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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Returning Guitar Player Wants to Avoid the Pitfalls

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Bigfoot21075 - Posted - 03/28/2019:  08:20:35

Hi Everyone,

I am a returning frustrated guitar player. I started playing as a kid and loved it, I played Rock and Blues. I could play songs and imitate solo's via tab (albeit slowly) but I was never able to do any sort of improvisation. In fact, while I could play some technically challenging pieces, it was more like a monkey with a typewriter banging out War and Peace IE I have no idea of what I was actually doing. If you said "Let's jam in the key of G or let's play some song in the key of C" I would have no earthly idea how to accomplish that.

After awhile of floundering and buying enough guitar books to sink a battleship, I put my gear away and pretty much gave up. MY exposure to Bluegrass as a kid was the Andy GRiffith show, and as the years have gone by , I have found Bluegrass is energetic, fun and exciting. I don't have to be Clapton to be decent.

I sold some gear (an electric guitar and an amp) and raised enough money to buy a Martin D18 VTS (after much research mainly online). I am not sure the best way to proceed to overcome my weaknesses. I don't want to jump back into just doing tab songs (maybe I should combine that with getting a better understanding overall), I really want to learn the craft. I remember most of what I knew so I know chords and string names. Do most Bluegrass players really know the neck up and down? Should I focus on that?

In person lessons would be difficult, I am just not sure where to start. I found Little Jimmy's Easy Guitar Melodies By Ear, and are pretty sure i could follow that, but is that the best place to begin again.

I appreciate any advice!!



Texasbanjo - Posted - 03/30/2019:  04:53:53

Are there jams in your area? That's one of the best ways to learn to hear chord changes and be around guitarists who can improvise. You can pick their brains and learn a lot.

Listen to a lot of bluegrass music and try to figure out what the guitar picker is doing.

When I first started trying to play by ear, I was also completely lost. Jamming helped me immensely. At the time I was playing banjo, but it would be the same for any instrument. If you can't hear chord changes, go to a jam, listen/watch the rhythm guitar picker and when he changes chords, you do, too. Eventually, you'll begin to feel a chord change coming even if you aren't sure what it is. After that you'll know one is about to happen and then you're well on your way to playing by ear.

Are you familiar with scales? Most improvisation on guitar is scale based. There are a lot of good books on scalar based riffs, licks, etc., that can be plugged into a song as long as you stay in the chord progression.

I purchased Band in a Box where I could input chords to any song, play it at any tempo and in any key and that helped me learn new breaks, do backup, helped my timing, etc. It's a little pricey, but if you get the package without all the frills, it's worth it.

Take a song you know and know well, try to figure out the key, chords and chord sequence. See if you can pick out a simple melody. Then try putting riffs and licks around that melody. The more you work at it, the easier it gets.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 03/30/2019:  07:40:20

Well .... You have to understand some of how music works , theory, and some of it's structure, how scales and chords are formed and what fits together, to improvise. Adding to that you have to have played these scales chord forms and arpeggios so many times that your are playing them and not thinking about playing them. It always starts with the chords and melody. Then "playing with" the melody through adding tones and syncopation. Less is more. Listen, and steal from other players that you enjoy and incorporate that music into yours. With work you can begin to play the music you hear in your head as you play along with others. Play daily with patience .... Find a streaming station and play along with whatever comes on..... find the key find the chords play a break..... R/

Bigfoot21075 - Posted - 04/01/2019:  05:31:56

THANKS for the replies! Yes, I am lucky, there is a regular once a month jam not too far from me, I will start going even if it is to just listen. I had looked at the band in the box and I thought it would also make solo practice time better as well, I will pick the up. So the biggest thing I see is learn from others by doing. I will keep you updated on my progress.

wittyusername - Posted - 07/14/2019:  19:13:55


Originally posted by Bigfoot21075

I don't have to be Clapton to be decent.

Bluegrass is harder to play than EC-like blues guitar, coming from someone who has done both.

Judith511 - Posted - 10/11/2019:  15:18:24

This is a pretty quiet forum. So I have also been playing guitar since I was a teen but for many years I didn't play. I picked up the banjo and started to learn that about 3 years ago. So now I have been taking lessons on Peghead Nation for 3 years and enjoying them. Started one of the flat picking courses with Scott Nygaard. My interest has been rekindled and am playing and doing flat picking. Try the lessons on there for inspiration and to learn new things.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/12/2020:  09:47:05

I think the instructional series "Flatpicking Essentials" provides the opportunity to learn a lot about playing bluegrass guitar. They teache theory, and unlike many other music instructionals, provide opportunity for the reader to practice and apply what they learn. There are 7 spiral bound books in the series, and 2 CDs come with most or all books. Books contain tabulature and standard music notation. I had playing experience before I began using the books, but quickly realized I was quickly learning a lot of useful information about playing. If you decide to try the series, I recommend you just buy the first book. It will take time to read, understand, and learn to play the material in each book. I bought 4 books and it will be quite some time before I use several of the books.

They are not "put your fingers here" publications.

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