I'm going to learn how to play guitar

Why? Because at my ripe old age of 26 (almost 27) I want to learn a new skill. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and looking on some reputable online music stores, I can get guitar starter kits (Guitar, Amp, Picks, Pick-up, Tuner, Headphones, DVD) way cheaper than I’d have thought - that basically solidified my decision. I’m well aware of the dedication it takes to gain anything from it, so there will be no surprises as far as missed chords/chord progressions, crapms, sores, blisters. If I’m still sticking with it by the fall semester, and if I’ve shown any progress at all, Im gonna take an intro to music theory class at my college, and coupled with that if I can move through it well enough, I’m going to keep taking music theory. If I’m still into it this time next year, I’ll pick up bass, since the picking and fretting mechanics are pretty much the same.

gl, hf, and learn more than just power chords

“Music theory” is nothing more than a two word phrase that sounds magical to people who don’t know what it is, so let me destroy that magic: It’s mostly semantics. All it does is describe how to communicate ideas you already understand intuitively because it’s human instinct. It’s [u][i]utterly worthless[/u][/i] for actually playing guitar and writing and understanding music, unless you’re asking someone who studied it, because they’ll do absolutely anything to convince themselves they weren’t wasting their time in doing so, even though they almost invariably were. Stay away from college classes unless you have an interest in theory for the sake of theory. If you want to become a musician, it’ll only distract you.

That said, it IS nice to understand music theory in the non-proper-noun sense of the phrase. Understanding that notes only pick up meaning in relation to a tonal center, and that consonance and dissonance are responsible for some intervals sounding happier or sadder or more epic than others is interesting and actually can be useful to know in certain situations, but you can certainly get by just on gut instinct if you want to. Other than that, to get good at the guitar, really, REALLY good at it, is to do nothing more than practice hours and hours for months and months until you can play it as easily and intuitively as a singer sings. Ignore everything you hear about “proper technique” because that’s where people really start to layer the bullshit on, and just focus on keeping the guitar in your hands. It’s the ONLY way to become the kind of guitarist most people imagine themselves being. You’re not going to limit or injure yourself as long as you have the audacity to look for your own solutions to technical problems and try not to do anything that’s overly stressful on your fretting hand wrist. Everything about guitar is a lot simpler than most people would have you to believe. Simple, but not easy. You really just need to grind through it. If you don’t like grinding, you won’t get good.

Uh, also, if you’re serious about guitar, I’d probably start on acoustic. Electrics, especially starter kits, give me a really strong “this is a [i]TOY[/i] in my hands” vibe. It’s much cheaper and easier to acquire an acoustic that seriously out-fucking-classes an electric in the same price range. They also play so much cleaner and are so much less disruptive to those around you and are way more versatile. You can’t really play a song alone on electric (they don’t have the right dynamics or timbre for it) whereas a cheap acoustic guitar is a totally legit solo instrument. You’d get more rounded development out of an acoustic than a shitty electric starter.

I heard acoustics are considerably more challenging t han electrics. Not taht that was a factor in my decision. I’m more into metal and rock and any musical ideas I wish to express would be through those outlets. Once I get it all down I may pick up an acoustic/electric.

I have all these riffs I hum off the top of my head that sound really goood but I just don’t know how to express them. Music theory will help. I heard MT can be restrictive, I plan on using it just as an aid to express ideas.

Learning music theory improved my ability to improvise with my saxophone, so I’d take what Hades has to say with a truckload of salt.

You may have learned theory and improved your improvisation, but I seriously, SERIOUSLY doubt there’s any causation there. If it really did help you improvise, there’s pretty much a 100% chance it’s only in a superficial, monkey-see-monkey-do kind of way. If there was a way to test what improved your improv, I’d wager more than few 20’s it wasn’t a theory class. It was most likely just you playing more. Also a few things: how good are you at improvising over songs with lots of key changes you’ve never heard before, and did you take into account that guitars are polyphonic and saxophones aren’t? There are some things books can’t help you with.

If you want to play rock, you’re gonna need a band to go along with that guitar. I’m not saying that to discourage you, it’s just part of the deal. If you’re not confident you can find people to play with, electric’s gonna be pretty weaksauce if you ever decide to write your own songs. Just throwing that out there so you know.

Acoustic isn’t HARDER than electric. It just requires a different skill set. Electrics can be played with really slight, soft movements because you have other equipment taking care of the amplification, and because of that there’s a whole host of problems (like extremely low action) you can ignore on electrics that you just can’t ignore on acoustics. With acoustics there’s more of a physical learning curve. It doesn’t take monster arms to play them or anything like that, but the difference in strength is something you’ll notice in a big way if you play both. Electrics fall somewhere between acoustics and Guitar Hero. Neither of them are anywhere near as retard-proof as GH, but if you’ve played GH and you’re looking for that kind of experience, but a little bit more hardcore, electric is fine. Acoustic is on a different planet from those, but even still it’s the same idea, and it’s easy to transition to electric from one. Transitioning the other way is a bit harder, but still doable. I wouldn’t make difficulty a factor in deciding which kind to play. Think of the sound you want to make, and choose that. Every instrument is infinitely challenging if you want it to be, there are always greater extremes to take it to.

I still say acoustic would build a more rounded technical base though, especially if you only want to part with a couple hundred bucks, and it’s not like there’s a lack of them in rock.

I’ve had an inherited guitar for 9 years now. One day I sat down, changed the strings and the tuning knobs. Then I tuned the darn thing and learned how to play Terra’s theme. Now I can do that. I probably need to move on to chords next :I

I remember telling myself I would learn.

Music theory for hobbyists is useful as far as reading and writing, harmonics, meter, and progressions go… all the extra stuff, like counterpoint and arrangement are not necessary unless you’re looking to compose… and all the extra-extra stuff, like history, is completely unnecessary.

Anyway, practice!

This is me except I learned Breezy. Trying to learn this right now:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OvisFAk4wk

Good, I’m glad you’re picking up a musical instrument, regardless of what age you are at. It seems you are aware that it will be quite challenging, especially if you aren’t too familiar with other instruments. Keep at it though and the rewards will be great.

Hades, I think you are being a bit to extreme about music theory. You’re underestimating some very basic elements of music theory that all musicians should know. Most importantly you want to know what notes your guitar is capable of (typical 12 tone western scale), as well as knowledge of time signatures, note duration, measures, etc. If you want to write your own riffs then you’ll probably want to write them down as well. It helps a lot if you can at the very least write out in tab form with the proper note durations, time sig, etc.

I would recommend you check out a program called Guitar Pro. http://www.guitar-pro.com/en/index.php
It taught me a lot about writing and playing music, and is a useful tool in recording musical ideas, songs, riffs, whatever you come up with. Also I’d recommend a basic computer mic and some free recording program such as Audacity for when you get better, so you can record anything you might want to remember.

As for electric vs acoustic, you are better off with an electric guitar if you want to write riffs. Acoustics are more versatile but heavy metal sounds lame on them. Yes, this includes Bore Theatre. Heavy metal, and rock music in general, was created because of electric guitars so it only makes sense to use one for those styles. You’re fine getting any generic starting kit as you won’t know much of anything to care about quality at your stage anyways. And don’t be put off by Hades saying you need a backing band to go with your rock riffs. That’s what programmed drums are for ;). Just find a program that will let you program drum beats and go at it… hell even Guitar Pro will let you do that.

If you can manage it, try playing with friends or others that you know that play music because it will help you improve drastically. Jamming with others will improve your rhythm, among other things. Or you can jam along with a rhythm track on the computer, which is just as fine.

Anyways good job again on picking up an instrument. I hope it goes well for ya.

Does anyone need to be TAUGHT meter? Understanding how to read time signatures, yes, but meter itself? Or counterpoint? I think counterpoint is more of a way to explain something humans already intuitively understand than something that actually needs to be learned. Learning meter and counterpoint would be like… learning hunger. You’ll still feel it there and you’ll still know how to react to it even if you can’t explain what it is with words. That’s what I mean by music theory being mostly semantics. It teaches you ways to communicate musical ideas with words, but it doesn’t help you communicate musical ideas through music. That’s something everyone on earth already knows. It’s just a matter of practice and experimentation. Music is an art. You can’t use theory to write. You just need to feel your way through it. Don’t turn it into some formulaic thing by using conventional chord progressions as a skeleton and filling it out with scale-notes. Experiment with different kinds of dissonance and do things that say “fuck the key!” or you’re just going to sound really boring, for reals.

Reading and writing sheet music is definitely good to know, but I don’t call that theory.

Hades for music president.

PS. Broaden your definition of music theory. Reading and writing sheet music is part of music theory for sure. The whole western scale whose wrong notes you like to look for are part of music theory. They’re just so basic you don’t see it that way. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be called music theory. And yes, much of it is very intuitive… to those who are artistically talented. It isn’t as intuitive for everyone in the world. I agree that on some level basic understanding of music or at least reacting to it is built into everyone, I’ll give ya that.

