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Computer-based Guitar Training?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the power-chords-by-PC dept.

Music 57

rfischer asks: "I am hoping that Santa brings me a guitar for Christmas this year. I know there are a lot of computer- and web-based tools for teaching yourself guitar, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what's best, and if any of these computer-based methods have any advantage over the classic training courses. Anyone been down this road before?"

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Don't. Not as the only source. (3, Insightful)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153674)

I would highly recommend using anything non-real world strictly as a supplement to real world teaching. You have to learn how to hold your body, how to express notes...

It's a bit like learning acting over the net. Not useless, but insufficent to teach what is necessary.

Unless you just want to "fake" some songs - then you can likely just buy a couple fakebooks (check your local music store for fakebooks), some of which come with DVDs. Learning a song or two is very different than learning to play the guitar.


Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (2, Informative)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154696)

Exactly, don't use "one place" to try to learn this unless you're just trying to learn a few songs to impress. If you're really serious about learning the instrument, get your hands on anything and everything.

I've no experience with the computer programs per-se, but there are a ton of links to web sites that can help you along.

Guitar Noise [] is a great site that teaches you certain songs and why your doing what your doing within each song as you go. Check it out.

Slowhand Blues Guitar [] for a good intro into Blues playing. [] for an interactive chord generator. Very helpful.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11156607)

why your doing
what your doing


Nice links. BTW. Thanks.

Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11156627)

Nice links. BTW.

"links," (comma).

Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (3, Insightful)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 9 years ago | (#11156225)

That's just right. Nothing can replace a teacher who is there with you and able to correct posture and technique and give you a little experience playing with others. You can learn theory from the web well enough, and you can get a lot of great information on all aspects of the instrument, but you need a teacher to at least get you off on the right foot. It's true that many great guitarists are self taught, but that doesn't mean the rest of us can just pick up and figure it out all on our own.

You should visit (See the post above if you really need a clickable link); it's a great community.

Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11158684)

Don't listen to him!!!!

OK. He does have a point. A real teacher > a computer teacher. But Ferary > Yugo. But if you are on a Yugo budget, you drive what you can afford.

Same deal here. A live person is best. But for the cost of two lessons, you can get software. Software is better if your schedule is hectic, as you can just work it in.

But, I must admit it: I got piano tutor software, and I do not use it as much as I thought I would. If I was paying some 80-year-old lady $20 and hour, I would practice more. So paying for a real live person also helps with dicipline.

Another approach is to use both. Perhaps you can use software, and once a month show your stuff to a live teacher, who can evaluate your technique and give you pointers.

In the end, the choice is yours.

Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172419)

Yes software can be helpful. As you say, getting with a teacher every month or so and learning on your own in the meantime is a good option when you're on a budget. I'd recommend that if you can't afford weekly lessons. A computer just can't point something out and say, "That habit will lead to trouble later." A teacher can. Unlike playing music, you don't have to unlearn a Yugo when you get a Ferrari. Meeting with a teacher every now and then will be very valuable.

Re:Don't. Not as the only source. (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175197)

But do you know what really beats a tutor or software? Practice.

That's it. Just practice.

Go to the library and pick up a guitar fundamentals book. Make copies of the exercises.

Then practice until your fingers bleed.

Then, just after that, practice some more.

The only thing more important than practicing when learning to play an instrument is the motivation to continue doing it.

GuitarPort Online (3, Informative)

gwynnebaer (319816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153691)

Shameless plug:
Don't take my word for it. Take a look.

Re:GuitarPort Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11164060)

GuitarPort's not as good as most software/books for the absolute beginner; the lessons go from incredibly basic to a little intense too quickly. It's great for people who get through the basics.

No matter what you use for instruction, nothing replaces practice, practice, practice. There's no other way to even approach being a "good" guitarist.

Advice (1, Troll)

elid (672471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153703)

You probably want to get yourself a real-life teacher if you can afford it.

Online Guitar Instruction (3, Interesting)

two_socks (516862) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153731)

The only one I'm familiar with that is related to an actually well-known guitar player is [] . Zager is half of Zager and Evans, a group that had an international hit ("In the Year 2525") a long time ago.

