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Am I inventing the lazy mans way to play guitar

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Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 365
Topic starter  

Sometimes I fear all my playing are short cuts. I tell myself well I am playing my way, my own style but I feel I am coping out. My problem for now is melodies, for instance the song 'as tears go by' rolling stones. I saw a video where a fellow plays it finger style and it sounds like the exact melody of the song. He uses frets 1-5 and picks out of chords it sounds like the song melody. I on the other hand I just use a capo stay with first position, finger pick an intro and strum the rest. The intro on mine is not the exact melody but close, and sounds nice enough and then blends into the strum pattern I use

I don't know if I am teaching myself the right way. Should I be learning songs directly from someone like the video I mentioned above, or should I continue to take the chords and scales and few techniques I know, get better at them, and just do it my way. I probably could be looking more at those tab sheets but they frustrate me :?

Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 192

Learning an art is about expression. No two person express themselves in the same way and as such your interpretation of a peice of music will likely be different than anyone else's. Different, but just as valid to you, regardless of the skill level you now play at.

If you like to play a peice your way, you think it sounds good and your way involves an expression of you, then go for it. Don't fret over it (get it????, "don't fret", Oh man I kill me ...)develop your own style, and take, on the music you enjoy. A peice written by another can then, to a degree, become your own.

If everyone did everythng exactly the same way the world would be one big government office. Wouldn't that be fun?

"You want WHAT on the *&%#ing ceiling?" - Michelangelo, 1566

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1506

Narn has got it exactly right, you are playing YOUR interpretation of the song. The ONLY reason IMO for playing a song note for note is as a learning experience, no dofferent from running scales. If your idea of playing the song is just to repeat exactly what has already been done, might as well just put down the guitar and listen to the original record.

When you are playing someone elses work the original should be nothing more that a rough outline to base your version on

Immature? Of course I'm immature Einstein, I'm 50 and in a Rock and ROll band.

New Band site

Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 6348

I agree. play it the way you feel it. then you own it.

also, pay attention to your playing style. dont worry about making things up.

some of my favorite players are self taught. they bring something new to playing. when I try to cope their style it is difficult because the rules I understand were not used by their originality.

Alan Green
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5342

Me too - playing any song is 99% interpretation.

I'd rather sound like me, whatever I play. Who would you rather sound like?


A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2171

While I agree that playing note for note is best used as a learning experience, I'd go a bit further and say that far too few guitarists engage in that learning experience enough.

To be a creative artist in any field, you have to understand what goes into making something in that field art.

Painters copy paintings of masters over and over again as part of their training. They don't then spend their days painting copies of Rembrandt's work. But becuase they learned how to immitate first, they can have the freedom to emulate later.

So, if someone says that they feel like their playing is settling for a pale immitation of what they desire, then I'd strongly encourage them to try and immitate players they admire more exactingly. Not because that's the end goal, but because if you don't know how to create those sounds, you will have a very hard time creating your own version of a tune you're happy with.

For most of us, we know that we're never going to be VanGough, but most of us want to do more than finger paint.

So, I guess I'm saying if you aren't happy with how you play a piece, it may help you a great deal to learn to play it exactly like someone whose playing you admire so that you can see what they're doing that you're not. Once you own the "original," you can make it your own.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST

Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 418

If you try to join a band and they want you to play their songs or covers in a specific way, your own interpretation may be unwelcome. Learning to play that Stones intro exactly the way they played it might get you a gig one day. Artistic expression on the guitar is all well and good, but only if you are playing alone or starting a new band based on your own sound. Anybody who hopes to call themselves a professional guitarist in any capacity is going to have to devote as much time to replication as innovation.

Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 365
Topic starter  

Great replies thanks. My questions sometimes hope to answer something that in reality is a problem with my own frustration. I guess the choice is look at a finished product and then try to learn it, or go about gathering the skills needed first and learn it quicker. David hodges lessons are a good start. Sometimes I start one and don't follow through because I can't do all those things needed, so I go back to trying to find time to practice those things.

If I just try to learn the song it consumes too much time on one thing. The thing mentioned in this thread about joining a band and having to play the way is demanded is a good point. Sometimes a guy helps me who is a professional and makes comments such as I could show you the "right way" to play that song, of course he probably could phase it a 'better way'....I try to contact him sometimes but he's usually busy. Of course I could just play for the enjoyment and someday have my own style and tell others "no this way" :lol: