Anyone Self taught?

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.
User avatar
Vic Lewis VL
Albus Dumblechord
Posts: 10861
Joined: April 28th, 2004, 2:54 pm
Location: Newton-le-Willows, England
Contact:

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by Vic Lewis VL » March 6th, 2010, 6:21 pm

had a couple of lessons 35 years ago - when I was 17 - then gave it up as a bad job, didn't understand a damn thing the so-called teacher was teaching. Learned a lot from a Beatles songbook - then gave it all up as a bad job. Started playing again in the late 90's - knew a few chords, played 'em over and over again till about 2004 - then I discovered GN: Found the lessons page, found there was more to life than just majors and minors, found I'd suddenly developed a thirst for knowledge - and found I took to guitar like a duck to water.

Never had formal lessons since way back when, but since I discovered GN, I decided I was determined to play this damn plank properly. And that's what's kept me going since - sheer determination. I'm about average/decent on the rhythm guitar now, still pretty mediocre on lead - but I'm still trying REALLY HARD to improve. And I am still improving....I can FEEL the improvement whenever I put my hands on a fretboard.

And - there's still room for improvement - and probably always will be. I can live with that.

So yeah, I'm mostly self-taught - with the aid of some good lessons - but really, it's more to do with your own will, and your own determination to succed, than who you take lessons from. I could have found a good guitar teacher - but I found GN, and everything in the last few years that's contributed to my growth as a guitarist (and, as an aside, to finally growing up!) has come from here....I could have found another guitar site (I did find a good tab site, with some useful applications like chord-building etc first time out!) that would have taught me as much, but probably not in the same time span, and definitely NOT another site that would have introduced me to so many new friends....and I've got a LOT of friends here, who I'm proud to know!

This has been a totally unsolicited plug for GN....but I mean it, MAAAAAAAN! - as Johnny Rotten Rotten once said......

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Dvorak
newbie
Posts: 7
Joined: August 31st, 2009, 1:41 pm
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by Dvorak » April 23rd, 2010, 11:38 am

Another self-taught guitarist right here! Of course I studied piano for a long time before I picked up my dad's guitar, so I had the advantage of understanding music.

I've been playing on and off for maybe three or four years. I learned open chords from the inside back cover of a book, put up with sore fingers for a few weeks, dropped the instrument, then picked it up again. I have to thank some people I know for teaching me important technique--I'd never have learned it otherwise--and a few basic chords.

Since I don't usually sing, I got tired of playing folk tunes, and country didn't appeal to me; so besides finding new ways to arrange fingerstyle Christmas carols, I leveled off for a while.

I knew I was only (I say "only") strumming a few chords and working on bar chords. I could play some songs that way, but I knew too well just how much more there was to playing songs accurately. I just didn't want to put in the hours practicing fingerpicking patterns and playing scales from Sal Salvador's Single String Studies up and down the fingerboard.

Sometime later I rediscovered music driven by the acoustic and electric guitar (so there was more than classical!) , found this website and some good instructors on YouTube, picked up some information that I probably take so forgranted I can't even remember learning it now, and shared whatever i knew with others whenever I could. Now I've given in and began working on the mundane things like picking and fretting notes clearly and actually trying to learn whole songs and not just something that sounds close to them.

I guess you could say I've come a long way. I can sort of play "Bend to Squares" now. Without tabs. I probably know more than I realize, but that's all thanks to guitar being my second instrument. So if you can learn the basics, teaching yourself (so to speak--with the aid of a whole community) is definitely possible.

