Any advice for learning to play guitar?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rain, Sep 18, 2001.

  1. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    I've been saying for the last 15 years that one day I was going to learn how to play guitar. Ah, procrastination. I'm now 30 and starting from scratch.
    Recent events have really driven home to me how fragile life is and how important it is to live each day as though it were the last. No more putting things off.
    So, I went out this weekend and bought myself a guitar. Had my first lesson last night. Feels great to finally be doing it.
    I was just wondering if any of the guitar playing Forum members might have any advice for me. Anything would be appreciated. In particular, is there anything I can do to help increase the flexibility of my fingers (aside from the obvious--practicing the guitar, which I'm already doing)?
    Man, I never thought that it would be so painful to play a guitar. My left fingertips are sore, my right shoulder is sore, my neck was stiff as hell last night. Oh well, it's all worth it in the end.
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  2. Leroy

    Leroy Second Unit

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    Aside from a few lessons to learn the basics(chord/scale structure, proper technique). I'd learn to "play by ear". I've been playing for about 12 years and am completely self taught. I got a chord chart and some scale patterns and went from there. I'm not the greatest player, but I can usually pick up the basics of a song after a few listens. And there is always that lovely creation known as tablature!!
    That's just me though, so your mileage may vary.
    Dexterity and stamina will come in time. A neat little thing to do is this, place your hands together palm to plam and stretch out your fingers as far as they can go. Generally the stretch out about the same distance. Do this again in a few months after steady playing and you will see how much farther your fret hand fingers will stretch quite a bit farther than your pick hand fingers!!
    [Edited last by Leroy on September 18, 2001 at 02:03 PM]
     
  3. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    As with learning anything.....
    PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE [​IMG]
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  4. CRyan

    CRyan Screenwriter

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    With lessons, you are on the right path. Learn tablature, so you can have some fun playing some of your favorite songs while improving your dexterity. However, keep taking lessons for a while until you get completely bored with them.
    I generally believe the ability to "play by ear" is something that you are either born with or will come after a lot of experience. You will learn your basic chords and scales, but I suggest taking in a CD of one of your favorite songs in a month or two. Let your instructor write it out in tablature and standard music script so that you can see what he/she does. It will give you something fun to practice and will help you start "seeing what you are playing."
    C. Ryan
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  5. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    Great replies here.
    I'd only add...Practice your basic open chords...incessantly.
    You need to get your muscle memory to make those finger movements subconsciously, and it will happen with enough practice.
    Practice chord changes between difficult positions next...say changing from an open D to open G to open D Minor. Slowly at first but then try to do it in time.
    Oh yeah..GET A METRONOME! [​IMG] Learning to keep time as you play is very important and will help speed your progress along. The first time you can play a 12 bar blues shuffle perfectly in time will bring a big smile to your face.
    Keep playing and dont give up...that's the most important thing. I've been playing for almost 20 years now and I still play at least 3-5 times a week.
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  6. Dave Morton

    Dave Morton Supporting Actor

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    I've been playing for about 15 years and I could say that my guitar instruction was terrible. I learned the basics of reading music. Just which note was which in guitar tabulature. I learned nothing about chords and music structure. I basically learned major, minor, 9th, 7th chords but nothing too much more than that. No talk on diminished chords or anything like that.
    So my lessons were basically, bring a tape to class and my teacher would figure out the song for 15 minutes and teach it to me for the next 15 minutes. That seemed great at the time because I was learning all the cool songs. It was not very long that I was learning them before my instructor and I was showing him. I have a great ear for music but have a difficult time reading it.
    I'm am in the process of making my first classical guitar and trying to do some classical guitar techniques on my acoustic guitar, but most classical music is in guitar tabulature and I am having a difficult time working it out without an instructor.
    My advice is to really know reading the music because you will be so much better off in the long run. Then you will be able to recognize and play anything by ear. Keep your instructor and if you are commited to playing, don't do it half-ass, pardon my french. An instructor will keep you disciplined and focused.
    And practice, practice, practice as Philip said. Play until your fingers bleed. It's such a great thing to be creative.
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  7. Kevin Goodwin

    Kevin Goodwin Stunt Coordinator

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    Guitar magazines are a great way to learn. I never had any formal lessons in my life, and I'm a pretty good player (I'm 29 now). When I was 18, my parents bought me a guitar after years of asking, and sent me off to college (Hmmmm...do you think they were waiting until I was out of the house?). I learned from reading guitar magazines & trying to learn the songs they transcribed.
    Eventually, I got tired of that, and started writing & recording my own stuff.
    I would recommend the video by John Petrucci of Dream Theater. He has exercises for warming up your hands, a lot of picking exercises, and explains scales & stuff as well. It's a really good overview of the guitar. It would take you years to learn everything that's in the 2 hour video.
     
  8. Brent Cantrell

    Brent Cantrell Stunt Coordinator

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    I went to the Alabama School of Fine Arts for classical guitar, (ever see the movie Crossroads? That was me).
    Do scales, endless permutations, before practice(warmup) and after(cooldown). It will improve dexterity like nothing else. Do them in all locations on the neck, ascending, and descending. Congrats on learning a beautiful instrument!
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  9. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Gee, thanks guys. I appreciate all the feedback so far. Keep it coming.
     
