Learning to play after 20 years of being a beginner....

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I think this is they right sub-forum for this, but I'm new so forgive me.....

I'm a 40yo guy who has been playing guitar at pretty much a beginners level on and off for about 20 years ( with some looonnnng gaps in between playing). Grew up on grunge and Nu Metal, and to be fair I'm ok with power chords/simple chords/and of course drop D riffage ;) , but I suck at anything beyond this.

I've decided that I really want to get better, especially as my music tastes have expanded ( still love metal tho) and I'd love to be able to play the blues ( among other things).

Now I know that a teacher is the best option, but there's no way that I can afford that, so I've purchased a years subscription to JamPlay, and I'm working through a beginners course ( Mark Brennan) on there at the moment. I'm trying to make time to practice everyday even if it's only for 15-30 mins ( once all the kids / missus are asleep!)

I have an Epiphone Les Paul ( with Iron Gear pickups) , that actually plays (to me anyway) really well for a 'cheap' guitar.

I really want to be able to understand what I'm playing, and know the notes etc that I'm playing, so I'm working on remembering the notes as best I can.

So does anyone have any input or advice for this stage of things, or is anyone in the same sort of boat?  


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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2872
    edited July 10
    We’ve all got our tips, and we will inundate you with them. A good place to start is with Justin Sandercoe’s free online lessons https://www.justinguitar.com/
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  • sixwheeltyrrelsixwheeltyrrel Frets: 146
    edited July 10
    A teacher is one of a number of options which are all equally valid in their own way. For theory and structure it would make sense to have a few lessons. 

    However, with that said, they key is to enjoy playing. Get yourself consumed by it and draw on the various resources available, none more valid than the other really. There's absolutely no reason to purposely  'get good'. Putting on a  click/backing track and playing (in time!) is one of a number of things (probably the most rewarding) you could do as part of a practice routine.

    I strongly suspect that you actually play well and perhaps just need to venture a little into things you can't play for a bit of a lift.

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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 556
    The cost of not having a teacher will only slow down progress within 12 months. I have several learners that have bought guitars and just sat on it for years and years. A good teacher will save you years of frustration.

    Joining a band or playing with others is also a good way to get better.
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  • bloomerbloomer Frets: 62
    I'm in a similar boat, decided to actually try to improve this year so I've gone right back to basics and working on the fundamentals like timing, bending in tune and playing the right notes over the right chords. Also trying to get the fretboard learnt and bit of theory like what chords go in what key and CAGED. I'm sick of noodling around in the pentatonic and trying to break out of that too. That said, all this is supposed to be preparation for actually playing music and so I'm starting to try to jam along to backing tracks and learn songs. I'll second the above suggestion of justin sandercoe. Have a look at the lessons hes been giving lee anderton, might give you some pointers of what to learn and how to practise. Eric Haugen also worth a look.
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  • BahHumbugBahHumbug Frets: 163
    I tend to think that improving is all about discipline.  It’s not enough to do regular practice.  You need to have the discipline to assess what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at.  Then you need the discipline to work hard on the stuff that you’re not so good at.  The problem is that this sort of discipline doesn’t come naturally to most people.  

    It’s very easy to build a habit of learning pieces of music and focusing on the act of starting at the start and playing through to the end.  Every time you play it there’s a bit (or two, or three) that you can’t get right.  Instead of fixing the bad bits, you tolerate them and you build up a repertoire of music that you can’t quite play properly.  The result is that you end up with the belief that “I can play but I’ve always been a bit crap”.  The discipline I’m talking about involves cutting down on playing from start to finish, and instead working hard on the bad bits, so that one day you get the satisfaction of being able to play start to finish, without there being any bad bits.

    The difference that a teacher can bring to the party is simply to be an independent (balanced) critic and guide, to point out what you do well, but more importantly to point what needs work and ways of going about fixing it.  The problem with internet/video courses is that they can’t give you the feedback and guidance that is tailored to you as an individual....and when it’s all going wrong they can’t tell you that it’s ok and that you aren’t the only person in the world that finds playing a musical instrument difficult.
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3951
    bloomer said:
    I'm in a similar boat, decided to actually try to improve this year so I've gone right back to basics and working on the fundamentals like timing, bending in tune and playing the right notes over the right chords. Also trying to get the fretboard learnt and bit of theory like what chords go in what key and CAGED. I'm sick of noodling around in the pentatonic and trying to break out of that too. That said, all this is supposed to be preparation for actually playing music and so I'm starting to try to jam along to backing tracks and learn songs. I'll second the above suggestion of justin sandercoe. Have a look at the lessons hes been giving lee anderton, might give you some pointers of what to learn and how to practise. Eric Haugen also worth a look.
    Pentatonic / Blues boxes can be learned by rote/ear, and are very effective for playing rock music.  So much so that there is the next trap - you get stuck because they're so effective. (I know, 'cos I'm still pretty much stuck there - and bending it to Jazz is hard work !).  To quote an early Larry Carlton training video "Hard work will always get the job done".

