#1
This is more of a 'I suck at guitar' but I thought I'd try finding out how competenet guitarusts got to be so.

Heres where Im at. Im approaching my 42nd birthday. Have loved music my whole life but generally pushed it back for the sake of the standard life: Kids etc (of which I am truly grateful for). I played drums in a bands for most of my youth and dabbled in guitar for the purpose of song writing. I only relly knew a few chords I guess. D G C A or variations of , were pretty much it for a long time.

Funnily enough many people would say I played 'weird' chords coz of the voicings I used. I just found sounds that worked for me.

Then I formed a band with me on guitar. A very bold move in hindsight as the bass player was awesome. I couldnt keep up.

So anyway Ive moved on a bit but have had a finger injury. My left pinky as a result, is very hard to use. Its awkeward and painful.

Now Im trying hard (for the last few years) to improve but its not happeneing. My left hand pinky just wont work for me. Its too painful. I can play some things but not others (most).

Besides that I totally suck at playing. So Trying to juggle life, family, work etc. Makes it hard to get time with the guitar.

I feel no progression as i Get P.O'd with not being able to play things beyond what I know. (my own stuff)

Ive had 2 teachers but both have not worked. One just wanted to spend the lesson talking about himself. the other was good but limited.


Ideally? I wish I had an older brother who careed about me, my sogs and my playing. Someone who would help me with every little hurdle. But I dont. I know that sounds whingy but I did say 'ideally'.

I see players that have such fluidity that i just dont have. I see players with rawness and crassness that just rock. I struggle with every note.

I play a lead line. record it maybe and forget what I did.

I see Im rambling so Ill cut to the original question. How did you get good?
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#2
Practice

that's such a shitty answer, but unfortunately i think it's true
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#3
practice and a little self confidence, it may sound very corny but self confidence is what gets me through alot, whether it be true or not as long as you believe whenever you pick up the guitar you are the best at it in the room you will notice that you will start to do stuff you wouldn't dare to do before.
Best of luck
#4
I got good by playing songs that are a little bit challenging but sound a lot harder than they really are, and by doing that I just got better through... practice I guess. I hate to say that, because I play the guitar for fun, not heaps of practice or anything. But yeah, play it often, try and learn heaps of songs.

I don't know if it's past your skill level or not but try "Midnight In Her Eyes" by The Black Keys. That really got me going and playing good. What sort of music are you into, I might be able to suggest some songs..

Oh, and try reading this guide, it may help out. But I'm really sorry if I can't help you out. I haven't had the problem before myself. Sorry mate.
#5
i got really good after I dropped some acid and played. I'm not kidding
#6
Yeah, practice is the main one. I suppose, if you don't have time to practice then progress will be slow, but you will be improving just not in any immediately noticable way. As for your pinky that's just something you'd have to adapt to I guess. There's plenty of one armed or blind musicians around.
When altitude dropping, my ears started popping. One more red nightmare...
#7
Practice. I hear ya. But practice what??

When you're learning drums its easy. Practice yer rudiments and beats of songs ya like. With guitar its so much harder.

What should your routine be? I have heaps of books and DVDs. I get through bits and pieces of em then get bored or frustrated... Or Sore! (pinky).

I try to leave my pinky out where possible but ist not really practical in some situations. as a result mu fingers get bunched up and confused for wabnt of a better term.

Whip it asked about my type of music. I like EVERYTHING but my faves are Midnight OIl, Stones and most Jazz like Montgomery, Krantz etc.

