View Full Version : I've got this weird "problem" !!!!!!!!!!!!

01-06-2005, 09:08 AM

I'm in a cover band, and I'm an average guitarist. Not great, and my lead work sucks. I'm the only guitarist in the band. I put myself in this position because it would force me to be better, because I would be the only one playing leads and rhythm.

My "problem" is this. We play typical modern rock stuff, nothing to complicated, which is good because I couldn't play Black Star or Satch Boogie. I put on a pretty good show. I don't make mistakes, the songs are played by the band and I almost perfect compared to the original, and the crowd is happy and entertained. By all accounts everything seems fine.

However, in my mind I'm always thinking "You SUCK, you are playing the same stupid pentatonic BOX leads, too much pick noise on the strings, oh you didn't mute that right, your thumb shouldn't be there, the guitar strap is too long, whats the finger noise between chord changes (when you switch from one chord to the next and hear a little squeaking sound", oh you really f'd that up, etc.

Basically, I can't play the guitar either live or by myself without MENTALLY CRITICIZING EVERYTHINGGGGGGGG I MEAN EVERYTHING, THAT I DO!!!!

I've been playing for 5-6 years and most people think I'm good, but I've got a really low self image of my playing. It's like I'm just waiting for something bad to happen just so I can criticize it. I see friends of mine who aren't that good play, but they just play with reckless abandon. When I play I feel so technical that if I hit a wrong note (or one out of key) that someone is holding a loaded gun to my head ready to shoot me!

Is there anything I can do?


01-06-2005, 10:50 AM
Remain calm.

It's a confidence thing. Nothing wrong with being self critical as long as you continue to enjoy what you're doing.

Try to focus on your strengths when playing live and practice on your weaknesses when your alone.

Even if you are "stuck" (which I'm not sure I really understand, why are you "stuck, why is it a bad thing?) in the pentatonic box just make sure you do it to the best of your ability. I'd be surprised if you've exhausted all the pent possibilities.

Spend some time before a gig hyping yourself up, you're the man!! kind of stuff, believe in your self, work on some charisma on stage and relax and enjoy!! The crowd are liking your stuff and they'll have even more fun if they see you are too!

You'll be less likely to notice a missed mute if you're having fun with the audience (babes) in the front row rather than staring at your strings all night.

See what I'm saying?

01-06-2005, 02:56 PM
Sounds like a personality trait. Are you a perfectionist in other things? If so that is just you. I'm sure, in your other every day activities you have learned how to live with it. Just apply that to your music.

If you are not a perfectionist, relax....................

01-06-2005, 03:21 PM
Sounds to me like you're being very slightly over critical, I used to be the same, every time I played I wanted to hear everything note perfect, no mutes/fingernoise etc in the wrong place, but after a while i realised that that is what playing live is all about, mistakes happen, it's how you deal with them that shows your musicianship!!!!

As for being 'stuck' in the pent box, there's plenty of info on here to help you break out of that, but as Russ says, there's also plenty of stuff inside the box that can still excite the best players!!!

Oh yeah, and as for the loaded gun thing, RELAX, I'll leave it at home next time!!!!

Los Boleros
01-06-2005, 03:21 PM
No matter how good a guitarist gets to be, it seems that he will always be capable of critisising his playing with, "I keep doing the same thing over and over". I play with some serious Jazz heads and have learned that in the world of Jazz, Playing anything twice, other than the head, is just not allowed. All that aside, think about this:

When we get up there to perform, we are usually playing stuff that we have practiced thousands of times. (Or at least, this is what we should be playing).The Crowd is hearing it for the first time tonight! If it sounds good, or if it's one of your signature licks, Play it again. They will love you for it. Although it seems in our mind that it is too much, we are being alittle toOo critical since it is not fresh to our ears.

01-06-2005, 03:59 PM
everything is fine but i suck..... mhmm,

little squeaking sounds... yes.. ,

stupid pentatonic... aha....,,

ok mr. 6string, i'll prescribe you this thread (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5528) !

dr. ment.git. phantom

01-06-2005, 04:04 PM
I have a similar syndrome, but I do think one needs to be very much self critical as long as it's not self destructive - no mistakes?, only niggles? you're doing great!!

