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I consider myself a good musician.

I am not a soloist. I'm a noodler.

I have sorta half-heartedly picked up any number of projects, like learning jazz comping, three-notes-per-string, learning the entire Pornograffiti or Master of Puppets rhythm parts, or sweep picking, or the entire solo for Don't Tell Me You Love Me, or Yngwie's Black Star or that Korean Chick Su's funk instrumental.  The only I've come very close on is the last one.  But it still sounds sloppy and not quite there at full speed. I have done the thing about taking it down to slow speeds.  I've done that with a number of songs and solos, with varying success, too.  I can play the solo for this song (queued up to the solo):

I think I have Loudness' "Never Change Your Mind" just about down, including the solo.  Tho now that I think of it, I haven't worked on the outtro solo yet.

But for a few years, my hobby was churning through guitars rather than playing them for ability advancement.

I could make this all more complicated, but the final thing is that the song linked above and "Never Change Your Mind" have a little bit of speed licks that were formerly way beyond my abilities.  What made the difference was scalloped fingerboards, stainless steel frets, and hard acrylic, sharp speed picks, like this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NDW2L5L/

Now, it *feels* like speed licks might be within my grasp.  I can come MUCH closer to the main lick and some of the secondary licks on Black Star.

 

I'm recording music.  Got another instrumental going.  Unlike the one I submitted for Best of the HFC, this one will probably feature some soloing.  I want to impress some of you.  But maybe it isn't worth my time.  Maybe I should just switch to writing songs, coming up with melodies, and singing, even if the lyrics are rudimentary and my voice is too low.

 

I know, I know: what do I WANT to do. Make myself happy.

I guess what I'm asking is: is mid-50s too late to learn to shred?

 

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32 minutes ago, Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame said:

I guess what I'm asking is: is mid-50s too late to learn to shred?

50 is just a number... that being said, I truly believe "shredding" is inherently part of your DNA... some people can practice 24/7 and never get it, and for others comes very easily or naturally...  Hard work and perseverance are great but only you can make that decision for yourself "knowing your own strengths and weaknesses"... it's kinda like a Pro athlete 

Edited by Dave Scepter
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52 minutes ago, Dave Scepter said:

50 is just a number... that being said, I truly believe "shredding" is inherently part of your DNA... some people can practice 24/7 and never get it, and for others comes very easily or naturally...  Hard work and perseverance are great but only you can make that decision for yourself "knowing your own strengths and weaknesses"... it's kinda like a Pro athlete 

Yeah, it might not be in my DNA.

I got the solo for Don't Tell Me You Love me to about 90% accuracy at 70% speed within about 30 minutes.  And that's where it's stayed for the last 20 years.  I can't improve it at all.

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1 hour ago, Dave Scepter said:

50 is just a number... that being said, I truly believe "shredding" is inherently part of your DNA... some people can practice 24/7 and never get it, and for others comes very easily or naturally...  Hard work and perseverance are great but only you can make that decision for yourself "knowing your own strengths and weaknesses"... it's kinda like a Pro athlete 

Try 57 and trying desperately to hold on to what little I DID manage to acquire. :P Like any aging pro athlete- you might not be running that 5 minute mile or chucking that football quite as far but I'm still plugging (plucking?) away.

I was never truly a shredder despite really, really wanting to be. But I upped my game over the years (still take lessons) and am at place where at least I feel like I developed a voice on guitar- even if it is massively derivative of others.

 

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13 minutes ago, Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame said:

Yeah, it might not be in my DNA.

I got the solo for Don't Tell Me You Love me to about 90% accuracy at 70% speed within about 30 minutes.  And that's where it's stayed for the last 20 years.  I can't improve it at all.

I will also add, shredding someone else's material is MUCH more difficult than shredding to your own jive~

I practice scales and just nonsensical stuff just to aquire speed then incorporate it in someone else's material 

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2 hours ago, Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame said:

 

I guess what I'm asking is: is mid-50s too late to learn to shred?

 


No. I still get better every year and am picking up new techniques all the time. Most recently has been working more three-note-per string stuff, including pentatonic scales, integrating more Phrygian dominant/natural harmonic scales into my playing, practicing thinking in notes instead of frets, diminished scale transitions, and a bunch of whammy bar stuff. I’m 42.

This is coming off a two-year project of learning to hold a pick correctly after learning I held it backwards my whole playing life. Talk about frustrating! I felt I had unlearned how to play guitar for a good year there, but in the end, it was worth it. 

I’m a somewhat better player than most guitarists in my age group who really started playing seriously in the grunge era, but I’ll never be one of these YouTube prodigies.

Nonetheless, I’m not satisfied to just be “good for my age group,” nor do I care about Tosin Abasai. Still being able to improve at something physical I think gets even more rewarding as you age because you realize you don’t have to get a little worse at everything every year. Plus, it makes me still feel vital as a player to keep pushing.

So do it! 

 

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Are you taking lessons? If not, find a good adult teacher to take lessons from. Like most all guitar players who mainly just play for themselves we get stuck trying to do the same thing over and over again to no avail. 

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For me, I've found improvement was based on time per day I could play.  In my teens, I progressed pretty well because I had all kinds of time. 

That time has dwindled as I've gotten older.  Since I don't play as much, I need to warm up more so than I did before.  So now add on more time before I can concentrate on playing to progress my chops.

