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Old acoustic player new to electric

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HughM
(@hughm)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Topic starter  

Here it is . . .

Been playing fingerstyle acoustic for 30 years (since I was 15). Know the neck REALLY well. Never used a pick . . .

Call it a case of mid-life crisis. It was either a Corvette or a Les Paul.

Got the Gibson. Wife was happy about that.

My question: What practice routines should I follow to get into decent, melodic (not speed) solo electric guitar. I love Santana, Brian May, FZ, Steve Howe, and many others too numerous to mention. I don't necessarily wish to play like these guys, but I do need some guidance about what I need to do in order to play single-note music on my new Gibson honey.

Scales? Endless scales?

I'd appreciate answers from "mature" players, please.

I know you young guys have a whole lot of enthusiasm - - - but I've been playing for so long, I need an old guy's input on this.

Thanks.

Hugh


   
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Ricochet
(@ricochet)
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It was either a Corvette or a Les Paul.

Got the Gibson. Good choice.

As for your questions, I'm older than you but hardly "mature," so I'll let somebody else take them on.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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Anonymous
(@anonymous)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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it definitely helps a lot to learn the scales, but they're just a means to playing the melodies you want to play. i'd mostly just work on playing the melodies you hear in your head, and learning the solos you want to play.


   
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morot
(@morot)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Well, since you say you know the neck very well I think you only need to practice pick/electric specific techniques for a while and then you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.


   
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Chris C
(@chris-c)
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As for your questions, I'm older than you but hardly "mature," so I'll let somebody else take them on.

:D

Me too.... I'm plenty old enough, but far too immature and inexperienced to field a question like that. So I'll ask Hugh some more questions instead.

1. What do you want to achieve?

If you know the guitar well already, what's to know? There's nearly as many ways to play electric as there players to play them. You can play with or without a pick in a huge range of styles. So what are you aiming at?

If you aim to copy the players who you admire, then that might give the question a bit more focus. But if you want to develop your own style then surely you can't beat just getting on with it and seeing what you can develop? You sound knowledgeable enough.

2. Do you have anything in particular that you want to say?

I've heard plenty of players and songwriters who had good enough technique but nothing to say worth listening to. Conversely I've heard players with plenty to say, but not enough skills to do justice to what they were trying to get across. The best of course have both.

If you do have something to say, then I would think that you probably can't beat finding your own way to say it. Maybe there are some pointers there that could help choose a path - i.e. clarifying where you'd like to head?

3. Why rule out input from the young guys? All the people on your list learned their trade as enthusiastic young guys - just like some of the ones round here. I've found it extremely valuable to hear from all levels of expertise at this site. I never know who is going to hit a particular nail on the head at just the right angle to drive home the point...

Good luck with finding out what you think you need to know anyway. :)

Cheers,

Chris


   
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lars
 lars
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Mature... don't know about that, but at least I had been strumming some 15 years on accoustic before I went electric.

The secret?

... still don't know :cry: - to me it was a pretty big difference. The main thing for me was, or still is! - right hand picking, I'd always played with a pick, but going from strumming full chords to making leads and fills has been difficult, but I'm getting there.

If you've played for 30 years, you should be able to go straight ahead and play more or less whatever you hear in your head when it comes to solos and fills.

Don't know about you, but for me also to really practice chord shapes up the neck has been / is necessary.

Something from the top of my head. I'd be glad to discuss it further if I've proven mature enough ;-)

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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If I'm reading your question right, you've been doing fingerpicking - maybe even elaborate fingerpicking - but you've never soloed?

If that's the case, start by learning the pentatonic scale. The artistst you've named are pretty diverse... but Santana will be the easiest one for you to start expermenting with, and he tends to use a couple of scales: the pentatonic, and the Dorian... which is the pentatonic with two additional notes.

Then start fooling around with soloing. You've got an advantage over the kids - most youngsters attempts at solos are just random stabs at notes from a fingering pattern; most of the over-30 crowd try to build a melody from the get-go.

