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Thread: Your thoughts

  1. #1
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    Your thoughts

    Let me just start by saying that I'm not delusional about my abilities as a guitar player. I started late in life and there are some things that I will probably never be good at. I can't solo, my bar chords suck and I can really only play something that I have practiced, so joining in on a jam is pretty difficult. However, there is one thing I'm really good at. I can play rhythm, sing at the same time and get the melody right. This is what I'm struggling with right now; I tend to gravitate toward songs/artist that are in my vocal range. Cash, Haggard, Hank Williams Jr. Marshall Tucker Band, John Prine, etc. The thing is, I can figure out the chord changes and play the song so that it is very recognizable, but the truth is that I'm really not doing it the way the artist does it. For example, "Hello In There" by John Prine, he finger picks the song, I strum it. Another example would be almost any Cash song, Luther Perkins plays a rhythm that is hard for me to duplicate, so I just play straight rhythm to accompanying myself. It pisses me off that I can't do it exactly like the original, but I have a lot of fun doing it anyway and the people I play for don't seem to care or even know there is a difference.
    Should I care? I do practice everyday and I try to improve my finger picking skills or my bass runs, but when it comes down to performance in front of people, I really need to keep it simple. Anyway, I would be interested in any thoughts you have, thanks.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I started late in life and there are some things that I will probably never be good at. I can't solo, my bar chords suck
    I relate. People are not requesting my verbal solos and I leave the instrumental breaks to others, but that does not stop me from functioning in our band and I love to jamm ever chance I get.
    and I can really only play something that I have practiced, so joining in on a jam is pretty difficult. However, there is one thing I'm really good at. I can play rhythm, sing at the same time and get the melody right.
    In a jamm session playing rhythm guitar is pretty simple really. Even if you have never heard the song before a I IV V I progression will keep you in the jamm. If you can sing and play rhythm -- when the lead is passed to you just sing a verse and accompany your vocal with chord work. If you do not know the lyrics, just take a step back and the lead will continue on around the circle. Go jump in and get your feet wet, as long as you are trying everybody will bend over backwards to help you. Point of interest, it's OK to show up at a jamm session with the lyrics to the songs you want to call out or think may be called out by others.
    I tend to gravitate toward songs/artist that are in my vocal range.
    We all do. So the called song is not in your key, just do the best you can. Think of it this way; I bet in church, you do not only sing the hymns that are in "your key".
    The thing is, I can figure out the chord changes and play the song so that it is very recognizable, but the truth is that I'm really not doing it the way the artist does it. For example, "Hello In There" by John Prine, he finger picks the song, I strum it. Another example would be almost any Cash song, Luther Perkins plays a rhythm that is hard for me to duplicate, so I just play straight rhythm to accompanying myself. It pisses me off that I can't do it exactly like the original, but I have a lot of fun doing it anyway and the people I play for don't seem to care or even know there is a difference.
    If you can do that you can function in any band. Folsom Prison is one of our favorite songs. We don't sound exactly like Johnny but the audiance recognizes the introduction and we have fun doing it the way we do.
    Should I care?
    I'll answer it this way - I don't, it's obvious they are not listening to the original artist. We try and do justice to the song, but, we don't sweat not sounding exactly like the original artist, this is the way we do it and people keep asking us back so I guess they like what we do also.

    I think you are beating yourself around the head and face over something that is not really all that important. Relax and enjoy the ride.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-27-2009 at 09:55 PM.

  3. #3
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    +1 to everything Malcolm said.

    Quote Originally Posted by ekkg
    Should I care?
    That depends. Are you having fun?

  4. #4
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    Oh, I'm definitely having fun Jed, being able to sing and play a song from beginning to end in front of people who are paying attention is a thrill. Seeing someone in the audience tapping their foot, having someone seek you out to tell how much they enjoyed it or being invited back is a rush. I just know how much I don't know and that really bothers me and as anyone who plays guitar knows, you hit walls in your abilities, some that just seem way to high to overcome. When I see a great finger style like Doc Watson, half of me wants to throw my guitar out the window, but the other half says I'm going to keep trying. BTW, thanks Malcolm for your insight.

  5. #5
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    I started late as well, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by ekkg
    I can't solo, my bar chords suck and I can really only play something that I have practiced, so joining in on a jam is pretty difficult.
    ... and felt exactly like that. So I started practicing ... almost four years later I can play stuff I could never imagine that I could ever do. Yet I am not satisfied and I will practice more to play better. If I die tomorrow, I would died satisfied, because I had really had fun doing this.

    Quote Originally Posted by ekkg
    you hit walls in your abilities, some that just seem way to high to overcome.
    It might seem so, but If you care to overcome them, you will. With practice and patience. And some guidance perhaps.

  6. #6
    Artistically Bankrupt
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    You also have to actually want to overcome some obstacles. That is, they are only "obstacles" if they're preventing you from reaching a goal.

    I re-started late. When I was in my teens and twenties, I played constantly, and was in a number of bands. Then, I quit. I bet I went 15 years playing only once or twice a year. You'd be surprised what you lose by way of facility.

    About 5 years ago, I started playing again. Initially, I was depressed at what I had lost. But, sure enough, practice brought it back. Only, I didn't have the 25 hours per day I had back when I was a kid. I play about one or two evenings per week now. There is not enough time for me to get back what I lost, much less to learn the things I could never do.

    So am I doomed to never get "better?" It is not a doom. It is a choice. Would I like to play chord melodies like Joe Pass? Sure. But it is not a goal, and I'll never have the time or inclination to learn it. Thus, there is no actual obstacle for me to fret about.

    Perhaps your goal should be to enjoy what you do, and to get even better at it. The guy who can whip out a guitar and play song after song, singing them, is more impressive to most people than the guy who has spent months in a bedroom practicing rote finger exercises. There are worse fates in life than to be an excellent rhythm player and vocalist.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  7. #7
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutwulf

    Perhaps your goal should be to enjoy what you do, and to get even better at it. The guy who can whip out a guitar and play song after song, singing them, is more impressive to most people than the guy who has spent months in a bedroom practicing rote finger exercises. There are worse fates in life than to be an excellent rhythm player and vocalist.
    Nothing is more boring to a non-musician than watching someone 'shred' away.

  8. #8
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    interesting. thanks for posting!

  9. #9
    I like this thread. Thanks!

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