Hi everyone. I’ve watched various CtC videos and read plenty of forum posts over the last few years and today I finally decided that I was only hindering myself by not joining, given what a friendly, helpful, and productive community this seems to be.
I’ve owned a few guitars for around 10 years and have picked them up for a few months at a time at various points but about 2 years ago I decided to get really serious about it. I would practice for 8 hours a day if I could but unfortunately I don’t have that kind of time, so it usually ends up being around 1-3 hours. (A goal of mine is to take a full year off work and dedicate the whole time to guitar, but I’m not there quite yet unfortunately.) I played piano for years as a kid, trumpet in school, and drums for a while during college, so I have a fairly well-versed understanding of many aspects of music. Unfortunately, when it comes to my guitar ability, I seem to be cursed with a chronic case of I-never-feel-good-enough.
If I had to name my biggest guitar-related musical inspiration, my list would be Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree (and Steven Wilson’s solo work), Ratatat, Radiohead, and Foo Fighters. Perhaps this list is a bit unusual for this forum as it doesn’t really include shredders like Yngwie, Paul Gilbert, etc., but I feel like the concepts taught here are still really useful even for slower playing. Plus, I’d love the ability to play faster lines. Ultimately my goal is to write music and I want to be able to play what’s in my head, which is often currently outside of my abilities.
Honestly, I feel a bit out of my element here. Everyone seems so… skilled. It can be both inspiring but also sometimes gets me down. Even posts from relative beginners seem pretty far above my ability level. For example, there was a post from someone who had been playing for 2 years demonstrating playing clean continuous scales at 120+bpm, which isn’t that fast in the big scheme of things but it still seems really impressive to me.
I know this forum is mostly about picking hand technique, and I certainly plan to (and already do) focus a lot on that - I just purchased the Pickslanting Primer and I plan to watch most of it tomorrow and this weekend, and then perhaps come up with a curriculum for myself to try to follow along. But in addition, I’d be interested if anyone could recommend some fretting hand lessons and exercises as well. At this point, it feels like my fretting hand is what’s holding me back the most. It just feels… sluggish, almost like there’s a small delay from my brain to my fingers, particularly when playing descending lines (4-3-1 in particular). Perhaps it’s just standard hand synchronization issues, but not many people seem to talk about fretting hand issues and, while I try to stay positive, sometimes I get worried that my fretting hand is just uniquely inferior or something.
To address the remaining intro questions:
How have you gone about learning guitar so far? I started out following JustinGuitar through the intermediate lessons. After that, I generally picked songs and tried to learn them, but I would end up hitting techniques outside of my ability range, so I’d end up practicing lots of exercises instead to try to get the techniques down. Sadly, because of this, I rarely learn songs anymore. I’d like to start again but I always struggle with never feeling good enough.
Self-taught? Regular lessons with a teacher? Both? Mostly self-taught, but I’ve been taking lessons for about 6 months now, which has been hugely helpful.
Have you spent much time on technique before finding our stuff? Yes, but not necessarily good technique. I spent a good while trying to speed up my scales and chromatic exercises (5-6-7-8 on each string) but I always seemed to hit a wall around 90bpm 16th notes. Depressingly slow, honestly (even for bad technique!). More recently I actually managed to refine my picking hand technique (I seem to be using a DSX motion). For 25 days I practiced 5-note bursts starting on each note of a 3nps scale (14 different starting points in a scale pattern with 18 notes, starting with both downstroke and upstroke, both ascending and descending, for a total of 56 5-note sequences). This helped my picking hand a huge amount, and my fretting hand perhaps even more - now I can sometimes play short bursts of 5-9 notes at around 140bpm. However, anything much longer than that falls apart quickly.
What Cracking the Code material have you watched? I’ve watched the free series on YouTube. I’m going to go through the Pickslanting Primer next.
Can you comfortably play a scale? At roughly what speed? Fortunately, yes. I can comfortably play all 7 3nps major scale patterns starting pretty much anywhere on the fretboard. I can also play interval patterns (3rds, 5ths, 6ths, octaves, 9ths, soon 4ths as well) some of which are great string skipping exercises. I can’t play them very fast though. For linear scales, 16th notes at 90bpm is comfortable, 100bpm is okay-ish, and much above that starts falling apart.
Any particular things you find yourself stuck on? Hah… is “everything” an allowed answer? Right now my biggest issue seems to be my fretting hand just not being able to keep up. Even something as simple as playing repeating 4-3-1 at 90bpm is a struggle. Is there anyone here that started out with this issue and was able to work through it? All the posts I’ve found seem to suggest the opposite (right hand is the limiting factor, not left).
Sorry, that became a novel. Despite parts of this introduction post being a downer, I really do love guitar and I look forward to learning and improving my playing from this community.