To cheer yourself up go out and get yourself a led zeppelin live bootleg, Mr Page certainly wasnt afraid of making mistakes. I heard one where it took him an hour to get going, there was some magic mixed in, but some really nasty parts too... still I guess your not using smack ;-)

01-06-2005, 06:41 PM
I play rythym guitar and I'm fair, so I can't help you as far as technique, but as a singer and keyboard player who has played with many guitarists, several incredible ones, I can tell you that out of all of them, maybe 15 or so, only 2 of them did not think that they sucked. And those 2 that didn't think they sucked did! The same with bass players, drummers, keyboard players and singers. This is a performance biz, and to get the gigs, the cash, and the audience you have to sound good. (most of the time). Alomost every musician I meet is VERY critical of themselves and worried that they are gonna screw it up for the whole band, beating themselves up over little mistakes that the audience doesn't usually even notice. You might try jamming at a party or for some people who have never heard you play that might be friends of friends who aren't musicians and get feedback from them. You might find that how other people percieve your talent is FAR different from how you see it. Maybe even record something and pick it apart on paper with what you think is wrong with it. (make it something poeple will know) Then get a friend to critisize it and look at the differences.

01-06-2005, 11:08 PM
The problem sounds like laziness. If it drives you crazy then why haven't you fixed it already? Many people that suck do so because they can't hear that what they are playing is bad. If you can hear it, you can fix it. The solution to most of those (other than boring pentatonic solos) is just to slow down and focus on playing cleanly (pick attack, string noises, etc). If your guitar strap is to long why not just tighten it up?


01-21-2005, 04:16 AM
seperate being stressed out from self improvement

01-29-2005, 01:52 PM
Criticizing yourself is not a bad thing as long as you turn it to your advantage.
For me, criticizing myself means: "Oh, man why for god's sake can't you play that feckin scale correctly? Why can't you use this and that technique correctly? Why did that note sound that bad?" -- And saying these to myself all the time makes me sit down on my chair, and not get up till I practiced enough that I can say "Ok, you still can't do that perfectly, but you're a better player than 2 hours ago" The main thing is:

Criticizing yourself and seeking mistakes in your playing makes you develop faster, cause you will feel an urge to "eliminate" that mistake.

at least that's the way it's working for me.

Of course, if you say instead:"Oh, man why for God's sake can't ye do this and that", and instead of grabbing your axe and start practicing it makes you do: "Ok, it's useless. I'll never learn these, I'm a suckah" - and then you smash your guitar on the wall and put it on fire. THAT'S THE WRONG WAY!!!!!!

Try to exploit this (I mean always seeking for sh*t in your playing)
and try to turn it to your advantage, and get it to make you a better player...

11-30-2005, 02:41 AM
Basically, I can't play the guitar either live or by myself without MENTALLY CRITICIZING EVERYTHINGGGGGGGG I MEAN EVERYTHING, THAT I DO!!!!

I've been playing for 5-6 years and most people think I'm good, but I've got a really low self image of my playing. It's like I'm just waiting for something bad to happen just so I can criticize it. I see friends of mine who aren't that good play, but they just play with reckless abandon. When I play I feel so technical that if I hit a wrong note (or one out of key) that someone is holding a loaded gun to my head ready to shoot me!

I can relate to this kind feeling, although it does not bother me to the degree it bothers you. And as someone else in the thread has said, many, if not most, musicians are hyper-self-critical. It comes with the territory.

One thing that helps me is NOT to listen to myself so much; I try to listen to the others in the group. Doing so, makes me slow down a little, and I find I leave more spaces between my notes while soloing. Slowing down and discovering the silent spaces in the solos have been an important lesson for me.


12-08-2005, 03:42 PM
I have about the same problem, slightly different though...

When I sit at home and practise my licks, I feel like I'm becoming better all the time, it feels like I always learn something new and is constantly improving. I can sit with my guitar and either jam my *** off, or practise like hell to learn a certain song.

However, when I'm in a band enviroment (rehearsing or gigging) I feel like it just isn't enough. It really brings me back to my feet, and I feel like I'm never going to be as good as I want to be.

And then when I come home again, it all starts over...have NO idea why that is...

