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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / When you actually 'practice' what do you play?

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Too Much GAS
Jun 22nd, 2014 06:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Do you always work on learning songs or do you work on learning different ways of improving your technique and expanding your knowledge and abilities?

At this point in my journey I don't, hardly ever, work on learning songs. If I hear something in a song that interests me I may learn that portion of it just to figure out what they're doing but, that's about it.

I used to be a very linear player. Almost everything I played, when soloing, was some kind of scalular thing with the occasional interval thrown in here and there. When I discovered how much more musical things sounded when inserting arpeggios I started trying to figure out how to play them more efficiently. That mostly involved a total revamp of my picking technique. For about the last 4 or 5 years I have spent almost all of my time with that and finding the best ways to finger things so it will accommodate my picking. I have also been working in some hybrid picking so that certain things that, for me, and are from hard to impossible to execute any other way, so that I can play them.

I have also been working a lot of those same arpeggio exercises into some different scales. Phrygian dominant and harmonic minor mostly. Talk about a brain scramble!

(This message was last edited by ninworks at 08:43 PM, Jun 22nd, 2014)



Too Much GAS
Jun 24th, 2014 05:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I KNOW you guys practice your guitar. Even if only occasionally. Okay! Even playing through a couple of songs counts.

Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

Jun 24th, 2014 05:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hoping for 100 replies?



Too Much GAS
Jun 24th, 2014 05:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I got one. :-)

Now I'm happy.

Contributing Member

Upstate NY, USA

Musical accident waiting to happen
Jun 24th, 2014 05:30 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

OK, I'll give you another: always songs. If there's a technique in the song that I don't know and that seems within my capabilities, I'll try to learn it.

That leaves aside the occasional noodling, but I don't do that in any kind of structured way.


South Florida

Jun 24th, 2014 05:35 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I watched an instructional video by Pete Huntlinger awhile back. He pointed out that a lot of what we call 'practice' is not really practice but rather is simply noodling the same thing over and over and just reinforcing the same mistakes.

We unconsciously 'skip' over the little mistakes without realizing it. For example there might a scale or progression where one note doesn't ring out because our finger placement is off by a tiny fraction.

Or even worse we play a progression and each of the notes are not exactly the same intensity and the timing is off in parts.

Basically the point is real practice is done the old fashioned way with hours and hours of practice with a metronome.

At this advance stage in life and with no plans to go on a world tour but I do gig from time to time. So I make my compromise. So instead my practice regimen is focused on getting a song just right. I'll work on the introduction over and over because for some reason that's where the timing issues come up. If there is lead part I'll do it forward and backwards until I can do without a mistake. If I have a large gig and I'm nervous I'll actually plot out a regimen on a calendar and devote so many hours per song and go through the songs in order so that I can do it in my sleep.

In other words I practice songs rather than scales or movements.



Too Much GAS
Jun 24th, 2014 06:43 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm a metronome kinda guy. I used to sit down to play and never really get much better. A few years ago I took some lessons from a guy that has technique like you wouldn't believe. He taught me how to practice, basically. Precision in executing things in perfect time with the metronome is what I strive for. It has improved my sense of timing ten-fold. I pay very close attention to how well each note rings out.

I also started playing the exercises in different ways in order to be able to make things sound musical and not just mechanical. Sometimes staccatto, sometimes legato, crescendo, decrescendo, loud, soft, etc. Since I started doing this my playing has improved considerably.

Joe Potts
Contributing Member

Western Pa.

Make it count
Jun 24th, 2014 08:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I mostly practice the songs I'll be playing next time in the church band.

I'll also practice some specific techniques, such as from a couple of Lincoln Brewster DVD's. (One thing I learned from them: some licks I will NEVER be able to play as fast as he does!)

Whenever I force myself to play with a metronome, it really helps! I just have to force myself to do it.

Contributing Member

juneau ak.

You hold it while I cut its points off !
Jun 25th, 2014 02:23 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Right now I'm all over the place as usual. I'm working on the way Duane Allman plays "Statesbourgh Blues" His intro on the slide sets the pace for the song and is deceptively hard to nail down. The notes are easy but the phrasings he uses are not.

"Sky King" by Danny Gatton is a work in progress, great tune. It's got a Western swing kind of feel to it and its not a typical song that I would try to tackle.

"Sweet little Angel" as done by B.B. King is a song I can do on the vocals and play some stripped down blues licks on, I like B.B. phrasing on this song and I'm trying to go with the "Less is more" approach. B.B. leaves holes in his solos and its a good thing to know how to do.

I just got done watching "Standing in the shadows of Motown" again and I'm going to try to find a good Motown song book for guitar and learn a few of my favorites.

I do some times actually practice my technique. Mainly my right hang picking because that's my weakest aspect of my playing, although my fretting hand could use some improvement for sure.

Contributing Member


Jun 25th, 2014 07:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I don't really practice, I just try to play on a daily basis. I mostly improvise in various styles.



