Originally Posted by The Postmaster General
. Something else that helped was just playing songs really, really slow - just enough to get the different motions on each hand and gradually increase speed, but that really applies to most aspects of learning to play.
Yes. This is a BIG problem with a lot of people. There are "shredders" all over youtube - especially the younger people - who are playing fast, but it's sloppy as hell and they won't be getting any better at it.
They are sloppy because they don't spend enough time being painstakingly slow on a song and/or technique. They learn how to do the motion but don't care enough to slowly build up speed and play cleanly.
When I learn a song, my process is usually like this:
- Listen to it several times. First time listening, just take the song in as a whole. The second to fourth time(s) I'm trying to figure out the different parts that AREN'T guitar related. Not learning it, but feeling the flow of the song.
- After that, I pay attention to the guitar section and try to have a very good idea of what to do once I start practicing. If I have music and/or tabs, I follow along with the sheet music while listening to the guitar parts.
- Begin to play the song. Slowly. Not plugged it and with no effects.
- Once I have the notes and sections memorized, it's all about playing up to speed and STAYING CLEAN. This is especially important for me nowadays because I practice mostly Joe Satriani stuff these days. I don't spend enough time on it, so I don't ever learn new stuff. However, I don't cut corners and go with a "ballpark range" of proficiency. I'm basically re-learning music when I get into a guitar playing mood.
For example when I learned STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN (which I got down perfectly, unlike many who cut corners) and NOTHING ELSE MATTERS - which were the first two songs I learned from tab - it was a ridiculously slow process. I spent about an hour or two on the first two measures of STAIRWAY. Then when I had that down, I did the NEXT 5-10 seconds of the song. I played everything before that section each time as well. It took be about 20 hours in two days to get the first minute and a half of that song down. But I can play it even today without looking, even though I haven't tried more than a few times in the last 10 years to play it again.
Same thing with NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. I can play the rhythm section and sing it at the same time. Reason being, I did every section slowly until I got to speed.
This kind of process is maddeningly slow, but for me that worked best. I don't play BLACK MAGIC WOMAN anymore, but after an hour of brushing up, I can do it again just as good as ever because I learned it cleanly and correctly the first time around.
I hate watching these damned 8-14 year olds on youtube with a million hits because they are a girl or just young and people are say "wow! Awesome!" No it's not. It's sloppy and there's no excuse for that. Regardless of age. If I started playing when I was 4 and took lessons and spent time with it like I did when I started at 14 - with NO lessons - then I am sure I would be roughly 100x better than I am now.
Oh, and here's a cover I did a few years ago of BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, since I've been mentioning it so much: