Help me learn to play guitar

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James Slade, Jan 26, 2003.

  1. James Slade

    James Slade Second Unit

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    A couple of months ago I bought an acoustic guitar. A Norman ST40. I have a friend who is a great guitar player and on Saturday nights we would drink beer and he would teach me a thing or two until we got to the drinking point when I stopped learn etc. It was a great time. He recently got a new job and has moved three provinces away. I still want to learn but am not excited about the classroom/lesson environment. I would love to have ideas on good books etc. or anything that would help me learn.

    I am mostly interested in playing stuff that I don't think should be too tough, Dave Matthews, The Hip, Keith Whitely.

    So how did you learn? How would you suggest I learn? I am 26 and have the self disipline to learn, but I don't want to waste time making little to no progress. I really don't want to get frustrated and put away the guitar.
     
  2. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    James, I am in the same exact position as you. My housemate plays the acoustic and teaches me a couple things every now and then. In October, I brough my brother's electric guitar to school, and I play all the time. I'm starting to get good. I guess you should learn the major and minor chords and then go from there. I picked up alotta stuff by ear.

    check out www.guitaretab.com for fingerings and tabs for about a zillion songs. Try Oasis (wonderwall)...that's my crowning achievement. also check www.worldguitar.com for pictures and audio of fingerings.

    adios!
     
  3. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    I play. I teach friends like you! Learn "Wheat Kings" by the Tragically Hip. It is a slower song, but it is a three-chord song. G, C, and D.

    And congratulations on getting a Norman guitar. Those guitars are great for the money. I have a B20 cutaway acoustic with Fishman pickup/electronics. Lovely instrument.

    -JNS
     
  4. Jeff Rosz

    Jeff Rosz Second Unit

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    you can learn 2 types of music at once by learning the blues scale and the relative(country) scale. once you do that you will be able to "see" the notes in any key on the frets. a good book for that is "the heavy guitar bible".
    i'll throw in another chord...Am...with jagan's 3 to learn to play an easy acoustic classic, floyd's "wish you were here". C D Am G then switch it over to D C Am G. strum the chords a few times, they will fall in place.
     
  5. James Slade

    James Slade Second Unit

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    Thanks guys!

    I can't believe more people haven't responded to this thread, I thought this would draw a lot of attention.

    I already know the basic chords talked about here and can make those shapes well. I can even play something that sort of sounds like wheat kings. My problems mostly come from strumming, I have no timing!

    More ideas?
     
  6. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    1. Get a program like Cool Edit and slow down recordings to half speed.
    2. Practice strumming with downstrokes AND upstrokes.
    3. Strum using your whole lower arm, not just your wrist.

    4. Remember rhythms by associating them with words that are pronounced with the same rhythm.

    5. Play along with recordings.
    6. Break out of bad habits early.

    -JNS
     
  7. Jeff Rosz

    Jeff Rosz Second Unit

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    if you play righty, your left hand is doing +75% of the sound.
    get that pinky in there working. work pinky work!
    slightly mute the strings with the pinky edge of your palm of your picking hand.
     
  8. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    man these tips are helpin me out too...awesome stuff
     
  9. Dave Morton

    Dave Morton Supporting Actor

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    I would suggest working on scales too. And use all 4 fingers. I'm with Jeff, use that pinky. It will make you a more efficient player. One exercise I do is to walk up and down the strings on one fret with the pinky and the ring finger. For example, at the 5th fret, hit the A on the 6th string with your ring finger, then hit the D on the 5th string with your pinky, then hit the G on the fourth string with your ring finger, then hit the C with your pinky on the 3rd string, so on and so forth. It's not as easy as it sounds. Just keep working it. You can do it with your other adjacent fingers too. It will help you with your control.
     
  10. Don_Houle

    Don_Houle Stunt Coordinator

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    James, I started playing guitar in 1988. Well, actually, I started playing bass in 1988 and then switched to guitar a year later - because, as we all know, guitar is MUCH cooler than bass, right?

    Anyway, I played for about 3 years without any formal training. I learned mostly by buying guitar magazines with tablature for songs that I liked. I started off with mostly Metallica, Queensryche and Megadeth stuff. Believe it or not, those magazines were really helpful in developing my skill. Not to mention that those bands all feature some fairly difficult playing.

    I had a friend who knew a lot of music theory and he taught me some basics - chords and scales, that I practiced a lot as well.

    Eventually, my self-teaching plateaued a bit and wasn't making the kind of progress that I wanted to be making. I was able to play pretty well, but my soloing skills were pretty poor, so I decided to take some lessons.