I spent a few hours today trying to learn Wedding Cake Island by the Oils from a tab sheet. Got about half way through before I wote the original post.
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#8
The more you worry about your level and about the time you think you lost, the more this will inhibit your future progress. What u need to do is to start over in a way, start fresh, look at it almost as if your guitar playing days will be reborn. as someone mentioned earlier, self-confidence is the key. True, practice done well is second to none, but it is also quite futile to practice practice practice without believing that you can do it (and believe me you can mate, the greats weren't born with super guitar-powers either When I see that one of my guitar students lacks self-confidence and is becoming frustrated, I always ask them to put their guitar down for five minutes, relax, and actually forget about the guitar being similar to just another "school subject". Play the guitar because its fun, because it makes you feel good, and don't feel that you need to prove anything to anyone except yourself. Also, if you think it will help, find a good teacher who doesn't just teach you the guitar but also teaches you to love the guitar through playing, believe me, its all in the teachers' approach You can also learn through books, these days there are plenty of good ones. About the pinky, ever heard of a certain Django Reinhardt? If you have u'll know what I mean, if u haven't, he was one of the all-time jazz guitar greats, google his name, and u'll get my point :P Best of luck, and remember, play from the heart!
#9
practising up to 10 hours a day and always telling myself - you suck, you have to become better because YOU NEED IT, even if there's no reason for it, YOU NEED IT FOR THE FUTURE!!!

practise what?? everything you can imagine, but putting the main focus on technique - shredding is never bad! i've been learning lots of scales, chords, chord progressions, different types of stroking, various note progressions, string skippings, arpeggios, sweepings, expanded sweepings, tap sweepings, normal tapping, 8 finger tapping 2,3,4,5 notes per string exercises, various rhythms for soloing, a bit fingerpicking god dammit, there is SO MUUCH you can learn on the guitar....
Eat this, today's music-lovers!
Quote by rabidguitarist
A lot of music isn't really going anywhere. There are tons of fans in here going 'oh my god, <> is evolving so much and <> is so shit lol!' but tons of it is just recycled material and tired ideas.
Last edited by DeathOn2Legs at Nov 3, 2008,
#10
As cliche as it sounds: Practice

And what really helped me was confidence. Just put on a strap and start pretty much dancing around and getting really into it, whether it sounds good when you do that doesnt matter; just have fun with it! that'll make you think your good...

Then u just need to sit down and practice until you ARE good...simple really
Pot
Kettle
Black
#11
Quote by ice_622
About the pinky, ever heard of a certain Django Reinhardt? If you have u'll know what I mean



Oh yeah, I know Django. But was he in constant pain when he played?

I try to play thought the pain and cramping but my hand resists it like trying to feed a dog its own sh!t. then i walk around with a sore finger for days so I try using just three fingers but it doesnt cut it.
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#12
When you say good, what do you mean? THere are so many styles you'll have to explain yoourself better, here are some examples:

You want to become an awesome shredder: Practise speed and sweep picking exercises.

You want to become rhythm guitarist for a pop/rock band: Practise power chords, Open chords and Bar chords.

You'd love to play the blues: Learn the formula to a 12 bar blues and practise playing it, learn the blues pentatonic scales and play it over some backing tracks.

You wanna be a jazz guitarist: Learn as many scales as possible and improvise all the time.

Those examples are just off the top of my head, if you wanna know how to improve your gonna have to tell us what you want to improve.
#13
Quote by maccattack
Oh yeah, I know Django. But was he in constant pain when he played?

I try to play thought the pain and cramping but my hand resists it like trying to feed a dog its own sh!t. then i walk around with a sore finger for days so I try using just three fingers but it doesnt cut it.


Django Reindhart played with two fingers, therefore DON"T USE YOUR PINKY IF IT HURTS TOO MUCH!!!!!!! Oh and practising what you're doing with three fingers will improve it, be patient!
#15
Quote by EL2T
DON"T USE YOUR PINKY IF IT HURTS TOO MUCH!!!!!!! Oh and practising what you're doing with three fingers will improve it, be patient!



OK but what about chord voicings where you need four fingers or a long stretch like say... playing something like 'Message in a bottle'?
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#16
You'll just have to make do or stop whinging about the pain, we can't help you with that. If you want a solution for your pinky see a doctor or get a chainsaw. Now could you please concentrate and answer what you want help improving on, or did you just want too have a rant on the internet?
#17
Ok, I had a messed up pinky, I broke it and now it is curved kinda. It doesn't hurt now but of course playing with a finger that is curved was a challenge at first.

