Question about 'hard to play'

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totallygeek
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Question about 'hard to play'

#1 Post by totallygeek » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:45 am

I have often wondered if great guitarists have answered this question:

Are there some passages or styles you find too difficult to play or something you have tried and failed so often you have given up on? I type for a living and there are some things which I continually struggle with (just a phrase which always gets keys out of order or otherwise messed up) Was wondering with all the muscle memory if there are things which never get mastered.

Any thoughts on this?

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#2 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:05 pm

Everyone's hands are different; what is difficult for one person isn't necessarily difficult for another. Some people find satch style legato playing terribly difficult, but for satch himself, it is a breeze.

The difficult part is learning something that has been written for someone else's hands (e.g. Vai music!! Since his fingers/hands are pretty big!). Barrios Magore causes the same problems (as a classical equivalent to Vai).

It depends on the instrument, though. With guitar, this isn't so noticeable. But with piano, hand size drastically affects performance. Rachmaninoff found playing his own music easy (as we usually write what feels good under our own hands), but for others who don't have the span of Rachmaninoff, then his music is horrendously difficult. Schumann busrt his knuckles by inventing a machine that tried to widen them, as he had a poor hand span (plus his wife was a top concert pianist - i imagine this would have put the pressure on ;))

Then again, it is good to push by trying to learn things which are beyond us - this is how our technique grows.

And it is impossible to master everything - i think most of us would get bored if this were the case. It is appealing to know that there are other things to learn.

Some things also feel easier just with time. The first time i tried to play 'Answers' i thought my hand was going to fall off!! But now it is easy. I'm sure we all have our own experiences like this.

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#3 Post by totallygeek » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:51 pm

My question more specifically is: Has there been anything you just cannot nail every time and just simply drop from recording, play live, or trying to master. We know that Vai or Satch can do sweep picking, legato, etc, but is there some beat they just could never consistently get down. Or, does Vai just never play some song live because 3 out of 5 times he makes a mistake or something like that?

Thinking something like: dang, I just never could get down this one string skipping thing I was doing so I shy away from playing that live. Or, man, this song took 500 takes in the studio, and the sections are so easy, I don't know why I have such a hard time playing Die to Live's beginning well. Your average guitarist can play it without issue, don't know why I just can't seem to get it right no matter how many times I play.

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#4 Post by Big Bad Bill » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:18 pm

Personally I find sweep picking hard. I'm a great believer in regular repetition to improve a technique and it always seems to work for me except when it comes to sweeping which is stubborn and is taking me a lot longer. I can sweep particular shapes fine enough, but the skill isn't transferable to other patterns in the way that say, alternate pick etc is.

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#5 Post by Zebula77 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:52 am

I'm a terrible speed-picker, hehe. I can sound ok with a lot of distortion, doing some fast three-notes per string run, but doing neoclassical stuff with string skipping and all that stuff kills me. So I don't do it, hehe.

Also, I've got one of those pinkies that just doesn't wanna seperate itself from my ring finger, so doing legato lines like 1-3-4 and 4-3-1 is REALLY hard for me. I usually end up stretching my fingers instead so I'm doing 1-2-3 fingerings.

Also I'm shit at finger-picking. I'm in trouble if I have to finger-pick some arpeggiated chords in a slow ballad! :lol:

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#6 Post by Big Bad Bill » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:36 am

Zebula77 wrote: but doing neoclassical stuff with string skipping and all that stuff kills me. So I don't do it, hehe.
Yeah, it doesn't sit comfortably under ones fingers whereas bluesy lick do, and of course you have to use you little finger!

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#7 Post by spanishphrygian » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:12 pm

I have a lot of technique down, but still things that I never played or thought of take a little time. Like some weird note sequence that I never did or thought of.

Otherwise sight reading and techniques are not really that difficult after 10,000 hours of playing them.

Even more interesting then that to me is that I only have fifteen people that say that actually want to listen to me play. Ten are good friends that I do not really believe anyway because they do not listen to Flamenco, Classical, Vai, or Yngwie.

Yet five of these guys can fill up clubs while playing the music they like that is not technical at all.

In the Final Analysis I figure that they are facinated by my fingers and what they can do, but not my taste of notes.

So I guess yes there are somethings that are too hard for me at first until I learn them even when I can use probably all of the techniques know to the guitar.

