You can't plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
29 years old
Guitar (surprise!), Karate, cars (American and European), reading, weightlifting (sometimes), horses.
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18 Oct 2014
I think this would be a good place to collate some of our knowledge and experiences regards practising and making improvements for REC takes.
I'll give some thoughts as an instructor and please feel free to add some input of what worked for you.
One thing I do see a lot is that students don't give themselves enough time to let improvements take place. For example, if you are working on a challenging piece which makes use of vibrato and your vibrato skills are in their early stages of development, then you have to be prepared to maybe give a few weeks to really see improvements that are effective enough to make a difference to a REC take.
A couple of days isn't really enough time for anyone, including us guys, to make any significant headway in a technique. That's why we sometimes seem like we're pushing the same piece of advice... it's not that you're not listening to it because you most certainly have listened and are trying really hard, but it's often just a case of you've come back with another take too early. Way too early for any improvement to take place.
So that's my first piece of advice: Be prepared to put more time in to see results.
The next piece of advice is one that we use a lot: Play along to the original lesson (including the guitar solo) so you can hear when you go out of time and phrase things differently to the intended lesson.
Hopefully this should help you hear when you haven't quite got the same groove goin' on. Try to emulate the instructor's timing as best as you can. In bluesy lessons where 'it's all about the feeeel, man' this is harder to do because the blues is all about laying back and dragging the phrases behind the beat or adding a sudden flurry out of nowhere. How can one teach this stuff ? To be honest, blues phrasing is hard to compute into exact note values. It really is a case of 'putting the time in' and letting it happen over many years. But that doesn't mean you can't learn them. Of course you can, and of course you should But understand that developing feel is a journey that will take time and, as we do, mature and grow as we live our lives. It just sort of 'happens' after a while. So don't feel bad or be hard on yourself if you can't quite get the feel or groove right on one of those types of lessons. No one person will ever play it the same.
On a more straightforward lesson with defined note values, playing along to the backing track will definitely yield results. Another thing that might help is to have the backing louder than you might think. Often we drown out our accompaniment with our own guitar sound but being surrounded by percussion makes it easier for you to feel where you are in a track. So try not to let a backing track be just background noise and instead be part of the track yourself !
That's just a couple of the most common pieces of advice we give to anyone working on REC takes. This can, of course, be applied to anything you guys are working on. But to make things interesting and increase the value of this thread, what things have helped you with working on a track ? Please share your experiences and advice here.
14 Oct 2014
What role does gear play in your guitar life ?
We all need a certain amount of gear to provide our sound. We start off with whatever equipment we can acquire when we first start learning the instrument. For most of us, it was probably a small practise amp. Pedals if you were lucky ! For many years, I relied on a tiny practise amp and a fuzzy distortion pedal that would probably make my ears bleed if I heard it now ! At that time in my life, gear just provided the ability to be able to get closer to replicating the distorted sounds that I was hearing from my favourite metal bands.
Distortion was quite intoxicating to a youngster... it would be interesting to hear if it was the same with you guys ? The only gear quest that I was on in those days was something that provided even more distortion. I used to look at the adverts in guitar magazines and drool over the stomp boxes on the pages, imagining what levels of sonic brutality I could achieve with them. To me, the level of sheer saturation was an indicator of heaviness. But it's understandable... when we're younger and naive we latch on to the things which are most tangible to us.. and the ferocity of the guitar sound was equatable to a badge of honour.. the more distorted the better I thought ! How times change
As I got older and progressed into playing in bands, I began to feel more dissatisfied with my tone. All the following years involved the quest to find the tone I wanted. A story which is probably familiar to us all. I'm sure you've all treaded that path or are doing so.
So... 2 roles that gear has played so far are:
Necessity in learning / playing
Providing our ideal tone.
So let's assume that we've found our ideal tone. What further possible benefits could we get from gear ?
Well, how about inspiration ? A new instrument or piece of gear can bring out something entirely new and different to anything we'd done before. A different piece of gear can have us thinking in entirely different ways.
Is this the case with you ? Are you quite happy with gear providing your tone and no more or do you like to hunt for new toys and get excited by new possibilities ? What roles do gear play in your guitar life and have I missed any ?