I think I know some of your problem. You might be expecting to much. Slow down, learn more about the guitar itself. Learn why notes sound good together, learn your theory. That will really help you, it will open up so many doors, not just when you want to sit around and screw around with different sounds but also learning songs by other artists. You will understand more where that guitarist is coming from and know more of what is to come next. THen YOU can improv over that song. Make it a little of your own.

Slow down everthing, use a metronome, and be patient. Do some more finger exercises, run through some chromatics and scales very very slowly. Work on them. Work on playing each and every note clearly with very little effort. Then speed up just a little and repeat.

I will go further with you, talk you through it more if you need be. Just PM me and I will answer anything you need. If need be I will send ya some excersises I did for my pinky that really helped me out.

Good luck man, just relax and have fun that is all that it is about.
#18
Well I'm not good either, but I'm getting better. The best advice is to slow down and don't rush things. There are a lot of good lessons and tips for the beginner at www.justinguitar.com, complete with practice routines and printable material for free. I'll assume that because you played drums in the past you have a good sense of timing and rhythm. If that's the case, then you should probably be focused on finger strength building and dexterity. That generally means lots of scales played slowly and cleanly, relaxing your hand between every fretted note. Beyond that, basic theory will help you.
#19
with my teacher, after the lessons, i actually learned how to practice and get better by myself
#20
Like everyone else said, practice. Also, find people to jam with. It makes it more fun if you are playing wth different people. Plus you learn different things from them.
"If my baby don't love me no more,
well I'm sure her sister will." -Jimi "Red House"

Gear
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#21
Practice practice practice brother. Go back to the basics. Slow everything down, go for clean notes over speed. Before long muscle memory will kick in and your hands will just do it. Once the muscle memory is there it's just a matter of developing the stamina in your arm muscles and the speed / endurance will come.

You probably lose interest in the DVD / book lessons because they are over your head.

...and Jazz...that's a pretty ambitious genre to get into in the beginning. It takes lots of theory to be even moderately good at Jazz. You have to not only know scales inside out and upside down but also modes. It also takes an extremely good ear.

I have the benefit of many years of formal teaching, but I've probably learned as much and maybe more just by jamming with random people. I never pass up a chance to play with new people. Hell, i've even learned things by showing newer players stuff at guitar stores and answering their questions. Keep an open mind!

As far as the pinky problem...it will only stop you if you let it.

Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6KdJd8M1ZI
Last edited by GitfiddleNinjer at Nov 3, 2008,
#22
When it comes to PRACTICE , the great guitarist George Van Eps said "until the fingers know where they belong, can you practice , until then you are learning." Have you checked out www.guitarprinciples.com? Jamie Andress talks about that learning THE CORRECT WAY TO PRACTICE is import to learn first. As she says ,"if you don't know the correct way to practice ,why give you something to practice?" Have you had a docter examine your pinky? Not only did Django play some unbelivable guitar with a physically limted left hand , but so did Tony Iommi , after docters told him that because he chopped off the tips of two fingers he would never play guitar again. Your real limitations are the ones you set on yourself.
#23
Quote by rhettro
relaxing your hand between every fretted note.


Thats a good tip. I never thought of that but I can see how it would be beneficial. Thanks for that.

Area I want to improve?

Accuracy. I miss notes all the time and have trouble with playing strings that arent in the chord etc.

Strength. I need to work on my fretting hand as Im not always fretting cleanly.

Dexterity.

Thats a start but all areas need improvement I guess.

A doctor? Those pr!cks did this to my hand! Well they made it worse anyway. I got a sist on the finger after I hit the fretboard too hard once.

I was sent to a plastic surgeon via my quack who cut it out and performed a skin graft. I cant bend it properly now and its constantly sore. especially when i play guitar. So I dont really want to be seeing those shiesters again.
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#24
It just happened.

