So many technique issues.. what's the answer?

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deloreandelorean Frets: 53

After 20 years of playing, I would have expected to be quite good (or at least ‘above average’), however I’m really decidedly average (if that), and I’m trying now to rectify that by expanding my base of techniques, learning some new scales and broadening my musical horizons in general.

 

One of the big problems I have – apart from my alternate picking speed/consistency, my little finger strength, not knowing enough scales, or notes, or chords, or any theory – is that I’m quite a sloppy player.

 

I mainly play covers in a band and so I know what I need to play and when to play it – however when I listen back to recordings, I hear accidental open strings, fluffed notes, missed notes, over-bends, phrasing that’s all over the place.  I’ve no idea how to fix this as when I’m playing I’m just not aware that I’m about to accidentally hit 2 strings instead of one, or that my finger is about to half fret the note on the wire rather than on the wood.

 

I’m honestly at a loss where to begin.  I’m entirely self taught, but even so, surely by now I should be better than just mediocre.

 

My home practice sessions are now just an old routine which I’m struggling to feign interest in these days – jamming along to the same backing tracks, or playing the same pentatonic shape over a blues rock backing track.  Rehearsal with the band is as fun as it’s always been but that’s only once a month.

 

I’m primarily a singer, so I comfort myself by thinking I’m at least a far better singer than I am a guitarist, and that’s what counts - but even that justification is starting to wear a little thin.

 

The older I get the more down I begin feeling about it all.  Throwing money at the problem in the form of new gear masks the feeling temporarily but it eventually comes back.

 

At 38 I'm thinking I'm probably too old to start lessons now, and I'm sure I'd probably be laughed at anyway!


Does anyone else ever feel like this?  What's the answer (if any)?

 

 

 

 


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  • SporkySporky Frets: 13250
    delorean said:

    At 38 I'm thinking I'm probably too old to start lessons now, and I'm sure I'd probably be laughed at anyway!


    I started cello lessons at 39 and didn't get laughed at at all. After three-and-a-bit years I'm probably better at cello than I am at guitar after 25 years of playing.

    A good teacher will be able to spot why you're making the mistakes you are, and give you simple exercises to sort out the cause.
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1431
    Sounds like me. I’m the best part of 3 years in but still really sloppy. When I play a scale or even a lick I’ve played 1000 times I fluff notes, get buzzes etc that I thought would be going away by now. I think it’s improving but it’s glacial. 

    I’m much quicker now at learning new things etc and it’s obvious that a lot of my technique has improved, but I still can’t get over that sloppiness even with very familiar things. 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    Record your playing, not just in the band but isolated guitar, playing with overdrive is hard as well if you ain't muting strings properly. I used to be really bad at palm muting and not letting harmonics ring out on the thinner strings. I have a noisy rig so now its even harder to control but I'm better at it!

    The other obvious answer would be to get a tutor, playing with other people helps you improve and you get instant feedback. I don't know where you're based but I am a private tutor, I do lessons via Skype too. Just sayin'
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6185
    if you're paying someone £20-£30 an hour for their services and they laugh at you, either to your face or behind your back, then they are probably in the wrong job.

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17960
    Teachers almost never laugh at students, unless they say something funny.

    Seriously, go have some lessons and work hard.
    That is all a music teacher asks.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    I have never laughed at someone for playing badly, it doesn't do anything for their confidence.
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 373
    delorean said:

    After 20 years of playing, I would have expected to be quite good (or at least ‘above average’), however I’m really decidedly average (if that), and I’m trying now to rectify that by expanding my base of techniques, learning some new scales and broadening my musical horizons in general.

     

    One of the big problems I have – apart from my alternate picking speed/consistency, my little finger strength, not knowing enough scales, or notes, or chords, or any theory – is that I’m quite a sloppy player.

     

    I mainly play covers in a band and so I know what I need to play and when to play it – however when I listen back to recordings, I hear accidental open strings, fluffed notes, missed notes, over-bends, phrasing that’s all over the place.  I’ve no idea how to fix this as when I’m playing I’m just not aware that I’m about to accidentally hit 2 strings instead of one, or that my finger is about to half fret the note on the wire rather than on the wood.

     

    I’m honestly at a loss where to begin.  I’m entirely self taught, but even so, surely by now I should be better than just mediocre.

     

    My home practice sessions are now just an old routine which I’m struggling to feign interest in these days – jamming along to the same backing tracks, or playing the same pentatonic shape over a blues rock backing track.  Rehearsal with the band is as fun as it’s always been but that’s only once a month.

     

    I’m primarily a singer, so I comfort myself by thinking I’m at least a far better singer than I am a guitarist, and that’s what counts - but even that justification is starting to wear a little thin.

     

    The older I get the more down I begin feeling about it all.  Throwing money at the problem in the form of new gear masks the feeling temporarily but it eventually comes back.

     

    At 38 I'm thinking I'm probably too old to start lessons now, and I'm sure I'd probably be laughed at anyway!


    Does anyone else ever feel like this?  What's the answer (if any)?

