How did you learn to play?

Discussion in 'Lessons & Techniques' started by Layne Matz, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Active Member

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    Where did you start? What made you play? What led you to understand the structures and methods to music?

    How I got to where I am now, if you are curious:
    I started guitar with a few chords to a Dylan song, days later i was using a seasoning jar as a slide and I was horrible. The jar was a terrible fit, too big. Soon I got a wine bottleneck off plus a new set of strings and i was off to the races. I looked up how i should tune it for slide after i realized that Son House definitely was not playing in standard. I just played by ear and what sounded 'right'. This method can work if you are just playing the old acoustic delta blues standards. I learned a ton just by sitting out in the yard playing for hours, and getting eaten alive by mosquitos in the 90+ degree heat. It took about 4 years but I think Ive nailed down my fingerpicking technique in coordination with the slide, as well as fingerstyle.

    I didnt tune to standard for over a year, felt no need. I played only in Open G, D, as well as A and E with a capo. I actually wore out a capo. Occasionally i would tune to standard and try to play by ear or learn some chords. About 5 months before I got my first electric i started tuning to standard regularly and trying to learn chords and scales. I had been playing for a year a half before someone mentioned anything about notes or scales. I hadnt really looked for information either, I was just playing. I had been playing my DIY lap steel acoustically for a year or so and i learned quite a bit about scales and chords on the steel simply because it was easier. This year I've really been delving into music theory and fingerstyle. Its become as normal as slide but I'm still not playing the way I'd like to be so I head deeper into studying theory and the structure. When it comes to slide you can do a fair amount of playing by ear and it can come out beutifully if you know what you are doing. I assume that once i can memorize much of it I will have free will to create specifically the sounds I seek. Im currently working on learning scale degrees and how to use their relationship with modes.
    Too long, didnt read?
    The blues and a good ear taught me but I want full control like a sorcerer, or a jazz master.

    Im just curious how everyone else does it.

    While you are at it, I'm curious what guitars or instruments you have gone through and how your musical tastes developed. Tell me your lifes story!!! Not really, just the musical part. Feel free to post some awesome pictures as well blues-chord-wheel.png c_harmonica.png HL_DDS_0000000000544668.png HL_DDS_0000000000621242.png HL_DDS_0000000000544665.png HL_DDS_903252sVe2QCs87j.png
     

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  2. NMA

    NMA Well-Known Member

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    Got a Beatles book like below. I figured if I play songs I know, then I would know if I am playing correctly or not. I just kept learning various chords through that Beatles book. Got up to speed quickly.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Active Member

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    Thanks for the input! I always felt there was too much lacking from such chord books. I have a big Zeppelin one but at least half of it is very 'dumned down' to basics and lacking in information regarding the solos and key Jimmy Page Riffs. However, I would love a tablature book for Wes Montgomerys music, that would be very helpful.
     
  4. NMA

    NMA Well-Known Member

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    Oh, there sure is a lot lacking in those ancient chord books. But as a brand new player I really didn't notice it at the time. All I knew was the book showed me that to play "I Should Have Known Better" you go from G to D over and over again. That book helped to show me what chords to play and by playing them my fingers got familiar with the shapes.

    Nowadays there are precise Tab books or youtube videos. Those ancient chord books were often inaccurate. But they served the purpose of helping out a novice.
     
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  5. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    My first Christmas present guitar was accompanied by Bert Weedon's book, Play in a Day. The title was a lie. But once I had learned the chords to Bobby Shaftoe I was armed. From then on I learned by listeninig and playing. The Blues was a big thing for me.
     
  6. Tiboy

    Tiboy Member

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    I took lessons between ages 10-12. I then spent the next 45 years regressing from there.
     
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  7. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Active Member

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    Did any of you get heavily into scales or modes? I know some guitar players personally who claim they play by memorizing songs. I have to wonder how much free wheeling improvisation can be dome with little to no knowledge of 'theory'. Did the first blues rockers really know all the notes, scales and modes they were using or was it based more on memory and ear training?
     
  8. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    What made me start playing was discovering Van Halen. I took piano lessons from age 8 to 12, but was ever really into it. I never learned to read music properly.

    I learned a few chords in music class in the first year middle school, and I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 12. At 15 I got my first electric. I bought it from a friend, and he showed me how to do barré chords. I had a book as well, where I learned some basic improvisational tools (pentatonic scales). After that I've been learning by ear.