Sure I am very Tall and my fingers are agile, but even after 30 years of playing and having only two true fans does it sound like I am going to freaking quit? haha.

Maybe I should just find tastier things to play so that people will start paying me for it 8)

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#8 Post by Big Bad Bill » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:14 am

spanishphrygian wrote:So I guess yes there are somethings that are too hard for me at first until I learn them even when I can use probably all of the techniques know to the guitar.
I hate you spanishphrygian :wink:

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#9 Post by HughesJB4 » Sat May 24, 2008 2:36 am

totallygeek wrote:My question more specifically is: Has there been anything you just cannot nail every time and just simply drop from recording, play live, or trying to master. We know that Vai or Satch can do sweep picking, legato, etc, but is there some beat they just could never consistently get down. Or, does Vai just never play some song live because 3 out of 5 times he makes a mistake or something like that?

Thinking something like: dang, I just never could get down this one string skipping thing I was doing so I shy away from playing that live. Or, man, this song took 500 takes in the studio, and the sections are so easy, I don't know why I have such a hard time playing Die to Live's beginning well. Your average guitarist can play it without issue, don't know why I just can't seem to get it right no matter how many times I play.

That's happened to me before many times. For me, Legato techniques came the most naturally, and now my two hand tapping and alternate picking have caught up, and my string skipping is fairly good as well.
Sweep picking on the other hand, just isn't coming along that well for me, the only sweep picking patterns I can play cleanly everytime are 3 string patterns. My attemps at 5 string patterns are mainly miss, sometimes hit, and my 6 string patterns make my other musician buddies cringe when I try to do them :lol:

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#10 Post by Azrael » Sat May 24, 2008 7:47 am

totallygeek wrote:My question more specifically is: Has there been anything you just cannot nail every time and just simply drop from recording, play live, or trying to master. We know that Vai or Satch can do sweep picking, legato, etc, but is there some beat they just could never consistently get down. Or, does Vai just never play some song live because 3 out of 5 times he makes a mistake or something like that?

Thinking something like: dang, I just never could get down this one string skipping thing I was doing so I shy away from playing that live. Or, man, this song took 500 takes in the studio, and the sections are so easy, I don't know why I have such a hard time playing Die to Live's beginning well. Your average guitarist can play it without issue, don't know why I just can't seem to get it right no matter how many times I play.
It's a tough question. When I hit problems, I take the passage painfully slow with a metronome and go up by 1 bpm per try if I have to in order to get it perfect. That came from my clarinet experience. Metronomes are a very handy tool that all guitarists should have.

The answer to playing difficult things live or in one take is not to practice till you get it right, but to practice until you can't get it wrong.

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Re: Question about 'hard to play'

#11 Post by budt » Sat May 24, 2008 9:00 am

totallygeek wrote:Are there some passages or styles you find too difficult to play or something you have tried and failed so often you have given up on?
That Flamenco technique of trilling one string with three fingers while playing a melodic line on other strings at the same time. EVH came up with a great way to simulate it in "Little Guitars" - that's easy to do but not the same.

I've always wondered if there is a guitarist out there somewhere that has truly attempted to master every possible style out there. Blues rock jazz classical flamenco bluegrass piano-style-ala-jordan etc and so on ...

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#12 Post by guitarbonham » Sat May 24, 2008 12:41 pm

well i can't say ive mastered any style, but right now im taking classical lessons, playing in multiple jazz bands, playing in a rock band that does blues to metal, and i'm only in 10th grade lol.

but now to answer the question, i've never really found anything to difficult to play really. there are definatly some things I cannot play well, but i always spent a bunch of time with a metronome until i could play whatever it was up to speed. otherwise things that there are no chance of me playing right now It feels to me that its just a matter of time until I can do it. I may not have hte technique right now, but in a bit more time.

Doing lots of really really easy technical exercises like just going 1234 and building that up to as fast as you possibly helps a lot. make a really easy exercise that imitates what you cannot do and practice it really slow until you can do it brutally fast and you probably will be able to do whatever technique that is a lot better.

like sweep picking do the fingers 1 2 3 4 on 4 strings next to each other and than 1 2 3 4 in the opposite order back down than move up a fret. its really easy to keep in time (compared to other patterns), but its still using the technique. doing things like that is how i learned to sweep (I still suck at it tho cuz i never worked on it that much lol)

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