     

     

     

     


    Go and see @Clarky , he sorted out (or substantially improved) all of those for me in a number of months :)

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    sev112 said:
    delorean said:

    After 20 years of playing, I would have expected to be quite good (or at least ‘above average’), however I’m really decidedly average (if that), and I’m trying now to rectify that by expanding my base of techniques, learning some new scales and broadening my musical horizons in general.

     

    One of the big problems I have – apart from my alternate picking speed/consistency, my little finger strength, not knowing enough scales, or notes, or chords, or any theory – is that I’m quite a sloppy player.

     

    I mainly play covers in a band and so I know what I need to play and when to play it – however when I listen back to recordings, I hear accidental open strings, fluffed notes, missed notes, over-bends, phrasing that’s all over the place.  I’ve no idea how to fix this as when I’m playing I’m just not aware that I’m about to accidentally hit 2 strings instead of one, or that my finger is about to half fret the note on the wire rather than on the wood.

     

    I’m honestly at a loss where to begin.  I’m entirely self taught, but even so, surely by now I should be better than just mediocre.

     

    My home practice sessions are now just an old routine which I’m struggling to feign interest in these days – jamming along to the same backing tracks, or playing the same pentatonic shape over a blues rock backing track.  Rehearsal with the band is as fun as it’s always been but that’s only once a month.

     

    I’m primarily a singer, so I comfort myself by thinking I’m at least a far better singer than I am a guitarist, and that’s what counts - but even that justification is starting to wear a little thin.

     

    The older I get the more down I begin feeling about it all.  Throwing money at the problem in the form of new gear masks the feeling temporarily but it eventually comes back.

     

    At 38 I'm thinking I'm probably too old to start lessons now, and I'm sure I'd probably be laughed at anyway!


    Does anyone else ever feel like this?  What's the answer (if any)?

     

     

     

     


    Go and see @Clarky , he sorted out (or substantially improved) all of those for me in a number of months :)

    thanks for the shout...

    @delorean If you would like help just bung me a PM and we'll see what we can sort out
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • JonathangusJonathangus Frets: 136
    So much of that sounds painfully familiar.  A few of you will hear my hamfisted attempts to play on Saturday.

    @Clarky - you're quite local to me, I think?  I may be in touch.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    So much of that sounds painfully familiar.  A few of you will hear my hamfisted attempts to play on Saturday.

    @Clarky - you're quite local to me, I think?  I may be in touch.
    no probs matey... bung me a PM when you're ready
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 1267
    I'm 43 and self taught and have played on and off for 22 years, with a 9 year gap in the middle, until I had to try and play in time for the jam on saturday I had never even played along to a track and have never played with anyone else so you are ahead of me!
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 64
    Lots of good advice above. The thing that works for me is practicing plugged in, more or less all the time.

    If I practice unplugged, I find sloppy picking habits creep in and my right hand muting (esp. with gain) gets lazy.

    Also, getting a tutor, and taking lessons is good. I've only ever had one lesson on electric, but when I took classical lessons, I made so much more progress in a short time than I'd ever have made on my own. Just having a disinterested, but sympathetic and knowledgeable, third party look at your playing is super useful. The focus that comes from having to prep for lessons is also good.
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  • deloreandelorean Frets: 53
    Thanks for all the suggestions and advice!  It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in feeling like this!!

    Sounds like a few lessons are probably the way forward from here - @Clarky / @Lestratcaster I'll drop you guys a line =)
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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 1315
    edited May 29
    anyone got any tips for a good teacher near M40/M25

    ...it’s for a friend...  ahem...
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 64
    Mike Outram is in Ealing, I think. On a jazzy vein. 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    I’m based in West London near the airport.
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  • FreddieVanHalenFreddieVanHalen Frets: 389
    Matt_McG said:
    Mike Outram is in Ealing, I think. On a jazzy vein. 
    I would love to have some lessons with Mike but he’s a little pricey at £80ph...he’s probably worth that given his experience but may be overkill for the mortals amongst us.
    Link to my trading feedback: http://thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/58787/
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17960
    Matt_McG said:
    Mike Outram is in Ealing, I think. On a jazzy vein. 
    I would love to have some lessons with Mike but he’s a little pricey at £80ph...he’s probably worth that given his experience but may be overkill for the mortals amongst us.
    Guys like that usually end up teaching other professionals (or very serious hobbyists) who are looking for specific knowledge they can't get elsewhere.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 64
    I had one or two lessons with him some years back (5 or 6 years). I think my wife was pregnant at the time, and I just never found the time after. I enjoyed and got a lot out of the lesson(s), though, so I'd definitely go back. I wouldn't particularly mind the price, but I wouldn't be expecting to be having weekly lessons (which is not really how tutors like that work).