User avatar
Scrybe
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 2259
Joined: October 14th, 2007, 5:03 pm
Location: Liverpool, England

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by Scrybe » April 24th, 2010, 6:14 pm

bobblehat wrote:
My son also plays and has pretty much taught himself also.
He was looking for a teacher recently as he wanted to learn some classical styles but the cheapest he could find locally was £20 per hour.So lessons are pretty much out of the question.
Sorry, but if the teacher is good, £20 is a bargain. Going rate tends to be from around £25, tho some charge more if they're really busy or if the player is intermediate/advanced.
Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe

User avatar
Scrybe
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 2259
Joined: October 14th, 2007, 5:03 pm
Location: Liverpool, England

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by Scrybe » April 24th, 2010, 6:43 pm

I also think the "self-taught" thing philosophically unsound - no one can be properly self-taught and, even if you take lessons, it's up to you how you use the information given in the lessons, so that's as close to "self-teaching" as anyone who hasn't taken lessons. But still...

How long have you been playing?
Uh just over ten years. Took a break from playing for about 5 years - had other commitments.

How well do you think you play?
It depends. Some days I feel great about my playing and where I'm heading with it. Other days I feel like I suck. I suppose I'm fairly experienced - can strum songs fine, play some Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, etc., can play some jazz, can improvise some leads (but I'm really inconsistent on this last...). Good music theory (studied that in school, tho no guitar lessons back then). Currently learning to sight read, play jazz, and a bunch of other stuff. Took to fingerpicking really naturally, but am starting to actually practice that now, to get better - previously hid behind the lame "natural talent" proviso for not practicing.

Have you ever considered taking lessons? Why/why not?
Yup, just started jazz lessons with the best jazz guitarist in the country. It's really hurting my pocket, but it's worth it. I'm a perfectionist, so I want to get as good at playing jazz as I possibly can, and working with Mike, his ears are sharper than mine, he knows the music so much more thoroughly than I do, and he communicates it very well, too. It's inspiring to study with someone who is doing what I want to do, and its highly motivating to know that, no matter what non-musicians may think of my playing, he'll spot any fluffs I make (not dissing non-musos, just saying I wanna get amazing on guitar, so having a really accurate guy to get feedback from is the best route for me). Mike's a stickler for little details, which is something I always notice and dislike in my own playing, so he's ideal to work with to improve my consistency and my, uh, professionalism, I guess. Also, just being around someone so good means you grow your ears some just to keep up, and the same goes for skills. I'm hoping that 6 months from now, I'll be much better than I currently am. The same can be said for 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and so on.

Oh yeah, it also helps just to have someone who I can communicate my goals to, and have them care. Like, we're working together to get me where I want to be. Telling him I want to be as good as Jim Hall and feel frustrated that I can't solo over Coltrane Changes yet is a little different than saying all that to my friend who quite playing trumpet years ago, or even someone who does play music but has their own concerns. He's the dude who saying that to is really useful. I'm now struggling* to transcribe an entire Jim Hall album, and am studying his compositions in depth. And if you ask a hundred musicians what you should do to improve, you'll get 100 great things to do, but no idea of what order to do them in or how to prioritise them, so having a one on one tutor really narrows down the information-pool for me (i.e. I still learn other stuff and get advice from elsewhere, but my studies with Mike take priority over trying a new exercise someone else urges me to do).


*I'm sure I have transcription ADD - I can't maintain my focus with it at all. Seconds after sitting down, I'm bored and want to noodle on my guitar. It's weird. For some reason, I can focus on a task like sight reading, or learning some new chords, but transcribing? Nope, my brain goes all ritalin-deprived instantly. :roll:
Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe

User avatar
Scrybe
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 2259
Joined: October 14th, 2007, 5:03 pm
Location: Liverpool, England

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by Scrybe » April 24th, 2010, 6:45 pm

Crap. I meant to also say that Noteboat and Fretsource have been me unofficial and unpaid theory gurus for about a couple of years now, and shall continue to be for some time (as long as they are willing). I'm stock-piling theory questions as I type. 8)
Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe

User avatar
aragorn
Junior Member
Posts: 54
Joined: January 25th, 2010, 1:31 pm

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by aragorn » April 24th, 2010, 9:00 pm

takamineprincess wrote:Is anyone self taught?

