The #1 Discovery To Advance Your Playing Skills

Classicplayer

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What was yours? Mine happened many years ago after playing electric for just a few years.

I bought a copy of Mickey Baker's Jazz Guitar #1 first published in 1955! Not having many players
near my locale who were accomplished guitarists, I searched sheet music and method books of the day and found little to excite my interest. I came upon Baker's easy to read and understand book and after spending a couple of months with it, came to Lesson #16. As Baker wrote, that lesson was
probably the most important and revealing lesson in the whole book. He turned out to be 100%
correct, in my case. It was the KEY to unlocking the whole fingerboard so that in my mind I could
see the patterns repeated throughout a series of fret markers, with only a few chords linking them
from one key to another key.

I realized also that Baker's work could be translated into that day's Rock and Pop guitar styles and; and now thinking about it, I'd say that it would be useful in today's music too.

So what brought you forward?......that one discovery you made on your own that kept you playing
and improving?


Classicplayer
 

Hatefulsob

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I pretty much came up with playing things based on triads on my own, toying around with ideas when I discovered the late Garrison Fewell's book Jazz Guitar Improvisation; A Melodic Approach. That really helped me solidify my thinking and playing. Also, I sometimes would look at the whole fretboard, all the possibilities, and become overwhelmed; so much to choose....where to begin(?) so I started really focusing on 2 string "sets" at any given time. It's difficult to put into words but instead of trying to have an image in my minds eye of the whole neck, I just picture the 4-5 fret area of the string I'm on and so too the string above or below, depending on which way I'm headed. I can go up or down a string at will and change my "focus" to just that region that I'm occupying. I can jump a string and carry on too. I tend to play more horizontally rather than across the board. I'll practice arpeggios using 1 or 2 strings rather than one note per string across 3-4 strings.
 

Classicplayer

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I pretty much came up with playing things based on triads on my own, toying around with ideas when I discovered the late Garrison Fewell's book Jazz Guitar Improvisation; A Melodic Approach. That really helped me solidify my thinking and playing. Also, I sometimes would look at the whole fretboard, all the possibilities, and become overwhelmed; so much to choose....where to begin(?) so I started really focusing on 2 string "sets" at any given time. It's difficult to put into words but instead of trying to have an image in my minds eye of the whole neck, I just picture the 4-5 fret area of the string I'm on and so too the string above or below, depending on which way I'm headed. I can go up or down a string at will and change my "focus" to just that region that I'm occupying. I can jump a string and carry on too. I tend to play more horizontally rather than across the board. I'll practice arpeggios using 1 or 2 strings rather than one note per string across 3-4 strings.

You expressed it very well; better than I could have. It's just about the way I go about Jazz improvising, and playing other types of music. I guess I had an advantage in that I started out with a ukulele back in the day.....4 strings and like guitar chords. I just brought them with me when I began guitar. The Baker book just added extensions on many of those chords. Over time I began to see patterns develop and the guitar fingerboard layout then made a whole lot more sense and sort became “shorter” between patterns. It was my “Splitting The Atom” moment, I guess.



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John

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Recording. To me, there's nothing like the blunt and near instant feedback of hearing whatever I played with all of its shortcomings. I would hear where it falls short and I'd try to tidy up things from there.
That forced me to step up my game and tighten up my playing so it be much tighter and good to go for recording whatever I managed to come up with.

i.e. here are some songs I made for an album I released, but I really had to tighten up my skills at so I can actually convey them anywhere remotely close to what I had in mind, be it for the guitar or the bass, or both:



 

DarthPaul

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Six years ago I put aside my prejudices and started listening to Jerry Garcia. It has had a MAJOR effect on my playing - by opening up my ears to many different styles that I previously thumbed my nose at.
I should also mention that I just tried top wrapping 11-48 gauge strings (up from 10s) and I believe that it may be the next "#1 Thing".
 
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Mini Forklift Ⓥ

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For me it was really just opening my mind up and embracing many different types of music; my teenage years were basically spent in that typical Hendrix/SRV bubble. I remember raiding my Dad's original LP's which were as varied as they were mind blowing... Holdsworth, Gallagher, Focus, The Beatles, Bloomfield, Yes, Johnny Smith, Davis, Coltrane, Bruford and so many others. Listening to all of that stuff when I was a teenager and trying to figure out even 1% of what was going on made a huge difference to my playing and musical vocabulary.
 

LtKojak

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I'm a conservatory classical-trained player, got my diploma at eleven and I started my pro career as touring musician at fifteen. However, my world got completely upside down in August 1981, when I heard The Yellow Jackets and Larry Carlton in the Montreaux Jazz Festival. After that, I just had to revise and rethink just about everything I knew about music. It's been a crazy intense, demanding buy joyful ride, which defined me as a musician and as a man. No regrets so far, although it's not for the faint of heart, I'm telling you... ;)
 

morbidalex666

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The fact that when I try hard to learn a new style or technique and succeed, it opens up quite a chunk of playing similar musical pieces, covers and my own.