    Being mainly a blues player, my most important teachers have been Eric Clapton, Peter Green, B. B. King, J. Geils and Duane Allman. I also had a Guitar Player subscription for many years. These days I use YouTube quite a lot. I usually don't have time to study and practice very systematically, but I use lessons as inspiration, and for picking up a few licks here and there. Lately I've been watching a lot of basic jazz lessons (and a few advanced ones). I still can't play jazz, but I understand a bit more about the underlying concepts.
     
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  9. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    I knew the scales and modes long before I learned their names. My approach to lead playing was that every note was part of a chord, and it was important to me that I could play that chord if necessary while I played the lead part. This had an advantage if I should ever hit a wrong string - the error was hidden by the fact that the wrong note also lived in the chord being played. I never really got the classical technique of ignoring context and just fretting and playing the single note.
     
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  10. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    I was somewhere about 13 when I decided I wanted to learn guitar after spending preceding years learning trumpet and piano from about age 8 or 9. I had been to music stores and seen beautiful Les Pauls and Strats and really was intrigued how to actually make a guitar work. Sadly I began on a rented Yamaha Acoustic with horribly high action and the all too common very sore fingers. I learned basic songs and chords from the beginner book and eventually quit until high school when I began having friends who had amps and Strats.

    Around the time I got to college at 18 I decided to sell my trumpet and buy my 1st guitar. It was my 1979 Black Les Paul Std I sadly sold in 1990 to pay off student loans, save up for stuff like a vehicle, and house. Then around 2000 I got my first drum kit and really enjoyed progress on it and grew in confidence in my musical abilities. This prompted me to seek another guitar after meeting my one buddy who had a number of guitars. His one amp would eventually become mine after he couldn't pay me for work I had done to his house. This is my 1972 Marshall JMP 50 watt head that DonP and IvanH helped me repair via these forums. The guitar I wound up with was to be my first Strat. He had a friend who worked at a pawn shop who wound up selling it to me along with a Princeton Chorus combo amp. The Strat was a Gunmetal blue Am Std from 1991. It has since been replaced by my Black 1989 and 1990 Strats along with my other prized guitars and even 2 P basses.

    So basically I have had a 40+ year stretch of learning on my own except for the lessons as a teen and my one semester of guitar lessons in college.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  11. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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  12. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Active Member

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    Im glad everyone is chiming in, thank you for the insight! Goes to show how many ways there are to make these strings sing. Im sure newer players stumbling across this forum would appreciate a collection of individual experiences and methods.
     
  13. iblive

    iblive Well-Known Member

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    Been into music long before I got into guitars.... rock specifically. But for me it was the Woodstock album. CSN&Y. So.... 1973 got myself a 12 string Yamaha acoustic and a year later an Ovation acoustic. Still have both.

    As for learning. Self taught. Started with book of chords. A few music books. Mostly folk type music. Sang around the camp fire a couple summers as a church camp councilor.

    If were to do it over I would take lessons. I learned way too many bad habits and I never pushed myself to work at and learn new stuff. If it was hard, I gave up and went back to playing songs with G, C and D chords. If I really felt rebellious I’d throw in a few minor or 7th chords.

    Playing on worship team has forced me to actually push my boundaries and actually play songs. I’m still average at best, but way better than I was for the first 30 years of playing.

    So today if anyone asks my opinion, I tell them “take lessons!!!”
     
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  14. Lynurd Fireburd

    Lynurd Fireburd Active Member

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    We're expected to play?
     
  15. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Active Member

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    Unless you are just flipping guitars, ya, I think you should play to your hearts content. I knew a guy in Nashville, he played just for fun- but he would flip guitars too. He frequented the shops and bought a little of everything, plaued it for a while then flipped it online selling it for more than he got it and buying the next one. Even he played though, if only for personal satisfaction.

    Whats the point of having a guitar you wont ever use? Wall art? Sort of like those guys who litterally have so many they cant possible play them all much at all. Or those people who have a two foot pedal board that looks like it will take you to space with all those switches, glowing lights and what not.

    Keep it simple stupid doesn't cover it. A better phrase would be- SHUT UP AND PLAY YOUR GUITAR.
     
  16. iblive

    iblive Well-Known Member

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    I have the same issue with cars. Don’t care what it is or how old. They’re meant to be driven.
     
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  17. pancake81

    pancake81 Well-Known Member

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    Took lessons for a few years in the high school years. Got efficient at tabs, learned the chords, and some scales. Got about 2 dozen songs under my belt, maybe more, then kept practicing on my own.

    For the amount of years I have been strumming I should be a lot better. Lol.