Jun 25th, 2014 07:25 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I am like Joe Potts. I play at church almost every Sunday. I get the set list on Monday, and start working on anything that I don't know right away.This week we did a song that had an odd triplett finger picking acoustic intro part that the leader couldn't cover. I learned it and played it on a super clean tone (Cabronita chime). There is always at least on new thing or position a week.

When I get a break, I am working on right hand flat picking speed. I am a hybrid player, but would like to improve my flat picking. As it is I toggle between flat and hybrid picking.

During a hiatus last year, I got about 30 pages in to a great "learn to read for guitar" book. I REALLY need to get back to that. Just getting that far greatly increased my musical vocabulary. One bass player we had wasn't grabbing the groove, and I was able to quickly scratch a line of notes on his page, and he immediately got the feel.

Contributing Member

Seattle, Wa

Jun 25th, 2014 11:19 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

After 40 years I'm still practicing scales, arps and chord vocabulary. Occasionally I'll buy a book trying to stress specific rhythms or techniques and work through that.

Besides that I'm coping licks and learning songs, but I don't really consider that practice. That's the fun part because practicing makes that possible.

(This message was last edited by urby at 01:25 PM, Jun 25th, 2014)

Contributing Member


Jun 25th, 2014 11:58 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm playing at a church this Saturday and won't know what songs we're doing until just before the performance.

I play at this church twice a month and I just improvise my lead guitar parts and my solos.

Contributing Member

Upstate NY, USA

Musical accident waiting to happen
Jun 25th, 2014 04:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I will confess to breaking our the metronome from time to time, especially if I've heard a recording of myself subtly racing the beat, which is my most likely non-clam failure mode. I think I've crushed that into my skull fairly well, but then again, I haven't heard myself recorded recently.

Contributing Member

Ocala, Fla

Jun 25th, 2014 07:47 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I usually noodle on something I've written or am writing.

FDP Data Goon

Howl like a wolf

And a witch will open the door
Jun 29th, 2014 11:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I usually sit down and just play. If I want to work on something specific, I do it, but usually it's just time with the instrument and I learn from that time.

Contributing Member

Crows as big

as airplanes
Jun 30th, 2014 03:58 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I used to practice scales, but that got me thinking linearly and when playing a break, my fingers would go on autopilot. Took me a while to break the habit.

These days, I'm constantly learning new songs, and I work out the difficult passages at a very low BPM speed until I burn the patterns into my muscle memory. The idea is to play it so slowly I can't *possibly* mess it up. Once I achieve that, it's time to increase speed.

This also means I learn new things all the time by figuring out what the player did here or there. And I'm certain that oftentimes I'm doing something different to achieve the same notes on the original recording.



Too Much GAS
Jun 30th, 2014 06:54 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Starting slow and precise then increasing the speed is the key. Even doing it slowly and methodically doesn't always work the first time through the process. There have been a number of occasions where I did that, thinking that I had the movements and fingerings figured out, only to realize that after I got it up to a certain speed that something wasn't correct and I had to modify something and start over. Rather than spend years changing my picking technique I can often find ways to change the fingering to accommodate my picking. It often requires making large stretches or moving my hand up or down the fingerboard to make it work.

It's all good. I strive to economize my movements but, even after finding another way to play something, the original (incorrect) way can offer different dynamics, or emotional, impact that the *proper* way doesn't. For me, there's more to it than just getting the right notes under my fingers. However, depending upon what it is sometimes I'll settle for just getting the right notes.



Too Much GAS
Jun 30th, 2014 07:00 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I used to spend all of my time practicing scales too. I still do that sometimes to loosen up. These days I spend more time playing modal intervals and arpeggios when I practice. That has done wonders for the musicality of what I play. Having said that, you must know your scales in order to effectively practice like that. So, the scale studies are paramount in understanding how to apply said intervals and arpeggios. If anyone would like a further explanation for how that is done I'll be happy to help. Email me.


LA , Calif

Lost on the blue ball
Sep 5th, 2014 10:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I never practice scales. Almost everything I play I learned by ear and for timing I sing the tune my head.

I know the notes and chords only because I picked them up here and there but I don't read music.

I have a few books that go through scales and theory and really tried but that just simply kills if for me.

I just run through a few songs of different types of music , Blues , Beatles , stones , rock , folk and so on then I find what feels best at that moment and bring up songs I learned long ago and see what I might do better or had missed before.

I tend to jump around a lot. I had one of those forget what you call them , like a 10 second record what you play and it was activated by sound and then it would play what I just played back so I could do sort of a call and response type thing and that helped a lot to get the feel of blues licks .

I like to use the entire neck so I'll play up the neck and down with the same notes of a lick same with chord's .

Since you tube came along I'll watch players to see what they do and pick up new things that way.

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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / When you actually 'practice' what do you play?

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