    And another +1 for Justin Sandercoe.
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • steven70steven70 Frets: 188
    edited July 11
    Technique and theory are all very well as long as they are a means to an end. Which is to enjoy creating the music you would want to listen to. Otherwise, you may as well learn calculus or how to ride a unicycle (both legitimate goals)  

    I'd suggest choosing a couple of songs you want to play and learning them - with backing tracks, or better still in a band (no substitute for live music made by real people)

    You've said you'd like to play the blues- find a blues song you want to play and really listen to it- there's bound to be a tutorial for it on line. For basic blues lead playing theory- (probably I'll get slated but) in all honesty you could do worse than get a copy of 'Lead guitar' by Harvey Vinson, it's well dated (one point he actually suggests 'playing stoned') but...for your blues shapes, it's all there. You can move onto other stuff as and when you want. 

    (Edit- thinking that book may be too basic if you have been playing 20 years)

    I guess learning anything involves slog and all good points about practice and teachers but keep an eye on the end goal.

    Anyway, that's my advice from a crap guitarist...

    And defo another +1 for Justin Sandercoe. 
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  • Thanks for the input everyone. 

    Id love some lessons with a teacher and maybe in time I will be able to but now I simply can’t afford it. 

    I can play to an extent. If I was to sit down and try to learn something within my ability I (with time) could probably replicate it depending on what it was but I guess I want to learn more of playing in terms of what I’m playing (notes, knowing scales etc.) I also thing that learning this side of things will hopefully allow me to learn new songs, techniques, etc more quickly.  

    Im not expecting to be a virtuoso but I want to progress from where I am. 

    This certainly seems like a friendly place so I hope that I’ll be able to contribute too!

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  • jellyrolljellyroll Frets: 2476
    I've found ActiveMelody good. His opening video on each lesson is free or you can subscribe (£70 for a year, I think) to get Tab, Soundslice and follow up videos. 

    He throws bits of theory and wider learning points into each piece he is teaching which gives a nice balance. 

    No affiliation.
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  • close2uclose2u Frets: 483
    For structured learning, Justin Sandercoe all the way.
    Other online teachers can make great videos.
    Justin has structure, method and clear progression.

    First, check through all of the beginners course to make sure you have no gaps or bad habits to break and unlearn.
    https://www.justinguitar.com/categories/1-beginner-guitar-course
    Then move on to the intermediate course
    https://www.justinguitar.com/categories/2-intermediate-foundations
    From there explore the  modules.
    https://www.justinguitar.com/categories/3-intermediate-modules
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  • Well after having a look at Justin Sandercoes site, I've contacted Jamplay to cancel my subscription ( I'm within 30 days so I get the money back).

    It really seems to be exactly what I need and the fact that it's free is even better! The lesson structure seems a bit clearer than Jamplay too. With Jamplay there were several beginner courses and it was tough to know which one to go for.

    So I'm going to head to Justinguitar and start at the beginning!
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2957

    ...I want to progress from where I am. 

    Then a huge well done for adopting the behaviour of practice every day.
    Because your learning history with guitar has been "on and off for 20 years."  And like you've said, when you asked yourself how that worked out for you it has been okay, but you want to make progress now.  And with daily practice you will.
    Nice one!


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  • close2uclose2u Frets: 483
    Well after having a look at Justin Sandercoes site, I've contacted Jamplay to cancel my subscription ( I'm within 30 days so I get the money back).

    It really seems to be exactly what I need and the fact that it's free is even better! The lesson structure seems a bit clearer than Jamplay too. With Jamplay there were several beginner courses and it was tough to know which one to go for.

    So I'm going to head to Justinguitar and start at the beginning!
    Good luck.
    You won't regret it.
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  • BeardyAndyBeardyAndy Frets: 277
    Your original post could well describe me (except I’m a year older) and I tried the lessons route with a teacher but I don’t think he knew where to start! Because I was by no means a beginner but also knew little of the basics, I use the Justinguitar site and dip in and out of the bits I find helpful.the biggest thing was getting all the scales drilled and picking exercises, really helps with solos.

    good luck and enjoy  :)
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