I played the guitar. And I sucked. Then after I'd played a while, I did something and thought 'Wow, that's pretty cool'.

Then I turned out to suck less, and I played till it happened again.

Then again.
And again.
Thomas hopes to not have offended anyone with this post. No responsibility whatsoever is taken for any spelling or grammar mistakes, should there be any.

last.fm
#25
I say gear is everything because I sucked and hated to practice until I bought a multi effects processor. I play a strat thru an RP50 plugged into the back of my peavey 60 watt amp.

Anyway to make a long story shorter, my setup makes my guitar sound so good, I can make some pretty amazing sounds with little effort.

The variety of effects available makes practicing a lot more fun! I practice a lot more. So I am improving at a faster rate than ever!

I also bought a cheep acoustic to practice on. It is way harder to play, so when I switch back to the strat my fingers feel like they can fly!

What guitar do you play? Try a LesPaul (if you can afford it) the finger pressure required to play it is very little.

Hope I have been of some help. Don't give up! It sounds like you want to play.
#26
Welp.
Im 1 year into guitar, and I suck balls too (no homo).
So, I cant offer any real technical advice that you probably dont already know, but maybe my approach to guitar will help you in some way.

Although I am not good at guitar right now, I believe one day that I will be awesome. Its about my attitude. Sure, everyone wants to be a six-string-king (I made that up...maybe it will be a tattoo of mine one day) but do you REALLY want it or do you just dream of it? If you REALLY want something, you have to be willing to take all the steps to attain that goal. That includes sacrifice and fighting through frustration and disappointment. You have to totally imerse yourself in what it is you wish to achieve.

For guitar, I have magazine subscriptions. Youtube. Books. Videos. Various musical styles. I read about the players lives. Not just their techniques. I read and learn as much as I can about guitars. How their built. The history etc. I think about playing almost 24/7. I wiggle my fingers during my commute to and from work practicing chord shapes, scales or anything to keep them loose. I air guitar strumming patterns at my desk. I "play" music in my head. I cant translate to my fingers yet, but one day.

The power of positive thinking is HUGE. Couple that with diligent practice and desire and you will succeed.

*Lil history*

I used to be a bodybuilder. Since I was 14 that was all I envisioned myself doing. I had all the Flex, Ironman, Muscle and Fitness magazines. I studied my heros and taped them to my walls. Friday nights when everyone was partying and drinking, I was in the gym, or at home preparing my meals or sleeping. I didnt WANT to be a world champ, I already believed I WAS a world champ. I just had to do the in between part that was from point A to point B.

By my freshman year I was bigger and stronger than all but a handful of seniors at my HS. By my senior year? Fuhgeddabouit!! I. WAS. THE. SH IT. My coaches were amazed at my physical development. My peers were jealous and accused my over and over of steroids (which I NEVER used at that time....) I got called to the princepals office because they were "concerned". What these people were whitnessing was a white hot desire to achieve a goal. It doesnt compute to those that dont have the drive. It scares them or something. After HS I was pretty well known in various gyms. I was known as "the uncrowned Mr. Olympia", and I hadnt ever done a show yet.

My first show I KILLED the competition. It was the NGA organization (Natural and tested) I did the novice class. The judges had me 2 points behind a guy a diffrent class that got his pro card. They said my development and preparation was astounding. I was already a pro in my mind and actions.

Whatever it is that you want, dont just want it. Believe that you are already there, then just fill in the middle, so to speak.

So, I am applying this same philosophy to guitar. Sure, its not quite the same as genetics played a good part in my physical development, but the dedication and mindset of success is the same regardless.

Ok. Hopefully you got something from that. I didnt piece my thoughts together to well...
#27
What I do is called 'powerlevelling'. Basically, you just try to do things that seem like you could do them, but will take forever.
Right now I'm learning 'Little Wing' by Hendrix. Its a hard song for me to learn, but I know that I can get it, and once I do, I'll be a whole lot better.

