Hi UG.com members, I'm new here and to guitar (actually 7 weeks into it) but as I keep playing I expect to be more active in this community.

I would say I'm progressing faster than most people do. So far I can switch through all open chords to beat (playing quarter notes). I can do a bunch of the major and minor scales going up and down the neck of the guitar. As far as songs go, I can play bits and pieces of a ton of songs. I can play Sweet Child of Mine full speed up to the first solo, simple man full speed most of the song, Sweet Home Alabama full speed through the first guitar break, and yea bunch others. I'm playing close to 3 hours a day since I've got the guitar, and literally every day I am able to do something new every time i pick the guitar. I have no set pattern of what I practice, I just play what I feel like.

I've done research on a few different things but I have a few questions on all aspects of guitar playing maybe you can help me out with.

1) Lessons... Whats everyone's take on them? The cheapest I can get around here is once a week, $30 for a half hour lesson. So $120 a month for 2 hours of lessons. I've been doing them for the last 5 weeks, and to be honest, I don't think its worth my hard earned cash. I feel like I'm learning more by surfing different guitar forums, watching videos on youtube, and looking at the basic training DVD I have. Right now were looking at a standard guitar method book (one i can buy for $4 online), every week hes giving a few new chords to learn, and every week we tackle a part of a song (I'm doing sweet child o mine). The thing that really got me ticked about the lesson though was the last 2 weeks he has given me incorrect tabs for parts of Sweet Child o Mine, and whats worse is he knowingly did it, claiming it was easier to play these ways. So I just came here to look up the real ones and play it the real way. If he is just going to half ass it, i really don't think I want to bother with it. Should I get another instructor or just ditch lessons all together and try to find a good set of training books/ dvds? And if so can someone recommend me some good ones?

2) Equipment... Amps specifically. Right now I'm using the one that came with my value strat pack and it does the job. In a few months though I'm going to be looking to upgrade though. Basically I need to know what features I should be looking for, how big and how much output I'll need (I only play in my room), and yea anything else. Maybe some links to buying guides would help me here. And maybe if theres ones for guitars in general too that could always help.

3) Music Theory... Should I worry about learning this at first? Right now the sole purpose of me playing guitar is to have fun and play songs by other artists. Maybe a few years down the road if I get good enough I'll try to write my own music. For now should I just focus on different techniques and playing styles and apply them to real songs, then worry about theory later? Or is it better If I actually learn all different things about theory (scales, composing music, and all that) right now?

sorry for the long first post
1. I think lessons are important, I thought i was doing good by myself, but my instructor improved my technique and taught me alot of things that only come from years of playing and i have improved significantly.

2. Get a good tube amp, you will be amazed at how much better you sound.

3. Learn some stuff first, learning theory is easier once you can play a bit.
Music Theory is essential to understanding everything. So, you should incorporate that into your studies. As far as lessons go, I don't recommend getting lessons from a teacher. I studied through books and videos and progressed finely because I did at my own pace. I went from total noob to playing Yngwie Malmsteen in a matter of months and I got to teach a theory class at my high school a while back. But that was years ago. Here's a great book to look into to: Keep It Simple Series Guide to Playing Guitar.
" When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."-Jimi Hendrix

Hope you enjoy your stay here (Stay out of the Pit)

1. Lessons are worth it, just get him to teach you music theory.

2. What styles do you play? For a bedroom practice amp you will need at most 30Watts and even then its probably a bit overkill

3. Yes, as above, get your tutor to teach you, everything goes a lot smoother with some theory behind you.

Hope i helped
firstly we are UGers not UG.com members(it just sounds retarded) collectively referred as UG
unless your in the pit then they are all pit monkeys(enter at your own risk... jk)

1 keep with the lessons, this guy sounds better than any of my teachers
2 a amp 15-30 watts will suffice like a Peavey Vypyr or some other modeling amp (not spider III) you'll want to upgrade later to fit your needs better/any live playing
3 theory is uber important keep at it and you will be surprised at how much it helps
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Last edited by justinb904 at Oct 16, 2008,
1) You're going to get a lot of different answers, but lessons are great when you're starting out. Let your teacher know that you don't feel you're getting much from them, and he/she should alter the cirruclum to suit your tastes. The downside of learning online is nobody can see/critique your technique as well as a teacher sitting across from you can. Make sure you're taking the lessons seriously and practicing everything your teacher gives you!

