be able to
read a note, but they understand what they're doing with notes.


good points, I was looking at theory more as going to a teacher and they show you scales and chords etc and what works with what etc....

I don't really agree with the last part about a good player understands the theory behind what there doing...guys like warren demartini and james hetfield have stated that they have No idea what they are doing when it comes to how the notes,chords,riff,melodies work together, they do it entirely by ear, so if it sounds good they use it if it doesn't then they don't.....when there is theory behind a style of music you set boundaries as to what you can and can't do where as the true "artists" step outside those boundaries and create there own style, which is really what it is all about isn't it??

by the way that warmoth strat in your photobucket pic's is awesome
Last edited by sytharnia1560 at Nov 4, 2007,
#27
Theory just explains a bunch of things. Can, can't and boundaries aren't in it.
Those are things you put on yourself. If you think theory is doing that, you're not
applying it right.

The style of music will dictate how much theory you might need. Don't entirely
believe everything someone says, and I did say "most" good players.

Thanks on the strat.
#28
Quote by sytharnia1560
.....when there is theory behind a style of music you set boundaries as to what you can and can't do where as the true "artists" step outside those boundaries and create there own style, which is really what it is all about isn't it??


Not necessarily, certainly there are musical geniuses that can play everything by ear. But theory is simply a way to think about how music and it's creation something most people can benefit from.