View Full Version : How do i progress?

09-06-2002, 12:15 PM
OK this goes out to all.

I have been seeing my friend from college and tryin to figure out what he's doing. He has an incredible technique and he is very musical.

OK..When he plays he is able to link many licks and riffs and make them into a flowing solo that sounds good. He can also build up the speed from bluesy start ---> quick middle ---> Smooth flowing fast licks, in a solo. Now i ask him many times how he does it.

He tells me its all licks, he has been playing 7 years and has just learned tons of instrumental rock songs. Vai, satch, howe, kotzen, gilbert and bettencourt. He explains he is just linking licks together. He have never had a guitar lesson and has taught himself only by listerning to the music and working it out by ear.

Now my problem is, where do i find these sequences in music, i hear some but there are too many and i don't know which ones to choose, i was wondering if there is a better way other than transcribing solo's. I also want to know how to link up lots of licks and sustain smooth flowing phrases. I know this guy i am on about has incredible talent but i envy him because i just can't seem to get close.

The other thing i noticed was that this guy just plays. Nothing else. Yes he has an ok guitar and amp but he never worries about strings, picks, pickups etc he just plays and he is very happy. Then there is me and i am getting bitter and twisted because i can do the things i want on guitar and don't know how to get there. I know its all practice but i think i am viewing music in the wrong way. After years of playing i see the fretboard as a series of patterens and shapes and not necerssaraly music. I play things because they will sound right rather that because thats what i want it to sound like.

Any help for a confused musician



09-07-2002, 09:26 AM
Hi Beavis,

Just wondering, have ya read the article by Wayne Krantz. It's here if ya wanna take a look http://www.ibreathemusic.com/play/article/20

You actually stated pretty well what you wanna achive. I also think that you gave yourself a lot of answers above.

When you say that you wanna be able to combine licks then take some time and practice this. Here's one approach:

Pick one lick

Focus on just this lick. Workout variations of this lick. Change it rhythmically. Improvise playing the lick then leave space for an improvised answer and come back to the original lick. Kind of a call and response. Record this and listen back.

Pick a second lick and proceed the same way as above.

Then try to combine those two ideas with enough room for some improvisation inbetween. Record this and listen back.

Now the important part is that you focus on what you really wanna play (and what you hear). Don't play on your first impact - hold back and make sure that each note is played intentionally.

This is hard work - no question. But focus on this for 1 month and I am sure you will discover a lot of things about yourself and your playing.

One more thing: Make "mistakes"!!!!! (if something like this exists in music) tons of 'em .... when you work on this don't play it save. Try to push yourself to experiment - break out of patterns, play some notes just for the heck of it to see what's happening. Evaluate what ya just did.

Hope that's something you might find useful ....



09-07-2002, 03:30 PM
Hi there...

Well, Guni covered it very well here... Iīll add some comments anyway.
The thing is, you gotta see the difference between living room playing and "real life". I do have a bunch of licks and etudes that I worked on with a metronome in my room, and they sound cool... but they just donīt work in an actual song, when I jam or play live.

What I am trying to say is that, yes, I did a LOT (!!!!) of wood-shedding, learning licks, scales and techniques from books, mags, videos, or ( most importantly ) transcribed them from records.
But at the end of EVERY practising session, I put on a record, some of my favorite songs, and jammed over them.
Today, I have a bunch of jam tracks for that purpose, but years ago, I just put in some ZZ Top- or Zeppelin-album and jammed over that.
Not only was that a good preparation for playing with a band ( of course that is still a bit different ), btu I also learned to actually use the stuff I worked on.
I always thought that most licks that you canīt integrate into your regular soloing ainīt worth anything ( I sure do have some nice ones that I can pull off during my solo spot or some workshop-performance, but anyway... ).
So what I did was
a) LISTENING to a bunch of stuff, paying attention to the way my favorite solos were "constructed"
b) Transcribing whatever I liked
c) Trying to play those solos
d) Jamming to records or with friends, taking a chance, trying to come up with something.

Itīs funny that you bring that up just now. I just came back from a meeting with PO, and this morning I was in the rehearsal room with two of the guys, working on new songs.
One of the new ones is a ballad, and we were playing through it several times. I played some "guideline" solo, meaning to just outline where the actual solo would go in the finished song.
But, the second one I played I liked so much that I am planning on keeping it.
I was all relaxed, really into the song, picked a good starting note and then just took a chance and jammed. The solo has some melodies that I like a lot, and I am very happy with it.
So was everyone else.
And I think the fact that I actually was able to pull it off that fast ( believe me, itīs not always that easy ) was due to the fact that I used to jam so much, always trying to play something I actually liked.
So it takes a bunch of time, a lot of attempts, and a healthy mix of jamming, learning and practising.