    His ElectricCampfire site is very good, if you have the time to do the stuff.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    Matt_McG said:
    Mike Outram is in Ealing, I think. On a jazzy vein. 
    I would love to have some lessons with Mike but he’s a little pricey at £80ph...he’s probably worth that given his experience but may be overkill for the mortals amongst us.
    £80 per hour?! Shit Im way too cheap haha.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341

    Matt_McG said:
    I had one or two lessons with him some years back (5 or 6 years). I think my wife was pregnant at the time, and I just never found the time after. I enjoyed and got a lot out of the lesson(s), though, so I'd definitely go back. I wouldn't particularly mind the price, but I wouldn't be expecting to be having weekly lessons (which is not really how tutors like that work).

    His ElectricCampfire site is very good, if you have the time to do the stuff.
    If you’re a total beginner or not been playing for lomg then weekly lessons are a must with me. Everyone that took fortnightly lessons or less has quit and I’m not surprised.

    Obviously if you’ve played for a while and know most of the basics to intermediate/advanced level and just want to polish a particular area then maybe every other week may suffice.

    I tend to find anything less than weekly just encourages them to practice less, however.
     
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 659
    I resisted lessons for too long.  Took the plunge and found it's even the small things they can pick up 'watching' you play that can make a huge difference.

    Mine got me using my pinky finger and it took a month or two but now I couldn't imagine not having that strength there.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    andyoz said:
    I resisted lessons for too long.  Took the plunge and found it's even the small things they can pick up 'watching' you play that can make a huge difference.

    Mine got me using my pinky finger and it took a month or two but now I couldn't imagine not having that strength there.
    Many of the ones who come to me can already play, I don't know why, maybe I intimidate beginners too much. But I often spot bad habits and basic things they haven't learnt (like simple rhythm reading) which affects their development.
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 659
    Yes, that was me.  My teacher actually gave me something pretty easy to play and it showed me up!  Lesson learned
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    Its really strange as I see they can play something quite complicated by ear, but when it comes to simpler stuff, e.g 4 strums to the bar or 1 upstrum on one of the beats they can't do it. They don't know how long a chord is meant to last, 1 bar, 1/2 a bar, 2 bars, etc etc.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    Its really strange as I see they can play something quite complicated by ear, but when it comes to simpler stuff, e.g 4 strums to the bar or 1 upstrum on one of the beats they can't do it. They don't know how long a chord is meant to last, 1 bar, 1/2 a bar, 2 bars, etc etc.
    I've seen this quite a lot too..
    players focusing only on the hand fretting the notes, and not enough on the other....
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 3862
    edited June 1
    If you’re already playing in a covers band, then you’re probably far better than you think you are. It’s easy to be you’re own worst critic and you’re right to want to improve, but also bear in mind that some even quite famous players are actually quite sloppy - it’s more rock’n’roll that way.
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    edited June 1
    Clarky said:
    Its really strange as I see they can play something quite complicated by ear, but when it comes to simpler stuff, e.g 4 strums to the bar or 1 upstrum on one of the beats they can't do it. They don't know how long a chord is meant to last, 1 bar, 1/2 a bar, 2 bars, etc etc.
    I've seen this quite a lot too..
    players focusing only on the hand fretting the notes, and not enough on the other....
    90-95% of guitar playing will be rhythm guitar, yet many choose to skip the basics of rhythm playing and go to the more "cooler" stuff of soloing and stuff. Even the most famous riffs are all rhythmical. How many times have you seen "Smells Like Teen Spirit" not played correctly or even the "Sex on Fire" riff not starting on the + of 4?

    Usually in trial lessons with people who can already play a bit I give them a chord chart taken from the RGT grades and get them to try and play through it without stopping. 8/10 they will stop in the first 4 bars cos they haven't taken into account a split bar, or it 1 chord per bar and also the wrong 7th chord type. There's also several timing issues as they struggle to keep to a 4/4 beat, in the end they can't do it. Baffling, yet they can somehow fumble their way around a minor pentatonic to a backing track (albeit out of tune bends and wrong notes).
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 64
    For me, when I went for my couple of electric lessons (ever) I'd already been playing 20 years or more, and had several years of serious classical guitar lessons (grade exams, etc.). So I can read music, and keep time. What I lacked (and still do, if I'm honest) is the ability to improvise fluently over changes (jazz style progressions, I mean). So, seeing someone in a specific area, occasionally, made a lot of sense. 

    Although I have had my eyes opened working on some funk stuff, where rather than just playing impressionistically (which will be in time and sound vaguely like the original part, etc.) I've tried to follow a transcription exactly --- upstroke with emphasis on the 3rd 16th note of beat 1, downstroke with emphasis on 2nd 16th note of beat 2, etc. Which is basically a more complicated version of the exercises described in the last couple of comments. And found doing that _really_ hard, because, for example, I tend to have the habit of starting each beat (say, each group of 4 x 16th notes) on a downstroke, and accenting an upbeat when it's not falling on the 2nd and 4th note of a group feels slightly odd. And yet, following it exactly, really does make a difference to the precise groove. I've occasionally thought of working through some drum tutors (on guitar) for that reason.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    Not sure if rhythm slashes counts as "reading music"? If its sheet music with pitch I think that's "music". So many people are scared they have read music when doing lessons, I've never ever taught anyone to read sheet music (treble clef EGBDF etc). I do show some how to read basic rhythms though.
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