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Thread: I suck at guitar now

  1. #1
    Senior Member SoulFetish's Avatar
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    I suck at guitar now

    I used to be pretty good not to long ago. But I've been doing so much work on guitars/amps, I didn't realize how long it had been since I actually picked one up and really played it. I've actually lost my calluses the point that when I played my acoustic guitar for 10 minutes, my fingers hurt like they haven't hurt since I was 13 years old and learning how to play! That seems crazy to me. I had always taken for granted being able to pick up the guitar and do what I wanted. Now, it's like my fingers have latency and I suck!
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    In Bill Clinton voice, "ah feel yer pain!"
    My suckitude is from always being asked to play Bass (because nobody wants guitar players, even if they ARE just an extension or fill-in for the keyboards) and also, like you, from spending more time building & futzing with amps... only time I play anymore is to diagnose & test out amps!

    Acoustic? What's THAT?

    Justin
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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I have been playing guitar for 50 years, and I sucked right from day one. I only got two licks, and they both sound the same. Every time I pick up the guitar, the same crap comes out. Zero talent.

    I was on the radio back in my college days, and I actually played my acoustic guitar on the air to accompany humorous songs I wrote. But that was just strummy stuff.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    You play two chords?
    I envy you, I can´t demonstrate my own amps or test just repaired ones, always depend on some charitative soul to lend a hand.

    I should envy this Brazilian boutique guitar amp maker, at least he learnt a full scale or riff.

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    I can´t demonstrate my own amps or test just repaired ones, always depend on some charitative soul to lend a hand.
    So, you <ARE> the Argentine Leo Fender? Because you're not a player, but you still manage to make KICK-ASS amplifiers? (I checked YouTube) And there ain't nothing wrong with that!

    Justin
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    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "Sort of like not checking for toilet paper before taking a dump. ." - Chuck H -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  6. #6
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    If that guy was playing Day Tripper in the video, then I'm happy to know that there is someone out there who sucks more than I do.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  7. #7
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Wow, more like really early morning tripper. Day Tripper was the first riff I learned, and even I play it better.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I have been playing guitar for 50 years, and I sucked right from day one. I only got two licks, and they both sound the same. Every time I pick up the guitar, the same crap comes out. Zero talent.

    I was on the radio back in my college days, and I actually played my acoustic guitar on the air to accompany humorous songs I wrote. But that was just strummy stuff.
    For the most part that is me also, but sometimes certain amps pull stuff out of my finger that I don't know where the heck it comes from. All I have for guitar is just a ibanez Gio that's been to hell and back and its just for testing amps as I really prefer bass.

    nosaj

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I use to be a really good guitar player. I always wanted be great, but never quite got there. Now I suck. I use to tell people that "I play about as much in a month as I use to play in a day." But even that's not true anymore. A sort of left handed compliment came my way via a friend. He said "You sound like a bad imitation of yourself." So I did have my own vibe once, but that's all gone now. My band had six cover sets to alternate and two original sets. I swear it's true that I can't remember even one song now. I'm about the worst example of "use to be a guitarist" that I know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I use to be a really good guitar player. I always wanted be great, but never quite got there. Now I suck. I use to tell people that "I play about as much in a month as I use to play in a day." But even that's not true anymore. A sort of left handed compliment came my way via a friend. He said "You sound like a bad imitation of yourself." So I did have my own vibe once, but that's all gone now. My band had six cover sets to alternate and two original setsnow.. I swear it's true that I can't remember even one song now. I'm about the worst example of "use to be a guitarist" that I know.
    We all just have a funner hobby now.

    nosaj

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    We all just have a funner hobby now.

    nosaj
    A-Friggin'-Men to that.

    Justin
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
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  12. #12
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Chuck, it sounds like you have the same problem I do -- I used to know a zillion songs, and now when I sit down with a guitar I can't remember any of them... I mean, I sit there, trying to think of a song that I should know how to play, and they're just not there any more. So I have to learn new ones. That's what happens to me if I take a break from playing ... everything I knew goes right out the window.