When you find you can't figure out something that Zappa did using your pentatonic, use your ears to figure out what other notes he used. There's probably a scale built around them, and taking that approach will mean you'll be learning scales based on the sounds you like rather than trying to emulate Frank - which would indeed mean scales, endless scales, argeggios, and some pretty tricky counting.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
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old and immature here :wink:
since you know the fretboard already and have fingerstyle under your belt.
I would say you are well equipped for electric guitar.
you already have the tone in your fingers. 30yrs will do that!
play your eletric fingerstyle if you want. discover what the new sounds are. go from there.
you can certainly grab a pick and try stuff.
do not think you have to relearn guitar.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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DemoEtc
(@demoetc)
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I find that Santana also does stuff in the mixolydian area of the scale he's in; some of those half-note bends done with the second finger.

Also, as far as playing melodically, if you watch Carlos, aside from laughing at the faces he makes when he's playing, look at his throat. Lots of times, especially in the older films/videos, his neck muscles are all tense and the veins are almost sticking out - when my wife, who's a singer, saw that, she simply said that he's 'placing' his notes just as if he were singing them. Same with Clapton on certain songs.

And 'singing' is one of the keys to playing melodic solos because you're editing out all the extra razzle-dazzle notes and just going for the important ones - like a singer would. I mean not everyone sings like Ella Fitzgerald with all the scat-notes going on all over the place.

Another guy who's maybe easier to see videos of (since his band made a lot more) is Neil Schon of Journey. He plays in that same fluid/melodic way as Carlos (with incredible shred stuff as a filler), and when you remember his musicial bio, it makes sense.

Anyhow, this plus what the other guys have already said.

Good luck, and don't be a stranger around here :)


   
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Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
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Learn the 5 positions of the Pentatonic scale first. Learn how to move from one position to another. You have to practice this all the time. Practice techniques like bends, slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, tremelo (speed) picking. Almost forgot vibrato, probably the most important technique of all. Got to put wiggle on those notes when playing lead. :wink:

Listen to recordings of easy solos and start there. Take Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. Super easy lead guitar you can pick up in minutes. But work on getting the perfect phrasing he has. Pick lots of songs with short easy solos and just copy them as best you can. As you improve, copy longer, more complicated solos.

And rhythm is a little different on electric. You don't generally play full 6 string chords. You do, but most playing on electric is done on 1, 2, and 3 strings. So learn to play smaller partial chords. Partial chords are much clearer and less muddy than full chords on electric, especially when using overdrive or distortion. Playing rhythm guitar on electric can be easier because you are fretting less notes, but you have to get used to alternate fingerings you may not be so familiar with.

An example:


D on acoustic D on electric

e--5i-------------------
b--7r-------------7i----
g--7r-------------7i----
d--7r-------------7i----
a--5i-------------------
e-----------------------

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Chris C
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And 'singing' is one of the keys to playing melodic solos because you're editing out all the extra razzle-dazzle notes and just going for the important ones - like a singer would. I mean not everyone sings like Ella Fitzgerald with all the scat-notes going on all over the place.

Good analogy. :) Lead players and singers do seem to have a lot in common, and often seem to be going for the same spotlight, as it were.

As I mentioned above, I'm old (so I've been listening to music for a lot of years) but immature and inexperienced when it comes to playing guitar (a couple of years, and patchy ones at that).

But I've also recently been pondering how to go about learning to play lead on electric - having been a mostly acoustic player. So I'm very interested in this discussion. :) Now I don't have Hugh's background, but I do understand the general relationship between the different roles in a musical group.

I understand the concepts of keys, scales, harmonies, melodies played over chords, etc and I know that there are many places on the neck to find the notes and some well established techniques to help select the sets you want. I also know what bends, hammer ons, pull offs, vibrato, and a few of the tricks of the lead player are. I can even do most of them in a primitive fashion. :wink: So I'm sure Hugh knows all that, plus has a bigger kit of tools than I do when it comes to detail and execution.

