I only ever do the same things...how do I get better?

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GodlykepowerGodlykepower Frets: 70
edited October 4 in Theory
I’m completely self-taught, and not bad at doing what I can do...but the problem is, I have no real idea what I’m actually doing.

I know enough chords to get by, but end up playing the same ones in a couple of different positions, I only really know one or two of the the same old scales (blues and pentatonic) for improvisation, in the same fingering patterns...but I mainly just make stuff up as I go along - I’ll play random notes and see what happens, and I’ll improvise lead guitar with random notes - sometimes it’s hit and sometimes it’s a miss.

Basically, I feel stuck in a rut.

I’d like to be a better guitarist...know more chords, learn some more useful scales and be able to play them in different patterns, have a better understanding of theory etc.

I don’t want to take any exams, nor do I want a teacher...I want to do it on my own, at my pace.
I have played with other people before which was fun, but I have no intention of joining a band...I just want to be better and more diverse. I’m only interested in blues and rock, with a bit of metal for good measure, and would like to be more diverse across those genres.

What do you suggest I do?
I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • vizviz Frets: 5093
    edited October 4
    Learn the superlocrian scale over the V chord if you haven’t already. It’ll open a whole new palette of sound to you 
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  • jrc2806jrc2806 Frets: 47
    I was where you were a few years back. One of the best things I learnt was how to play the pentatonic scale along the neck in different positions. I learnt using the CAGED method and it really helped unlock the neck for solo ideas.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    I reckon the cure is repertoire
    try to learn something a little outside of your native style
    something different and challenging..

    then experiment with what you've learned and try to somehow import some of it back into your native style
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9301
    Scales and arpeggios worked for me plus a bit of scale theory. There is merit in what @Clarky says about repertoire as it gets you to see what other people have done with their scales arpeggios and theory, but tbh doing the Rockschool grade books (no need to sit the exams just do the technical exercises learn the theory and play the set pieces) will sort you out for most of it.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • Its going to be very hard to progress by yourself without a tutor. I've been teaching for 10 years now and people will eventually seek tuition after trying to go alone. There are many benefits of having one, motivation, structure, inspiration and direction. You may not like the idea of it now but you will save yourself years of frustration and lostness. Are you worried you won't be able to keep up with lessons? Or you just don't like people telling you what to do? These are all things I experienced before I went to ACM about 11 years ago but thankfully I saw sense and did 4 years there. I would have never progressed to where I am now without it and still be where you seem to be at, same old chords and no knowledge of scales, etc. But ultimately its your decision, if you want to try to go it alone good luck, there's so many things to learn and it can be overwhelming what to do and in what order etc. Also a lot of information on the internet is incorrect and guitar tabs are often not right.

    I use the RGT syllabus with a lot of my students and its a very good one, structured and details exactly what you need to know for the required grade. Some just work through the handbook and don't take an exam, that's fine by me, as long as they're improving by the grade and learning along the way. There are different syllabus types too, performance only ones where you don't need to take exams, you can video your performance and send it into them for assessment. That is, of course, if you want to. Its quite versatile and suits people who want to do different things. Rockschool have good pieces too on their repertoire, from modern rock pop stuff to old classic.

    I'm not trying to sell lessons or anything but I for one can say they will benefit more than disadvantage. If you do want to go lone-ranger style then I do suggest you work from one of the RGT handbooks as a reference as it'll tell you what you need for a certain grade.
    Learning songs outside your preferred listening/playing genre will do that too and keeps it fun and practical.

    Good luck.
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  • I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • FuengiFuengi Frets: 756
    Personally, I've not found guitar lessons that helpful.

    The best thing for learning and developing has been my looper, it drives me to create new sounds and chord progressions. 
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  • Fuengi said:
    Personally, I've not found guitar lessons that helpful.

    The best thing for learning and developing has been my looper, it drives me to create new sounds and chord progressions. 
    Might have been the teacher not the actual lessons. Also its what you take from it, the gardner provides the water but the learner as the plant has to drink it!
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    Scales and arpeggios worked for me plus a bit of scale theory. There is merit in what @Clarky says about repertoire as it gets you to see what other people have done with their scales arpeggios and theory, but tbh doing the Rockschool grade books (no need to sit the exams just do the technical exercises learn the theory and play the set pieces) will sort you out for most of it.
    the thing I like about repertoire is that whatever it is that you're learning has context
    scales, arps, theory, knowhow are great.. but without context they are more science than art
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • Fuengi said:
    Personally, I've not found guitar lessons that helpful.

