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Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by FFGreen, May 21, 2020.
If we, as guitar players, are having difficulty pinning down what makes a guitar player "good", it goes without saying that those who are not musicians and don't play guitar really don't have much to go by. They will be more impressed with show than technique, a decent singer will tower over a great instrumentalist 9 out of 10 times. Anyone seen a singer just holding a guitar, just pretending to strike a chord here and there?
So clearly, pleasing the crowd has little to do with it. Pleasing other guitarists gets closer to it, but the grade gap is so wide its meaningless. Your mom doesn't count.
That leaves only you to say.
When your Mrs. walks into the garage and says. "Hey! play that again!"
3 tiers of playing--beginer, intermediate, and "advanced," don't begin to cover the spectrum. Maybe novice, fair-to-middlin', pretty good, competent professional, great, master.
Frankly "intermediate" doesn't mean "pretty good" and it SURE doesn't mean pro. It just means you're not a novice anymore. And the vast majority of pro guitarists aren't masters. Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash--obviously all 3 were competent pro guitarists, but nobody talks up how they're the greatest guitar players. That's not "intermediate" anymore--they're pros. All the guitar you hear on the radio or on your Pandora stream--every bit of it is made by pros. Maybe most of those pros wouldn't call themselves "advanced" and most of them clearly aren't masters (the Hendrixes and Segovias of the world), but they're still good at what they do.
I've been playing rhythm guitar for 30 years, it would hurt my feelings if I was still a beginner. I'll own "fair to middlin." Although I know there are other guitarists a whole lot better than me who will also claim "fair to middlin," many of whom are on this forum.
When the groupies aren't drunk cougars?
I think the biggest thing that moves you up from the beginner stage is learning to listen while you are playing. Once you don't have to direct all of your focus on where to put your fingers, which string(s) to hit, what comes up next, etc., you can start listening to what you are playing and how it fits in with what else is going on.
This really helps with timing and being in tune. As a beginner, you may not know your guitar is out of tune unless you slap a tuner on it and hit each string. You may not even know you are playing a wrong note or wrong chord! (I remember those days!) You may also not realize how out of time you are. You are just banging away in your own world.
It's not just guitar. I've seen this with my kids learning their instruments. They have a tendency to speed up on the easy parts and slow down on the harder ones. I explain that you sound competent if you keep the tempo consistent even if it is a slower tempo. As they advance, it really starts to sound good and put together.
So even if you only know some open chords, if you can play along with a recording and keep in time and keep up with the changes, I'd say you are a "decent/good" guitar player. I think we lose sight of the work that goes into achieving that seemingly simple level. I think this is where knowing another instrument prior to learning guitar really helps since you already have the listening skills.
If your adding stuff to Dave Matthew’s riffs youre definitely playing well. When I predominantly played acoustic I used to learn a lot of his stuff. Tripping Billies was one of my favourites. 5 fret stretches are always fun.
I just tried to match Robben Ford's lyricism and melodic sense in an ST jam.
I'm pretty sure I'm not very good at this.
Always a beginner in some ways, how else to have an open, fresh mind to so many aspects of guitar?
We are a mix of it all. It's in the way that we use what we've got. Guitarists who can shred like nobody's business but can't play nice in a band situation? Drummers who can paradiddle and ratamacue better than Neil Peart but constantly speed up? Good players with no stage presence? Rhythm players who don't want to make it cry or sing but create a groove a mile wide for everyone? Intermediate level guitarists who can wow a crowd? Musicians who can do it all on stage and then get red light fright in the studio? Can go on and on. Complicated business.
I love ya Jim...but trying to match is a losing battle. I used to ask Howard how long it would take for me to play like him. He'd say "That's the wrong question, man. It should be this: How long will it take until you to play like you? The goal is to find your voice...your sound...
Then he'd say ask me the same question after you've been playing for ten years. I'll tell you then.
Years later I saw him at GIT. He had flown down from Seattle and was in a small performance room. There was a handwritten note on yellow legal pad paper taped to the door. "Howard Roberts is in...enter at your own risk."
I went in. He saw me...gave me a hug, and took the note down. We played for an hour or so. Just the two of us. When we were done, he smiled and asked me a question: So...got any questions you wanna ask, man?
No. I think I figured it out.
I think so too. But...if you need anything...call me.
I miss him.
I can already play like me, but it’s not satisfying. I’ve tried for years to expand my abilities, but I just can’t get over the hill to the thing I want. Sunday I’m gonna be 64 years old, and it feels like I’m as good as I’ll ever get. I just need to come to some kind of peace with that. I’ve never been able to hang on to my Zen when it comes to this crap.
Well if it means anything...I think you're a wonderful musician. The thing you want is just a goal. Something to aim at. Not necessarily to reach.
Because nothing is more true than a well presented YouTube video?
Remember that we are each our own worst critics. Dont be so hard on yourself, Im sure you play just fine.
"I used to ask Howard how long it would take for me to play like him.
He'd say "That's the wrong question, man. It should be this:
How long will it take until you to play like you? The goal is to find your voice...your sound...
Then he'd say ask me the same question after you've been playing for ten years. I'll tell you then. "
i've worked pretty hard to avoid sounding like most of my favourite players,
because i'd rather be the best version of myself than a poor copy of someone else, LOL.
Ten years of serious work sounds about right...
i'm about six years and change in to a deep dive into single note playing after spending
ten on mainly playing comping stuff... and i think i might just be starting to get there.
When someone other than your mother and your friends tell you you're good. Also, when you start getting asked to join the really good bands you audition for.
Short answer: When you can play smoothly while thinking about something else.
Long answer: Speaking as a psychologist here, not as the novice guitarist I am. I've been thinking about the same question. It's a bit like learning to drive a car or learning a new language. There's a point where driving (playing) no longer requires your full attention and you start to drive (play) more like an expert than a novice. It becomes automatic. Matthew Syed talks about this aspect of human performance in his book 'Bounce'. As we progress we rely less on explicit memory and start to switch to implicit memory until playing requires less and less explicit attention. Expert behaviour can be disrupted if the focus switches back to the mechanics of the technique (back to explicit memory). This results in performers choking: Greg Norman in the 1996 US Masters, Bill Buckner for the Red Sox in 1986, Matthew Syed himself in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
When you play by feel...when you start feeling it...you do it subconsciously...
Define decent/good player