    Sure enjoy it though
     
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  18. Raymond Eriksen

    Raymond Eriksen Active Member

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    Play with guitarist thats above your level! Thats a good trick! Use your ears and try to learn licks,riffs etc. by your fave artist. Practice as much as you can and want - and then some more!

    I did too stay away from standard tuning for a couple of years, focusing on acoustic slide exclusively, then got back to electric action-jackson. It a good thing to try new territory and methods. I've played guitar since I was 12, been in bands since I was 14, and my playing has luckily improved the whole time. I play better now than 10 years ago, but also I play different; I'm much more concerned about everything in the playing; the attack, the sound, which tones, and I strive more toward "originality" now that before.

    With guitarplaying, books can be misleading. I cannot recall how many "notebooks" on AC/DC, KISS and other bands I dug, that didnt have a clue. I remember getting me KISS "ALIVE II" note-book - all the chords were halfstep-down; the authors didnt realise KISS usually tuned down half a step.. Took a few lessons when I was 16, some jazzy guy, but he didnt have a clue about hardrock/metal, he wanted to teach me all this all bouncy, funky, sideway-headshaking superlame stuff so I quit. Two months later, I was attending a "senior-highschool" (videregående in Norwegian), when I hooked up with a guy whom I started my first "real" band with. This guy was way better than me on lead work, and his name is Paul Ronney Angel. He and his band is now quite an attraction, and he's an excellent guitarplayer/bandleader based in London. In December I meeting my old friend for the first time since I was 19! (I'm 46 now)

    Yeah, trailing off here a bit, but ...

    Regarding technique and lessons, with YouTube and all, you can wallow in lessons and tricks. I prefer nailing stuff I already dig listening to.

    All in all I believe it all boils down to one thing: enthusiasm for playing
     
  19. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Active Member

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    I grew up in the '60s and was exposed to my parents' classical music and pop music of the time and was enchanted. I had to play. I was given a guitar in 1970 and started trying to learn right handed, even though I was left-handed. I got four lessons from a guy until he gave up on me and my mom got tired of taking me to lessons. From there I was on my own, listening to the radio, learning by ear, and playing in bands. I figured out pretty early on that if I ever wanted to get anywhere I'd have to develop my own lead style so I spent more time doing that than slavishly imitating others. Eight years later the band I was in was made an offer by a label.

    Meanwhile I felt like I was only in ankle deep so I studied classical guitar in college for a year. My instructor, a retired vice counsel from Venezuela, only taught technique, as is normal for classical. He was, however, very patient and kind. He taught by the Julio Sagreras method. From that I developed a linear scalar approach to playing and developed my right-hand plucking technique. At the same time I was working on my lead electric guitar style and spent long hours running scales. Between the two I spent a minimum of two hours per day, seven days a week, practicing.

    When I finished my undergrad years I decided to study Music Composition, Electronic Music, and Recording Studio Techniques, at the Master's level. That involved studying music theory, history, and composition. From theory I learned some of the relationships between the notes and chords within keys. People can spend a lifetime studying theory but I only spent two years. From the study of Music History I learned how music developed and how the structures of musical pieces changed over time. My music history prof also taught me how to listen to music and analyze it. From the study of composition I learned about tension structure within a piece, how it works, what is necessary to keep the attention of the audience, how to develop it. I was also forced to compose on demand rather than waiting for some "muse" to stop by. That became a highly valuable skill. Meanwhile I was also learning multichannel recording as a recording engineer.

    I fell in love with a beautiful girl, married her, and was hired away from school into the world of recording engineering. All the while I became more and more involved in composing, arranging, and performing parts for video and film scores. The '80s was a blur of sessions, long hours, developing a career and reputation, and starting a family.

    I woke up several years later with the job title "Audio Post Production Design Engineer*" or "Sound Designer," meaning that I am in charge of selecting, recording, performing, composing, and/or arranging music for productions, doing the same with sound effects, as well as mixing and managing the whole aural envelope of productions. I produced, engineered, and played on albums for commercial release. I play guitar, bass, synthesizers, and whatever other instruments are required to make a product work or sound better. I program drum kits, for instance.

    Part of that whole process has required being something of an "autodidact," someone who teaches himself. At this point it has been thirty-seven years in the industry and forty-eight years playing guitar. It required listening to and analyzing a lot of music and then learning to create, record, and mix the music for the commercial outcome that's expected. It has been a long, twisted road, the wheel is indeed small, and it took a lot of turns to get here.

    Bob

    * That's my actual job title.
     

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