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Learning guitar - Scales, technique, ear training, what?


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I have been trying to tag the CD for Fretboard Mastery in Musicbrainz (89 tracks!) and I've had a chance to look through the book. I have books on Rhythm and Lead guitar in metal (technique, muting, hammer-ons, bends, pentatonic minor scale, etc) and lead speed mechanics (speed drills.. can you play Flight of the Bumblebee?!); but Fretboard Mastery is different from those. It goes into intervals, scales, chords, arpeggios, etc, with diagrams of the fretboard and fingerings accompanied by a bunch of listening exercises where you're supposed to hear a clean or distorted guitar and identify scales, chords, intervals, etc.

All the books I have are all on technique. Rhythm and Lead guitar books show you how to do basic things like muting, fingering chords, or vibrato; the Guitar Tricks book shows how to do weird crap like bending the neck or bending behind the string or two-handed tapping. Fretboard Mastery seems to be centered instead around ... well, pretty much not learning songs. It explains everything about scales and chords in relation to the fretboard and seems to try to make the reader/listener come out able to listen to any set of notes and go "That's in A minor pentatonic and it's played here on the fretboard and here's how you do it" and just play.

I'm going to go through some of it, as well as continue on the rhythm and lead guitar techniques. How important is this stuff in relation to speed training, basic technique, and just flat out playing songs? Should I be putting more emphasis on this, or spend more time working through Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar trying to get up to the point where I can rapid hammer-on/pull-off and play Flight of the Bumblebee? Or should I be playing songs more often to try to apply the technique I have to 'real life' (close enough) and get used to actually playing?

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By just playing songs you're only going to know how to play a lot of songs in a sloppy fashion, unless you have the discipline to actually sit down and listen through a song note for note until you can play the whole song perfectly with all the little subtleties.

You definitely have to do some structured, self-critical metronome practice of different techniques to be able to execute them flawlessly at higher speeds. If you do this you'll find it's MUCH easier to pick up songs, rather than downloading the tab to master of puppets and attempting to get the intro riff up to speed.

About the Fretboard mastery.. I'm not sure, do what works for you. For me, half of the time I don't even know what note or scale I'm playing, but I can hear I'm doing the right thing by listening to what I play and how it fits in relation to the song. I don't think knowing stuff like every note on the fretboard is necessary to be a good guitarist (look at Marty Friedman for example).

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Yeah, I've been playing Cliffs of Dover from the official tab book for Ah Via Musicom, and I have the tab for some of Black Sabbath's songs. Some other stuff came from tabs on the net but I've given up on Internet tabs.

I did do a little bit of Fretboard Mastery; the very first part of that is listening exercises to identify intervals. I've got 4ths, 5ths, unisons, and octaves down to an art; I'm starting to hear firsts just by trying to play songs by ear (I still suck at it and confuse them for a second or third; I can hear it's less than a fourth). This is actually pretty awesome, 'cause I just belted out a chunk of Super Mario 64 music on my first try without much trouble and a good idea of what exactly the next note should be, or at least I hit close all the time and only needed one or two tries to refine it.

Actually the book itself answered my original question o.o; It said to pick it up for maybe an hour a day, fool around with it, then discard it and go do something else like play songs or do speed drills. That book also says not to take it too seriously and regard anything you get out of it as "extra credit" for guitar playing. *shrug* se la gail.

Edit: Argh 0 is unison, then first interval is a major second. <_< what the hell?

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I'm starting to hear firsts just by trying to play songs by ear (I still suck at it and confuse them for a second or third; I can hear it's less than a fourth).

Edit: Argh 0 is unison, then first interval is a major second. <_< what the hell?

There's no such interval as a first. Are you possibly confusing it with a minor second?

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I'm starting to hear firsts just by trying to play songs by ear (I still suck at it and confuse them for a second or third; I can hear it's less than a fourth).

Edit: Argh 0 is unison, then first interval is a major second. <_< what the hell?

There's no such interval as a first. Are you possibly confusing it with a minor second?

That's what I assumed. If you're trying to understand the difference in what a half-step up from the tonic note sounds like vs. a whole-step (M2) or two whole-steps (M3), it might help to farmiliarize yourself with the chromatic scale. Your ear should naturally become more sensitive to half-steps over time, making it much easier to decipher between major and minor intervals.

A good way to memorize what different intervals sound like is to relate each interval to a song you know. For example, a Perfect 4th sounds like 'here comes the bride.' Now play a Major third and see if you can find a song or jingle that you can use to recognize the sound. (These intervals are both good to know when all you have is your own ear to tune a guitar).

Good luck to you :)

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There's no such interval as a first. Are you possibly confusing it with a minor second?

I have no idea.

This book was like, Unison is an interval of zero (i.e. E fret 5 vs A open); and then I'm looking at fourths and fifths and I'm like "k so 0, 1 ..." and then I look back later and it's counting "0, minor 2, minor 3, 4, 5, minor 6, minor 7, octave" and I wtf'd. It's like how you can do 00 on your TV and get your Gamecube, but there's no channel 1.

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If you're trying to understand the difference in what a half-step up from the tonic note sounds like vs. a whole-step (M2) or two whole-steps (M3), it might help to farmiliarize yourself with the chromatic scale. Your ear should naturally become more sensitive to half-steps over time, making it much easier to decipher between major and minor intervals.

I seem to have in about 20 minutes gotten to the point where I can hear minor second, minor third, minor sixth, minor seventh, unison, and octave on the A minor scale; yet I can only tell something is a fourth or a fifth, but not which it is with any accuracy. HMM.

MOAR PRACTICE. And then speed mechanics.

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I have no idea.

This book was like, Unison is an interval of zero (i.e. E fret 5 vs A open); and then I'm looking at fourths and fifths and I'm like "k so 0, 1 ..." and then I look back later and it's counting "0, minor 2, minor 3, 4, 5, minor 6, minor 7, octave" and I wtf'd. It's like how you can do 00 on your TV and get your Gamecube, but there's no channel 1.

Probably what's going on is that the book is counting intervals in two different ways:

1) Intervals can be counted by the number of semitones (half-steps) in them, which is a convenient way to think of them while playing a guitar, because each additional fret raises the pitch by one semitone.

2) More commonly, intervals are counted by naming them (e.g. major second), because how an interval is named gives some information about how it's being used in the music.

The way semitones relate to interval names is this:

0 semitones (i.e. the same note) -- unison

1 semitone -- minor second

2 semitones -- major second

3 semitones -- minor third

4 semitones -- major third

5 semitones -- fourth

6 semitones -- augmented fourth or diminished fifth

7 semitones -- fifth

8 semitones -- minor sixth

9 semitones -- major sixth

10 semitones -- minor seventh

11 semitones -- major seventh

12 semitones -- octave

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