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i can't really consider myself a guitarist

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by doof, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. doof

    doof Tele-Holic

    I'm wondering if anyone else is in this situation. I've been playing the guitar for about 15 years now. Never took any lessons, just looked up tabs for songs that i liked. So while i know chord shapes, and how to play a song by looking at tabs, i really have no clue about anything when it comes to actually making music on a guitar.

    I don't know the first thing about theory, i couldn't play you any scales if you asked me to. I certainly can't improvise over chords in any appreciable way. basically i can't do anything that would classify me as an actual guitarist, since i can't properly use the tool to create music. Sure i can look at tabs and reproduce the music displayed, but i have no idea why the notes in that solo sound good, and can't fathom how someone could have came up with it.

    Every time i've tried to go through some beginner lessons on theory or scales or some such thing i just immediately feel overwhelmed with the concepts and terminology and give up, resigning to just plunking around on the guitar.

    i'm fairly ashamed to admit all this, but i wanted to get it off my chest. does anybody else struggle with this?
  2. chippertheripper

    chippertheripper Friend of Leo's

    Dec 26, 2010
    Fhvn ma
    I'm only like a half step in front of you. If you're blown away be terminology and theory, just look for note patterns in the solos you know. That's a decent place to start without any technical mumbo jumbo.
  3. telestratosonic

    telestratosonic Tele-Afflicted

    When asked if he knew any theory, didn't Chet Atkins reply with: "not enough to interfere with my playing"?
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  5. sacizob

    sacizob Friend of Leo's

    Learn the notes on the entire fret board. Its really not hard. Once you got that down it makes everything a easier.
  6. burtonfan

    burtonfan Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 16, 2010
    If that's where you are with the guitar, but still enjoy it...mission accomplished! The whole point is to have fun. Sometimes we forget that simple fact. Possessing a Paganini-like knowledge of the instrument won't necessarily make it more enjoyable...often quite the opposite.

    If you enjoy reading tabs and miming records, SO BE IT! Don't be ashamed or apologize for who you are as a musician.

    BTW, you ARE a guitarist! :D:D
  7. rave

    rave Tele-Meister

    Jun 17, 2011
    Los Angeles
    At one time I felt this way and lessons have certainly helped me. The stuff that really helped me was;

    learning what notes are in the chords
    learning the major scales and the chords derived from it.
    How the major and minor pentatonic scales sit in the major scale
    learning triads all over the neck
    Improvising to backing tracks. This really helps you hear what works and doesn't and learn to use your ears.

    Check out Justin's free beginner course. The songs you know and the theory will come together. Good luck
  8. FenderLover

    FenderLover Friend of Leo's

    Jun 11, 2009
    I've developed some terms along those lines:
    A Musician knows music theory, plain and simple.
    A Guitarist is a Musician who plays guitar.
    A Guitar Player is someone who plays what he has learned, on guitar.

    I've called a friend who passed away a few years ago an Artist. That's because as a guitar player, he didn't know any theory (not a Musician) and really couldn't play guitar very well either.

    The step from Guitar Player to Guitarist is a function of time for most of us, but you also gotta make the decision to learn something. Each bit you learn adds to other bits, and light bulbs start popping.

    The advice of copying licks is one method many people suggest, including many of our heros. That's all I did for years, and still couldn't improv without breaking into a recognizeable solo. It was only after I learned what I was doing (theory) that I could start putting things together.

    If you can't instantly pick out all of the E's or A's or (pick one) on the fret board, that should definately be your starting point. The octave interval is the most fundamental. It will define the root of any chord you play. Then I'd suggest chord construction. Play a major and a minor (A and Am for instance) and see what changed, and realize that one note (the third) is flatted in the minor. Do the same for dominate 7, major 7, etc. You'll also have to memorize the major scale in order to do that exercise. It's tedious, but it has to be done. (How else will you know where the 'third' is?)

    A teacher is always good, even for a short time, to get you out of a rut.

    Good luck
  9. stinkey

    stinkey Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 4, 2010
    malmö sweden
    But above all, have FUN!
  10. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

    May 3, 2011
    This guy has a very interesting perspective on what being a musician means.

    Although this video is for bass players, I recommend it for every musician. It's the best instructional video I have ever watched, by one of today's best musicians. Incredibly insightful. Worth every penny.
  11. mrboson

    mrboson Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 9, 2011
    Brookings, OR
    I would disagree and say that you do. Even if you are playing what someone else tabbed or created a chart for you, you are making music on your guitar. When it comes out of your instrument it is your sound and tone and style coming from your hands. Nobody else in the world has that.