Note that this will make you a better guitarist, not songwriter.
will someone carry me across ten thousand miles under the silence
#28
Quote by Baby Joel
What I do is called 'powerlevelling'. Basically, you just try to do things that seem like you could do them, but will take forever.
Right now I'm learning 'Little Wing' by Hendrix. Its a hard song for me to learn, but I know that I can get it, and once I do, I'll be a whole lot better.

Note that this will make you a better guitarist, not songwriter.


Little wing is a bitch. Very simple, yet its not.
#29
I looked at the tabs and was like, "Woah, this looks easy. Just some simple power-chord variations with a little hammer-on stuff". Boy was I wrong. :P
will someone carry me across ten thousand miles under the silence
#30
I'm 44 and in the same boat as you, I look at it this way.

I don't play to compete I just play for the love of music
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#31
Some great advice here guys. I really appreciate it.

Last night I sat up for hours practicing few a few things and found that some of the stuff ive been struggling with were suddenly no real problem.

I changed my attitude a bit, from a whinger to a doer. I just flicked a switch. No major jump has occured but I felt a definite improvement instantly.

Part of the problem has been that ive been too proud to ask for help until now and you guys have come up trumps.

Thanks a million.

More advice please!
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#32
Find a person, not a teacher you pay, but someone who you know and preferably like... Play music with that person, let him/her teach you as the both of you have fun playing music.
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#33
**** this practice shit. Sure, practice is a huge part of getting good, but what you need is inspiration to make that practice matter. Any twat whose parents make him go to his guitar lessons once a week will never be a good guitarist, because its the inspiration that makes you get off your ass on a sunday and play guitar, its the inspiration that makes you want to wipe that smile of that little shithead at your school that thinks he's amazing at guitar, the inspiration to get mad poon because of your uber playing skills, and the inspiration that makes you say "F*ck math homework up the butthole, imma go play guitar now", and, thus, its the inspiration that makes people get 'good' at guitar.

Take this to heart my padawan
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#34
Here's a question. Tonight Im working through a riff that requires me to make a jump to the E string with my pinky.

This here is the best I can manage:


The whole finger is touching the fretboard. I cant really use the tip of my finger as its too painful.

So my question is. Is this OK or would I do better to just use my third finger. Bearing in mind that the very next note is one fret and one string down which requires the third finger.
Disclaimer: All of the above is alleged. Believe it or not it's true.
#35
Damn. I think you need to find some no pinky songs!!!

What happend to your little digit???

Seriously though, have you considered trying to switch from righty to lefty guitar or vice versa depending on how you play now????

Its all in how bad you want it. Switching would be a huge pain at first, but you can do it if you put your mind to it.
#36
Quote by DaddyBarbs
**** this practice shit. Sure, practice is a huge part of getting good, but what you need is inspiration to make that practice matter. Any twat whose parents make him go to his guitar lessons once a week will never be a good guitarist, because its the inspiration that makes you get off your ass on a sunday and play guitar, its the inspiration that makes you want to wipe that smile of that little shithead at your school that thinks he's amazing at guitar, the inspiration to get mad poon because of your uber playing skills, and the inspiration that makes you say "F*ck math homework up the butthole, imma go play guitar now", and, thus, its the inspiration that makes people get 'good' at guitar.

Take this to heart my padawan

No, it's practice.

Inspiration only makes you want to get good, the TS has already passed that stage - you get good with hard work.
Actually called Mark!

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#38
Quote by maccattack
Is this OK or would I do better to just use my third finger.


For most people, it would be better to learn to use the tip of the pinky. In your case, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. If you can stretch your ring finger to take over for the pinky, that's an option. If there's an alternate grip that uses the side of your pinky, that may work to. If you totally want to start over, there's the switch to left hand playing method, but I would guess that to be a more extreme change for you to take, especially considering your experience. But stick with it, there are some amazing guitarist who are missing fingers on their fretting hand out there.