First thing that comes to mind is Fleetwood Mac's Bad Love acoustic version. It really gave me trouble, but once I'd got that down, I also got the motive and skill to learn other fingerstyle pieces.
 

ARandall

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I think the #1 that most people find is opening your ears to a new style.....especially something a bit more complex or non-linear in its approach to music.

For me the last 6 years has seen me go overseas (without a guitar) for some of the amateur bike racing I do. 10 weeks of not playing might seem like a good thing, but without fail every time I've got back into it I've had to re-learn things and therefore not get back into the playing rut. Every years I have improved both in speed and in skill/style. I also tend to do more listening to music when I'm away from playing. And you tend to open your mind a bit when you listen as well.
 

John

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I think the #1 that most people find is opening your ears to a new style.....especially something a bit more complex or non-linear in its approach to music.

I'd agree with that. If anything, at the very least, it does introduce you to other tendencies that some styles may have that you may incorporate into your own playing.
I believe that it was very handy to my songwriting side of development. Whether it's from my involvement as the token metalhead in a classical guitar ensemble or in jazz band, I think those at the very least got me to interact and try to keep up with others who are more well versed and try incorporating that stuff, or searching out for other styles to listen to, in general.
 

zoork_1

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[...]...[...]. So what brought you forward?......that one discovery you made on your own that kept you playing and improving
To be honest, trying to copy Peter Green and Danny Kirwan brought me forward and still helps me improve my playing. I learned a lot about feeling and emotion from both of them, and that helped me develop my own playing.

Sadly enough PG's FM existed for only a short time, and some of the most tasteful guitar playin' of 60/70 is hidden in LQ audience recordings... :sadwave:
 

wildhawk1

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#1 Discovery was the book Jimi Hendrix Note For Note.

Once I started noodling with the patterns within the mystery of so many blues and rock sounds revealed itself.

It was pre-internet and there were other books dealing with the pentatonic scale but that one was so well done I consider it a classic.

The author created chapters for his more popular songs. He transcribed parts of the solos first showing the chords and boxes that were being used and then on the following page the solos in large easy to follow tab.

It was an eye opening moment for a newbie in the 80's that was trying to leave cowboy chord world.

It showed that Hendrix like so many others was living off the pentatonic scale.

That was enough catalyst to start learning those boxes.

Below is the cover and first pages of a couple chapters showing the boxes he was hanging in.

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I've wished for many years the author would of come out with books featuring other players such as Gilmour, Clapton, etc. It would of been a great catalog of works.

I didn't learn all the solos note for note but enough along with those boxes so I could begin to do it my way like so many already had.
 

Barnaby

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The first time I went through "Guitar Aerobics" by Troy Nelson was the big one for me (not that I make any claim to being much of a player). That rounded out my range of techniques a lot. Then, having some lessons and being forced to do a bunch of sight reading of single lines in staff notation and lots of jazz comping. I'm currently doing the Nelson book again and am videoing the process, which forces me to pay more attention to each daily exercise.
 

mdubya

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The pentatonic scale opened all the doors for me. 100% self taught. It is the one thing I wish I had started learning on day one instead of a few years down the road. It took me from needing to be 2nd guitar in any band I was in to becoming a lead player and band leader.
 

Matt_Krush

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2 major discoveries.

1st. Getting my ass kicked by a much better player.
2nd. Getting an amp that actually sounded the way a guitar should.

I can't stress how having a competitive attitude and self determination can push you to excel. If one person can do it...so can another. You have to have the mindset that you can play that well too....or else...why bother at all.

You must have inspiring gear/tone/ whatever.It doesn't have to be top of the line, but a guitar that won't tune and the 8" Gorilla amplifier is sure to dissuade anyone starting out.
 

Hatefulsob

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To be honest, trying to copy Peter Green and Danny Kirwan brought me forward and still helps me improve my playing. I learned a lot about feeling and emotion from both of them, and that helped me develop my own playing.

Sadly enough PG's FM existed for only a short time, and some of the most tasteful guitar playin' of 60/70 is hidden in LQ audience recordings... :sadwave:
Great point! It's so easy to focus on "the notes" but it really is "how they're played" that makes music out of it. Though we're often not particularly cognizant of it, the difference between a good musician and a great musician is milliseconds! Unmeasurable and impossible to notate, the split fractions of time that make a phrase special are really what we're all aiming for. How many times have you heard something that just blows your mind....only to find or figure out that it's not some line from another universe but just a simple phrase played just so perfectly that is SEEMS like nothing you've ever heard before.
 

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