I especially like the fact that he refers to himself as the "world's greatest one hit wonder". There are plenty of videos on the website for you to decide what you think.

As a bassist... (2, Insightful)

Pugflop (797868) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153749)

...and musician, please get thee to a true real-life human teacher. There are so many asshat guitarists who don't jack, yet think they are top shit because they are "self taught".

Me: "Hey, can you play that Asus7 again, I think I got something here."

Guitarist: "Dude, I just sounded like Ozzie! OMFG I AM TEH R0X0RZ D00D1!!!"

As a human being... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11153797)

...and musician, please get thee to a true real-life human teacher. There are so many asshat guitarists who don't jack, yet think they are top shit because they are "self taught".

Me: "Hey, can you play that Asus7 again, I think I got something here."

Guitarist: "Dude, I just sounded like Ozzie! OMFG I AM TEH R0X0RZ D00D1!!!"

As a human being, please learn to speak and write English...

As somebody who lives in a smaller city (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11171830)

There is nobody available. I've actually checked, and nobody gives lessons. Sure, there are some people that play that can pass along pointers, but teaching is an art that requires proficiency and patience beyond just the skill to play (hell, my old man is/was guitarist in a band, and he has no patience for teaching).

Online lessons would serve me just as well. For one thing, I could do them on my own time. For another, I can reference back and repeat as needed. They have to be good online lessons, but I'm sure some exist.

Chord finders (2, Informative)

barrettlight50 (236359) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153785)

I use this [] one. There are some other tools at their site. This [] one has more of a guitary look.

Work for a bit, get a teacher, and consider this: (1)

Nomihn0 (739701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153803)

I am also getting a guitar this holiday season. It'll be my second after four years and is long overdue (my current one is a $50 Memphis). This whole time, I have been taking music lessons. Unfortunately, much of what I've been learning has been "enriched faking". That is, I learn how to play a song and in the process learn about some of the styles, techniques, etc. of playing it (from a real human being). Now, my teacher is a real find - top notch guy - but I think it's time for some serious studying on my own in addition.

The downside is that it has been a while since I learned any music theory. It's something I'm loathe to do, but I recognize its necessity. I think that this could be learned quite effectively from a book and CD/DVD. Regardless of what you turn up for learning the basics on your own, I think that you should seriously consider hammering theory into your head while you still feel motivated to.

Trust me: once you can play by rote and solo at a reasonable level, you'll be reluctant to return to theory. I'm counting on the new guitar to motivate me to do the same thing as you.

Re:Work for a bit, get a teacher, and consider thi (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11155481)

As a teenaged jazz guitar player for my high school years ago, I can say there is nothing harder for a learning guitar player than to site read some notation and play the lead guitar role on a song you first saw 20 minutes before in a national competition. Without solid music theory, no matter how much of a guitar hero you are, you are f*cked (in that situation). Without theory, you are just mimicking what you have heard before without really understanding it. You are a highly talented parrot with no conscious understanding of what you are saying.

Thats not to say you cannot be a great guitar player.

Most impressive musical feat I ever took part in was playing the queen mary jazz festival and Paul Schaffer sat in on piano (you know, david lettermans guy) and improved an entire 30 minute set with us. Since we knew he was the man, we played some highly complex shit with serious key and tempo changes and he took it like we were deaf dumb and blind. At a certain level, I'm not sure how important hardcore music theory is, because you can simply see and think what you are hearing and react to it. However I'm not sure how easy it is to reach that point without the basic understanding.

Re:Work for a bit, get a teacher, and consider thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11156196)

Since we knew he was the man, we played some highly complex shit with serious key and tempo changes and he took it like we were deaf dumb and blind.

Your description made me smile.

My best advice to anyone trying to learn to play a musical instrument is to make sure that you're about three years old. Start early, folks. When I get _really_ depressed, I think about the time I spent as a young child that would've been sooo much better spent learning some Calculus and violin.

Re:Work for a bit, get a teacher, and consider thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11157429)

Exactly. Original Poster

Lessons (2, Interesting)

DaveS002 (789533) | more than 9 years ago | (#11153877)

Try any of the following:,, They all have various things to offer depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

There are many guitar sites online and I'm sure you'll find something you like.

Play on!

Basics (2, Informative)

idolcrash (836925) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154231)

I'd get the basics down first (reading tab notation at least, posture, holding the pick, etc.), and then get GuitarPro* [] , where you can download tabs and as it goes through, the MIDI sequence is played based on the tablature. It is also quite good for writing music.

*This is the most popular place for getting GP files, however there is a link to get GP

try "real-world" tools first :) (2, Informative)

Vadim Grinshpun (31) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154360)

If you're just starting, most web/computer tools won't be of too much help for a while (IMHO). Instead, try to get a friend to show you some chords/tunes, as well as the basic layout of the guitar. If you are even moderately serious about learning, getting a good teacher will help a lot too. I'd also suggest hanging out in alt.guitar.beginner, it's a pretty nice newsgroup where lots of questions can be answered. Also, from what I've seen, the "guitar for dummies" book is actually quite good and will get you through the basics in a sane order.

After you get acquainted with the instrument a bit, check out, a sizeable archive of guitar tablatures (assuming you don't mind learning to read tab -- it's easy, though it's not a substitute for real music notation in the long run).

One program I'd suggest (non-free, unfortunately) is Guitar Pro. It's a tablature editor that can play the tablature, and there are quite a few tunes available in its format--so you can see the tab and hear the tune played. Pretty nice if you use tabs.

HTH :)

Re:try "real-world" tools first :) (1)

Vadim Grinshpun (31) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154413)

Actually, just remembered a few excellent sites,
"Dansm's Guitar page". This used to live at a couple of different addresses before, but looks like this is the current link. Lots of useful infom especially if you are starting out.
check out the "lessons" link. This has lessons on all kinds of sunjects, for all levels.

Computer as a real learning tool? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154485)

Other than using computers, to learn about how to use them (ironic no?), reference purposes (which I could otherwise get at a library) and maybe language learning (its helping me learn Japanese) what other kind of applications have you found for adults for computer-based learning. Most focuses, IMO, on computer-based skill aquirement (Internet, Word, Excel) etc. So far, the only real success I've seen is teaching young kids math and reading.

Are we in need of a killer-app for computer based learning?

I learned from OLGA (2, Informative)

teknikl (539522) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154534)

... but that was a ways back - can you still get it... why yes you can [] Notice there are no lyics now... just fragments of the beginnings of lines.

I guess a bunch of old text files from thousands of guitar players doesn't work out to be training. Still it helped me quite a lot in figuring out popular riffs and breaks.

Re:I learned from OLGA (1)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11162230)

I found OLGA to be entirely wrong a lot of the times. Amazingly a riff would be wrong in 4 different ways. It was still worth looking at to give you a start in learning a song or just faking it.

I'm self-taught (3, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154604)

I happen to think I'm not that great, but hey, I never played guitar to be good. I learned to play becuase I wanted to be able to play certain songs.

This site [] has some stuff I found really good including mp3s to play along with to get trickier rythyms or strumming techniques.

If you want to play in a band type setting, I suggest you find like-minded people with similar skills or lack thereof.

Needing a professional tutor or some crap seems a popular thing in this thread, which I don't quite understand. I played clarinet for 10 years (including 4 in university ensembles) before I started guitar and I don't understand what the point of lessons is. What I learned from both instruments is that practice is the most important. Not legnth, but frequency. I think I've progressed more on my second instrument faster because I'd just pick it up and do a few chord shapes for a few seconds.

Professional teachers are only a recent phenomenon and I don't see why they're being embraced with such enthusiasm by practioners of an instrument that has has become a popular symbol of rebellion and freedom.

How many of you people would argue that you need professional classes to use a computer? How many of you are mostly self-taught?

Re:I'm self-taught (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154744)

I refer you to this article [] over at Guitar noise about if you need a teacher or not.

Also, I wonder how fast you would have picked up the guitar without your clarinet training (with the theory etc) behind you instead of just picking up the instrument cold.

Re:I'm self-taught (3, Insightful)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11155124)

I played clarinet for 10 years (including 4 in university ensembles) before I started guitar and I don't understand what the point of lessons is.