How long have you been playing?
How well do you think you play?
Have you ever considered taking lessons? Why/why not?
I've been practicing since Christmas. I then immediately busted my thumb in a ski accident, so for the next month my practice was just strumming with my fingers. I took guitar lessons when I was a little kid so I knew all the open chords, and I took a music class in college so I knew what major and minor scales and chords are, and how to read music.

I'm comfortable with the "easy lessons" on this site. Beyond that I'm quickly out of my depth. The ones I've worked on (and fortunately printed before they were taken down) I can do with only minor errors. I received some positive comments in the "Beginners Videos" thread, which was encouraging.

Lessons are not an option. I have three small children at home, am a partner in a large consulting firm, and at this point cannot make any commitments beyond those. I squeeze in practice mostly when I'm home early and my wife is making dinner, or sometimes when the kids go to bed.

I stumbled across this site and quickly found it was the best teaching tool available on the internet by far. The time that very experienced guitarists take to respond to newbie questions in these forums is generous and valuable; it's a very friendly group.

You need feedback and you need to learn from the experience of others, so I don't think it's possible to be truly self-taught. My goal is to be a competent musician at some point in my life, and I think that may be possible given the tools available on this site. In addition to that, I think you need to perform to become a good musician. To play in front of people is a whole different thing than practicing. To that end I thought that making a beginner's video and posting it to YouTube was very helpful. You get to do a lot of takes so it's not quite like performing live, but still requires being able to get through a song with minimal errors and in such a way that people might want to listen.

User avatar
smokindog
Musically Insane
Posts: 5364
Joined: September 27th, 2004, 7:55 pm
Location: Powdersville S.C.
Contact:

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by smokindog » April 27th, 2010, 10:04 pm

Self taught, been playing badly since 1971. But its just for fun :D
I mostly learned by watching other guitar players. Didn't have internet back then. I would go see lots of bands play :note1: :note2:

darkhorse
Full Member
Posts: 140
Joined: February 18th, 2010, 7:39 pm

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by darkhorse » May 4th, 2010, 1:50 pm

Ouch. Since I was 17, like 35 years.

Am I good?? Let's say I've had my days. I am not as wunderkind as I used to be. Who is? Ok, besides Jeff Beck. I got sick a few years ago, I cannot remember a lot of songs any more. But the improvisation skills never left me.
"When my time is passed ...is it too much ask ...for a little bit of sympathy.."

I always felt lessons were a load. I am rather impatient to sit and mull over forcing myself to finger model tunes, and freakin scales, theory can and will drive you quite mad. You need to understand some basics to understand how music is structured and where and how you find it on the guitar neck. A teacher might be good at telling you or he might just confuse the crap out of you keeping the goodies for himself.

Actually up until just a few years ago theory drove me nuts, it was far too complex because people were making it far too complex. Some people like to talk that stuff like physics to confuse the hell out of you. There are some really simple things that are functional, and most of it does not matter. If you can pick it up and forget it to where it becomes unconscious when you play, great.

I learned this axiom early on, if it sounds right it is right, if you're honest with your ears, you know when something is off. You need to know what you are doing, but let it go, because you cannot really play unless you play loose and free, you just need to know what is and what is not kosher.

One thing I worked very hard to develop when I started and through the years is the ability to actually play music. Improvisation and spontaneous creation, that's where it's at. It's about being able to create and play music out of the blue without any real preplanned notion of what you are going to do. That's the real fun and muse of music, the engine of creation and flying in a blue dream (caution-vague Satriani reference).

It's been my (long) experience that those who copy, copy, copy can eventually get into a brain lock where they never learn and some are just incapable of writing something of their own. I knew a guy who seemed to know how to play everything, he was astounding, and yet when they pulled him in the band you soon realized every time he played it was someone else's riff. Just zero creative muse.

And this "learning by ear" nonsense, ...heads up guitarists, no one has ears that good (ok there are some freaks), your mimics are always wrong compared to the original. I can pretty much tune a guitar with open strings even a full step down where I play, just by open pitch and even by tension of the string. I am always surprised when I change strings I stretch and bring them to tension almost right in tune. Yet, if I hear something and I mimic it I will often get something wrong because you do not know what tuning it might be in or you cannot quite make out the structure through the tone. TAB, professionally rendered TAB and be aware occasionaly something in there might not quite be exact but it will be musically correct suitable for learning.

If you wish to learn some tunes get some good professionally rendered TABs for the songs you like, learn them correctly so you can understand how they are created. I am do not mean these terrible tabs on the net obviously 99% done by young players "by ear". The ones I look at are terribly, terribly wrong. That is the best teacher you'll ever get.

Sure it's nice to have someone to tell you shortcuts and make things easy. But tone brothers and sisters the guitar is infinite, you never stop learning and when you go electric that opens up into the stratosphere (that's why I use a Stratocaster).

Never worry about "how good you are", we all suck on a bad day, and there is always some damn 12 year old trying to copy Yngwie who may seem amazing BUT, have him punch out a killer made up blues progression or play something he has never copied. Paralyzed (ok there is still the occasional genius freak).

Feel, touch and tone comes from a lot of years, and it is not something anyone can really teach you. Play for yourself, play for the enjoyment and fun, that is all that matters. You'll have days where some think you are a God until that damn 12 year old comes along.

Play with others, the way music combines and relates is the coolest. A good drum machine can be a real hoot. I never liked playing much with other guitarists, only a couple I could ever mesh w because we were not trying to out God each other or look at how many songs I know.

anyway, these guys know all this, just maybe you younger players might benefit

SandbagLifter
newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: May 3rd, 2010, 4:21 pm

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by SandbagLifter » May 6th, 2010, 9:31 am

Been playing for 12 years, partially self taught, part of the time took lessons. Definitely got better from taking lessons faster than I did trying to teach myself. That's partly why I'm also teaching now, :)

User avatar
Staffan
Full Member
Posts: 125
Joined: April 7th, 2009, 5:23 am

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by Staffan » May 7th, 2010, 2:56 am

I´m mainly self-taught, by that I mean I took about 10 lessons when I just started out, but after that I have been using a lot of online stuff to learn new things... so perhaps I should change that to: I´m mainly not self-taught :)

How long have I been playing?
About 6 years now.

How well do i play?
Not at all as great as I thougt I would after six years, compared to when I just started out :lol: Apparantly I´m a very slow learner, but I think it´s a blessing in disguise because normally I´m a very fast learner when it comes to anything "physical", be it soccer, boxing or tabletennis. And because I´m usually such a fast learner, I seem to get bored easily and have problem sticking to it. But not so with the guitar, I really have to struggle to get better, and all the same it´s my favourite past-time interest by far, and therefore I have no problem staying with it and keep on struggling. I have to look back maybe six months or even a whole year, to see any real progress. But that also makes it so much more rewarding.

Nowadays I can strum allright, and I´m starting to get a hang on soloing-improvisation. I know enough theroy to get by and I know my scales and modes. The thing I´m really missing though is to play with other people and in front of an audience. I have to get into that, as I think that would be really developing to my playing.

What I´ve learnt is that it´s pointless to compare your ability against others in terms of how fast you develop - it´s all individual.

I think you could learn a lot of the basics well enough from the internet (or at least you used to... current legal action against GN in mind :evil: ), but if you would come across some money (or a really cheap teacher :wink: ) I´m sure that could be worth trying out. But it´s not a requirement by far. A friend of mine is all self-taught, and he´s way-way better than I´ll ever be. He´s got talent - I don´t :note2: :note1: :note2:
AAAFNRAA
- Electric Don Quixote -

darkhorse
Full Member
Posts: 140
Joined: February 18th, 2010, 7:39 pm

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by darkhorse » May 20th, 2010, 12:58 am

I should think everyone is self taught. Best to hang out with as many players as you can and get their views and ideas. Not sure relying on one teacher would ever be a good idea, they might have some really messed up ideas on things or limitations their self, they will pass on to you. Bad habits are so hard to escape, once you get used to doing something it sort of hangs with you.

