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Need some direction.....

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(@saturnthegiant)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 20
Topic starter  

I'm a 41 year old whose been playing guitar on/off for the past few years, but only what i would call seriously for the past couple of years. I call myself self-taught, but play by ear. I have good timing from growing up singing in church. I consider myself a decent rhythm player, and basically just started by learning chords and getting some tab books, then later getting tabs online. I just kinda know a lot of PARTS of songs. I can flatpick on my acoustic pretty decently, and can do a pretty mean version of Tennessee Flat Top Box :) . I just started picking up my electric again. I've kinda been going it alone since i don't really know anyone in my area to play with, and the one buddy i had to jam around with just started a new job with different hours from me. I don't have any real understanding of music notation, theory, etc. I have played around with a few scales, mostly minor pentatonic. I guess my problem is i feel so....limited. To me my playing sounds boring. I really never bothered to learn all the notes on the fretboard, although i can usually tell you what key i'm in. :? I've been doing more reading here than posting, so I wondered if anyone could give me an idea of what direction to go in. I know that's probably a hard question to answer without having heard me play, but i guess i'm asking what order did you learn things in? Chord structure, scales, modes, theory??? I hope my ??'s make some sense.... :oops:


   
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(@staffan)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 125
 

Hmm difficult to answer without knowing much about your goals with your guitarplaying, but I would recommend you learn the major & minor pentatonic scales - all five shapes, and how they connect. That also leads to you checking out the CAGED-theory-bit, if you haven´t done that already. With this you´ll get a good understanding of how the basic chord-shapes (the C-, A-, G-, E-, D-shapes) interlock, and how they all fit into each of the pentatonic shapes. This is not especially hard to get a grasp on, so I think you´ll find that the time you put in will be rewarding - at least I thought so when reading up on this - and it really gave me a big aha-sensation of how it all connects logically.

You´ll find plenty of information regarding the above on the internet so it shouldn´t be hard to find.

Also, check out this site if you will: http://www.spytunes.com - theres lots of good material on there, also about the stuff I mentioned above. I´ve used it alot and really like it!

Good luck and have fun! :note1: :note2: :note2:

AAAFNRAA
- Electric Don Quixote -


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

besides learning chords and scales, learn full songs, and especially by ear, which is good that you already do. start with simple ones you know well and expand.


   
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(@tommy-guns)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 314
 

Hey Saturn, when I started taking lessons I could play along to cd's well but I didn't know how to play "lead guitar" or how to solo or how to figure out the solos on the cd. So what I did is I learned/memorized the blues patterns (the 5 Pentatonic patterns) & the modes by playing everyday (for like a year) I would sit, watch TV & play each pattern (up & down) starting in G (3rd fret) then A (5th fret) all the way up the neck. Then do the same with the second pattern (or mode) etc. Eventually your hands just play on auto pilot. I still do this just to keep my fingers loose playing through all five patterns on a run up the neck. So sometimes just practice the patterns and other times just solo freely over the chords.

During this time I also learned chords and how to play them in different positions up the neck. Then I started recognizing the pattern here. If I play an open F using the 1st string root and move it up to the 3rd fret then its a G, move up to the 5th fret its an A. Same thing with the 2nd string root & 3rd string. Play an open A at the second fret & move it up 2 frets, now its a B. Pretty cool!!! This is how I memorized the fretboard quicker than just trying to sit and memorize it. I don't think I could've learned it that way...I learn better by doing (hands on) as opposed to studying it. So here pick a song you know WELL and figure out how to play along using the different chord positions. I first did this with the CCR tune "Bad Moon Rising" and it was HARD at first but came along after a while.

Hope this helps and if you have any questions or need a better explanation let me know. :D

Ambition is the path to success...persistence is the vehicle you arrive in!!!


   
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(@saturnthegiant)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 20
Topic starter  

Tommy,
You hit the nail on the head....that's my problem, i can play chords along with most songs fairly well, but just don't know which direction to go with lead playing. That's mostly what i do, I just try to practice playing a few leads over a simple chord progression, just trying to find which notes sound good together, and just trying to get better at bends, hammer ons, and such. And i'm trying to learn to be melodic, not just playing notes, i want to learn how to make the guitar speak! I've noticed over the last couple of weeks i've gotten a little better just by playing every night that i can. My jamming buddy says I have great rhythm , I just wish i had a better understanding of what it is i'm doing. I've been searching the web for all the lessons i can on the scales and modes, i now know a little more than i did, some of it i was already doing i just didn't know it. I think i'm going to try to find a good set of DVD lessons that take you from beginner to advanced, just to make sure i'm approaching things the right way...and anything i may have forgotten!

By the way, Staffan, spytunes.com is a great site, i signed up and like it a lot!

Thanks for the replies!


