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I’ve been playing on the guitar for more than a year now. Started on my own without any experience. To describe my level of play - I can play fingerstyle Pirates of the Caribbean, Stairway to heaven intro, Wish you were here (fingerstyle+strumming), Smells like teen spirit (finger and strum), etc.. So I can play a song with a range of chords from C,D,E,Em,A,Am,F,G,Csus,Dm,Bb... But to the question: What would you recommend if I look forward to improving more? Should I play on my own, listen to covers, learn from ultimate guitar or try joining some group? I personally feel that I am reaching my limits when it comes to playing on my own and yet don't think I am good enough to play in a band or whatever.

Thanks for the tips.

  • I think your question is way to broad and will end up getting closed. Anyway, do whatever you enjoy when playing and keep a critical point of view on your playing. Joining a band is a great way to improve yourself and have fun at the same time. – Joulin Nicolas Jun 20 '17 at 8:37
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    This question could be answered by the use of three words... "Practice", "Practice" and "Practice" – Neil Meyer Jun 20 '17 at 12:49
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    If you want to level up fast, find a good teacher. – ex nihilo Jun 20 '17 at 13:38
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    It's not even clear if you are speaking of electric, acoustic or classical guitar. – leonbloy Jun 21 '17 at 18:46
  • @NeilMeyer Practice better, not harder. Bad practices can not only heavily limit stuff like speed and accuracy, but also end in injuries or bad habits that are hard to break. OP is not asking how to practice more, as in frequency, but how to practice better, as in quality. "Practice until you can't" is not as a good general advice as one might intuitively think. – Von Huffman Feb 22 at 4:51
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One thing that helps me maintain an interest in playing guitar, is that I recognize that no matter how good I might get, there will always be room for improvement. Kudos to you for your desire to continually develop your skill!

In answer to your question

Should I play on my own, listen to covers, learn from ultimate guitar or try joining some group?

My recommendation is to do any or all of the above, as long as it keeps you interested and excited to continue to learn and improve. Anything you do on guitar will help you improve. But some things will motivate you more than others. Things you enjoy will be more likely to keep you interested in spending time with your instrument.

Spend more time doing things you enjoy than things you dread. You want playing time to mostly be something you look forward to. But some hard work is a necessary ingredient of improvement. However - the drills, practice and other intentional hard work will be more fun if you have a goal you are working towards that promises a sense of satisfaction and pride once accomplished.

I find that playing with other musicians provides both inspiration and an opportunity to learn from them. I have developed a number of close musician friends who I met at events that attract musicians (open mic nights, song writing seminars, music sessions, open jams, house concerts, music festivals, etc.). Sometimes I will just get together with a friend and jam, or I will participate in open jams that are organized by local musicians I have connected with.

Another thing that really inspired me to accelerate my improvement trajectory was joining (actually forming in my case) a band. Like you, I never thought I was good enough to be in a band. But I continued to get great feedback after performances at open mics from other musicians who even invited me to join their band.

Then I was "forced" into starting my own band after sitting in on a few numbers with another local band who introduced me to the manager of the venue. I was called later that week to ask if "my band" could perform the next Friday night. So I scrambled to put together a band and create a set list that all the musicians knew - and the rest was history.

So don't ever think you are not good enough to be in a band. You may be surprised to learn that there are bands who could benefit from what you might have to offer. Don't hold out for top dollar for your first band placement - offer your services for the opportunity to learn and have fun. Maybe you could be a backup guitarists for times when the regular guitarists can't make a gig.

Playing in a band provides a whole new level of inspiration because other band members are constantly pushing you to learn new material to expand the repertoire of the band. And practicing with the other musicians in the band who must all learn to maintain a consistent tempo and work together as a cohesive musical entity - will help you become a better musician.

It's been said that "you play better golf when you play with better golfers". The same concept applies to musicians. If you are lucky enough to be the least talented musician in the band (like me), the other musicians will both inspire you and help you improve. Being surrounded on stage and at band practice with superior talent, gives you more motivation to step up your own game.

Perhaps you can make being in a band a goal that will help provide motivation to continually improve. Keep learning to play new material. Try to learn to play popular songs from memory. Look for ads at music stores and in local newspapers and online (including Craig's List in the US) for bands looking to add a guitarists. Go to open mics and talk to other musicians.

If you can't find an existing band that needs your services, don't be afraid to start your own band. If you believe that you could get a good band booked at local music venues that pay - you will find musicians who will play in your band.

Keep reaching for a higher level of musicianship. Create goals that motivate you to work towards a tangible or intrinsic reward. Most important of all - keep it fun and enjoy the journey! Rock on bro.

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There are a lot of amazing players who like to share their knowledge. I'm fairly advanced, but when I want to learn a new song that I'm finding difficult to work out or some new technique, I turn to Youtube. You can almost always find what you're looking for. This was not available to me when I was starting out. You needed to take lessons or buy instructional booklets with videos. One on one lessons are still the best way to learn, but it's not necessary if you have a good ear. If you do have a good ear, try transcribing your favourite solos and performance pieces. You learn a lot that way. Using software that slows the track down while preserving the pitch can be very useful here. And in general, if you want to become a better musician, listen to a lot of different things that stretch your vocabulary.

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Vary guitars and styles acoustic / electric. Picking strumming, blues, folk, rock. Get your chord change speed up and learn barre equivalents of fingered chords. All this can be helped by online tutorials or a teacher. Then join a band. One tip - if you are looking at online chords and there are ones that are virtually impossible to play, it is very likely that the guitarist was playing this a different way further up the fret board. It took me ages to figure that out.

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Learn more about scales and chord theory, especially roman numeral analysis. This will enable you to analyze songs and understand how they work, and be able to transpose them to other keys. Along with that just try to figure out as many songs as you can by ear.

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Start keeping a practice book. It can contain exercises you are doing, lists of tunes you know and want to practice to keep good at, or tunes you want to learn some day, and so on. When you practice, use your little book to add some structure to your practice. For example, in a one-hour practice session I might spend 20 minutes doing scales and exercises, 20 minutes practicing songs I know, and 20 minutes trying to figure out songs I don't know, or just goofing around and being creative. All of this comes out of my practice book, which helps me to remember what I've done, what I'm doing, and what I want to do.

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I've seen several contributors here write about the importance of playing with others and I recommend it highly. You have options like joining a band, or attending a local jam session or just calling up a couple of musician friends and having them over to play songs each of you already know. Playing with others can inspire a person and at the same time show a person areas that need additional study and attention and almost every time you do this, you learn more about what your strong points are and what your weak points are. Also you can apply study techniques that you learned in school such as taking notes when reading material about theory and technique. For some reason, taking notes seems to help the brain better understand the ideas being presented in the text. Don't worry to much about not being as good as somebody else, we've all been through that stage and you can work through it like the rest of us. It can be a little uncomfortable but it isn't generally permanent or fatal.

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