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OldSchool Blacksmith
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking to find ways to improve and thought I’d see who here had some great advice/resources for improving as a player.

So, whatcha got? Drop some wisdom/links/etc below.
 

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My old roommate Ben is a brilliant guitarist, he plays in a band called Ra, that was a bit of a one hit wonder. He's a Berklee/MI guy and his biggest thing was "relaxed precison". I remember him having it written in white-out across the front of his amp. I always try to keep it in mind when practicing and especially during recording.

Chill out, relax, nail the take and move on.
 

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Yeah, if you're tensing up you're doing it wrong. You can have energy and still be relaxed.

One thing I will throw out that most people don't talk about but it becomes a big deal as you get older: Warming up your hands/arms and having a stretching routine for them. I use several yoga-based techniques, personally, but most of the advice given out for RSI prevention works pretty well for playing, too.
 

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For improving as a player, I've found learning songs outside your comfort zone can be really valuable, e.g. different genres, or songs by players who have a really different style. It sort of forces you to play things differently than your used to.
 

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Yeap, relax.

I always tell people who ask that question to separate learning and playing. What I mean is set aside time to do specific exercises instead of your usual stuff. 30 min a day can open doors for you in a relativly short time.

Basic theory, not a degree in shredology, just knowledge of the major and minor scale. Get out of the box or typical stuff you play.
 

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Martin Goulding is a goldmine for this sort of thing. The best advice I've read from him is this:

If you're trying to get a lick up to speed, instead of gradually increasing tempo until you can play at the final desired bpm and then spending all of your time practicing at that tempo, start out at around half speed and practice at that tempo for a week or so. Then, the next week, bump your tempo up by 10-20 bpm. This means it can take months for a single lick to get up to your final desired speed, but holy shit this helped me so much. Way cleaner, and way less tension in both hands. If you practice a bunch of stuff in parallel it doesn't feel too slow.
 

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Everyone has off days when everything you try to play just comes out wrong or sounds like complete ass. If that happens don't try and force it - put the guitar down for a day or two and come back fresh.
 

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OldSchool Blacksmith
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good stuff! Keep it coming.

Best advice I ever got was “it’s not what you play, but how you play it.”
 

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המרחב וה
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Play what you love and have fun.
 

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Take some lessons. I started some back last Fall and it's been pretty nice! We mostly talk theory and music philosophy, and sometimes just chat about gear. It's nice having the face-to-face interaction while I'm all cooped up at home with no band practices or gigs.
 

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Guitarded
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I really dig the ben eller videos on youtube. hes got 2 series that I especially dig, "weekend wankshop" and "this is why you suck at guitar"


 

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Bah. I still suck.
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Take some lessons. I started some back last Fall and it's been pretty nice! We mostly talk theory and music philosophy, and sometimes just chat about gear. It's nice having the face-to-face interaction while I'm all cooped up at home with no band practices or gigs.
I'll definitely +1 this. If you really want to learn and get better, I think you do need someone to oversee and guide you through the process. There's so much instructional content out there but it's not coherent. I started learning drums last year and originally I didn't want to pay for lessons so I tried going the self-taught route using the wealth of YouTube as a resource. I switched over to an instructor a month or so later and I think I'm much further along right now under his wing that I would have been if I kept going on the self taught path.
 

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I have always sucked fucking monkeydick on SWEEPS.
I hate it. I have never felt a real reason to incorporate it in my solos since I rather enjoy other techniques.

However for a solo I'm about to record, I need 5-string sweeping and I am horrible at it.
So I have decided to make a little video series about it.

Here's day one. For this forums sake, to not be spammy, I will post a video again when I will like "I got it".
 

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The relaxing your fretting hand is great advice. I realized that when I scalloped my strat. The chords would go sharp when I was applying too much pressure. I then found that it helped my playing, even on a normal neck. Whenever I feel like I'm choking the neck, I go back to the scalloped strat. Just playing that for less than a half hour, brings back the muscle memory.

Learning how chords are made opened up a whole new world for me. Learning how everything is based off intervals of the major scale, helped me play with others. Hearing something like "It's a 1-4-5 progression in G" might mean nothing to you, if you don't understand intervals.

I made a web application years ago that shows the notes on the fretboard. Seeing a scale pattern on the screen helped me see "patterns" that were outside the normal box patterns that you usually learn.
Here it is: Find Notes On Fretboard - by Lespauled

Play what you like, but expand beyond your favorite genre. You might find that other music is also fun to play.

