The saying ”I got rhythm” is beginning to come true for me. There is no doubt that getting rhythm has been the hardest part of my 5 year journey into learning to play the guitar. My first guitar teacher taught me scales, scales and more scales. I learned to solo first. I did not learn rhythm or was even encouraged to use a metronome. Now my metronome is my favorite tool. My first experience with online guitar lessons for beginners, adults and intermediate players came about 3 years ago.
That is where I found out that learning scales is good. Perhaps learning some easy chords would have been a nice touch in the beginning, for a beginner [adult] guitar player. That is the most common way to teach beginner guitar players on most of the Internet guitar instruction sites.
In essence, by learning a few easy chords, you can play some of the most common songs around. Ones you are very familiar with most likely. Success build confidence. Confidence is critical to the beginner guitarist. In fact, rhythm, or beat is what separates a lot of songs. Songs that use the same chords in the same order. Just a different beat.
So I have jammed with other people in the past. It’s been a year at least since I played with anyone else.
In the past, when I would go to a jam session, or play with other guitar players, I found out how close I was, and how far I had to go to become serviceable. You see, Richard, my first electric guitar teacher did not teach songs. He taught music. So he said. I was not taught chords to any measurable degree by Richard. I’m not knocking Richards style of teaching because it has served me well. But it has been a hard avenue to take. But it would put me in an awkward position not knowing any songs, and having no ”beat” when I went to jam.
I just did not fit in good if I did not know any songs. I did not make a good match for other guitar players who have been playing their songs for like 30 years. Those guys know lots of songs, note for note, and they are really good players. I was a scale and lick factory with no vibe. That is not enough to discourage me at all. This type of situation compels me to do better.
I decided that it was just fine playing my guitar in the garage almost all year around. All by myself, in my big garage, serenading my neighbors with good the vibes that only an Eric Clapton Custom Shop Stratocaster through a Peavey Classic 30 with a Celestion Vintage 30 Speaker can make. Running through a Korg Pandora PX4D Guitar Multi Effects Processor. Six days a week I play. I start out practicing, but after about 45 minutes I’m playing my guitar.
What is the difference? I have to think to practice, I gaze ”over yonder” with a ‘no one home’ look when I play. No [conscious] thinking going on. Playing is part of muscle memory. The only way to accumulate muscle memory is to practice.
Back to the point, I have been trying to wear out my Pandora’s box playing a standard 12 bar blues beat, in the key of E. Essentially I have been playing the standard form 12 bar blues rhythm on the backing track. The key of E uses the notes of E, A and B. In that order, for the conventional pattern. I sit on my stool and play lead guitar, changing keys at the right time, using the entire length of my Strat neck. All to the now ”burned in my mind” beat of the blues.
Last week, while I was practicing my lead guitar, all of a sudden I realized I had some rhythm vibe going on. I was playing lead guitar, using my scales [no thinking], and my raw emotions to play the blues [I even threw a few chords in]. Now, I’m not the fastest or most accurate player, yet. But I was absolutely in a zone playing off of pure instinct and using plenty of the licks and guitar tricks I’ve learned over the years. Now I’m talking about Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Blues. Lightening fast, string bending, high energy lead and rhythm guitar all in one.
Was it possible for me to recapture the feeling? Not exactly. At least for a few days. Then POW, on Friday [my wife was out of town] I fired my amp up and hit it early in the afternoon. To say I lost track of time would be an understatement. About 2 and a half hours later the batteries in my Pandora unit went bad. It was time to quit. My heart was racing too, as usual.
What a rush. When I saw my neighbors later, they mentioned this to me. JoEllen said “there was something different in your playing today, I almost got a chair out to sit in the field and listen, but you stopped playing”. I just smiled and said ”thanks JoEllen’. You are the best.
On Saturday, I had to quit playing after one half hour, my hand was exhausted. That hi-energy string bending brand of blues takes an unusually strong hand. My hand was tired. More practice and conditioning will solve this problem.
That is all I ever wanted to play anyway. Jimi Hendrix, first and foremost. Then the Texas Blues, ala, SRV and many of the top notch Texas guitar players. Did you know Jimi Hendrix only wrote one 12 bar blues song, called ”Red House”. One of my favorite songs ever. Otherwise, his beats were almost indescribable and hard to duplicate. I use standard timing to play Hendrix.
I think I am a serviceable player now. I will feel quite comfortable the next time I jam with some other players. The backing tracks I use online are one of the components I use from Guitar Tricks very often. I’m more of an improvisational blues guitarist, what ever sounds good. That makes having perfect backing tracks for songs less important to me.
The point of this is? Any breakthrough in my guitar studies is a real cool feeling. Small breakthroughs such as the one I just experienced, are part of why I play the guitar, it’s hard to describe how good it feels to make a breakthrough like I just did. Remember, I did it through sheer hard work, I have no secrets other than that. Anybody considered to be the best at what they do practices a lot at whatever they do exceptionally well. Regardless of who and what. Michael Jordan, who I consider the greatest basketball player and athlete ever, no matter what my nephew Mark thinks, was the hardest worker in practice. Do you think Steve Vai practices his guitar very much?
So, ultimately It’s up to you to learn. Every online guitar lesson I have used and recommended is a high quality guitar course that will capably teach you to play guitar. The missing ingredient is your desire to play. You can learn to play guitar a lot faster than I did by using anyone of the lessons I recommend. It’s up to you to decide which course is best for you and then put it to good use. Choose your online guitar lesson course and work hard. Make practice fun. Enjoy.