I've played violin for 13 years, and I think you're either a dumbass, a crappy clarinetist, or you had a crappy teacher. Extensive practice alone is next to useless if you're not focusing on the right aspects of your playing, or if you're just playing the same thing over and over and reinforcing mistakes. A good teacher will draw your attention to things that you'd never have noticed, and they'll show you techniques for practicing effectively.

For whatever reason, teachers don't seem to be as common or necessary in guitar playing as in most symphonic instruments; many guitar masters were/are self-taught. However, it's almost impossible to become skilled with most wind/brass/string instruments without a good teachers. As evidence, go to your local symphony and ask everyone who has gotten there without a teacher to raise their hand. I guarentee you no one will. I don't know if a professional teacher is the best approach for a beginning guitar player, but lessons definitely do have a lot of value.

How many of you people would argue that you need professional classes to use a computer?

Last time I checked, many computer professionals spend at least four years [] learning pretty much full-time how to "use" a computer.

Re:I'm self-taught (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11155616)

You seem to be quite ambivilant.

I never stated that clarinet lessons weren't useful, yet you state that many guitar masters were/are self-taught without bothering to explain a contradiction to your argument.

The two styles of play are simply different. On one hand, you have a part of a larger whole (violin/clarinet) and on the other a solo or 2-4 person ensemble instrument. What are you goals? Do you want to be a professional guitarist? Or are you looking for a creative outlet?

In a more socialized environment, it's good to have a teacher to tell you about "right" and "wrong" rythyms and techniques. Large ensembles need to flow like and work a single entity. In a more expressionistic environment, "right" and "wrong" become barriers to creativity.

It has less to do with the instrument than the social setting. Most modern guitarists share a common lineage with the jazz movement and common inspiration and technique (emphasis on improvisation, expression over technical merit, etc). Dizzy Gallespie had some quite eccentric techniques, notably his puffy cheeks, he'd never make it in a modern orchestra, yet most still consider him a genius. Jimmi Hendrix learned to play guitar incorrectly by most people's standards. Kurt Kobain, also self-taught, was a poor technical guitarist and yet Nirvana is still considered a very important and influential band.

As far as computers, I do have a CS degree. However, to illustrate, one CS professor recently asked freshman CS students "How many of you took HTML classes?" Anyone who answered yes was told they should consider changing majors. Anyone who learned it on there own was told they were in the right place.

Re:I'm self-taught (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11156371)

You seem to be quite ambivilant.

I'm ambivilant about lessons for a beginning guitarist. On the one hand, guitar seems to be a relatively easy instrument to self-teach, and lessons are expensive. On the other hand, you'll learn much faster and easier with a good teacher.

I never stated that clarinet lessons weren't useful

When you said "I don't understand what the point of lessons is", that's how I interpreted it. If that's not what you meant, I apologize. It seemed to me that you were saying that you saw little value in taking lessons. That's something I'm very much non-ambivilant about.

However, to illustrate, one CS professor recently asked freshman CS students "How many of you took HTML classes?" Anyone who answered yes was told they should consider changing majors. Anyone who learned it on there own was told they were in the right place.

Obviously, some things can be self-taught better than others. HTML is the computer equivilant of picking out simple tunes or chords; anyone can figure it out. But, even though it's possible to learn a lot more about computers independently, most people (including you, apparently) choose to learn from an experienced teacher who can give them a better grasp of the basic material.

Did it stifle your creativity when your professor taught you about various standard data structures and algorithms? Probably not, because they're just tools that you can use to further your creative ends. Having them taught to you saved you all the time of figuring them out. Likewise, a good teacher can help a musician master standard technical skills that can be used to further their creative ends.

The two styles of play are simply different. On one hand, you have a part of a larger whole (violin/clarinet) and on the other a solo or 2-4 person ensemble instrument.

You're implying that clarinet/violin is always "part of a larger whole", which is not true at all. Probably the majority of violin literature out there is for solo violin or string quartet. While generally not improvised, there's a whole lot of expression in violin solo playing, and a teacher can greatly help in bringing it out. A good teacher doesn't tell you that whatever you're expressing is wrong, they just help you improve how you express it.

Re:I'm self-taught (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11156680)

Anyone who learned it on there own


Re:I'm self-taught (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11155519)

As a loooong time clarinet player and professional guitar player, I can say you are totally full of it. Lessons prevent the age old syndrome of reinventing the wheel. Its not the big things that are relevant. Its the little tips, somebody watching you close up and providing hints on finger placement, rearrangement of notes to flow easier in complex songs, etc. that a teacher offers.

Its like taking basic art classes or acting classes. You simply don't know what you don't know.

A trainer challenges you, they do not simply instruct the way to play properly. They help fixate your mind on the things you need to fixate on in your own playing. You ARE taking on some of the teachers nuances, which is a good reason to find the right teacher who closely resembles where you wish to be later on.

It is invaluable.

I wouldn't use this only... (1)

Grayskies (749277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154692)

I'd get a conventional teacher, or just start listening to songs to try to get some of the notes right. Start with the real easy classics and then build from there. To help with that I'd use TabIT [] to get the notes. Simply imput the .tab file which you can find here [] or [] here. TabIT reads the tab and displays it while it plays it with MIDI. You can slow it down or do whatever you want with it. Only available for windows.

IANAL, but IAAGT... (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11154716)

And it's my advice that you learn theory first. Learn all the interaction between notes in a scale (a piano, or barbershop quartet is a good way to study this), then Learn yourself some guitar as a way to express other stuff you've learned. The guitar is not necessarily a best "first" instrument, however, it can be if you actually learn real notes and chords, and how they work together and in a group setting. It could be done on computer, but I've never seen a decent program or series of videos myself. Nothing like having an expert right there to teach you, and let's face it: The immense population of good guitarists who are starving will thank you for your $100 a month pittance to learn to play. I'm in California, so in other states, it can be done reliably for cheaper I'm sure. rhY

Re:IANAL, but IAAGT... (1)

b00tleg (603482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11166968)

I've been playing for around 4 years now. I can play any Vai or Satriani song out there (I mainly only play Satriani though). But I am at the point now to where I'm musically retarded. You are lucky if I know 3 chords and 2 scales. I also suggest learning theory. A great site for lots of info on theory is They have beginner to advanced theory, concepts, ideas, you name it.

Linux/Windows Virtual Mode Maker Another Plug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11154980)

Power Tab Archive (2, Informative)

istomisgood (609783) | more than 9 years ago | (#11155038) [] Simply the best online resource I have seen. My playing has improved immensely since finding this website and the program associated with it.

A good resource once you know a bit (3, Informative)

njriley (661041) | more than 9 years ago | (#11155084)

I fmay be somewhat qualified to answer, as I'm largely self-taught, and I have used a lot of online sources. If, as it sounds like, you're starting from the very beginning, it's true that you really need someone to show you the basics. Once you have that down, though, you can learn a lot by downloading the tabs to songs you like. I don't know what you're interested in, but I use these: [] [] []

Those are mostly for rock and metal, but you can find similar sites for whatever style you're into. As you'd expect, start with simpler songs and work your way up - you can learn a lot of technique this way, as well as forms and applications of the theory you'll also want to be studying. For some basic chord and scale patterns, check out: []

Another good site for a lot of exercises as well as some theory is: []

This is really one of the best guitar sites I've seen; I can't recommend it enough. Along with the above, it forms a very good reference for patterns and exercises, but you're still missing some structure. This is a major problem with online materials - there's so much of it it's hard to sort out. As such, I'd recommend using all of this as source material, but have a friend who plays give you some guidance as to what to practice, even if you don't take lessons per se. If that's totally impossible, buy a method book or two - the Troy Stetina ones are excellent for rock and metal, but they're available for all styles. That will give you some idea of the order in which to practice the various subjects.

Hope this helps,


I'm finally getting lessons (1)

bornholtz (94540) | more than 9 years ago | (#11155729)

I've had a guitar for about a year and I've putzed around and really still don't know anything about it. But I finally convinced my wife that lessons are a good thing. My son is also starting lessons, both of us this week.


And I'm also getting a Digitech GNX3 [] as a shiny new toy.

Sure you can do it off of the 'Net!! (1)

Xanlexian (122112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11156381)

I'm self-taught at bass-clarinet, harpischord, piano, and violin. You CAN find resources. For my "violin lessons", I found everything to be in .RM format. If you're a Win-Monkey like myself and DESPISE Real Media ANYTHING -- use the "Real Alternative" -- 129.exe [] Another BIG factor is knowing HOW to search for what you're looking for. Google for things like, "beginner" "guitar" "lessons" "online". For absolute beginner lessons, you'll find MANY free resources -- I don't know jack about guitar, but with violin, I needed to know how to properly hold the thing. Happy searching, and someday I may download one of your songs after you become famous! (or good) --Xan

community college (2, Informative)

undef24 (159451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11156570)

I don't know many online resources, so I can comment on another approach.

My advice is to enroll in a classical guitar night class at a city college. You will learn good fundamentals for whatever style music you like to play, plus all the classical guitar songs are impressive to play--and you will pick up note reading in the process. I learned around 10 or so warm up excercises that you can use for the rest of your life to speed up finger strength and agility.

Most guitar teachers can also point you to hourly rate tutors. Just show up the first day and talk to the teacher after class and ask for a referral if you don't want the class doesn't fit your schedule.

Harmony Central knows all (1)

Grab (126025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11157646)

Serious, hit Harmony Central [] and you'll find more than you could ever imagine on guitar stuff, complete with reviews by any number of musicians.

For myself, I learnt off the Russ Shipton books, downloaded chords off the web (a href=>Tab Robot is a good place to start these days), and put in lots of practise.

After 8 years of playing, I went to a teacher to refine some technique. Man, that's well worth doing, and I wish I'd done it earlier. But don't go until you *can* actually play stuff - learning basic chords is muscle memory, and you can do that just as well yourself without spending big money on a teacher. Practise, is all.

As for getting a guitar, for god's sake learn on a small classical guitar first, and don't buy any of those "learn rock guitar" books - I've not seen a good one. They might have you playing the "Smoke On The Water" riff quickly, but ultimately it's like using "Chopsticks" to teach piano playing. What you'll learn is a few basic tricks instead of proper technique, and it's very easy to fake stuff on an electric.

And don't get a cheapy Fender Squier - spring for a proper one. I got a Squier and whilst it sounds OK, the hardware is poor quality so it tends not to stay in tune properly. Spring for a proper Strat - it's not much more expensive. And if you've started with a cheap little classical, you'll then be in a position to hit the shops and actually play them yourself and make a decent choice, instead of watching like a sucker while the assistant prepares to fleece you.

Oh yes, another rule - beware of trusting a guitar shop salesman.


Re:Harmony Central knows all (1)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11158357)

I have to disagree with you on learning classical guitar first. That would only frustrate him into quitting. Starting with the "Smoke on the Water" riff is a good idea. The beginner gets a reward for learning basic finger dexterity. I only wish I could play proper classical guitar, but if I started as a 16 year old with classical guitar, I would not be playing today. You learn the riffs and then later you figure out what is going on. Playing classical guitar would be nice, but I learn from songs I listen to and not many songs feature classical guitar. (Ozzy's Dee exception) If the poster is a young kid learning, there isn't much classical guitar in Linkin Park to learn from.

As far as not getting a Fender Squier, the Squire series is getting a lot better these days. I have a 2000 Squier and it holds its tune great. (Don't use the tremelo bar!) I only wish my 1980 Gibson Challenger would. :-(

Yeah guitar salesmen are slime. Don't spend over $300 on a guitar the first time until you know what is going on.

Re:Harmony Central knows all (1)

Grab (126025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175606)

Got my Squier in 2001 (Fat Strat version). Nice sound, but I just don't rate the hardware - tuners and bridge are just crap. I agree with you on the tremelo - no cheap guitar has a tremelo worth using. I'd rather Fender made their low-end guitars as hard-tail versions, bcos it'd save some money by deleting something that doesn't bloody work anyway! :-/

Personally, I think riffs are a really bad way of learning guitar. Learn chords and work from there, because the basis of all guitar work is chords. And that's where a classical helps. On an electric you can turn the distortion up and you can't hear whether the chord went down properly or not. On an acoustic guitar you can't fool yourself. And a classical is better than a steel-string acoustic for starting because (a) the strings are easier on the fingers and (b) classicals are cheap. My argument is that on an electric you *don't* learn basic finger dexterity, because cranking up the distortion hides the fact that your technique is usually for shit when you start.

Once you can play some basic chords consistently, then moving to an electric is a reasonable choice. You've got far enough that you can learn from listening to songs and downloading chords off Olga or wherever. But until you can do those first few chords (I'd say A, Am, E, Em, D, G and C as the essentials) then the electric is going to be covering up your mistakes, so unless you're already a competent musician with another instrument and you know what mistakes sound like and how to practise, you're not going to get any better. Or at least you're not going to get better as fast as someone playing acoustically. So starting with an electric is pretty much wasting a beginner's time. (Besides the obvious money factor as well.)

I will say that once you've learnt the basic chords, playing electric *is* a good idea. Whilst high gain can cover up bad tone on some things, it does very much show up noise when you brush other strings during chord changes, which just isn't audible on an acoustic. And the strings are closer together. Those two combine to require more precision from your fretting hand, so it's good to go through that. And of course, electric is *lots* of fun! :-)

I *didn't* say to learn classical style. My main complaint with classical players (and I know, because I learnt violin and piano before I touched a guitar) is that although they've generally done theory and written down notes on a sheet of paper, none of them know how they sound. They just don't have a concept of chord progressions, which means they don't have a concept of musical structure, so they can only blindly reproduce notes on a page and can't add much of their own creativity. I don't see why any musician should limit themselves this way - start off learning chords and stuff, then get onto riffs, then try your own riffs (pentatonic scale and so on), and *then* start doing classical stuff when you know your own mind, otherwise you'll just get stifled by it.


Re:Harmony Central knows all (1)

The Jon (605125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11159489)

I agree that Harmony Central is a good place to start. I also suggest reading their article on avoiding GAS - gear acquisition syndrome - when buying your first guitar.

Thanks to that advice I have a kick-ass Yamaha telecaster copy which is far, far better than any fender in its price range, and a decent solid state amp.

As for "learning guitar", if you want to be able to strum some songs to impress the chicks, learn to read tab and download from OLGA. If you want to play the guitar, get classical lessons.

Teach your self (1)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11158168)

Don't listen to the other posters saying you need to get a teacher. You need to spend the first couple of months getting the dexterity and finger strength down before you can really start to learn stuff. Practice switching from the open position of G to D 1000 times. Then repeat for E-C. Once you can move between chords, learn some easy songs like "Every rose has its thorn" by Poison. (Chicks dig it. Ok maybe 30 year old chicks.) Buy some guitar magazines. $8 buys you 5 songs and some lessons. Try Powertabs [] for some songs to learn. I only took 2 lessons and the teacher wanted me to learn Bob Dylan. I was like "that aint Metallica" and just learned on my own.

Some advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11158835)

There are lots of good pointers to resources already, so I'll just add one bit of advice. I'm self-taught and so are a number of other good musicians I know. However, one thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of musicians out there who are really awfull and don't know it. My advice if you teach yourself is to either take a couple of lessons once in a while or else find some good guitarists who will honestly point out areas you need to improve in. Also, play with other musicians every chance you get.

On the other hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11159709)

I am looking for guitar-based computer training. Please let me know if you find any.

what really matters (1)

janis show (842417) | more than 9 years ago | (#11160071)

What you need is some ear training... and learning the language of music. I can't think of any reasons to assevere is better to learn that "outside". The posture and technics depends on the musician, it's like sex, whats good for me doesn't need to be good for ya. To learn music, you don't need software, find a web page you like, and check the disposition of the strings and tones. What is important is for you to train your ear, that way you'll be able to play anything: try ear master pro [] good luck! ps: sorry bout the misspelling or grammar mistakes, im not native english speaker jan

Get a guitar teacher now or later - your choice (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11160174)

Yet another voice to add to the chorus. You will need a teacher. But hold on before putting me to the bottom of the pile. You do not need to find someone who gets paid - any friend will do just fine.

I think elsewhere in the thread someone posted that getting a friend to help is a good idea. I started at age 20 in college (I am now 37) when my roommate showed my a few chords. He gave me a guitar book that I have since found at a few libraries and I used that plus his occasional advice to progress to the beginner stage.

Once you have a G, C, D, E, A and possibly F open chords you can play a whole lot of songs and that will do you for a while, possibly a few years. If you like metal, punk, alternative or just any kind of fast playing you will want to also learn Barre chords early on. This allows you to play the Major and Minor chords all the way up the guitar neck without changing the shape of your fingers - they just slide up the next. I did and could have been in a band within about 3 months of picking up the instrument. All the British punk bands used barre chords, mostly a E, D, A pounded out really fast.

So that will get you started. But then, like me, you will eventually get bored with that. Music theory will then become necessary to progress to any kind of "next" level. And if you are like most people, music theory just isn't palatable from behind a computer screen. Major and Minor chords are great, but adding the diminished, sevenths, 9ths etc. adds a totally new dimension to your playing. I would be a much better player if I could have afforded a teacher from the beginning but since I could not the road I took has been very rewarding.

Find a friend who can teach you the basics.

oh, you said TRAINING (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11161470)

For some reason I read the headline as "Computer-Based Guitar Tuning", and thought that this article must be about some kind of a homebrew gadget that tunes your guitar for you with little motors attached to the tuning pegs, and controlled via USB or WiFi. Imagine a Beowulf cluster...

Tuning software? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11171928)

Actually, my guitar plugs in nicely to the LiveDrive on my SBLive! Having some software to retune it would be very useful - plug a string (with the guitar plugged into PC) and have it play the intended note at the same time. Once you get them to match, you're tuned.

Of course, if you have one string in tune you could just tune them all the old fashioned way - which is similar. But software would be helpful in tuning the main string to a particular note if the instrument is way off for some reason.

Misc. Tips and Techniques (1)

Silent-Sir (842843) | more than 9 years ago | (#11163353)

If you're interested in learning some of the basics and some misc. tips & tricks I would recommend you should check out [] & [] . While these sites offer plenty of lessons and tutorials, they still can't take the place of lessons with an actual instructor.

From my experiance.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11172480)

Two words: Guitar Pro []

This program is midi based and can read/play/display guitar tab. This way you can hear if a tab is accurate or not. It can scroll down automatically(in time with the song) so if you are playing a song you do not know off by heart you can play it with out having to scroll down.

Goto for songs, If you have eMule you can download the entire archieve.

For guitar playing:

1) Technique is VERY VERY important. Make sure you get it down right at first, It will feel weird but you're muscles just have to learn. Get a good guitar teacher. Otherwise later on down the track you will have to relearn and get rid of bad habits which cuts into time and it feels like you are starting from square 1 again. The slightest technique change feels very differant.

2) Play a riff slowly as much as you play it full speed, You will become a much faster and fluent player this way. Guitar Pro allows you to select 0.25%, 0.50% and 0.75% speeds(and faster).

3) Theory. It's not sooo important but it will really help you when you want to write your own stuff. For some people getting your head around the concepts of how scales, intervals, modes and chords relate can me difficult. If you have a good guitar teacher, he/she will go through and disect songs(you like) so you can learn from them to compliment your own playing style. eMule has many books you can download.

I really suggest getting person-to-person lessons from someone that can play properly(good technique themselves) and has a strong knowledge of theory.

Food for thought: I once had a blues guitar teacher with a limited knowledge of theory and has been playing for 30+ years. He did not teach me proper technique, It made me feel very unmotivated when I wasn't getting any better and just learning stuff I could learn at home. $50 an hour. Good bloke though. I found him through the local guitar store.

I was then offered lessons by a young guy(18) for $15 an hour, I said it was to little and offered him $30. First lesson: "Your technique is wrong" he showed me and it felt like I was starting from square one again I got a hell of a lot faster and made much fewer mistakes though(eventualy). He taught me alot of theory and we'd disect songs. Good bloke and liked the music I liked(so thats a plus). He'd only been playing 3 years, extremely gifted.. I found him through a friend.

If you want any more guidance send me an email: morganrobertson at

Try my Guitar website (1)

nanowyatt (196190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11179804)

I write a blog about good guitar exercises. Take a look. []
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