Author Topic: StevetheBard's Road Case  (Read 446 times)

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Offline StevetheBard

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StevetheBard's Road Case
« on: June 18, 2020, 09:14:37 am »
Hey guys, perpetual lurker and a follower of this site for probably 5-6 years now, but I decided I should probably start giving back and sharing my learning journey.

I bought my first guitar when I was 14 or 15, a Washburn D10SLH, and I still own it, which you'll see posted below. Unfortunately I was (and probably still am) a "bad" learner - I often give up too easily when faced with a challenge, or lose motivation. This pretty much has made me a 15/16 year guitar player with the ability of someone who's probably been playing for about a year. I never had a strong practice schedule (in fact I never had any), I would put the guitar down for weeks, or months, at a time, and I never bothered learning anything new.

This is despite either living with, or being surrounded by, guitarists and musicians who have always been ahead of me, because they've been committed to mastering their instrument. This has led to spurts of inspiration, as well as envy and bitterness.

Around 9 months ago I decided to start taking the guitar, and my practice, more seriously. I re-connected with justinguitar, a site I had been familiar with since around 2014 but never really dedicated any time to. I moved through the beginner course with relative ease, however I did focus on the things I hadn't focused on before - I didn't need to spend much time practising individual chords, for instance, but I spent time on my one minute changes, as well as looking up technique-specific exercises such as the Spider.

I wrote out a great practice schedule, and stuck to it very well, but only for a couple of months. Starting up my own business took up a lot of my time, as well as the arrival of my second child. However, with the recent economic downturn, my wife and I used the financial assistance at our disposal to pay off all of our existing debts and reward ourselves with something that would fulfill us.

I have owned a couple of electric guitars in my time (a beginner-level Casino guitar pack worth about $150 and an AXL Jacknife which was about $300), but for whatever reason, I moved on and sold them, however I could not part with my Washburn, and I don't think I ever can.

Long story short, my fulfilling purchase was a new ESP LTD EC-256 in Cobalt Blue. It was a pretty long process, I had been researching and going into guitar stores and playing whatever lefty models they had in stock until I found the right one. I knew my price range was going to be about $750-$1500; I didn't want another cheap beginner guitar, but I also don't have the money to buy a top of the range model.

Ultimately I was torn between a Fender Player Stratocaster, a Fender Player Telecaster and a PRS SE Custom SE 24 Lefty. However, when the time came, a semi-local (as in, the same city but about 30 minutes away) had the guitar I ended up purchasing. It was everything I needed and was looking for.



The downturn and downtime I have had haven't exactly equated to more practice, however, which is why the last couple of weeks I have decided to really knuckle down and focus on becoming the guitar player I always wanted to be. Well, I always wanted to be James Hetfield, but if I can be a working session musician, I'd be extremely happy.

Right now I am working my way through the Intermediate Foundation, learning songs and solos and have purchased Practical Music Theory.

My three biggest goals at the moment are:
- Ear training and transcription
- Fretboard knowledge - the ability to improvise/jam/make something up - this is something I've never been able to do and is a constant source of disappointment and frustration for me
- Theoretical knowledge

I definitely still need to work on my technique, and I do want to increase my speed and accuracy, however I feel these will develop naturally as I continue to focus on learning songs and a dedicated practice routine. Learning new techniques such as sweeping will come in time. Ultimately I want to be able to jam with my friends, or begin work as session musician.

Current Gear:
ESP LTD EC-256LH in Cobalt Blue
Washburn DS10LH (pickguard removed)
Mahalo MK1tbu Ukulele (originally bought for my toddler!)
BOSS Katana 100 with GA-FC



I don't run any other pedals, as I pretty much just need the amp for practice. I bought the foot control so I can switch seamlessly from clean to dirty as required without having to stop playing. Eventually I'll start playing around with effects but now I'm just trying to feel like I OWN the guitar before I experiment too hard!

I hope to keep this thread updated every week with what I have practiced every day - even though I'm not working at the moment (thanks COVID!!), with two children occupying a lot of my time, I am hoping to dedicate 30 minutes to a full practice session every day, with extra time to learn songs, read theory, memorise scale knowledge, etc a bonus on top in my "down time."

I am currently trying to master the Nothing Else Matters solo, learning it from watching and listening to James play it, watching Justin's tutorial as well as tabs. I haven't yet worked out exactly what my schedule is going to look like week to week, but I'm guessing it will likely be 50-60% transcription and ear training and the rest will be learning songs and moving through Justin's modules.

I intend to start a Youtube channel so I can share my learning progress with you (my first goal is to master the NEM solo and post it in celebration) and share videos each time I learn a new song I am proud of.

Hopefully this introduction wasn't too long and boring; I'm sure my follow up posts won't be as detailed as this!

Offline DavidP

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2020, 10:53:21 am »
Welcome Steve. Loved reading your story, the ups and downs, the new guitar ... beautiful ... and your aspirations. For me it was not too long and never boring. Wish you well and look forward to the moment when you start sharing videos of your playing.

Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2020, 06:37:29 am »
For my practice routine, I have settled on 2x 30 minute blocks per day. The first session is a technique and "playing" session, the second session is simply Transcribing for the full 30 minutes.

I will be sticking to this routine for the next two weeks, measuring my progress each day and giving myself weekly goals.

In routine one I am focusing on fretting and picking technique, accuracy, timing and fretboard exploration/knowledge. I will end each session with 10 minutes of song practice. Initially I will be exploring the E and A barre chord shapes as laid out in Intermediate Foundation 1, but will eventually be turning to my Chord Bible to look at variations on my open chord vocabulary and then breaking down my practice into exploring chords in each key. But for now, keeping it simple focusing on simply exploring shapes.

Routine One - Technique, Scales, Chords & Repertoire
1 min Minimum Movement exercise
3 mins Spider exercise
3 mins 16th note picking/strumming w/metronome
3 mins fretboard memorisation using octaves using Random Note Picker
5 mins scales practice w/ metronome
5 mins exploring chord shapes
10 minutes practicing songs

I may adjust the time spent on certain things according to my ability to hit the goals I am setting for myself.

Routine Two - Transcribing
30 min Transcribing

I will be moving through Justin's transcribing course bit by bit, with the hope at the end of the course I will be able to transcribe simple songs completely by ear.

I hope to have the Nothing Else Matters solo mastered and recorded on video by the end of the week :)

Offline DavidP

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2020, 07:29:41 am »
Steve, another update that is a pleasure to read.  And so full of admiration for your approach, it epitomises structure, discipline and determination.  I guess that is fueled by desire and aspiration in terms of the player you wish to become.

And you nudge me to think about my own approach...

Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2020, 07:53:15 am »
Thanks a lot 🙏 I had to adopt a structured approach juggling a job, new business and two children haha. I find it brings out the best in me when I can block out time and follow it to a tee.

I haven't taken a full deep dive into your road case yet; slowly reading through your introductory posts but would love to know what you're approach is and where you're at on your journey!

Offline DavidP

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2020, 08:12:49 am »
Thanks a lot 🙏 I had to adopt a structured approach juggling a job, new business and two children haha. I find it brings out the best in me when I can block out time and follow it to a tee.

I haven't taken a full deep dive into your road case yet; slowly reading through your introductory posts but would love to know what you're approach is and where you're at on your journey!

Makes sense, Steve ... my RC does a thorough (maybe too long and boring  ;) ) job of answering your questions.  I suggest if you scroll from oldest to newest, skipping the chit-chat and just finding the update posts, probably a half-dozen or so in all, you'll get the gist.  And I am thinking about a new update, inspired by thoughts triggered reading yours.

Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2020, 02:09:26 pm »
First practice today, starting on my "A" routine (will be doing my "B" routine after this post).

I found the Minimum Movement exercise quite tricky to start; breaking my existing muscle memory to try and make the smallest adjustments is proving harder than I anticipated - and I anticipated it being quite difficult. This will likely remain a staple of my routine going forward, perhaps bumping up to 2 minutes later on.

Refreshing myself with the Spider exercise was fun, and I was a bit sloppy, but I nailed the pattern and technique at 120bpm - I'll be aimng to increase by 5bpm each practice session if I can; eventually hoping to nail it at 180bpm - a challenge, I know, but playing at speed has always been a goal.

I focused on single-string 16th note picking, nailing the rhythm at 82bpm. Again, I want to be able to increase by 5bpm each session but I will have to see how I go tomorrow and maybe aim for a more conservative target of 2bpm each session. Counting and timing is something I have never put much focus on; instead relying on feel, however I know a mastery of time will certainly help me in a band environment, especially if playing more complex rhythms. I'll stick with single string picking until I hit 100bpm comfortably, and then move to multiple strings and string skipping - I'm hoping this exercise as well as the others before it will work in unison to improve my timing and speed.

5 minutes fretboard memorisation went by in a blink, however I don't think doing it for any longer is necessary. I have been using the Random Note Finder (will attach a link later) and using octaves to find the given note; I will randomise this each day and will focus on natural notes, ignoring sharps and flats, as memorisation of those will come.

My scales practice was a bit unfocused as I moved through the 5 patterns of the minor pentatonic, however I was refreshing my memory of each pattern and setting a benchmark for the speed at which I can complete them accurately. I confidently moved through each pattern at 160bpm so I have moved onto 8th notes @ 100bpm and will move through each pattern one at a time, starting with pattern 1. After minor pentatonics I'll be moving to the major scale patterns.

Today I consolidated my knowledge of major, minor, 7 and minor 7 chords in the shape of E and began practicing the A-shape. This will require a bit of work as my natural inclination was to fully bar with my first finger instead of bending my finger slightly and barring only with my 3rd. It may take a few practice sessions to nail that.

I ended the session with 10 minutes of the NEM solo; I have spent a lot of time practicing some of the techniques in the solo as bends and hammer ons aren't something I've ever practiced with accuracy in mind, and I moved onto practicing the solo with a backing track at half speed. I hope to be playing full speed in only a few sessions and recording it  :)

P.S. I've got a really bad case of G.A.S at the moment and my momentary lack of being a millionaire is successfully holding me back from blowing all my money on beautiful guitars haha!

Offline tobyjenner

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2020, 06:22:58 pm »
Steve

Hi welcome and thanks for the interesting read. You've got a couple of nice "go to"s there and your practice schedule seems eminently sensible for where you are at. Good to see you have migrated out of the shadows, looking to see, hear more.

Cheers

Toby
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Arrived here Mar 2013 Since completed BC, RUST 1 & 2, IM and MTMS Now on Blues Rhythm and Blues Lead
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Roadcase : https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=39537.msg339454#msg33945

Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2020, 07:22:41 am »
Good to know I'm on the right track, haha. I've just tried to follow Justin's advice when following through the Intermediate course and staying on a certain technique or concept until I'm ready to move on.

Offline Twilight Storm

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2020, 05:44:15 am »
Good vibes for you. :)
Just a noob who likes diminished chords and songs that use them.

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Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2020, 01:51:48 pm »
I haven't been posting much, or practising much, really. The 60 minutes split into two routines is harder than I planned; I'll probably look at just doing a single 60 minute session during the day. I have also been struggling a bit with my mental health and neglecting practice in favour of "easier" hobbies.

What I'm finding is that I can smash through the first practice session during the day but by the time I get to practice again it's quite late at night and I'm more often than not too tired to get through a productive session.

I may look at a roster of 3 or 4 routines that I can get through during the week to maintain some variety.

P.S. I also have quite a strong case of G.A.S. and I've never felt so grateful to be a left-hander struggling to find his ideal instrument, otherwise I'd spend money left, right and centre haha.

Despite only just getting my LTD I'm still very keen on a Telecaster; I don't know if I want a Fender American Professional or a different brand. As long as it's around $2000 the price doesn't concern me.

Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2020, 01:40:48 pm »
I printed out a blank fretboard sheet so I could write down the 5 minor pentatonic patterns. I did this after watching one of Marty Schwartz's videos where he says to play the patterns while idling, just to commit them to muscle memory. I don't know why it's something I never thought of before. I'm very comfortable with the first two patterns; I can play them without looking or "trying," however I've spent too much time practicing those when I should be memorising all five then building up speed and sequencing.



Writing them down like this has actually had twofold effect: it has allowed me to visualise how the patterns connect with each other up the fretboard - something I have struggled to do by just playing them previously.

After a dip in motivation I reminded myself that although I'm not the guitarist I want to be, I'm also not chasing anyone except my future self - and the only way to beat myself there is dedicating myself as much as I can.

I've changed my routine to a single 60 minute session, which at the moment I think I'll stick with each day, as building my repertoire and going through the transcription courses with pretty good success is keeping me motivated and wanting to work for the end of the session!

2 mins Spider warmup - was playing this as quarter notes so have dropped back the tempo to run 8th notes

3 mins Minimum Movement exercise - this seemed impossible after my first attempt, and I felt 60 seconds wasn't enough. I feel I'm already getting "better" at this, despite some fingers sometimes wanting to wave themselves around

5 mins 16th Note Picking - I found an accelerating metronome online starting at 88bpm and increasing every 30 seconds... I begin to struggle around 96bpm but I feel I am progressing faster this way than say, picking one set tempo for the 5 minutes.

5 mins Chord Practicd - practicing A/Am/A7/Am7 barre shapes and really working the first dorsal interosseous muscle (sorry Anatomy 101 lol). I find this a lot harder to grip than the E barre; it may be my thumb placement or merely a lack of strength in that muscle. Once I can nail each chord comfortably I'll practice changing between them

5 mins Scale Practice - given what I posted above, this will be less about memorising the patterns and more moving through them with speed and then eventually practicing moving through them up the fretboard. I'll be memorising them using the "idling" method I mentioned earlier

10 mins Repertoire - still going on the NEM solo; I'm comfortable moving through it now I just need to clean it up. Not quite ready to unleash it on the world just yet. Not sure what song I want to tackle next; I have a long list. I'll likely follow through with something I know individual riffs of but haven't mastered the whole song

30 mins Transcribing - still a priority for me and feeling way more confident with it. Finished Justin's Pentatonic Beginnings and onto Trust Your Ears. Only made a couple of errors - due to trusting my brain instead of my ears so thanks Justin 😊

Still desiring new gear - thinking of buying a loop pedal

Offline DavidP

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2020, 03:30:42 pm »
Good for you Steve, sure you will soon become the player.  Routine looks very effective to me.

Offline Rossco01

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2020, 08:57:56 am »
Hi Steve, good to see you're trying to structure your learning and have a practice schedule. Just a few comments based on my experience over the last 8 years of learning.

Minor Pent Patterns.
At this stage absolutely no need to learn all 5 positions of minor pent (they are called positions rather than patterns). The key is - and Justin does reiterate it in his lessons -  is to get the first under your fingers and use it well. Personally I'm still only using pattern 1, 2 and 4 AND I'm not that great using those (I know them well but using them is a different matter).

16th Note Picking.
The best way I found to learn 16th note strumming patterns (assume that's what you mean) is to learn some songs which use them. If you have the song books then Justin has quite a few songs where he has 16th note patterns in them (he usually splits the pattern into two 8th note patterns in beginner books). Wonderwall a good example.

Barre Chords
Practice E shaped and A shaped major and minor chords at this stage. They are the ones you're going to be using most in songs. Bm crops up a lot in many songs alongside open chords (so best played as A shaped) and of course F crops up all the time. Again best way to practice is with some songs (Bad Moon rising good for practicing A and G on E shaped and D a shaped).

Scale Practice.
See above on scales. I'd use this time to noodle over a backing track (lots on Youtube) using the pattern 1 to start with.

Repertoire
In order to play a full song then you need to be able to play the rhythm part mainly (it's really what Justin's course teachers as part of the beginner course). So I'd pick a song(s) from Justin's site suitable for your stage i.e. your chords and strumming ability, and learn those. As you say a solo on it's own is just a solo...nice to be able to do and satisfying to have learnt but just a solo...being able to play a whole song (and adding in the solo at the right point) is what you're aiming for.

I would definitely get a looper pedal. Very good for laying down some chords and then practicing your improvisation over using your scales. Also good for building layered songs using different chord voicings.

Good luck and keep practicing.

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Offline StevetheBard

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Re: StevetheBard's Road Case
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2020, 01:45:30 pm »
Minor Pent Patterns.
At this stage absolutely no need to learn all 5 positions of minor pent (they are called positions rather than patterns). The key is - and Justin does reiterate it in his lessons -  is to get the first under your fingers and use it well. Personally I'm still only using pattern 1, 2 and 4 AND I'm not that great using those (I know them well but using them is a different matter).

Definitely sage advice; I know the first two positions* comfortably; I have followed that method before, but the feeling of being "stuck" in one position really frustrates me, so I want to memorise the patterns so I can use all of them well together, rather than one at a time.

Quote
16th Note Picking.
The best way I found to learn 16th note strumming patterns (assume that's what you mean) is to learn some songs which use them. If you have the song books then Justin has quite a few songs where he has 16th note patterns in them (he usually splits the pattern into two 8th note patterns in beginner books). Wonderwall a good example.

I tend to split these up to help me learn songs I actually want to play, haha. I am always on the lookout for songs which help reiterate a certain technique though, so this is handy!

Quote
Barre Chords
Practice E shaped and A shaped major and minor chords at this stage. They are the ones you're going to be using most in songs. Bm crops up a lot in many songs alongside open chords (so best played as A shaped) and of course F crops up all the time. Again best way to practice is with some songs (Bad Moon rising good for practicing A and G on E shaped and D a shaped).

Yes, I found this as well, including chord changes and changing to the dreaded F - playing songs such as Wild World, Mother (Pink Floyd) and Have You Ever Seen the Rain helped immensely. The problem I have is like I said before, not knowing exactly which songs to play - Bad Moon Rising is a favourite from way back so a good suggestion!

Quote
Repertoire
In order to play a full song then you need to be able to play the rhythm part mainly (it's really what Justin's course teachers as part of the beginner course). So I'd pick a song(s) from Justin's site suitable for your stage i.e. your chords and strumming ability, and learn those. As you say a solo on it's own is just a solo...nice to be able to do and satisfying to have learnt but just a solo...being able to play a whole song (and adding in the solo at the right point) is what you're aiming for.

I can pretty comfortably play N.E.M the whole way through - I delayed learning the solo because I only had a dreadnought with no cutaway and heavy-ish gauge strings which made it hard to manoeuvre and bend. It's not really a song I have any interest in playing all the way through unless it's for a professional purpose or serenading my wife (lol) but the solo is a favourite from one of my favourite guitarists. I mentioned as well in my previous post that it's an existing "problem" of mine, to learn a few riffs but not master a whole song - this is something I'll be focusing on a lot more now.

Quote
I would definitely get a looper pedal. Very good for laying down some chords and then practicing your improvisation over using your scales. Also good for building layered songs using different chord voicings.

This is something I've been looking at a lot the past few days. Do you have any  personal recommendations for a "low to mid-range" budget? I hear a lot about the BOSS RC1 for obvious reasons, but I've been keeping an eye on the Mooer Micro Looper as well. My budget is probably max $250 Australian, which certainly limits me to probably the "lower end" of the spectrum.

Quote
Good luck and keep practicing.

 :).

Apologies if I come off defensive; merely trying to justify my choices, haha. I'm certainly not dismissing any advice from anyone :)


P.S. My wife pretty much gave me the all-clear to build my collection however I want, funds permitting haha. My wishlist is long, and something I'll likely share in here to keep everyone updated :)

 

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