2) For bedroom bashing, you shoulden't need more then a 30w amp. Anything more would be too loud. As far as what to buy, play as many as you can. Test em out and see which one gives you a tone that best suits your playing. As amps are concerned, it's a pretty personal choice, and the best service you can do yourself is learning what's out there firsthand.

3) Solidify your basics before you start trying to learn theory. Learn the notes on your fretboard and the notes of the scales you already know. The songs you can play, can you make em sound like the CD? Or does it sound like some kid doing it at a bad karaoke. Don't be in a rush, you've barely just started and you have your whole life to play.
-Guitar Gear-
1995 American Fender Strat, EMG 85 pup
Randall RH200 Head
Marshall 1960a Cab
Woods Acoustic
-Bass Gear-
Spector Legend 4 bass
Washburn Bantam bass
Hartke HA2500
Fender Bassman 410H
Play what you love, love what you play
i'd say stick with the lessons for now, i had bass lessons for the first 2 years of my playing (been going for 6 years now) and the basic techniques specifically hand positions, posture and then enthusiasm to learn new styles rather than playing the stuff i immediately listen to have been invaluable to the progress ive made in the last 4 years.

as for music theory im a geek so im really into that side of things but learning how to structure a chord/scale is a really good skill to have, reading music itself isnt quite so key as tabs are readily available for nearly everything these days but training your ears is an absolute priceless skill to have, knowing when a note is out of place is the most basic form of this and that stems from your knowledge of chords and scales.

For your amp it depends what you want to do and what styles to play. As a beginner versatility may be essential so something with a variety of tones/effects such as a line 6 spider could be useful, where its lacking in 'tone' it makes up for n effects. If not a guitar amp, unlike a bass amp doesn't have to have a hi wattage to pack a punch. There are plenty of amps specifically designed for practice i believe are in the 30-75 watt range which would be adequate.

But the main thing is to enjoy what your playing, and if you're stuck don't give up! So many guitarists become competent players being able to nail a few songs but when they reach their plateau (where there skills aren't necessarily progressing as fast as in previous months) they give up and when they come back to it they're back to square one, keep ploughing through and you will be making progress in no time.
As far as lessons:
get a teacher that is classically trained or that has some kind of music theory background. That will ensure he/she knows what they're talking about. (classically trained doesn't mean you'll be playing bach)

a 30w max, but if you think you might eventually start a band, make sure its at least that and in tube.
if you're using a cheapy <15 watt solid state amp you'll fall on your ass when you hear how much better you sound

Depending on how you learn, this could be something to bring up with your teacher, although i learned it just fine at my own pace.
Quote by tjhome28
It annoys me when kids sit there playing the sweet child o mine or smoke on the water intro riff repeatedly
and badly
and so loud the whole shop can't hear themselves think
and with the worst amp settings possible


Cool, thanks for all the advice.

So the general consensus is stay with the lessons. The question now is about how long do you think i should take them for? Or maybe the better question is whats the average length of time most people take lessons for? (no answers like "take them as long as you think you need them"... that really won't be too helpful to me :P)
It depends, really. "Take them as long as you think you need them" is a pretty valid response, and one you'll know the answer to once you've reached that point. Don't automaticly assume that what works for one person will by default work for the other. We all progress differently and we all have things we excell/struggle with. Personally I took lessons for 6 months, and would like to take them again to revisit what I've learned. Some people take them for years. Randy Rhodes was famous for taking a lesson in most of the stops he toured on, so he pretty much took them his entire career.

Learn and solidify your basics. Make sure you're getting written instruction as well as verbal. Learn your theory and have your teacher teach you more advanced techniques. Again, you'll eventually reach a point where you feel you've accomplished what you'd like with lessons and will want to forge out on your own. It really depends on you and your capicity to learn and retain. Remember to learn the notes on your fretboard and the notes of scales, not just boxes. Also, make sure you can actually play things well before you've decided you've mastered them. Record yourself often and listen back. Tape doesn't lie. Also, practice playing without looking at the fretboard. It takes some time, but it's a skill well worth developing.