    I noticed my skills increase right away once I began lessons. My timing became way better and my teacher gave me a lot of finger exercises to increase my strength and dexterity as well as my knowledge of scales. He also introduced me to some new music, which made me vary my technique a bit. Within a few months, I was able to play a lot of things that I hadn't been able to before. I was also relying less on tablature and more on my ear to figure things out.

    If you have a group of people (or even just one other person) to play with, that will increase your skill as well. It will make your timing better as well as giving you another ear to bounce ideas off of.

    I only took lessons for about 6 months before I moved away from that area. Unfortunately, once I moved, I also leesened my guitar playing, so my abilities began to go down hill. I hardly ever play anymore and I'm sorry to say that I suck!

    I think the key to learning anything is to practice, practice, practice! And remember to have fun as well.
     
  11. Zane Charron

    Zane Charron Second Unit

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    Depending on the skill level you want to attain, I would tell you to get a good guitar teacher. Your playing will improve at a much faster rate and you can avoid all the mistakes and poor technique you might pick up while learning alone.

    I'm not saying you can't be a decent or good player without an instructor, but you can make much more progress with one.

    I've played since '89 and consider myself a decent player of many styles. I had about 1 year of instruction in the beginning and I'm glad I did. I still do the exercises and scale runs that he taught me (Paul Chapman of UFO).
     
  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Keeping time/rhythm is one of the most important aspects of guitar playing. You can make all the nifty chord shapes and run through all the scales, but if you aren't in time, you can't play properly with anybody. And it makes it difficult to play solo and sing because you've basically got no rhythm. Dave Matthews is a master at this, especially when his guitar goes one rhythm and his lyrics don't necessarily follow (try The Stone for a real challenge, singing and playing).

    Definitely learn a few songs all the way through (unfortunately for the first few years all I learned were snippets of songs). That way you can play along with your CD and really get a sense of rhythm and playing with others. Learn how to listen to the drum to get the timing of the song.
     
  13. Chris Knox

    Chris Knox Stunt Coordinator

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    If you want to improve your timing, jam along with your favorite music even if you don't know a single note that is being played; even if you have no idea what position on the neck your hand is supposed to be at. It is kind of like lip synching for the guitar. This is the single greatest method for developing your timing and is a blast to do. Just don't let anyone catch you doing it and save yourself some embarassment!

    Careful though, this gets addictive...

    Chris
     
  14. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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  15. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    Dude! With a name like "Jimmy Slade", you don't need to know how to play [​IMG]

    Seriously though, everyone has given you some great advice that will get you going in the right direction.
     
  16. Michael Caicedo

    Michael Caicedo Second Unit

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    Wait, James you're from Canada right? Whatattabout Rush? [​IMG]
    Seriuosly, I learned some really great stuff listening and sounding out Rush tunes. Broon's Bane is a lovely piece, Closer to the Heart, etc.
     
  17. Chris Knox

    Chris Knox Stunt Coordinator

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    Also, since we are looking to get you proficient in guitar playing as soon as possible, here is another INVALUABLE lesson that might have saved me many months in mastering this wonderful instrument:

    Be very aware of the differences in rhythms between the singer and the guitarists when trying to learn songs. This sounds like it should be second nature, but this is part of the difficulty in avoiding falling into the trap. It is not second nature. Too many times when learning a song you find yourself (in the beginning of your guitar playing career) playing the verse and chorus to the beat of the singer and throwing yourself out of time.

    I can list many examples, but a good one that is coming to mind is 'Fire in the hole' from Van Halen 3. Gary Cherone's vocals are doing there own thing over Ed's rhythym section and it is very easy to find yourself strumming to the tune of his words instead of Ed's playing. Make yourself consciously shut out the words completely when trying to learn. This can be more difficult than it sounds.

    Just keep in mind that those songs were normally finished (music-wise) before the singer even heard it for the first time. His words have nothing to do with the rhythym, and IMHO they usually have nothing to do with the mood that the music sparks within you. This goes with all of your songs. If you need confirmation of this, try and listen to a song for the first time intrumentally. Close your eyes and let the music take you were you let it. Then listen to the track with the words. It's a completely different feel every time. It never fails...
    Hope this helps,

    Chris
     
  18. Mat_M

    Mat_M Stunt Coordinator

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    The route I took was not one traveled often. I started guitar learning classical guitar licks. Then I went into learning things like power chords. After about two years of playing I took a Jazz guitar class, which was probably the toughest guitar playing I've ever had to learn. And presently I'm into rock and alternative. So what I can tell you from this is keep your influences broad. It helps a ton.
     

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