FDP Home Page / FDP Forum / FAQ's

The FDP is made possible by the following companies and individual members like you.
Please use the links below to show them we value their sponsorship.

Musician's Friend

Jensen Loudspeakers

Antique Electronics Supply


Advertise here

Apex Tube Matching

WD Music


Yellowjackets Tube Converters

Guitar Center

Amplified Parts

* God bless America and our men and women in uniform *

* Illegitimi non carborundum! *

If you benefit and learn from the FDP and enjoy our site, please help support us and become a Contributing Member or make a Donation today! The FDP counts on YOU to help keep the site going with an annual contribution. It's quick and easy with PayPal. Please do it TODAY!

Chris Greene, Host & Founder



Find musicians
in your area!
  Search the Forums  

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Essentials of leanring a song



Sep 29th, 2015 10:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

Just a question. I was learning "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones through a rolling stones tab book and I found it tedious because it had every lick on the recording, some which are hard to hear on the actual recording. I was able to figure out the main rift and any important lick. So when learning a song, is it better to just learn the essential licks and so forth, rather than labor through every lick that is played over a verse, some of which are even hard to hear on the original recording? Thanks!

Contributing Member

Wichita, Kansas

Drums = pulse, Bass = heartbeat
Sep 29th, 2015 10:22 AM   Edit   Profile  

It just depends on what you are going to do with the song once you learn it.

Playing in a bar band? The main riffs and licks are probably good enough.

Playing in a really good tribute band? You might want to learn everything, although many big name bands don't play the same thing live as they do in the record. Sometimes arrangements morph as they are played many times. Remember that the recorded arrangement is a product of the time it was created. Also, a studio arrangement is generally made up of many different takes and composited together using the parts they like at the time.

Playing in a cover band that twists songs into their own arrangements? You mileage may vary.

Even if you don't end up playing everything, sometimes it is beneficial learn a song's complete arrangement. It helps you learn how to get into a specific player's head. It helps you learn tricks that you can use elsewhere at a later time.

Contributing Member


Albino Blue
Sep 29th, 2015 10:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

Pick out the main theme riff or phrase and learn that first, then expand around it. If playing out, they want to recognize the song and look for those key riffs and words. If you can learn all the various riffs then great as that will make you a better player long term and you'll have some riffs that you can improvise into other tunes. But don't worry, please yourself. Learn what you can and later come back to see if you want or can learn more. Don't get too stressed if you don't play it all. Don't grow to hate a song you like. Personally I try to listen and play a tune by ear first. If I need help after that, I go to youtube because I like to see the hands and hear. Learn from others much like when you jam with a friend. Last I go to tab as they can be right or wrong depending on the transcriber's ear and expertise. But in the end, have fun doing what you can do. Search for its backing track too and play along with it. Use the riffs you learned that focus on the main theme of that song but also just improvise using a pentatonic or blues scale and see what sounds good. Develop your style. I have a general rule: if it sounds good I play more and if it sounds bad don't repeat what you did. Record yourself and you'll understand what I mean. During playback, you'll go "that was cool or gee that sucked." But you are on the right road: listen, learn, practice and jam with others. And ask questions. GO HAVE FUN. I love that song too. Here is a nice teacher too. Many others on YT.

Missing You on YouTube



Sep 29th, 2015 11:21 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the advice!

I am aware that learning all the licks can put you inside the guitarist head and maybe use that idea later when on something else when improvising.

And yeah "Don't grow to hate a song you like" I know that feeling a I labor through some hard to hear stuff on the record. But this is all very helpful. Also, having fun is important as mentioned. The backing tracks also should help because it puts you in real time.

And yes for example, has Ron Wood ever played anything twice the same way LOL. Or many artists for that matter. Maybe the main ingredients but what's important is the chord. For example in this particular song I notice little riffs when the chord is at Am and little riffs when it's on Dm7.... some of them just a few notes.
Thanks again!

(This message was last edited by Frus500 at 01:23 PM, Sep 29th, 2015)


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Oct 5th, 2015 11:55 AM   Edit   Profile  

I think someone like Wood intentionally never plays the same lick twice. For me, I would be learning some of the more recognizable licks in the song, and the rest either repeat what you've learned, or play something your own but in the vein of what you've learned.

Contributing Member

Yakima, WA

Oct 22nd, 2015 10:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the link woodall

super mario
Contributing Member


tone to the bone no other way
Nov 13th, 2015 07:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

When we "covered" tunes in the past, we would focus on the key phrases and chord structure to keep the song recognizable. As our band would do "rewrites", i.e. taking secular songs and using Christian lyrics (we were a Christian Southern Rock Band that played biker events) we knew the structure had to be right on to keep people listening.....for example when we covered Skynyrd's That Smell with That's Hell, the breaks, key riffs where what we focused on, same with Tucker's Can't You See, or Dylan's Knocking on Heaven's Door....Get the recognizable parts right, the rest will fill in wonderfully.

Vic Vega
Contributing Member


Deflating Balls Since 1969
Nov 16th, 2015 05:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

"for example when we covered Skynyrd's That Smell with That's Hell"

The horror of this is indescribable...

Contributing Member

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Apr 14th, 2016 06:40 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have to agree with hitting the high points. Beating a song to death till you can't stand it anymore is counter productive. By the time you get it you are so full of tension that you lost what you liked about it.

Not to mention the what ifs. What if someone flubs a lead or an accent part and turns it into a train wreck in front of an audience. The sad truth is unless it's another musician that does the song no one will notice a little piece of the song missing. There have been a ton of covers done without piano parts or horns or choral arrangements because we simply don't have a full set of players to handle everything.


Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Apr 18th, 2016 11:02 AM   Edit   Profile  

I think of a song as a melody with a harmonic structure (chords). Perhaps ther are a few signature licks. Everything else is the arrangement.
Perhaps it's an extreme example but no one really expects you to sound like Nelson Riddle or Count Basie when you do a solo acoustic version of " MY WAY."
OTH, if you're doing a Neil Young song.......

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Essentials of leanring a song

Reply to this Topic
Display my email address             Lost your password?
Your Message:
Link Address (URL):
Link Title:

Moderators: Chris Greene  Iron Man  reverendrob  

FDP, LLC Privacy Policy: Your real name, username, and email
are held in confidence and not disclosed to any third parties, sold, or
used for anything other than FDP Forum registration unless you specifically authorize disclosure.

Internet Application Development

Copyright © 1999-2018 Fender Discussion Page, LLC   All Rights Reserved