So what's left, other than to get on and do it?

Hugh jokingly mentioned 'mid life crisis', but I'm sure a lot of us can relate to that. There's an element of "I may not be famous or flashy, but hell, I can rock too..." in players of all ages here.

So for me that has involved a bit of thinking along the lines of where I want to go with that. Will it be just learning to copy a few licks in the manner of Clapton, BB King or whoever, and bashing them out in the bedroom? Sort of 'Air Guitar Add Instrument' style... :P ..or maybe get good enough to do a reasonable job in company, but following other people's music and styles? Or do I want to go the whole hog and develop my own style of playing and writing muisc?

Nothing wrong with any of the paths, but for me it's unquestionably the last one. I want to equip myself with a range of technical skills so that I can develop my own 'voice' on guitar and write music that says what I want to say in the way I want to say it.

It doesn't have to be "deep stuff, man" or rich in 'bad boy attitude', or as distinctively recognisable as Hendrix or BB King, or whatever. But I do want it to be me talking not just playing other people's notes and arrangements - although I sure have the ambition to do that too.

I think that in some ways there's a 'Lead Player Ego' involved and you have to discover how yours ticks and what its ambitions are. :twisted:

Might be complete nonsense of course, but that's how it seems to me. I'm not so concerned about the technical details - I know there will be plenty of hurdles to get over, but I'm well used to the general methods of solving problems by now. It's what I'm going to do with them that's so intriguing, exciting and.... yes... scary... I've got to call my own bluff now...... what if it turns out I've got nothing to say after all... :wink: :oops:

Cheers,

Chris


   
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HughM
(@hughm)
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Topic starter  

Boy!

What wonderful and thoughtful advice! Thank you so much. A couple of you older fellows I know by your posts, and I'm just so glad I heard from you.

I'm pretty serious about this little adventure into electric-land, and I am going to pester you on a private channel to get more advice.

Thanks again, so much.

Hugh


   
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trumpet271
(@trumpet271)
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I'm in the same boat as you Hugh although I probably haven't been playing acoustic as long.

There is some pretty good advice here. Just starting out, one thing that I've been working on is transitioning from strumming lots of 6 string chords to playing partial chords.

One thing that someone told me is that strumming is different on electric than acoustic. I'm used to strumming my way through songs, but as someone mentioned above, strumming on an electric gets kinda muddy. Are there patterns or theory behind strumming on an electric?


   
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DemoEtc
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I'm in the same boat as you Hugh although I probably haven't been playing acoustic as long.

One thing that someone told me is that strumming is different on electric than acoustic. I'm used to strumming my way through songs, but as someone mentioned above, strumming on an electric gets kinda muddy. Are there patterns or theory behind strumming on an electric?

The way I think of it is that an electric has a 'thicker' sound; a fuller sound to begin with. If you play one note on an electric, it has more forcefulness and presence (and volume) than an acoustic. Plus, a note on an electric will sustain longer. Considering it this way, there are lots of times where you'd want to play less notes and sometimes let the chords ring shorter amounts of time than on an acoustic. That's why electric guys will break up their strumming patterns into shorter bits, using palm muting as was mentioned, or lots of times, fret hand muting.

I also sometimes think of the difference between acoustic and electric guitar as the difference between a piano and an electric or pipe organ - the one will have its notes decay and fade away even if you keep your fingers down on the keys, but with the organ, the notes will sound as long as you keepy your fingers down. They're both keyboards, both have the same musical values, but it's just that one sustains more than the other and that requires different technique to get similar effects.


   
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tinsmith
(@tinsmith)
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I had a problem similar meaning, I wasn't used to a plectrum.

What helped fixing it, for me was using nylon picks with a knurl on one end such as a Dunlop 1mm nylon pick (black).

It helped stop the spinning.


   
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