I'm trying to learn by ear, but my ear is terrible

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I'm trying really hard to not rely on tabs at all anymore, but I'm having trouble (duh!).

I've realised that lots of guitarists are fairly lazy and so keys of C, F#, G give me some hints. Lots of riffs and solos are around patterns so there's that shortcut too - but, despite that I'm still having trouble.

Two things particularly jump out at me:

- I spent half an hour trying to play 'I want You' by Kiss until I realised it was in Eb instead of E standard tuning!
- My riffs are often a 5th or 4th away from the actual (so if the riff was B/C#/E, I'd end up playing E/F#/A)

I can't seem to find a way out of this particular mess - any thoughts?
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Comments

  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 149
    It's not easy without a good ear.  Always struggled but as you gain experience it does get better and eventually you'll find suddenly you'll hear it much more clesrly
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 316
    Its a time thing unfortunately, I had a terrible ear as well but luckily for me I did an ear training unit at ACM, really helped me develop my sense of pitch/rhythm/harmony/melody. 

    I used (and still do) a site called MusicTheory.net to help me identify intervals and stuff like that, by using the training exercises.
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  • HHwarnerHHwarner Frets: 54
    Very basic I know but to get a rough idea of what key a particular song was in when I first started out learning to play by ear, I would keep picking a single note on the bottom e string, moving up the fretboard until I found one that sounded right throughout the entire song. 9 times out of ten the one that sounds right is the key the song. If you find the 11th fret sounds right the song is probably in Eb ;-)
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  • I spent 20 minutes yesterday trying to cop '747' by Saxon by ear only to give up in digust when I read it was tuned three quarters of a step down.
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  • HHwarnerHHwarner Frets: 54
    Try playing DC stuff, they used to tune to eachother regardless of where, in relation to concert pitch that was lol
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 47
    I also have the same issue. It's gotten better but I'm still pretty rubbish compared to many of my friends that play guitar. (On the other hand, I'm a fairly solid sight-reader, so ... swings and roundabouts).

    I usually try improvising along with the tune, until I hit what sounds like the right key. Normally doesn't take me very long to do that, but then getting a melody down exactly is still something I struggle with.

    I do find using software to slow things down is useful, and having a sense of what the player is doing (conceptually), e.g. that it's a major blues in F, or whatever, can also help.
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  • HHwarnerHHwarner Frets: 54
    edited June 13
     
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  • hootsmonhootsmon Frets: 8046
    stick with it as Jimi made a fortune using his teeth
    tae be or not tae be
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2751
    If I understand correctly, you want to improve your aural perception...

    I did this by playing along to ads on TV when I was a kid..
    you have just a few mins to find the key and then pick out the tune
    at first I was shite.. but I got better quite quickly
    TV ads are great cos they're short.. and any instrument..
    so you're not getting bent out of shape trying to figure out all the technique stuff as well as the notes..
    they tend to be short and simple
    the additional bonus is that it pisses off everyone else in the room..
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • BradBrad Frets: 200
    edited June 21
    If you want to improve your ear, get singing. Seriously. Mine improved dramatically when I did. By singing things, we internalise the music we’re learning in a deeper way. 

    Sing intervals - 3rds, 4th, 5ths etc... 

    Arpeggios - triads (maj, min, dim, aug) 
                       7ths (maj7, dom7, m7, m7b5)

    Scales - major scale, maj and minor Pentatonic, start step-wise and maybe introduce sequences later. 

    Sing the root movement of chord progressions you play. 

    Sing the riffs/solos of songs you can play. 

    Make a mental note of where these sounds are on the instrument, that’s really important. Do this with and without the instrument. 

    Nursery rhymes are another good option for trying this stuff out with too.  

    That’s a lot of work and it’ll take time, but combined with a lot of the good advice above, you’ll start seeing results sooner than you realise if you’re consistent with it. 


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