Oh, and about him not worrying about sounds etc... well, I know a bunch of guys who are that way... kinda like "If it works donīt fix it". There are a bunch of guys who worry too much about their gear, settings, effects, and they actually kinda forget the actual playing. ( I used to be one of those ).
Sometimes it still helps to work on the gear and setup a bit ( after all, you should never stop experimenting and developing ), but I think you can focus on your music better once you pick a sound and stick with it for a while.

Bongo Boy
10-07-2002, 09:18 PM
I just read Wayne's article again (referenced by Guni above). I'd forgotten all about it..but kind of amazing I should re-read this thread at just this time.

There was a blues dude on TV a few weeks ago..have no idea who he was or what the show was...it was one of those "Good Morning America" bilge-water shows, anyway.

So the guys gets a short interview ("who were your biggest influences...") then proceeds to play. I think he was a wonderful guitar player...but my goodness, the guitar sounded like a perfect stereotype of the style. It was very predictable, I thought, and sort of a sterile, textbook imitation of an SRV kind of thing.

So...anyway, a long-winded way of saying I appreciate how frustrated you must be in trying to get what you want from the instrument. It's obviously a long, long road for most players.

10-07-2002, 09:50 PM
Yeah, there are some stereo types you come across. I think I mentioned before that I used to go to some places in LA to attend some jazz-sessions, and I only had guitars like a Strat and some Ibanez.
When I turned up at those, long hair and all, with one of those guitars, I could see that most guys had already made up their opinion before I had even played one note.

I always appreciated players who took their influences a step further... one of the most popular ones would be Hendrix... he was influenced by blues- and soul-music, but he took that into a new direction, adding stuff.
Wayne is right, it takes a long time, and usually itīs other people who notice that you developed something unique, a style thatīs all your own etc.

Bongo Boy
10-08-2002, 12:28 AM
I'm not falling for that "innocent kid with a guitar" story! Walkin' into a jazz spot with a strat and your speedmetal, headbangin' ways, hah! Sounds like you went looking for trouble and found it!! :D

BTW...wearin' any Spandex at the time? That wouldv'e seriously pissed 'em off.

10-08-2002, 10:50 AM
Hey seriously...
I wanted to jam with them, not shred ! :)
At the GIT, I took classes with dudes like Scott Henderson and guys like that, and so I wanted to use what I had learned there.

If I was planning on shredding all night long, there would have been other jam sessions to attend :)

But this other time... in Atlanta... I went to a small "hole in the wall" diner, and there was a blues band playing, Chicago-blues style. They had some extra amps on stage for jamming.
So I went over to their piano player, who was like... I dunno, 70 years old or so. I was wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses, long hair... I walked up to him and said "May I sit in ?"
He looked at me, and I thought "Heīs gonna have a heart-attack and itīs gonna be my fault", then he said "Sure".
And I really had fun with them, and I guess they kinda liked it to.

And Spandex... no, I used to wear stretch jeans in an 80īs-hair band-cover band though... ;)

NP: Prefab Sprout- The Gunman And Other Stories

Bongo Boy
10-08-2002, 02:01 PM
Originally posted by EricV
... I walked up to him and said "May I sit in ?"
He looked at me, and I thought "Heīs gonna have a heart-attack and itīs gonna be my fault", then he said "Sure". And I really had fun with them, and I guess they kinda liked it to.

Thanks for taking a joke so well. But seriously...

What a great story--I'd love to hear more of those. Right now of course I can't imagine ever having the confidence or courage to do that. I can imagine that someday I might, though. I just hope that if I ever DO have the wherewithal to ask, it isn't because I've had a few too many vodkas :D.

... Prefab Sprout- The Gunman And Other Stories

Wow...there's a blast from the past. Have no idea about the music, but I sure remember the name--seems like from '86 or so, and maybe from listening to KPFK in LA.

10-08-2002, 02:11 PM
Prefab Sprout... yeah, theyīve been around for many years, but the record I listed " The Gunman..." is pretty recent, was published in 2000 or 2001.
Itīs a beautiful record, full of great songs, with a country / western-theme. Jordan Rudess makes a guest-appearance, too.

About sitting-in...it sure is fun to do that sometimes, and you donīt have to be a virtuoso or anything. All you need is self-confidence, some good timing, mabe some repertoire or the ability to improvise, and some fun playing the kind of music that is featured in that show.

It sure might be unusual or scary at first, but soon youīll see that it can really be fun and also open up new doors.
My first "jams" were on birthday parties etc. I went there with a friend of mine who also played the guitar. We took acoustic guitars, had some songs ( or rather: simple chordprogressions of songs ) in mind and then started jamming. It gave me self-confidence, and it sometimes even was fun for the people ( in case they didnt fall asleep )