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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Default Advice for Beginning Guitar Players

    I searched the forum but I couldn't find one of the older threads, but it's been a while so we've got new members anyway.

    What advice would you offer the young (or not so young) guitar player who has just started playing?

    Here are my suggestions:

    1. Have a goal.- You should have a bunch of goals, but a plan helps. "I want to play like Eddie", okay cool, now how do you plan to do that? What are you going to need to know? How much time are you/can you devote to achieve this goal? Out of the main goal, you will have dozens of short-term goals that you can check off on your way.

    2. Practice.

    3. Don't let other people pick your gear for you.- If your dream guitar is a Wolfgang or a Les Paul Custom then so be it. Just make sure that you get into a music store and try the guitar out FIRST.

    4. You don't need a $3000 guitar. - If you WANT a $3000 guitar, great! However, it is not a requirement. We are all on this board because of Van Halen 1, between Frankie and the Ibanez Destroyer Ed played I don't think there was a guitar worth more than $500 on that album.

    5. Practice.

    6. Take advantage of every learning resource there is. - There was a time when TAB was looked down upon. Those days are gone, but not everyone has gotten the memo. Books, magazines, and websites offer all kinds of great stuff. Take advantage of them.

    7. Jam with other guitarists often. - Your playing will improve much faster when playing with other guys. Don't be affraid to jam with guys who are better than you, you will pick up all kinds of helpful things.

    8. Broaden you mind, don't be a guitar snob. - Yes, Dream Theater is fucking awsome, and if you want to play in a band like that then great! Just don't limit yourself to one type of music. You will be able to play AC-DC songs long before you'll be playing Dream Theater stuff, and more people like AC-DC. A good guitar player can learn from every other guitarist no matter what their ability.

    9. You will have good phases and bad phases, just keep playing. - When I was starting out, there would be months where my playing plateaued, and nothing I did seemed to push me to the next level. Then suddenly - BOOM - I was playing something cool. Today, as I work to rebuid my playing ability from years of non-playing I'm going through the same thing.

    10. Don't be an asshole, you are just a guitar player. - Straight-up, guitar players are still a dime a dozen, and a good attitude will go a long way. Working with the members of your band (instead of treating them like hired help) will make you a better player. Case in point: Eddie Van Halen. His playing stopped growing after "Balance". It is no coincidence that this is the time he stopped working WITH the other guys, and fired Sammy and Mike. Compare Van Halen 3 with Fair Warning, which was recorded at a time where Ed was in conflict with Dave and had to compromise. As opposed to "3", where Ed did whatever he wanted to, and played the bass parts. There are other examples too, Ritchie Blackmore after Deep Purple, Ace Frehley, Joe Perry, George Lynch. Some of those guys figured it out, while others have not.

    11. Good equipment will never fail you as long as you take care of it. - Try to have one high quality guitar, use effects made by a company with a proven record, and spend the cash for a solid amp. You can experiment with cheap stuff or new stuff along the way, but don't let the guys at the music store talk you into the latest gadget. Dependability is 1000 times more important to a guitarist than cutting edge technology. Keep your gear in good condition. Store your stomp boxes and cords in quality containers (a good Craftman tool box for example). Wipe down your guitar after playing, and if you don't know how to work on your guitar, find a good local guitar tech and let him do it. The great thing about a cheap guitar is that you can take them appart and put them back together without worrying about ruining it. Every veteran guitar player has a horror story about a cheap amp, stomp box or guitar that failed them at the worst possible time.

    12. Assume everyone will try to steal your gear. - Half of all guitar players are theives. There are the ones who hover near the stage, and wait for you to take a break then steal your digital delay. There are the ones who "Borrow" gear from you, then sell it for drugs and vanish. There are a few who will drop in on your practice session, then return when nobody's home, and load up their van with all your stuff. Then there are the thieves who don't play guitar. Remember those tool boxes I told you about? Make sure that you can lock them. A Dremel is a good thing to have, you can etch your driver's licence number into you amp, stomp boxes, and on the inside of your guitar (behind the access pannel or on the back of the access pannel). That way you can identify your stuff if the cops find it. PHOTOGRAPH ALL YOUR GEAR. Get renter's insurance or umbrella insurance, or you own a home make sure your stuff is covered. Every veteran guitarist has had something stolen from them, either directly or through the "Borrowed but never returned" game.

