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My guitar playng is bad. Help me get back on track


Mr.Guitar
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I think im getting worse at the guitar. Over the past year i have gotten really sloppy(not just technique). I dont know where to begin. I always use the same chords, and work out of the same scale(1st position minor pentitonic). Everything i play sounds the same. I dont even know to many real songs either. I have been playing for a year and a half. I just want to be able to learn noew stuff. Songs, scales, chords, theory. I think i became a victom of the guitar forum. Only worrying about gear and tone. I need advice on some good books, what to practice, how often to practice, and how i can be consistent with these things. The styles i really liuke are claasic rock and blues. please help.

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Try Mick Goodrick's book 'The Advancing Guitarist'.

It kind of resets your whole mindset towards the instrument, because you start of by playing everything on just one string (what he calls a 'unitar') and then adding very small combinations of fingers/frets/strings.

I think it provides a fresh approach, and good foundation towards a whole-instrument mindframe.

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Good advice. Also, if you haven't done so already, search for tabs of 10-15 songs you like in the rock/blues vain (you can do other styles if you want, but that's what you said you like). Work on a few at a time...very quickly you'll be able to tell a good tab from a bad tab.

If you already read music, even better: buy guitar books featuring a certain album or artist. You'll get the "actual" chords along with the melody line and, in some cases, the bass or piano line.

Finally, and certainly most importantly, keep LISTENING. Pull out rock/blues (or other) CDs you haven't heard in a while and play along. You'll get the hang of it, while building a chord and lick memory you didn't even know was there.

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Remember that we all reach a plateau from time to time. Sometimes we stay at them longer than we like, but eventually we keep on climbing. The Mick Goodrick book is quite good. I also recommend "Effortless Mastery". I forget the author, but it is a great read to put you in the right frame of mind for not just attacking your instrument, but living your life.

First and foremost, keep listening! It is the most valuable skill that a musician has. Pull out the old stuff, and go get some new stuff. Even if you don't necessarily dig it, give it a listen anyhow. Also, don't just focus on music where the guitar is teh dominant instrument. You'd be impressed to find that you're stealing licks from a horn player or even rhythmic ideas from a percussionist.

Also, if you can record yourself and your ideas, do it! It not only helps you to keep track of when the muses hit you, but it will show a chain of progression. Most times frustrating and sometimes inspiring, just let it flow. Making music is a difficult thing when you want to pour everything into it, but the rewards (when they come) outweigh the turmoil.

Remember to practice as often as it is comfortable for you. If you don't want to practice, don't. Eventually you will be inspired to do it again. Don't force yourself, as you will become discouraged. When you do practice, make it count. Pick one or two areas that you are lacking in and focus on them. And don't play those tired ol' licks and chords that you play every single time you pick up the guitar! Break out of that habit now. Pick a foreign area of the neck, or some chords that you don't know. Playing is about exploration and expression, so don't feel shy about it!

Finally, play with some other players. Even if you just jam or trade ideas, that is a sure way to beef up your chops and refresh the way that you look at the instrument.

Outside of that, get some books on theory and read them. Be prepared to get out the pen and paper as well as the instrument if you want to get really in depth. If not, read what appeals to you and try to apply it right away in whatever you are currently playing/practicing. Don't give it up, even if it looks hopeless. I have found that I improve in small almost unnoticable gains. I think it was Steve Morse who said in one of his columns "even if you only improve 1% each day, by the end of the year you will have improved 360% compared to where you were just a year ago!!" Besides, you have a lifetime to learn. Even the most accomplished players are still learning. Its just that we want to pay to hear what they have learned already!


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Originally posted by GreyMartyr

I also recommend "Effortless Mastery". I forget the author, but it is a great read to put you in the right frame of mind for not just attacking your instrument, but living your life.



Kenny Werner. A great book, changed my life. I bought it just a few moths ago and I feel better about music than I ever thought possible.

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Take some lessons.

Find a good teacher, someone you think you can study with for a long time.

Or, go to your local guitar store, and take 3 or 4 lessons from their resident expert in whatever style of music you're most interested in.

It doesn't matter either way- the important thing is that it will push you off that plateau and start you climbing again.

I Guarantee!!!

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