  10. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    Are you playing an electric or an acoustic guitar, by the way?
    I used to play the guitar a lot, played it for years, but I haven't owned one in over 3 years now. I went to a guitar store a couple of weeks ago and played some, and now my fingers itch to pick one up again. I want that bad-ass looking BC Rich Warlock guitar [​IMG]... it felt great playing it too, the frets and the neck of it were perfectly sized for my hands.
    IMO, it's much harder to play an acoustic guitar and make it sound good than an electric one, but maybe other people feel differently.
    /Mike
     
  11. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    I've been playing guitar for 6 years now, and im 15...
    I learned bass in concert band, and took up 6-strnig guitar a year later. I basically started reading tabs of easy songs, and looking at chords... Then i got a big book of beatles songs, coz i know how alot of them go, and it shows the chord diagrams in the song above the bar... If you have a band or some music you like, find a Vocal/Piano/Guitar book of their songs, coz those show youhow to play the chords...
    To learn to fingerpick and stuff, look for tabs online... check out Tabcrawler.com, Freshtabs.com, and Punkhardcore.com (if you like punk stuff... punk is generally VERY easy to play once you know how to do a power chord)...
    With that said, just play it again and again, and then your fingers will know where your strings are, and subconciosly play the chord... just like typing... [​IMG]
     
  12. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    quote: Are you playing an electric or an acoustic guitar, by the way?[/quote]
    Acoustic.
     
  13. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Also, learn modes; the precursors to scales, with neat greek names like mixolidian, dorian and the like. Absolutely wonderful for improv and jamming.
     
  14. Chris Knox

    Chris Knox Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is something I found that really helps that few people admit to doing. One of he best ways to teach yourself progression and just keeping really good time (and it's fun too) is just do a lot of jamming with the guitar while listening to some loud music (loud enough to drown out your awful sounding guitar) and over time you will see that you get a really good feel for pick strokes, strumming, keeping time, getting a good dexterity workout and countless other percs. It doesn't matter if your hitting the right chords, or if you are even on the right spot on the neck of the guitar.
    So long as your wife doesn't walk in on you and think your a total idiot, I say it's one of the best tips you can add to your arsenal.
    Trust me...I've been doing it for eleven years
    Chris
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  15. Brion Lydon

    Brion Lydon Stunt Coordinator

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    Try picking up the Christopher Parkening guitar method volume 1. It's a classical guitar book which will give you a good foundation for your playing. My teacher, who by the way learned from Segovia, starts all his students in this book.
     
  16. Eric Scott

    Eric Scott Second Unit

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    What Philip an Ric said is most important, but you also need to have fun. When I first started playing back in the sixties I would try to play some of my favorite tunes to keep my interest up. Playing "Gloria" and few other simple songs helped me do that and learn to keep good time, (because I knew how they should sound.) (You can even sing along!)
    When you think you have a song down, try recording yourself and listen to how you sound! [​IMG]
     
  17. Doug Dickeson

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    Heck, I think I have the top two added together beat for longevity. Uhm, let's see… I started playing when I was 11, and I'm 48 now, so that means… wait, don't yell out the answer, I can do the math… 37 years.
    Absolutley get a metronome. I've had students that couldn't keep time to save their ass. Can I say "ass" in this forum? Anyway, make a metronome a "gotta have" purchase. It's not a glamorous purchase [​IMG]
    Scales, modes, permutations of patterns in all positions will keep your fingers fluid and train that muscle memory.
    If you're interested in being able to play solos (I will not call it "lead guitar", God I hate that phrase) and improvise, then I would strongly suggest learning the basic modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) and how they fit together. Learn how you can use them like a "slide rule" over your neck, and you'll have one of the most valuable tools for playing anything anywhere on the neck that you want.
    Also- for an older guy like me, warming up your hands prior to practicing/performing is a real help. Nice warm water in a sink- stick your hands in, stretch out your fingers, make 'em nice and pliable. Then warm them down, using the same technique.
    And now for the unsolicited advertisement- click on the links in my sig file to hear if my advice is worth anything!
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  18. AaronNWilson

    AaronNWilson Second Unit

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    I would say the best advice is to NEVER GIVE UP. I made this mistake. I was taking lessons whenever I was 12 and If I hadn't gave up I can just imagine how good I would be 9 years later.
    Aaron
     
  19. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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    www.harmony-central.com is a great guitar resource, has tabs, reviews for great.
    GuitarWorld is a good magizine.
    Practice, Practice, Practice.
    Start out with easy things, don't attempt to play Megadeth's Rust In Peace album right away.
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  20. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    If practical, leave your guitar out so that you can pick it up at every whim.
    Though a long time player, I've never had a lesson and learned on my own and by being around bands all the time when younger. I think as a kid I just sat there with a tab book. I do strongly support your learning on an acoustic though. I've got a few guitars, scattered about the country actually, but my Martin sees more time playing at home, recording, or playing out than all the others combined.
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