    13. Practice.

    14. Take time to teach someone something you know on the guitar. - Randy Rhoads and Joe Satriani were teachers. When someone looks to you for answers you are forced to learn more stuff. I don't care how good you get, some kid will ask you how to play something and you won't know. Then it will drive you crazy until you learn it. Also, explaining WHY you do something helps you refine technique because you have to think about what you are doing, and that is always a good thing.

    15. Have fun. - If you are not having fun - stop. Sometimes playing in a band gets to be a grind, you want to kill your lead singer and hire your son to play bass. STOP. Go fishing, see a movie, lift weights, but stop playing for a while. You'll get the bug back soon enough and all will be right with the world. Also you will play better with a clear head.

    16. Study the greats. - With YouTube and DVD you can see concerts by Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Zepplin, Dream Theater, Rush, Chuck Berry, Dokken, Randy Rhoads w/Ozzy, and everyone else. I try to get a half hour a week online to listen to one guitarist's work. I also have tons of concert DVDs.

    17. You do not need to play like Eddie Van Halen or some other Awsome Guitar god to be in a band. - The biggest mistake young guitarists make is to think that because they are not uber guitarists that means that they cannot play in public. I would advise you to turn on the radio and listen to what passes for the top-10 today. Not a lot of great guitar playing happening. So what? It's what people like right now, so go ahead and get out there.

    18. Practice. - Seriously, playing guitar more makes you better. It also keeps your skills sharp. You can have a structured practice, and you can just sit around and goof on your guitar. Sometimes I practice different scales, and other times I do off the wall stuff like learn songs from "Phantom of the Opera".
    Last edited by Axxman300; 08.29.09 at 07:10 PM.
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  2. #2
    Hot For Teacher
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    01.22.17 @ 07:52 PM
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    I'd like some advice.

    I have gotten to to a certain point and haven't really progressed. I have the basics down as far as chrods and the power chrod thing (although I am not good at them on the 5th string as I have tried a coupple of ways not to hit the E string but seem to always). I get Barre chords and play them from time to time. I know practice and a good teacher would do me wonders, but what is the natural prgrassion - scales? And is that the way to go? I want to have fun, not be the next EVH. Maybe there are no shortcuts, but if there are, I would love to know the secrets people don't want to tell.

    I read recently that Eddie said he was getting off on all licks or runs from the seventies greats that today's players can't figure out. He has secrets. Like I said, At 37, I am not the next EVH and don't want to be. I just want to have fun, come on boys, I am not going take your job, give me your secrets.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Default

    My approach to learning rock guitar was to start at the beginning.

    That meant learning Chuck Berry songs and licks because everything that came after flowed from there. Chuck used the Pentatonic or Blues Scale.

    Guess what?

    If you learn the blues scale you can play almost everything written from 1955 to 1975.

    Learn the major, minor and harmonic minor scales and you can play about 85% of the rock and hard rock catalog.

    Track down a guitar teacher, just for one session, so he/she can show you how to deal with your chord problem. It will be worth whatever you pay.
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  4. #4
    Hot For Teacher
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    01.22.17 @ 07:52 PM
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    Default

    Thanks for the information, I don't have a lot of extra time with a wife and three girls. I'm not lazy and not dumb enough to think it will just happen because I want it to. People who are good, know the guitar inside and out and could really make it easier for people who don't, but some think you have to pay your dues and learn it on your own or it is somehow cheating.

    I am a baseball player and love the movie a league of their own becasue Tom Hanks says"it is hard or everyone would do it - it is the hard that makes it great". So I get some some people attitudes. I would liken it to the person who says "no matter how much I practice, I cannot throw 90 MPH and will not play for the Yankees, but I would like to have fun playing for my hometown team.

    That is my take.