How many times in our lives have we found the advice we needed, applied it for a short while and then forgot about it.. only to look for the next thing ?
I've talked before about how we secretly love to be distracted because it takes us away from the real hard work.. the stuff that, deep down, we know we should be doing. It's not just guitar this applies to, this is the essence of life itself. But we all go through it... the key is to realise what's going on and correct it.
But how does it affect guitar playing ?
There will be loads of times where people are too uncertain to commit to learning a new technique, or a new approach. I think the fundamental fear is:
What if I put in all that time, weeks, months, maybe years... and it doesn't work ?
The secondary fear that goes with it:
Imagine how much better I could have gotten at the other stuff I could have been practising, instead of THIS !?
Now, with those fears swirling around in our heads, is it any wonder that so many of us don't commit to doing what the guitar teacher told us ? How many of us won't adjust our hand position or practise those legato shapes because of those two fears above ?
The hard thing about it is.. there is never any guarantee of anything. Clint Eastwood had a great line in "The Rookie". When asked to guarantee somebody's safety he said "If you want a guarantee buy a toaster" 0:19
He's exactly right. Guarantees are something you get when you buy an appliance.
The only way to know for sure is if you just do it. The chances are, if you practise anything for long enough on the guitar, you will become better at doing it. That's why people have managed to become great players using all sorts of weird hand positions and pick grips. Who would have thought it was possible to do what Allan Holdsworth does before Allan Holdsworth did it ? But he tried it and because he tried it he did it.
I'm not saying we have to commit to being a technical master, I'm just saying we should commit to that thing that we know we should be doing. You know, that advice you were given that you haven't bothered to stick with or the exercises that you've forgotten about. I'm saying this to me as well. Avoidance - we ALL do it. But some do it more than others. And if you want to truly improve on the guitar and I mean TRULY... then be one of the ones who does it less.
Before the internet we had other resources to learn from (still do, actually !). Guitar magazines, videos and, of course, albums. Aside from the material resources there are real life guitar teachers (I think they still exist too...) and generally learning from other players in real life.
As a student, I'd be engrossed in my favourite albums and artists. Naturally, I wanted to do what they did so whatever I learned or figured out for myself was based on that. As I got better and the years passed, I'd try out more advanced licks shown in guitar columns. It was very much a 'Feed yourself from the trough' kind of deal. A bit like a buffet. Only at first, it was an incomplete buffet, missing various meats and vegetables. Over the years, the buffet fills up and you've got more to take from. A dodgy analogy but you get it..
So, what about the internet ? Well, shall we take a look at some of the things it's really good for, from the perspective of someone learning the guitar ?
Discovering new music, founding out how to do something, having more than one source to get info from which increases the reliability of the info taken, being able to have contact with other players, being able to have someone critique your playing and help you, getting new lick ideas......
With that in mind, how has the internet shaped your guitar playing ? It could be learning a new technique, discovering a new player, finding a great guitar based website like G*****M*****C****........ maybe it's given you a different direction in your guitar journey somehow ?
I'm assuming most of us have a particular room that is our 'guitar' room. We go there to practise, to play and to record.
What about the room itself ? Is it surrounded by things that make it your space ? Or is the surrounding irrelevant ?
I have a corner of the room that is my music area. The computer, amp and guitars live there. It's cramped and a total compromise but it works. Apart from a few postcards lying on the desktop there's no adornments, no items to appeal to my taste etc.. it's just a functional workspace. When I'm there to do something I don't take any notice of how things look so I guess I would say that the surroundings are unimportant during the moments of creation ie. playing, practising, recording.
What about inspiration though ? The times when little ideas formulate and take shape ? That can occur anywhere. It can often occur when we're out somewhere, doing something routine, like being at work or during a journey. I think this is common. We always seem to get great ideas when we're nowhere near a guitar !
Inspiration can sometimes come from thin air, unrelated to your surroundings. Other times I think inspiration can come directly from where you are. If you're on holiday and checking out some cool architecture, you may read the history of the place and that might spark an idea. Maybe not a musical idea, but a lyrical idea or song concept.
Have you been inspired by your physical surroundings before ? Even a memory of a previously visited location could do this.
19 Oct 2014 - 23:44
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