I always enjoyed working through books and sheet music (and this is before they had easy tab, had to transpose piano notation of left and right hand to guitar, I made an easy chart to do this as well) just to understand how things were built and progressions. I refused to play things "by ear" they are never right, just cannot be, close but I never met any one with perfect pitch who could more so discern heavily modified notes or chords or weird tunings. Copy is trap, once you get into that mode it is hard to break out of it. You have to learn how to just play music, original and spontaneous. Steal ideas and make them your own, that's all anyone ever does, there are only so many notes and so many chords.

I made a lot of charts of simplified theory ideas to try and understand it, a most confusing yada, at best partially useful knowledge. You need to know where you are and what you are doing in relation to key and progression but so many guitarists have no idea of what they are really doing and the notion someone like Malmsteen is just playing really fast scales is nonsense. Not necessary to learn all these specific scales and the names of modes, nice if you want but when playing you sort of have to have it engrained, there are infinite ways to play them and infinite variations. No one plays great lead or spontaneous riffing following a straight scale pattern, everything is a jumble. The only real important things are proper key and proper interval position flow.

User avatar
EMT
newbie
Posts: 41
Joined: September 4th, 2009, 11:38 am
Location: marietta ohio

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by EMT » May 22nd, 2010, 5:29 am

I think I can safely say I'm self taught. No one else I know plays, I only have dial up so videos and music are completely out (it'd take a week to download vids, songs take almost an hour). I bought a book, Guitar for dummies.
I've only been at this about 6 months.
I can do recognizable things but I'm far from anygood. I print up stuff at work (on break of course) from a tab site I found. Mostly just the cord stuff. Then I look up the cord and have at it. sometimes I have the song on cd at home, sometimes I just try to remember it from hearing it on the radio.
I tried asking questions on the web but I have really crappy communication skills.
red meat doesn't kill you, fuzzy green meat does.

saturnthegiant
newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: March 14th, 2009, 12:37 am

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by saturnthegiant » May 22nd, 2010, 7:34 am

Totally self taught here. I got my first guitar at 15, one of those little acoustics from Fingerhut you traded the stamps in for. I banged the heck out of it, still have it! That's basically all i did for the last 25 years was just bang around. I always said "you can't", until 2 years ago my wife got me a Morgan Monroe acoustic for Christmas. It's the sweetest sounding acoustic i've ever heard, and i decided i was going to get serious. Wish i hadn't waited so long! So for the last two years i've improved by leaps and bounds. That Chinese acoustic has shown me "you can"! I grew up in church around a piano playing mom, singing and hearing the old time gospel hymns, and i think it developed a true ear for music and tones with me. So i find it usually easy to pick things out by ear. A few years ago i could play almost the entire Nirvana unplugged, but once again let my interest wane....so here i am again, but i think with age came the ability to stick with things. Hope i make it this time!

User avatar
tinsmith
Senior Member
Posts: 831
Joined: February 19th, 2005, 8:14 pm
Location: USA

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by tinsmith » May 22nd, 2010, 4:31 pm

I don't know anyone that is not self taught. If they choose to take lessons, it's later in life.

GarthWebber
newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: May 23rd, 2010, 4:29 am

Re: Anyone Self taught?

Post by GarthWebber » May 24th, 2010, 5:10 am

I took about three lessons from Robben Ford in 1976. Then in 1980 I took a couple from Tower Of Power gtr player Bruce Conte. I haven't taken a lesson since, although maybe someday I will. I tell my students that as a teacher I can only be the rudder of the ship. They must be the engine. In other words, 95% of the work must be done by the student. I think most of the time the student knows what must be done but they may be looking for a shortcut. There is no such thing. It pretty much boils down to this axiom: The more time you spend on the instrument the faster you will progress. When you hear something that moves you study it and try to work it out. Even if you don't get it completely you will learn something. Honestly I think each player is their own best teacher.
Garth~

Post Reply