  5. #5
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
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    12.12.17 @ 11:52 AM
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    Default

    If you're having trouble with power chords on the A string, it's your picking that you need to concentrate on there. You have to be a little more precise, try to strum it slower until you get the feel of how to avoid hitting the E. I also have a trick...yes it's bad technique but I do it anyway, and I am sure everyone will rip on me. But I have been doing it for 20 years and it helps me. I will put my thumb over the fret board and mute the low E string sometimes so that if I accidentally hit it, it's muted.
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  6. #6
    Baluchitherium
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    04.02.15 @ 07:26 AM
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    If you're having trouble with power chords on the A string, it's your picking that you need to concentrate on there. You have to be a little more precise, try to strum it slower until you get the feel of how to avoid hitting the E. I also have a trick...yes it's bad technique but I do it anyway, and I am sure everyone will rip on me. But I have been doing it for 20 years and it helps me. I will put my thumb over the fret board and mute the low E string sometimes so that if I accidentally hit it, it's muted.
    totally agree 100%
    if you're playing power chords you only need 2 fingers anyway, so you don't need as much pressure behind the neck, using the thumb over the top is a sensible suggestion (to me anyway, i have also been doing it for over 20yrs)
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  7. #7
    Baluchitherium
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenjay21 View Post
    I'd like some advice.

    I have gotten to to a certain point and haven't really progressed. I have the basics down as far as chrods and the power chrod thing (although I am not good at them on the 5th string as I have tried a coupple of ways not to hit the E string but seem to always). I get Barre chords and play them from time to time. I know practice and a good teacher would do me wonders, but what is the natural prgrassion - scales? And is that the way to go? I want to have fun, not be the next EVH. Maybe there are no shortcuts, but if there are, I would love to know the secrets people don't want to tell.

    I read recently that Eddie said he was getting off on all licks or runs from the seventies greats that today's players can't figure out. He has secrets. Like I said, At 37, I am not the next EVH and don't want to be. I just want to have fun, come on boys, I am not going take your job, give me your secrets.
    The secret is non existent. Passion for it to the degree you play often daily and maybe even take lessons and learn theory all help. Now guys like Hendrix or EVH may have had some type of natural inclination for it but passionate daily playing and love for it it how they got as good as they were. There are other factors..playing with many other accomplished musicians is one they both did and learned from but..dedication and work is the only way.

    EVH never took a guitar lesson in his life but he was schooled on classical piano early to a point he won an award for it in his youth..he transfered that experience/knowledge to guitar and played/practiced his ass off...because he loved it. George Harrison who's written some amazing songs.(Here Comes the Sun, Something...) never had any formal training at all. His response to if formal training would help him he said something like " I'm not writing for an orchestra, it's rock and roll and very simple". He might have simply had a natural inclination for it but what got him to the point of excellence was hard work and passion for it.

    The secret is not to mentally put a endless void in your mind between where you are at and where you want to be. Work at it seriously and you will make serious strides. Talk and wish about it and practice half ass once in a while and you stay in the same spot.
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  8. #8
    Top Of The World Benjami's Avatar
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    08.12.11 @ 01:51 AM
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    start listening to and playing different music to learn other techniques, for example, i have been playing stuff from Killswitch Engage and Iron Maiden and my alternate picking is getting better by the day, my overal speed as well.

    dont keep playing chords/power chords when starting out, try melodies and stuff with more seperate notes as well.

    grab backing tracks from the internet to learn how to improvise.

    learn different scales from time to time to play different stuff and try other licks that are made possible by that scales

  9. #9
    Eruption Casemeister's Avatar
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    03.22.17 @ 07:01 AM
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    If you're having trouble with power chords on the A string, it's your picking that you need to concentrate on there. You have to be a little more precise, try to strum it slower until you get the feel of how to avoid hitting the E. I also have a trick...yes it's bad technique but I do it anyway, and I am sure everyone will rip on me. But I have been doing it for 20 years and it helps me. I will put my thumb over the fret board and mute the low E string sometimes so that if I accidentally hit it, it's muted.
    I'm a guitar teacher and I suggest students do this! When you're playing rock songs, you should be using rock techniques, and rock players use their fretting hand's thumb. I'll sometimes use my fretting hand's middle finger to mute the low E, also. Either way, muting it is definitely a good thing.
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  10. #10
    Little Dreamer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casemeister View Post
    I'm a guitar teacher and I suggest students do this! When you're playing rock songs, you should be using rock techniques, and rock players use their fretting hand's thumb. I'll sometimes use my fretting hand's middle finger to mute the low E, also. Either way, muting it is definitely a good thing.
    Yeah I'd use the middle finger for muting the E. I find it very hard to use my thumb so I just don't bother. I've seen people fretting with their thumb for Hot for Teacher but it doesn't work for me. Actually I can't get that song to flow at all.