Basicly, nobody but you and your teacher can tell you when you're done taking lessons.

Also, don't be in a hurry. Having 'learned' a ton of stuff in 7 weeks isn't a bragging right, as it speaks to sloppy technique. That's why I say solidify what you know. Most people play for years before they start to become adept at making music, prehaps you're an exception, but don't rush it. You have your entire life to play and learn, 7 weeks is nothing.

-Edit #2-
Almost forgot, practice with a metronome always. It'll help you improve dramaticly.
-Guitar Gear-
1995 American Fender Strat, EMG 85 pup
Randall RH200 Head
Marshall 1960a Cab
Woods Acoustic
-Bass Gear-
Spector Legend 4 bass
Washburn Bantam bass
Hartke HA2500
Fender Bassman 410H
Play what you love, love what you play
Last edited by Garou1911 at Oct 16, 2008,
Quote by Xaveir
if you're using a cheapy <15 watt solid state amp you'll fall on your ass when you hear how much better you sound.

Is this really true? Is it like night and day? I have the same amp I think - well, whatever came with my Strat starter pack. I think it's 10 or 15 watts. Anyway, I'm an audio buff and just looking at it and comparing it to all the others I saw at Guitar Center I know there's a HUGE difference. But, me being 1 month into guitar, should I worry about a new amp yet or just learn the basics and then be blown away in like a year when I get a really nice amp? And how much does the guitar come into play?
^Yeah, the difference is in how they work.

For starters, a little 15w won't have the quality electronics that a decent amp will have. They have to keep production cost down somehow, so they use more inexpensive parts and speakers. So a decent 30w tube will automaticly be better for the quality of parts.

Also, with solid state electronics, certain sound frequencies are lost because they 'clip' the sound, so if you looked at it through a line scope, it would look like a bunch of plateaus, instead of having the natural rounded sound wave that a tube will produce. Generally you get a warmer, clearer, more accurate tone with even a low powered tube. Not to mention they're louder. A 30w tube amp will get as loud as a 60w solid state.

The guitar is sort of the same, but you also have to consider body construction. With the guitar, the electronics (pickups etc) will have a pretty dramatic affect on your tone, but other factors like what wood the body is made from, how it's built (neck-thru, set neck, bolt on, floating bridge, tremolo, etc) will also affect the resonance of the strings, and ultimately the tone. Better construction + better electronics = better tone, basicly.
-Guitar Gear-
1995 American Fender Strat, EMG 85 pup
Randall RH200 Head
Marshall 1960a Cab
Woods Acoustic
-Bass Gear-
Spector Legend 4 bass
Washburn Bantam bass
Hartke HA2500
Fender Bassman 410H
Play what you love, love what you play
Quote by Skierinanutshel
first thing you should do is learn to use the searchbar. its essential in your learning process.

edit: i dont mean to sound harsh, but there are bunches of threads like this already.

Take into consideration hes a new member...
Quote by LiBam
...depends ... I sound sh*t nd i'm James Hetfield!

- This is why we Love Ultimate Guitar
1) Well eventually ur gonna get stuck in a rut and not know what to do next thats when i would get the lessons.
2) Roland Micro Cubes are nice lots of different tones and its pretty cheap. There about 30 watts i think
3) I personally dont think music theroy is worth it but it really depends on what you like
unplugged ftw
Last edited by gtarhro123 at Oct 17, 2008,
1. It's good to have a teacher show you the basics, but after that if you are a "self-learning" type of dude, then you can find everything else you need to know off the internet for free.

2. After about six months of playing, you'll have an idea of what styles of music you like to play. The style of music you play is key to picking a good amp. There are plenty of opinions here at UG, but you need to try some out yourself to find what you want.

3. Open chords, muscle building exercises like chromatic and spider scales and basic chord heaby songs should occupy the majority of your time in the begining. After that the major and pentatonic scales are helpful as well as learning the notes on the fretboard.