I've gone more the Tim Pierce route of being more melodic and throwing in quick and flashy parts here and there for emphasis/punctuation.   I'm looking to get out and play again with a group, so if there's a song that requires it, I'll spend time woodshedding to at least get the highlights right that people will recognize.   

2 hours ago, diablo175 said:

am at place where at least I feel like I developed a voice on guitar

I think that's more important.  These days it seems 10 year olds can regurgitate Yngwie or Petrucci licks exactly, but still miss the mark by a long shot.  They haven't developed a feel yet.  

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7 hours ago, Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame said:

I guess what I'm asking is: is mid-50s too late to learn to shred?

Physiologically? Psychologically? Cognitively?  No.

But...I turn 51 this week, and I suspect I speak for some of us when I say mid-50s is likely too late to really give a shit about shredding for the sake of shredding.

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I definitely got better in my 50's.  

 

Not saying I got good, just better!   Don't worry about age.  I am 62 and I skateboard.  I am not shredding but I love it.  Just do what makes you happy.

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I alway's looked at playing guitar as a discipline. In that you have to practice whether you want to or not. Granted most times I want to play guitar, but do I want to work on exercises or noodle. That's where the discilpine comes in. I wish I would of had a teacher but I made do with what I had! Mel Bay books and Chet Atkins 8 tracks where my guiding light...not so bad... I still feel it's better to play soulfully and with heart than fast. That's just me....

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1 hour ago, fractal said:

This may be appropriate here:

Hope that helps - it has changed the way I practice!  Keep going!

Thanks for this!  I have never agreed with the "play out slow and slowly increase the tempo" approach. I think playing it slowly mucks up your mechanical memory and makes it harder to play full speed. I would learn complex licks like how he explained, and it worked for me. I just never realized what was behind it all.

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12 hours ago, Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame said:

I consider myself a good musician.

Why?

 

That's not a joke.  I'm curious as to the answer, and it may be revealing of something. 

I consider myself the opposite, no matter how much improvement I make, and I doubt I can change this opinion.

 

ETA:  I'm 52, with a pretty good amount of self-discipline to study and practice, but I still find myself in ruts that frustrate me enough to stop.  I do my best with a good teacher.  Not all teachers are good of course, but my current one checks all the right boxes for me and what I want.   I'ts like buying a guitar friend, who is better than you but is willing to help, and sees the stuff you don't, and all of the other blahblahblah that I could have simply written as "get a good teacher."  It's enjoyable and rewarding.

 

Edited by Feynman
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13 minutes ago, Feynman said:

Why?

 

That's not a joke.  I'm curious as to the answer, and it may be revealing of something. 

I consider myself the opposite, no matter how much improvement I make, and I doubt I can change this opinion.

 

 

because I have a good sense of rhythm and timing, I follow other musicians well, I can come up with good riffs quickly and easily that match the style of the music pretty well, and there is some good emotional communication between me and the audience and me and the other musicians whenever I perform.

I'm nowhere near the best technical player, but I make music that people enjoy.

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14 hours ago, Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame said:

I consider myself a good musician.

1 hour ago, Feynman said:

Why?

 

That's not a joke.  I'm curious as to the answer, and it may be revealing of something. 

I consider myself the opposite, no matter how much improvement I make, and I doubt I can change this opinion.

What’s the glass, half full, half empty? It’s all about to which side you position yourself I think.

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While there’s life there’s hope. We have unbelievable neural plasticity and capacity for physical conditioning.

This may sound harsh but, make progress or make excuses. We can’t do both.

You have a lot of areas of study that you mentioned and all can be improved. Whatever obstacles we face, physical or mental, can be assessed and addressed. It’s important to know which is the cause. As guitarists our choices mostly come down to picking and fingering choices and that’s it. As a teacher I’ve noticed the stubborn attachment to a “way” of doing either of those fundamental things has held back a lot of students, and as a professional player in a lot of styles. I’ve also seen that in my own approach as an obstacle, and been surprised when I assess and address those issues that what I thought I was doing was actually the opposite (for example, playing a sequence or phrase starting with an Upstroke on the downbeat to accommodate outside picking on adjacent strings, when I thought I was continuing to strict alternate-pick the entire section).

The study of technique and articulations on any instrument is different than the study of Music encompassing Rhythm, Harmony and Melody. It’s really important to study from both perspectives.

As I said, you’re doing a lot of cool things! Having someone to help you articulate your various goals, and help keep you focused on the ways to attain those goals, will be important.

Someone above categorized his teacher as a “paid guitar friend”. A “student” can look at the situation as paid interest, or adult babysitting, but that excuses all effort and responsibility for their own goals and progress. And that’s not always a bad thing! 3 chords make your life 3 chords better, and if you FEEL better rocking out a few songs and blowing off some steam, that’s awesome and a great outlet. And some people like to just drive the car without thinking about how the engine works.

I have someone in my life that used to be in great shape with the help of a personal trainer. She decided it “was too expensive” so she stopped working with the trainer, and soon stopped exercising completely. Then she ignored healthy eating habits, emotionally overate and got depressed and gained a hundred pounds. After a couple years got a stomach surgery and lost 80 pounds and spent a huge amount of time and heartache, and is still trying to get back to a physical state that is close to where she was when she thought it was “too expensive”. It’s not her trainers fault, nor anybody else’s. And my point is, paying out for someone to help with your Plan, and putting the work in is way less expensive in the long run.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk 😆

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