    The best thing for learning and developing has been my looper, it drives me to create new sounds and chord progressions. 
    I’ve got a Digitech Trio+ drum machine/looper....it’s absolutely brilliant as a learning aid.
    I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • tone1tone1 Frets: 1679
    You could always do what I’ve done.....get stuck in a rut and then head over to the Classified section B)
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 937
    Different tunings.

    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9301
    blobb said:
    Different tunings.

    I'll try different tunings after I've mastered standard tuning!
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9301
    Clarky said:
    Scales and arpeggios worked for me plus a bit of scale theory. There is merit in what @Clarky says about repertoire as it gets you to see what other people have done with their scales arpeggios and theory, but tbh doing the Rockschool grade books (no need to sit the exams just do the technical exercises learn the theory and play the set pieces) will sort you out for most of it.
    the thing I like about repertoire is that whatever it is that you're learning has context
    scales, arps, theory, knowhow are great.. but without context they are more science than art
    Rockschool set pieces does the "art" bit for me, as (1) they are based on real "art" by well-known players but also (2) graded in difficulty so that progressively trickier techniques are required for increasing grade levels, which means the piece should in toto be achievable for the learner.

    But yes I agree, you do need the art.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19125
    Transcribe as often as you can.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    Clarky said:
    Scales and arpeggios worked for me plus a bit of scale theory. There is merit in what @Clarky says about repertoire as it gets you to see what other people have done with their scales arpeggios and theory, but tbh doing the Rockschool grade books (no need to sit the exams just do the technical exercises learn the theory and play the set pieces) will sort you out for most of it.
    the thing I like about repertoire is that whatever it is that you're learning has context
    scales, arps, theory, knowhow are great.. but without context they are more science than art
    Rockschool set pieces does the "art" bit for me, as (1) they are based on real "art" by well-known players but also (2) graded in difficulty so that progressively trickier techniques are required for increasing grade levels, which means the piece should in toto be achievable for the learner.

    But yes I agree, you do need the art.
    one of my students did a Rockschool grade
    I helped him prep one of the pieces [it was very Dream Theater]
    looked pretty good to me
    I liked the idea that there was a part in there where you get to play your own solo
    flexing creative muscle is important too
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036

    octatonic said:
    Transcribe as often as you can.
    have a wis
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • HattigolHattigol Frets: 1592
    A new guitar!
    "Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the motherf*cker who plays it is  80%" - Miles Davis
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9301
    Hattigol said:
    A new guitar!
    I was going to LOL that, but then I thought again about why I keep a variety of different guitars. They DO make you play differently - sometimes. So it's not always a silly idea. If you've got a pointy guitar for playing loud fast pointy music on, try getting a jazzbox - or vice versa.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 665
    I had a year of lessons after playing for nearly 20. Took me three goes to find an instructor that suited though. You've got to find someone who plays the way you would like to otherwise there's no point. I was encouraged to play things I would never have attempted which forced me to modify my technique and my playing improved a lot. Might pick it up again soon
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 484

    What do you suggest I do?
    I've stopped trying to "get better", I think it's like chasing a rainbow, and could even be negative by causing unnecessary stress.

    Instead I'm concentrating on doing what I enjoy - which is playing rock songs, ideally with other people - in the hope that getting better happens as a side effect.

    If it doesn't, I'm still having a good time!

    Context is perhaps relevant - I'm early 50s and been playing 2 years so I don't have the runway or available practice time (business, kids etc) to be the next EVH. It is what it is.


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  • lovestrat74lovestrat74 Frets: 411
    Get yourself on YouTube and look up all the stuff that interests you and you would like to learn to play. Even if it is just a lick, learning something new keeps the fire going.
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 357
    edited October 7
    I think you have just answered your own question in the title ...repeating the same thing dosnt really do much ..it will get you better at the one thing but that's it ...try working on new material for a while .it will make you feel as though your getting worse at first but you will reap the benefits after a while ...
    I always think about practise as working on things I don't know ..it's the only way to improvement beyond what you do at the moment 

    Probably a good place to start is learn the 5 minor pentatonic shapes iff you don't already know them and start using them to improvise the same way as you would with the standard one most people use ..ie A minor 5th position 
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2825
    Reading the OP, it seems that the fun has gone out of his playing.  And if he will pardon me for saying so, his sense of direction is all over the place.  That situation is not very rare nor is it confined to playing guitar.

    I will use a parallel situation to make and explain my point:

    Thirty odd years ago I took up golf.  I am pretty seriously disabled but took to the game with gusto.  Lessons, practice - I did the lot.  Despite everything, new clubs etc., I was at best a hacker on the course.  Sometimes middling, most times awful.

    About five years ago I was on the point of giving up golf.  I found it hard to motivate myself to get out to play and I felt it was a waste paying an annual sub but only playing a few times each year.  So I spent some time thinking about golf.  And what it is that I enjoyed the most from the game.  The answer: I enjoyed the exercise and the fresh air also the company of like minded individuals for the few hours the round takes.  I enjoyed too the feeling of hitting a good shot and of racking up the odd par on the course.  What I also discovered in this 'think in' is that winning prizes or being considered a decent golfer by my companions, had absolutely no attraction or importance.  I reset my priorities accordingly and am now really enjoying golf again.  Playing without the added pressure of trying to make this putt or hit that fairway.  I realized too that I was very uptight and a bag of nerves before starting a round and only got to relax on the back nine.  The quest for greater distance from the tee has been compensated by the increased accuracy of a fairway wood.  My drivers and long irons all ended up in a charity shop.

    To put my golfing experiences into a guitar context, it is necessary for the OP to think about his playing and why he continues to play guitar.  The idea of getting better or improving is impossible to define let alone quantify.  Does 'better' mean faster???  A lot of us play for our own enjoyment but if you are not enjoying your playing, something is wrong.  In my experience of guitar playing and now bass too, a lot of enjoyment is to be had from playing music with a few friends.  Once every few weeks is enough.  We play a lot of old songs and standards, none too exacting or demanding, and have a laugh especially when something goes wrong!  These get-togethers give us a sense of focus, a goal even if it is only to learn the intro to something.  But most importantly it is fun.  Something that a player playing on his own to backing tracks loses out on.  You will learn more about music as a result and your guitar playing will improve.  And be fun.  Nothing wrong with that.


    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • @Rocker Thanks for the reply.

    You’ve inferred quite a lot from my initial post, but I’m afraid precisely all of it is wrong.

    Playing guitar is still very much fun for me, and my very first post defined exactly how I would see myself as being ‘better’ - know how to play more scales, in multiple positions; learn some more chords, and know enough theory to know why one particular scale will work when I improvise vs. why another won’t work.
    I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • RMJRMJ Frets: 965
    Paul Davies is doing an interesting series on YouTube at the moment showing how he learns licks from people he is inspired by. Basically slows things right down and learns note for note what they play. He's an incredible player anyway, but he's learning new stuff. 

    I've been trying it too. I looked up Hah Joe covers on YouTube and just tried copying other people licks. It's an easy way to bust out of the same old stuff I always play.
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  • vizviz Frets: 5093
    @Rocker Thanks for the reply.

    You’ve inferred quite a lot from my initial post, but I’m afraid precisely all of it is wrong.

    Playing guitar is still very much fun for me, and my very first post defined exactly how I would see myself as being ‘better’ - know how to play more scales, in multiple positions; learn some more chords, and know enough theory to know why one particular scale will work when I improvise vs. why another won’t work.
    Have you tried my suggestion yet? It’s quite an ear-opener if you’re not used to it (and gives your fingers a new playground too)
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  • @viz I’ve not tried it, but I have looked it up. It sounds a bit unpleasant to me.
    I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • vizviz Frets: 5093
    edited October 7
    @viz I’ve not tried it, but I have looked it up. It sounds a bit unpleasant to me.
    It’s like stilton. It’s gross at first but once you get used to it it’s delicious. And you wanted to try something different, give it a go!
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