    Of course, if someone asked me to draw a Tweed or a BF Fender circuit I could do it from memory.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  13. #13
    Stray Cap DrGonz78's Avatar
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    I am right between sucking at playing guitar and also sucking at working on amps, hopefully moving towards better at amp repair. The more I try to jam the guitar the less I spend working on the amps and vice versa. When I pick up the guitar, the songs and certain things do sometimes come right back to me. I am more of a song writer and one way I can tell how rusty my chops have gotten is in how simple my newly written songs have to be. Sometimes that is good though to get back to playing the basics really. Acoustic guitars hurt my fingers if I play for about 30 minutes and then a few days later I can go a full hour. These days if I play a bass for about an hour I will surely get a nice big blister forming on one of my fingers.
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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Truth is that "practice makes perfect" ... but at the same time, lack of practice eventually erases old abilities.
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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Yes. I never thought it would happen to ME. I learned enough actual music and riffs that I can still pick up a guitar with months in between and jam or improve well enough to fool people into thinking I can still play, but that's only because I played five to seven hours a day for fifteen years!!! Put me up against any real players or on a stage and I'd embarrass myself quickly. We can make light of this circumstance and joke around. I always try to keep a sense of humor. The truth is that I messed up. To have put that much of my life into something that I love only to land in circumstances that forced me to reprioritize and lose it all is shameful and I consider it a personal failure.

    Sorry to get so dark about it, but that's actually how I feel.
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    Every so often I try to get back in the game. Twenty years ago I was about to turn pro, but now I have to re-learn my own material and I even find that difficult - like someone else recorded it. What really bites is the number of outstanding players that come to pick up gear and I realize the gap is now way too wide for me to even think I could be any good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    Every so often I try to get back in the game. Twenty years ago I was about to turn pro, but now I have to re-learn my own material and I even find that difficult - like someone else recorded it. What really bites is the number of outstanding players that come to pick up gear and I realize the gap is now way too wide for me to even think I could be any good.
    For me looking back too much causes me to dwell. I chose a fork in the road and it is up to me to make that road work how i want. i regret some of the choices I made but I know i can never go back and redo, so for me the best is to look ahead and see opportunity not despair.

    nosaj
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    Chuck...


    Thank you for being honest. I can relate to that.

    Me, I was on the same path but now I'm dealing with other stuff that is in the way.

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    Wow, I thought I was the only one.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Yes. I never thought it would happen to ME. I learned enough actual music and riffs that I can still pick up a guitar with months in between and jam or improve well enough to fool people into thinking I can still play, but that's only because I played five to seven hours a day for fifteen years!!! Put me up against any real players or on a stage and I'd embarrass myself quickly. We can make light of this circumstance and joke around. I always try to keep a sense of humor. The truth is that I messed up. To have put that much of my life into something that I love only to land in circumstances that forced me to reprioritize and lose it all is shameful and I consider it a personal failure.

    Sorry to get so dark about it, but that's actually how I feel.
    I guess we have a lot in common. I used to play bass 8 hours every night when I was putting myself through college. I played student in the day and musician at night. It was a total blast, and my musicianship was never better. I could do things back then that I could only dream of doing now. Try as I might, in decades since then I've never been able to get back to that level of musicianship.

    As it turned out, I was at a college that was famous for having a great music school, but I was a science major and I wasn't even taking any music classes. The competition for sidelining jobs was pretty stiff, but my game was good back then and I ended up getting picked over the music majors for outside gigs, and I paid a lot of my bills by gigging in a rock band at frat parties, in a jazz combo in lounges and in the pit at a dinner theatre on nights and weekends. I could sight read back then. The problem came along when I hit that fork in the road -- While I was leading that double life I had no time to study, but I got by for the first year. When the coursework got harder I had to I had to decide whether I was going to pursue a career in music or in science. I had to put the bass away and I took out loans to pay for college.

    I took several years off, and when my school days were over and I got a real job, I started playing in an R&B outfit in the big city. That worked for several years, but there's a limit to how successful I could be because I only wanted to do it part time and I didn't' want to live on the road. Eventually I had to quit because I just could't fit the lifestyle as a part timer, so I've been a recreational player ever since. I used to sight read but I can't do it any more. That's one of those use it or lose it skills. Now I play a lot of guitar. I rarely pick up the bass any more because it's hard to compare my current skills with my old ones.

    The hardest part about playing for me has been that I put it down for a LONG time. And when I tried to pick it back up recently, I was crippled by hand cramps that would come along after only a few minutes of playing. they were so painful that I could never stand to play long enough to make any progress, so my playing was just stifled. Every time I tried getting back into playing I had to put it down again.

