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Turning points in your guitar playing...?

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Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby BJG145 » Mon May 03, 2021 9:06 am

Just curious about any key ideas or discoveries people found that made a significant difference or improvement in their guitar playing. I don't generally approach instruments from a music theory angle, but I never really got beyond Beatles chords until I tried the CAGED approach, and then learned about modes. I'm still very basic though, so I'm looking for the next thing to help me up my game. It could be a player, a book, a technique...?
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Albatross » Mon May 03, 2021 9:28 am

I'm not much on theory, but the thing that really was a big leap for me was using open tunings. In the playing, of course, but more in the thinking. I have different guitars in different tunings and it keeps me fresh.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby manwilde » Mon May 03, 2021 9:58 am

I´m a very basic level player, but to me what´s making me know the instrument better is using a capo to find the tone that suits my voice better on a given song, and then try to find the chords for that tone without using the capo, or with the capo on a different fret.
And playing whole songs, not just bits of them.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Murray B » Mon May 03, 2021 10:02 am

Several for me:

For rhythm and groove playing - using a delay to create an extra pattern to strummed rhythms and riffs (it doesn't work unless you play like a metronome) - really helped with improving my accuracy / meter and ability to keep a groove.

Retraining myself to not fret so hard / pick so hard / strum so hard and use the minimum energy to play. (still ongoing this one, attempting to correct the previous 15 years of smashing the guitar into submission)

Minimum movement work - getting all my fingers to behave themselves when they are not in use.

For lead playing - using Chord Tones and learning arpeggio patterns for the most common chord types all over the neck.

It's all an ongoing process of course - but I would say that the time spent really putting my technique under the microscope and using minimum energy has been the most revolutionary overall but I still have a long way to go.

There's a world of stuff on the internet about progress killers etc and I guess it might be useful, but the stuff that has always slowed my progress has been not spending enough time working on the things I can't do yet and working out why I can't do it :headbang:

Happy to expand on any of the above if you want some more pointers.

Good luck!
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby manwilde » Mon May 03, 2021 10:08 am

Very good points, I´m also working on that. My first few years of learning were spent playing Ramones songs on a toy Marshall amp. It didn´t make any difference whether you were playing hard as hell or soft as a feather. It´s getting tough to take care of that, but it is also very rewarding to really notice how much better the sound gets.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Murray B » Mon May 03, 2021 10:15 am

The frustration for me is that I'm 20 years into trying to undo all of the bad technique I started off with and I'm still not quite there yet! :geek:
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby manwilde » Mon May 03, 2021 10:47 am

Same here!. But it pays off, eventually. You may not notice, but if you keep on working you´ll get better. :thumbup:
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby BJG145 » Mon May 03, 2021 11:23 am

Murray B wrote:For lead playing - using Chord Tones and learning arpeggio patterns for the most common chord types all over the neck.

This sounds like a useful thing for me to look at. I've come across it, but not applied myself to it.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon May 03, 2021 11:51 am

After 56 years of playing guitar there are undoubtedly quite a few I've forgotten but I would say the most effective involve learning a new style or technique. Most recently in my case that was learning (or trying to learn) to play gypsy jazz. The other thing I'd suggest if you are an electric player and you don't own an acoustic guitar you should buy one and try to do all your stuff on that as well as electric*. With acoustic there's nowhere to hide and if you can make something sound ok on acoustic it'll sound great on electric.

* I've always played both, starting out playing blues/rock on electric and folk/Americana on acoustic with a fair bit of crossover between the two.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Murray B » Mon May 03, 2021 11:52 am

BJG145 wrote:
Murray B wrote:For lead playing - using Chord Tones and learning arpeggio patterns for the most common chord types all over the neck.

This sounds like a useful thing for me to look at. I've come across it, but not applied myself to it.


It's more satisfying than learning scales - although you are still learning scales by default of course - but with linking what you are learning to a practical use immediately rather than a more abstract concept - knowing a scale doesn't mean you can play a solo with it. The Chord tones and arpeggios get you there a lot faster and of course once you know the rules you can always choose to bend them, although I always think of this as just pulling out the previously secret advanced rule book - this lead me to joining a Jazz funk band so it would force me to get my head around more complex harmony and chord shapes.

Doing the theory work, getting to know the neck back to front and knowing all the options for an available note and what sound it will make in relation to the underlying harmony is a pretty cool trick, it's easiest to start with the more common guitar.keys and their relative minors as you will find more use for this earlier.

Oh and the other thing - if you aren't playing music with other people - find a way so you can!
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon May 03, 2021 11:56 am

Murray B wrote:Oh and the other thing - if you aren't playing music with other people - find a way so you can!

^^^ This, music is a language and, like the spoken word, is at it's best when used as part of a conversation.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Murray B » Mon May 03, 2021 11:58 am

Sam Spoons wrote:After 56 years of playing guitar there are undoubtedly quite a few I've forgotten but I would say the most effective involve learning a new style or technique. Most recently in my case that was learning (or trying to learn) to play gypsy jazz. The other thing I'd suggest if you are an electric player and you don't own an acoustic guitar you should buy one and try to do all your stuff on that as well as electric*. With acoustic there's nowhere to hide and if you can make something sound ok on acoustic it'll sound great on electric.

* I've always played both, starting out playing blues/rock on electric and folk/Americana on acoustic with a fair bit of crossover between the two.


+1 on all of the above too - I joined a project to play with a Gospel Choir in my 20's and I learn so much in the space of 3 months about chordal work and more advanced harmony, also got to work and learn from with some amazing musicians and singers too.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby shufflebeat » Mon May 03, 2021 12:06 pm

Paid gigs, preferably with other people, and the wherewithal to record and review them.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby blinddrew » Mon May 03, 2021 12:17 pm

The biggest turning point in my playing is if I don't keep up on my practice, but I don't think that was the kind of inflection you were looking for? ;)
More seriously, playing to a metronome, and finding someone to work with who continually pushes you outside your comfort zone have been the biggest devices to improve my playing and composition.
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Re: Turning points in your guitar playing...?

Postby Music Wolf » Mon May 03, 2021 12:58 pm

There have been many turning points for me in 45 years of playing the guitar but a big step forward was when I started to practice songs (covers) using backing tracks. People have already mentioned using metronomes and also playing with other people. Using backing tracks offers the benefits of a metronome whilst going a little way towards substituting other musicians (although it's still falls a long way short).

I build my own backing tracks, often starting with a free MIDI download which I then need to correct / rearrange / change key. I practice to this, not until I get it right, but until I no longer get it wrong. By the time I get into the rehearsal room I know the song.

I was practicing with my new band last week and I messed up in the middle of one song. The singer was delighted because it took some of the pressure off her to learn that I was capable of a mistake.
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