   
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(@tommy-guns)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 314
 

Hey Saturn, (or anyone else who is interested) send me your email address (PM) & I will scan and send you my “mode” patterns, my “blues” pentatonic patterns & my “key” sheet that I use to figure out what “key” a song I'm trying to learn the lead too. My “key” sheet is in Excel and the left side (y-axis) is the “key” and going across (to the right) is each chord in that key with the corresponding “mode” listed on the top of the sheet. So if the key is “G” the first chord (to the right) is “G” and the first mode/pattern (top) is the “Ionian” scale/pattern. The last chord is F# & the scale is “Aeolian” aka (minor pentatonic pattern). The next one listed going down the (y-axis) is A and again the chords/modes going across.

Once I figure out what chords are in the song (take CCR's “Bad Moon Rising” D-A-G) I look at the “key” sheet, and figure out what key it's in (Key = D). Then after you know what key the song is in its easier to figure out how the lead goes (or in this case improvise your own in the key of D). Just keep the notes inside one or more of these patterns & it will sound GREAT!!! All the patterns are inter-connected so once you know the “key” of the song & you know how the patterns fall on the fret board, the lead HAS to be played using those notes right? Well, I say this for MOST songs played on popular radio anyway and this method has ALWAYS worked for me so far. You can always branch out into other “exotic” scales/patterns but I'm not quite there yet. I've tried the harmonic minor & diminished patterns but for my personal taste the “blues” patterns sound best to me in most circumstances. Some people LOVE the Mixolydian pattern.

To simplify things a little further the pentatonic (blues) patterns & the “modes” are the same, the “blues patterns” just eliminate 2 of the notes that can sound a little “off” when you play them over certain chords. So when I play live & they swing a lead over to me & I'm just improvising, I only play the “blues” patterns. I keep it simple. When I'm at home I'll expand my horizons (with headphones on), no reason to bludgeon the ears of strangers with my mistakes :D .

Some advice on “what direction to go” during your lead playing. Using an example from my own experience, during our last band practice (Sunday) while the singers were busy working on something amongst themselves I taught the drummer to play Chicago's “25 or 6 to 4” lick on the bass (just the intro) and I just improvised to that lick for like 5 min. It was pretty cool. Now when I improvise it usually takes me a minute or 2 to develop a “groove”…just noodling around using a pentatonic pattern…and from there I can just start rolling. It's not about playing 1,000 notes a min, it's all about playing & phrasing. Just play a (4) note repetitive rhythm over & over (YOUR rhythm), now funk it up a bit. Some classic leads I hear are just 4 or 5 repetitive patterns, “Freebird” for example. I always joke that the more wine I drink the more I sound like Santana's teacher . Some of it sounds good (80/20) and sometimes I just get lost and I have to go back to my original starting point and regain my bearings but the more you do it the better you will become. Its all YOU & there's no right or wrong way to do it!!!

I like the melodic leads of Neil Schon (Journey) and the lead to Los Lonely Boy's “Heaven”. The lead to “Heaven” is mostly played with the guitar tuned to Eb and uses the Em (Aeolian) pattern if I remember right. Now could I come up with that whole solo using only (1) scale pattern and make it sound THAT good??? Not yet…but I keep TRYING!!! :D

If you have any questions about certain songs/leads you're trying to figure out shoot me a PM and I can help you out. I know ZZ Top uses a lot of pentatonic patterns. I think “Gimme All Your Lovin” & “Sharp Dressed Man” were both Cm patterns & Freebird is Gm. There's some tunes to play along with and have some fun…your significant other might get tired of listening to it though…use headphones :D

Ambition is the path to success...persistence is the vehicle you arrive in!!!


   
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(@sean0913)
Trusted Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 65
 

When I generally mentor people in a similar situation as yours I ask them to name 3 specific meaningful short-term goals that they'd like to accomplish over the next 3 months, and then to share why those 3 are meaningful to them. I'd suggest that with you, to better isolate how best to help you. It can be really easy to fall into a rut, but, there are strategies that you can employ to get out of it, depending upon your skill sets, theory knowledge, etc.

Best,

Sean

Guitar Instructor/Mentor
Online Guitar School for Advanced Players
http://rnbacademy.com


   
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(@themrwhite)
New Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 2
 

If you need some help with the modes, this chart may provide some useful reference. http://greenwichguitars.com/the_modes.htm
It has each of the modes in every key charted out in single octave patterns with roots on the 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings. The charts are big and easy to read with note values included. I hope this helps.


   
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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1882
 

I've noticed over the last couple of weeks i've gotten a little better just by playing every night that i can.

*ding* *ding*
We have a winner.

On-going, regular practice over a period of time seems to be the answer to almost every "how do I get better at..." question.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


   
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