    Just recently I decided that I was going to play through the hand pain no matter how bad it was, to try to break through it. It took three solid days of constant pain, but after a few days something changed. I'm no longer getting the disabling hand cramps and I can play all that I want now. The problem is that after working through he hand cramps, I still suck. Progress is slow. At least I don't have anyone around who can compare my playing now to my playing when I was in the game. That would be too embarrassing.
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  21. #21
    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I used to sight read but I can't do it any more.
    Same here.

    Of course, that's partially due to this:
    9.13.12-030.jpg



    -rb
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Loupes!

    I guess I'd need the Liberace Big Note Songbook.
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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    No one has mentioned singing yet either. I never had the voice to carry lead on every song, but on some I could. Now I'm out of wind too fast and when I try to project loudly or go for certain overtones my reeds clamp up or sting and tickle forcing a cough. And it hardly matters because I'm often a little off key opening phrases and have to correct on the fly. At least I can still hear that I'm off I still have good relative pitch in my ears, if not my hands and voice.

    Playing for people was one of the great joys of my life. Unfortunately I got a dose of "pro" in my late twenties and I hated it. It's not a nice or fun industry if your not at the top. Filled with concession, compromise, dishonesty and politics. None of which had ever been part of my music before and I just hated it. When I'd had enough I walked out in the middle of a studio session and separated myself from the game for awhile to clear my head. I never got back. My ambitions never went further than "local band" after that. If I ever have the time (guffaw) I absolutely will join up with or start a band and play some parties and pubs.

    P.S. How many of us, that hardly play anymore, still have enough gear to play a show. Complete with a spare guitar or two Long ago my mind reconciled "That shit isn't for sale." I've only recently started to think differently about some of that stuff. I'll probably never come to terms with selling most of it unless I lose a hand or something.
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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    No one has mentioned singing yet either. I never had the voice to carry lead on every song, but on some I could. Now I'm out of wind too fast and when I try to project loudly or go for certain overtones my reeds clamp up or sting and tickle forcing a cough. And it hardly matters because I'm often a little off key opening phrases and have to correct on the fly. At least I can still hear that I'm off I still have good relative pitch in my ears, if not my hands and voice.

    Playing for people was one of the great joys of my life. Unfortunately I got a dose of "pro" in my late twenties and I hated it. It's not a nice or fun industry if your not at the top. Filled with concession, compromise, dishonesty and politics. None of which had ever been part of my music before and I just hated it. When I'd had enough I walked out in the middle of a studio session and separated myself from the game for awhile to clear my head. I never got back. My ambitions never went further than "local band" after that. If I ever have the time (guffaw) I absolutely will join up with or start a band and play some parties and pubs.

    P.S. How many of us, that hardly play anymore, still have enough gear to play a show. Complete with a spare guitar or two Long ago my mind reconciled "That shit isn't for sale." I've only recently started to think differently about some of that stuff. I'll probably never come to terms with selling most of it unless I lose a hand or something.
    If you don't sell it and some of it is worth money You really should explain to whomever you pass it down to that it could very well be an investment piece and howto properly take care of that investment.

    nosaj
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  25. #25
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    No one has mentioned singing yet either.
    I didn't mention singing on purpose -- I have decent voice, but I don't sing and play because I'm to discoordinated to do both at the same time.

    P.S. How many of us, that hardly play anymore, still have enough gear to play a show. Complete with a spare guitar or two Long ago my mind reconciled "That shit isn't for sale." I've only recently started to think differently about some of that stuff. I'll probably never come to terms with selling most of it unless I lose a hand or something.
    Are you kidding? Short of a drum kit I have enough gear to outfit a Pink Floyd tour.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    The truth is that I messed up. To have put that much of my life into something that I love only to land in circumstances that forced me to reprioritize and lose it all is shameful and I consider it a personal failure.
    Sorry to get so dark about it, but that's actually how I feel.
    Chuck, I understand very well how you feel. I too put much of my life into something (not music) that I loved, only to see it all evaporate. There are times when I feel exactly as you do, but the truth of the matter is, the world around me changed, and all the good advice career advice I got when I was a child, turned out to be wrong a couple of decades later. Like you, I had to change my priorities, give up on what I used to love, and start over at something entirely different.