Calling musical notation music theory is like calling a written description of a scene art theory. You’re being ridiculous :smiley:

I agree that the western scale arose from theory and can be explained with theory, but you don’t need to be very analytical about it to use it. In fact, you really can’t.

Looks like this is coming down to an argument about semantics… disruption of definitions. Much like most other arguments. See, you find something like musical notation too basic to be considered music theory, as if it needs more complexity. Where as I look at it as one of the core basics of music theory. Music theory helps you speak the language of music, so of course you need your alphabet.

What the fuck are you people talking about? Jesus christ, the poor guy hasn’t even bought the fucking guitar yet. God damn. Spend your first few months learning basic chords and some early Beatles songs. Until you’ve developed calluses you aren’t gonna be able to do much else. If you don’t already read musical notation, don’t even bother. You can use tablature, or what is usually just called “tabs”, which is a simplified way of writing down notes for guitar and bass - once you’re feeling comfortable just search on the internet for some song you like followed by the word “tab” - most reasonable popular songs have already been tabbed out for you. Then do yourself a favor, print out everything Hades said in this thread and wipe your ass with it. Even if he is right about music theory being useless (hint: he’s not but whatever this is an “if” statement), if you think it’s interesting then just do it. Plenty of successful musicians have achieved great things by staying within the “boundaries” of music theory. Or I guess, if you want to listen to hades and just throw out nearly three millenia worth of compiled knowledge because you read some threads written by some 47 year old virgin on some unbelievably obscure music forum no one ever heard of, you can just not even bother learning the guitar and instead just hit random notes and record it into a computer and use some software to randomly fuck with the sounds and then call it “art” - hey if that’s what you like then go for it. But if you want to do things like play music with other people instead of spending your entire life in your room with three macbooks and a sequencer, you should probably know some basic theory like circle of fifths and basic progressions.

Also, you’re in Janesville? Weird, I was just there two weeks ago.

Don’t worry, I’m not even acknowledging Hades’ posts. Thank you, this is one of the more intelligent posts I’ve read in this thread. Thanks to Gila as well. As far as “not sounding good without a band” I’m not even worried about that right now. My friend is a pretty decent bassist and has been playing for a good 14 years, so I know he can teach me a thing or two about music, and of course bass if and when I decide to go that route later. I can Jam with him, as well as the drummer of his band who I’ve hung out with a few times once I get better.

Yeah I live In Janesville. I’m in Ireland right now though. Where do you live?

Yo, musical notation is part of the 1st rank of musical theory exams in the national conservatory in Greece. Anyway, Hades’ system may work for Hades, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

Acoustic isn’t HARDER than electric. It just requires a different skill set

Right (though it is a bit harder on the fingers). And as he wants to play rock/metal, going for an acoustic doesn’t make much sense. His first guitar is probably going to suck anyway. It’s a bit funny though because I usually hear the argument to begin with a classical/acoustic from proponents of music theory. I’m glad you are not the head of any major religion, Hades :wink:

Incidentally, a single electric is good for playing the blues on one’s own.

I never told DR to go thinking every grain of compiled musical knowledge was bullshit. I told him to simply ignore it because everything that matters in music theory will come naturally by picking up his guitar and experimenting with it. I don’t know where you’re getting this shit about recording random notes in macbooks, what the fuck are you on about? Your post here makes about as much sense as any of your threads, and it scares me that a fledgling guitarist thinks it’s “intelligent.” Give me a break. I’m trying to help a dude build a solid technical foundation that will allow him to go in any musical direction he wants, regardless of whether it’s inside or outside the “boundaries” of the crutch you call music theory. MT is a shortcut. It’s a formula for successfully doing things you don’t yet understand the basis of, and it will make you sound generic if it’s all you know, because EVERYONE uses it. You can argue that all day and all night and try to portray me as some tight-assed musical anarchist who thinks anyone who follows any rules in music is an unholy piece of shit… but that won’t stop DR from wondering why the fuck he can’t write interesting music when he’s too scared to hit an off-key note because some guy on an RPG forum who bought an acoustic guitar in college to see how much pussy he could farm with it told him it’s desirable to be generic and have no real control over his expression and a repertoire of overplayed Beatles songs like Blackbird and Imagine.

You need to smarten up Zepp. And DR needs in the worst way to have faith in himself and not to follow your ball-less guide to mediocrity just because “three millennia” of forgettable musicians swore by it.

Your definition of “music theory” seems to conveniently be “everything I hate”