    I'm playing 5/6 years now but beginning to get a thirst for improvement.

  11. #11
    Hot For Teacher
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    I can't seem to use the thumb either. My thumbs are too short I guess. Much easier to use the middle finger, but I need to make sure not to use too much presure and fret the string.

  12. #12
    Forum Frontman Double Down's Avatar
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    11.17.17 @ 12:11 PM
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    Default

    My biggest advice would be to not obsess about learning your favorite songs.....learn how to play the instrument. I had started to get pretty far with my lessons as a teenager but then I just kind of abandoned them because all I really cared about was showing off licks from Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, VH, or whoever. It was a bad habit that I started early and I paid dearly for it because I never really learned to play the right way.

    It got to the point that I was embarrassed to pick up a guitar in a guitar store because I couldn't just noodle around worth a damn. It was "cover" a song or nothing. To this day I regret it big time.
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  13. #13
    Eruption
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    05.26.17 @ 11:48 PM
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    My advice is to practice productively. Meaning, don't just go over the same basic things all the time.

    Set a goal. "I am going to learn this entire song. And it will sound just like the original artist."

    Every time you practice your goal is to make some progress. Practice meaningfully. For example, a chord that is needed for the song that is new to you. So, you learn to play it smoothly and be able to play it without thinking..and be able to move to it as needed from the other chords. Your goal each time you sit down it to improve how you do this one element.

    It could be learning the next five notes of a solo. Or even getting once note to sound just right. Or getting that pinch harmonic and bend to sound exactly like what is needed.

    Don't be satisfied. When I practice, I warm up with some scales and I play a song that I know. Then the real work begins. I stick with what I need to do next for the new piece I am learning. Something I can't currently do, or something I currently don't have under my fingers yet.

    You will be amazed at the things you will be able to do if you just follow this plan and practice without being lazy or satisfied with what you can already do. Push against the wall. Its not always fun, but after some weeks when you have mastered something that previously frustrated you, the mental reward is the best. What was hard becomes automatic. Like cake. And then move on to the next thing...

  14. #14
    Little Dreamer wstinnett's Avatar
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    11.29.09 @ 10:26 AM
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    My advice, in addition to the things mentioned, would be to take the time to analyze your posture and the physical aspects of your playing.

    So many people develop bad habits which are limiting and extremely hard to shake years down the road (I was one of them).

  15. #15
    Sinner's Swing! Bullwinkle's Avatar
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    06.07.15 @ 10:30 AM
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    Default Invisible Chords

    Here's a suggestion:

    Take a chord--G, for example--and make yourself play just that chord for 15 minutes. (A clean guitar tone is best for this exercise)

    If you're like most people, you will get bored after about a minute of this. This is when the fun starts. Start experimenting with different kinds of strumming and picking patterns. It's a good bet that you will discover a new pattern in a few minutes.

    Also (very important), start experimenting with taking your fingers away from the standard G shape and putting them somewhere else. One finger at a time for starters, then start getting more adventurous.
    For example, lift up the finger that's holding down the second fret on the 'A' string and put it on another string, maybe the second fret of the 'G' string. Now you have a new chord. (Technically, it would have a new name, but that's not important.)

    Keep experimenting with moving the notes around and strumming and picking in different ways. There are no real rules here, except to keep "thinking" G. Pretty soon you will find that you can get pretty far away from the original G shape, but still be suggesting a G chord. Almost as though you can play a G chord by playing everything but a G chord.

    Anyway, the practical upshot of this exercise is that the next time a G chord comes up in a song, you're no longer just limited to the standard shape. You will have the original G shape but also a whole cloud of notes around it that can make the G chord much more interesting and fun to play.

    Here's Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." It's a good example of where you can take your chords. Jimi's playing a lot of single notes, but he's thinking chords.
    "Little Wing" boils down to ||Em| G | Am | Em | Bm | Am C | G F | C D ||.
    Try strumming those chords in their standard forms and then listen to where Jimi takes them.




    Edit: That big black disc in the video is called a "record." Ask your grandparents about it.
    Last edited by Bullwinkle; 09.04.09 at 07:16 AM.







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