    But giving up on what I had expected to be the course of my life, actually steered me back to music. After having been a closet guitarist for a couple of decades, I finally plucked up the courage to get out there and make music with some other people. A weekly jam has been part of my life for some years now. I have zero expectations of career or success in music - it's purely about fun, friendship, and personal growth for me. It's my nature to always want to improve at anything I do, including being a musician - but I consciously avoid comparing myself with the greats, though I do try to learn from what they do well. My goal isn't to become as good as Jeff Beck or Eric Johnson (that will never happen), but to be better in 2018 than I am in 2017.

    It didn't even end with one big restart. It happened again - I had the financial and career rug pulled out from under my feet again about half a year ago. This time I was the victim of bad workplace politics between a group of people who, unfortunately, were in a position further up the workplace hierarchy, where they had the ability to take it out on me. Another restart, another drop in income, another step closer to living in that cardboard box by the roadside. C'est la vie. It's a common story these days, as the world wakes up to the fact that endless economic growth is a fantasy that can only last for so long.

    The period immediately after I lost my job was pretty hellish, but this time, making music was one of the things that helped me get through it. While I was job-hunting, worrying about my dwindling savings, and wondering why the world seemed to be getting along very well without me, I kept going to those weekly jams. That was where I found my recreation, my refuge, and my happiness.

    If you ever find yourself getting competitive again (with yourself or anyone else), one great fix is to switch to a new instrument, one at which you're a completely clueless beginner. There is nothing like being utterly lacking in technical chops to actually bring you back to the joy of making music. It's almost like turning into a four-year old who just found a set of drums and a pair of drumsticks in the basement.

    Music is too beautiful a thing to darken with personal comparisons. Hang in there, keep playing your instrument, find the joy in music that you've temporarily misplaced, and it won't matter how technically accomplished you are now, or how much more accomplished someone else is. Your music isn't for them, it's for you!

    -Gnobuddy
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  27. #27
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Your mention of rediscovering the wonder is inspirational. I'm at a cross road now where my desire to play and my love of the craft of music may outweigh my displeasure with myself and not being able to play as well as I could. That is, as you implied, make music freely without the baggage of personal comparisons to yourself of anyone else. Frustration will still rear it's ugly head, but if I can remember that sentiment it will help.

    I had a friend (band mate actually) who was part of a circle of guys that just built tech businesses in the early part of this information age. A project could take a year or three years. Sometimes it worked and profits were good. Sometimes REALLY good. Then other times another startup would beat them to the punch or any number of other complications would eventually force them to throw in the towel and lose a year or more of effort and financial investment. He never seemed near as stressed as I would have been rolling dice that large. It takes a certain type. Someone who never disbelieves that the next good thing could always be just around the corner. One thing he did say to me though... "People will tell you that money can't buy happiness. I'll tell you what. I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better."
    "I've heard magic defined as "a technology you don't understand". By that aphorism, the folks in this forum are practicing wizards, able to summon AND control the lightning demon, and make charms to allow others to use the demon in certain ways." R.G.

    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Frustration will still rear it's ugly head, but if I can remember that sentiment it will help.
    I hope it does (help)! I think frustration is just part of the burden that comes with being creative. I've never met a musician, or artist, or writer, who wasn't frustrated with their (in)ability a good part of the time. Our critical left-brain takes over, and we start scolding ourselves for our imperfections. It happens, but it isn't good for us.

    I struggle with a tendency to perfectionism. Perfectionism is actually considered to be a depressive disorder - I was quite shocked to find that out. But it's obvious when you think about it, if nothing is ever good enough (perfectionism), then how can you feel good about anything?

    So perfectionism is actually the death of creativity, and of the joy of creating. I have to remind myself of this constantly, and I still manage to constantly forget, and go back to my perfectionistic ways.

    I have a few musical acquaintances who taught themselves four or five chords on an acoustic guitar decades ago, and are still as happy as a pig in mud playing those same chords over and over (badly, at that), and singing the same fifteen songs they've been singing since 1970. It drives me nuts to hear it - and then I have to remember that these people, maybe, are fortunate to not have the same big streak of perfectionism that I have. They're happy where they're at - surely there is some good in that?