    No shame, buddy. But this is the theory forum, and you might get a few words from folks from the perspective of the importance of theory. They are not judging you or putting you down, you just have to understand it is something that is important to them. Well, me as well. I became a guitar player first, then added theory later. I am very glad that I did.
  12. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 24, 2006
    Fort Worth,Tx.
    I never set out to learn any theory.

    I seem to have picked up quite abit of it in spite of myself.
  13. Chris2P

    Chris2P TDPRI Member

    Jan 12, 2010
    North Wales, PA
    Sounds like you need to find a teacher who can teach you music theory and how it applies to your study. If you can't find a teacher like that then justin guitar website is a good start. I would suggest spending at least 6 months of study on his free beginner and intermediate guitar lessons and then purchase his premium lessons to fill the gap. If you commit to that type of study you will no longer see a void in your music future, you will no longer rely on tabs, and you will have many more options available to choose from with your future music goals.

    Just my 2 cents worth

  14. doof

    doof Tele-Holic

    wow guys, i very much appreciate all the support and suggestions, thank you. I do have a lot of fun when i'm just playing on my own, but when i try to jam with friends my shortcomings become apparent, and kind of kills some of the fun.

    I was about to pull the trigger on lessons from an instructor in town, but then my student loan payments kicked in last month, and i decided i better hold off for a while.

    Anyways, i appreciate your help friends, all the best!
  15. Abu Twangy

    Abu Twangy Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2012
    Rocky Mount, NC
    Just a little bit more about the value of lessons from a good instructor--my stepdaughter took up guitar at age 40 and took lessons. In a couple of years she had organized a successful local band that was booked at some decent paying venues. Now after six years she has continued to develop as a guitarist.

    I taught myself and it took me about ten years to get to where she was in maybe two years.:oops:

    And I'd say I started with more natural musical talent.
  16. ADinNYC

    ADinNYC Friend of Leo's

    Jan 2, 2010
    New York City
    Excellent post Sir Humphrey! I love Victor! I may have to buy that DVD.
  17. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 6, 2009
    the delta bc
    today to start you along circle of fifths


    the minor would be the sixth degree

    cmajor a minor share no sharps or flats


    This is the circle of fifths. It shows all 12 major keys and 12 minor keys possible in the Western system. The name "circle of fifths" comes from the fact that the tonic pitch of a key (which is the same as the name of the key) changes by a perfect 5th each time you add or remove an accidental: it goes up a 5th each time you add a sharp or remove a flat, and it goes down a fifth each time you add a flat or remove a sharp. That is, if we start at C, which has no sharps or flats, and go up a perfect 5th, we get G, and the key of G has one sharp. It should be noted that flats and sharps are always added in a specific order. Just as there are 12 discreet pitches in the Western system (and thus, in the chromatic scale), there are 12 major and 12 minor keys possible in the Western system. On this particular circle of fifths, the major keys are listed on the outer circle, and the minor keys are on the inner circle. It is important to note that when discussing keys, if major or minor is not stated explicitly, the major key is assumed. That is, when something is described simply as being in the key of C, that is understood to mean that it is in the key of C major.
    notice how c minor has 3 flats
  18. raito

    raito Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    Madison, WI
    I'm the other way around. Can't play for beans, either from tab, sheet music, lead sheets or by ear (on the guitar). But I have a solid grounding in theory, and I can write music well enough to get A's in my classes (and wrote somestuff that other people performed).

    You are probably better than you think if you can sit down with a tab sheet and play it after running through it a couple times. I'd bet that if I sat you down with a chord progression and told you to play, you'd come up with something in the way of an arrangement, if only because you'd recognize the chord names from eyars of playing and know more than 1 way to play each. Soloing might be a bit harder, but if you thought about it, you could probably think of a lick or two that you remember goes with some chord or other and string them together at the right time.
  19. LeftyAl

    LeftyAl Friend of Leo's

    Mar 24, 2010
    Hang in there doof. There are members in the theory and tab forum hear that cuold help you a lot .I think brewwagon is one of them.I've always resisted the theory part ,but this year I'll give it a real shot.I think I need some theory to progress to the next level.
  20. furtherpale

    furtherpale Former Member

    Aug 11, 2012
    Melbourne - 32
    i have almost created my own theory.... grew up listening to sonic youth etc... learned a few of their songs... started writing myself and made up a lot of my own chords, playing them in strange places up and down the neck, often with open strings... i just learned what sounded good together.... in hindsight i could have saved a long time and just gone and got some lessons...
  21. Mjark

    Mjark Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 14, 2011
    Annapolis, MD
    I guess tablature has it place but it seems a bad way to learn music. I began by watching, listening and being shown what to do.
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