One last note: play slow ballad solos, even if you hate them. Say more with less is a great way to grow as a guitar player.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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For me the thing that's been a game-changer in recent years is the "Cracking the Code" series/curriculum. It reads like an info-mercial when summarized, you keep expecting someone to say "this one weird trick pro shredders don't want you to know about helps them play scale runs you can only dream about," except Troy Grady's approach is extremely logical and thoughtful, extremely well researched, and makes intuitive sense.

The short version is basically this - the hard thing about alternate picking isn't picking along a single string, which most people can do quite quickly with little practice at all, but it's switching strings, and the reason that's hard is you have to lift the pick over the strings or get it over and to the other side of the string somehow, in a mechanically efficient manner, which is easy to do at slow speed, but extremely challenging and inefficient at high speeds. Pretty much any guitarist who can rip out fas scale runs has found SOME way to do this, but as a Yngwie fan the first time he was able to figure out how a world class player was doing this was watching slow motion footage of Yngwie's picking hand and realizing his pick stroke was angled, so he would bury downstrokes, but upstrokes would naturally lift away from the guitar making it easy to change strings after an upstroke, and every single fast "signature lick" of Yngwie's either changed strings on an upstroke, or on a downstroke sweeping to the next thinnest string, or would just omit one picked note and use a legato note instead to facilitate the change, and Yngwie had built his entire style around simply never changing strings after a downstroke and moving to a thicker string.

This is worth watching anyway just because it's pretty cool material, and brings back a lot of the feeling of sitting in your bedroom and having your mind blown by someone doing something you couldn't even imagine on a guitar, the first time you hear them. This was an early project and they've abandoned a lot of thew terminology as their understanding has changed a bit and as they've seen where people tend to get cnfused a little (Yngwie is now an "escaped upstroke or "USX" player, rather than a "downward pickslanting" player, since the actual slant of the pick has way less to do with it than the pick's trajectory) and I actually don't pick anything like this at all (I'm primarily escaped downstrokes, but with a rotational double-escape motion I'll use to facilitate certain transitions, not unlike a slower and sloppier Michael Angio Batio), but it's a pretty good intro.


EDIT - I guess, just to expand on this, the "start slow, gradually increase metronome speed" is NOT a good way to develop fast picking-hand speed. It's useful for coordination, and I've been doing legato drills like this latehy where it's definitely helped me build better fretting hand evenness and control, but as the traditional way of becoming a faster alternate picker, it's actually not very good. The problem is the very thing that makes being a high-level alternate picker so challenging - being able to get the pick up and over a string and on to te next one while switching strings - doesn't even become a factor at lower speeds where pretty much anything works, and paradoxically fast, sloppy practice is pretty much the only good way to iron out a picking mechanic that's physically capable of working at high speed, even if at first it's irregular or poorly controlled. Picking is a naturally rhythmic motion, control will come with time, but to learn how to solve these mechanical problems, you have to practice in an environment where the problems even exist.
 

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OldSchool Blacksmith
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2,866 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The relaxing your fretting hand is great advice. I realized that when I scalloped my strat. The chords would go sharp when I was applying too much pressure. I then found that it helped my playing, even on a normal neck. Whenever I feel like I'm choking the neck, I go back to the scalloped strat. Just playing that for less than a half hour, brings back the muscle memory.

Learning how chords are made opened up a whole new world for me. Learning how everything is based off intervals of the major scale, helped me play with others. Hearing something like "It's a 1-4-5 progression in G" might mean nothing to you, if you don't understand intervals.

I made a web application years ago that shows the notes on the fretboard. Seeing a scale pattern on the screen helped me see "patterns" that were outside the normal box patterns that you usually learn.
Here it is: Find Notes On Fretboard - by Lespauled

Play what you like, but expand beyond your favorite genre. You might find that other music is also fun to play.

One last note: play slow ballad solos, even if you hate them. Say more with less is a great way to grow as a guitar player.
That site is sweet! Thanks. Definitely book marking that.

I really dig the ben eller videos on youtube. hes got 2 series that I especially dig, "weekend wankshop" and "this is why you suck at guitar"

Gonna check those out too. My major struggle is my picking hand is quick, but my left fingers can't keep up, so I'm stuck at either easier note/chording or slower stuff.

Stumbled onto this a few weeks ago, but haven't really dove in yet:

Jonathan Boyd's Breakthrough Guitar.

I got caught up in the click funnels stuff about 3-4 years ago and experiencing him walking through the CF 101 playbook turned me off a bit, though.

Really need to get some one-on-one lessons like some have said here. I tried when we lived in Corpus, but unless you wanted School of Rock or Guitar Center, there wasn't much to choose from. Thankfuly, now that we're back in a major city, there should be a lot more options.
 
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