    But we can't change our personalities. I won't ever be like those people, and I suspect you (Chuck) won't, either. No matter. Our discontent will drive us to end up with better musical chops - all we have to do is keep reminding ourselves to also enjoy them!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    He never seemed near as stressed as I would have been rolling dice that large.
    I know exactly what you're talking about. If it had been up to me to lead humanity out of Africa 200,000 years ago, taking on a huge world full of unknown deadly threats and dangers, we would never have left!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    "People will tell you that money can't buy happiness. I'll tell you what. I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better."
    There's a variation on that one that I like: "Money may not buy happiness, but at least you can be unhappy in comfort!"

    -Gnobuddy
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  29. #29
    Senior Member jbltwin1's Avatar
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    I worked the last 17 years singing two hours of lead and two hours of harmony stuff. My playing was good, never excellent. I was a good band mate and TRIED not to step on any toes. I have been off now for a year, retired, and DON'T MISS IT. I never realized what a PITA music is until I was actually HOME all this time. Yeah, I could woodshed and get my chops back in a couple of weeks (months!) but I'm HAPPY now not to be playing. I DO miss playing keys with the band and I miss playing my Heritage 535 (gawd, is that thing nice) but the hassle of doing jobs full time--- no regrets. And working on amps- musicians NEVER have any freaking money and ALWAYS want to "catch you next week". And that's the ones who actually show up. The crap these days isn't worth working on and the manufactures just throw a board in it or replace it. It's cheaper. No, I don't miss music right now. Mike.

  30. #30
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I've never thought of music as a "contest". Frankly, I could care less if someone is a better player than myself. It gives me joy. You can learn something from the worst of players.

    On a side note, I was having a conversation with our band manager a while back. He said the most important thing he learned was given to him by a famous musician (I can't remember who it was, but not important). He said, paraphrasing, "Son, if you want to make it in the music business, don't play it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    You can learn something from the worst of players.
    I'm glad you mentioned this, because I forgot to. I hear some pretty bad players at the open jams I go to, and I try and remember that I can learn something from everyone. From the good musicians, I can learn what to do. From the awful ones, I can learn what not to do!

    On that theme, it seems to me that about 90% of the awfulness I hear comes down to erratic timing. You can tell when someone has never used a metronome in their entire guitar-playing life, and doesn't have the faintest clue how utterly horrendous their timing is.

    -Gnobuddy

  32. #32
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnobuddy View Post
    I'm glad you mentioned this, because I forgot to. I hear some pretty bad players at the open jams I go to, and I try and remember that I can learn something from everyone. From the good musicians, I can learn what to do. From the awful ones, I can learn what not to do!

    On that theme, it seems to me that about 90% of the awfulness I hear comes down to erratic timing. You can tell when someone has never used a metronome in their entire guitar-playing life, and doesn't have the faintest clue how utterly horrendous their timing is.

    -Gnobuddy
    No offense, but that's exactly what I WASN'T talking about. It's the kind of talk that creates competition in music, which is what it's NOT supposed to be about, IMO. If you listen closely to that kid with "horrendous timing", you might pick out something he does well. I meet lots of musicians on the road. We do quite a few multi-band shows. Some of the players are amazing and some not so much. But, they have something in common and that is that most of them love playing music. I always try to be encouraging and complimentary. That kid that can't keep time may one day turn out to be the next Stevie Ray.
    Last edited by The Dude; 08-15-2017 at 11:19 PM.
    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

  33. #33
    Senior Member jbltwin1's Avatar
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    WTF? All comments after mine dealt with crap that I didn't even address. Was my comment about competition? Geez guys. You are really getting weird.

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Lobby- where conversations may wander.

    FWIW, my comments were generalizations and had nothing to do with anything you wrote. The point to be taken was that, as it relates to the thread, it doesn't matter if you suck. You can still enjoy playing.
    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

  35. #35
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbltwin1 View Post
    WTF? All comments after mine dealt with crap that I didn't even address. Was my comment about competition? Geez guys. You are really getting weird.
    WTF squared
    You comment is #29 (twenty nine) on a Lobby thread which has been wandering all over the place since day 1 and you feel *personally* attacked?
    Well, *that* is funny

    All I can say is:


    rjb and The Dude like this.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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