Btw, this is my first post, so hi everyone!:D

12-09-2005, 10:02 AM
I'm weird, I think I suck all the time. I know I do, it's undisputable because i can hear it on recordings. But what's weird is that it never stops me. I don't really care. I'm gonna do it all regardless because i want to get better and i won't if i let the fact that i suck get stop me. Occasionally I get really depressed about it, but only about once every couple of years. I'm fairly optimistic about the fact that i suck. People think i go through periods of pessimism when my view of myself changes, but it doesn't. I always think i suck it's just that most of the time i don't mind that.

12-10-2005, 03:31 PM
Well "sucking" is a subjective term, if you think "Ok, I can't play like Joe Pass so I suck and I will until I can" they you WILL suck for a LONG time budy. And if you are like me and tend to be an "all or nothing" kinda person it's very easy to fall into that sort of thinking. Try to balance things out. Short term goals are the way. Instead of thinking "I'll suck until I'll play like Joe Pass" try "I need to expand my chord vocabulary" that way you can work towards a more specific goals, and you will be able to point out "I've learned 5 new chords this week, at this rate I'll know 200 in 5 months!!" And then focus on your goals with the same intensity. If you put so much effort into telling yourself that you suck then you will have the discipline to stick to something like that.

October Flower
12-11-2005, 05:32 PM
So you have a problem.

First I will adress your squeak between chord changes. Its hard, but, try to lift up your fingers as you change chords. It wont work all the time, but it will bring your squeak down. Though it is stamina draining.

Pentatonic box problems? Record yourself playing in say the key of E minor. Which is probably the most used soloing key. Then play along to it in your pentatonic box, but start to explore more. Take the other shapes of pentatonics and get used to them. Check out this AWESOME article. You might not understand all that theory but its still an awesome article. http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/36

I learnt alot from that. And I dont even use the pentatonic much. You can apply different scales and modes to the ideas in here.

Those little mistakes like the muting and pick noise. Bah! Noone hears it. Honestly. I pick up my guitar. Put on some distortion and run up a scale at 160, its clean. Not to me. Nobody, absolutly nobody notices the mistakes that they would were it a clean tone. What im trying to say is noone cares about those little little mistakes. With the exception of Malmsteen.

Now. If you feel your doing the same thing over and over in that pentatonic box. Change the technique. Tap some pentatonics, trem some pentatonics. Etc. Check out some new pentatonic ideas by your favourite artists.

Oh, And just to be a generic forumer ill add the ever overused words.
"Dont worry about your little mistakes so much, JUST HAVE FUN!"

12-11-2005, 07:04 PM
I tend to be a absolute perfectionist and a anxiety/stres freak, so i know where your coming from. But as far as playing goes (live, studio,band) i'll tell you how i solved that problem. I realized one day, that as i listened to music, that LAST thing i was listening to was technique, or errors. As i listend to Gilmore play comfortably numb, or Hedges play spare change, i was feeling the song. I was thinking about how i also have felt that way, the things in my life that made me relate to that feeling. Thats music. Whether you get a pick scrape or buzz, or whatever is absolutely secondary. As a human being every performance will have nuances that are different- those nuances are where the magic is. So when i practice i indulge my perfectionist. But when i'm performing i am a human being first and foremost. What is a mistake to me, might very well be the very thing that sends someone else over the top. Before a show, and before every song i think about what the song means to me, what memories it evokes, what emotion it is trying to convey and i try tio envelope myself in that vibe and emotion. I then let emotion be the guide. As you speak or cry you dont parse your words and pronounce them perfectly- you just say them as the come- in the raw. Youi may stutter, stammer, pause, yell, your voice may crack- that is all part of expressing yourself. To think of pronunciation, grammar, and projection will shurely hide your emotion, and keep you from communicating. Its also how i write music. I dont try to think of a clever lick- i think of an event or emotion i want to convey- then i just play what i feel and slowly pick out what worked, what didnt, and put it all together. It is a control issue- and what you are trying to control is your emotions- which scare us all. What makes an artist is the bravery to confront that which the rest of society fights- our inner animal. Embrace it. The audience wants you to. and deep inside- if your playing at all, you do too.