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Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?
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Author:  justinl101 [ Fri, Jul 10, 2015 1:17pm ]
Post subject:  Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

I'm just curious how many people out their consider them self's comfortable about finding the notes chords, and sounds they are after, yet don't grasp or want to use traditonal music theory thinking.

Author:  shadow070 [ Tue, Aug 25, 2015 9:19am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

Well, i know my scales. I get alot of chords from them, but if youd ask me i wouldnt know what im doing, it sounds good and thats it.
I know the chords in the major scale both open and 7th chords in 5 positions and thats what ive done with for a long time.

A vew months back i started with triads, well that ended after a week or so. Always when i start i dont bother finishing.

Now im gonna start at the beginning. I work, have more then a fulltime job. Im not gonna have a music carreer so ill take it slow from now.
I promised myself this time to just follow surtain steps, no mather how long, but ill do the theory.

This week ill start with interval training, including getting the notes on the fretboard down verry well. When im comfutable with both ill start with the triads.
From there ill use my knowlidge for getting to really understand the minor scales and their posibility's.

Ok, this isnt what you asked lol. But i didnt know much but its time now to do it.
I want to be able to know what ime playing and why. Not just mindless playing anymore.
When creating something ill never look at it from a theory kind of vew but ill know what im doing and what my posibilitys are and ill never hit a wall with where should my progression go next etc.

In the end knowledge is power

tip for myself is, do it now, no matter how long and enjoy the ride.


(sorry for my bad english)

Author:  LPHeaven68 [ Fri, Nov 06, 2015 6:20am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

Pretty much all my friends are better players than me because i don't practice alot. But i know how to fall into key and kind of what to play for the style of song.
I was jamming with friends doing some melodic metal shit and my friend asked me is that fridgian dominant 3rd degree ? I told him to stop speaking in witchcraft, fuck if i know...sounds badass though right ? hehe

Author:  dabbler [ Fri, Nov 20, 2015 7:25pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

justinl101 wrote:
I'm just curious how many people out their consider them self's comfortable about finding the notes chords, and sounds they are after, yet don't grasp or want to use traditonal music theory thinking.


TAB has really changed the game, when I was in school it did not exist, so you either played by ear, learned to read sheet music, or a little of both using chord drawings.

I suppose many musicians just like to play, occasionally throwing things together that sound good without knowing why it sounds good. I've recently gotten back into it and consider refreshing my theory as not only critical but actually the easier route to good composition. With all the resources available today, youtube, this board, other boards and the amazing advances in home studio technology, this seems to be a great time to be a musician, wish I had this stuff when I was a kid.

Author:  MikeSoldano [ Wed, Nov 25, 2015 6:36pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

Be cool. Stay in (music) school.

Author:  guitarplayerone [ Sat, Feb 13, 2016 2:10am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

I can't sight read music, but I did manage to fake my way through harmony 1/2 and jazz harmony in college. It's incredibly useful for the progressive metal jams that I have with my friend in that we have the language to convey exactly what we want to play with each other. Similarly, I play in an alternative rock band where knowing basic theory helps a ton in finding exactly what I want for a specific song in terms of chord progressions.

The other side of it is that I feel to some extent learning theory sort of limits you from the more 'random' sort of progressions you might occasionally hear from artists such as Devin Townsend, etc. He has a great ear and 90% of his progressions work fine from a theory point of view, but the 10% which are not make his music what it is by giving it it's characteristic sound. For the record I've been listening to far more Devy than Vai (who he compares his knowledge of theory to), so maybe that tells you something.

Author:  The_Kid [ Fri, May 13, 2016 4:07pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

I know a scale or two...couldn't tell you the names...probably the pentatonic's (?). Only learned that stuff from being in a blues period when I was younger. Everything I know from theory is just from learning songs, and trying to understand, this lick was over this chord or pattern and trying to reapply it somewhere else. There are definately some solo's that I just can't understand the pattern of the scale they use. I get it in a way...but not enough to learn why it works. Case in point, Guns N Roses, Used to love her, ....he solo's in the 7-10 fret range, which from my understanding is an extension of the scale in A or something like that...who knows...I usually just jam in D/A/G like the rhythms follow and it works. Does that sound right? no, but mostly people in my area don't care at 1am in the night by that point.

I've never been a good improvisational player...I don't mind doing solo's, but I dont like to 'noodle' as I say. I'll play for the 4 or 8 times through the pattern, but I get bored after that. I can learn some solo's pretty note for note, but do not have the patience to sit and learn scales or modes or other cool things you awesome players do.

I suppose it would help me understand fingerings or other stuff to make technique better, but I just enjoy playing, I enjoy duplicating songs as I'm in a cover band. I've never had any motivation to rewrite guitar technique or theory so I just learn/do what I learn/do as I go.

Author:  sorcerscore [ Sun, Jun 05, 2016 1:06am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

i remember how enlightening it was learning scales i was jamming by ear had names. it's nice to get some theory under your belt for sure, but really comes down to what your musical goals are.

Author:  sorcerscore [ Sun, Jun 05, 2016 1:09am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

in other words theory is good to put names to things you might be doing harmonically or melodically.
also helps communicate with others who know theory. important thing is to develop your aural skills and ear.
that way if someone says open funk am in e minor you can at least know what notes are going to work or not work.

Author:  tstern66 [ Fri, Jul 08, 2016 11:11pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

The best thing I did was learn the all the notes on the fretboard. I know it's rookie stuff, but just that helped me a lot. I learned other things too, lol.

Author:  maddnotez [ Mon, Jul 11, 2016 8:21am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

tstern66 wrote:
The best thing I did was learn the all the notes on the fretboard. I know it's rookie stuff, but just that helped me a lot. I learned other things too, lol.


I really need to do this. A while back I jammed with an excellent guitarist who was an MI graduate and he highly recommended this. I suppose I am lazy. He showed me a few different things and explained the 3 note per string theory (we are both into metal)

I learned to play guitar by ear and with tab books. I started writing my own songs after about 4 years into playing and am going on almost 22 years now. I feel that I skipped over some very important and basic pieces of information.

I know what scales and modes are in a very basic setting. I also know how it is suggested to use a scale with the same notes as the chord you want to play over but that is about as far as it goes for me. For example, I know how the order of the modes work but I do not know all the names in order by memory and I would not know when it would be appropriate to use a Lydian instead of a Locrian.

TLDR I suck at music theory, I feel I am at an elementary school level of knowledge and I have been playing for a very long time :lol: :LOL:

Author:  Bankrupted A Casino [ Tue, Aug 09, 2016 5:08pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

I know how to play all sorts of scales and arps but just know basic theory pretty much. It's all about learning the SOUND of things rather than how it's spelled out on paper IMO, especially within the context of several different vamps, and chord progressions. A looper pedal is an invaluable practice tool for this type of thing IMO.

Author:  paullypj [ Thu, Sep 08, 2016 4:13pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

good question

Author:  UberKrankenschtein [ Wed, Jan 04, 2017 1:22am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

This is me, been playing for years, played in bands, played shows even. I have a very basic understanding of theory at the moment, I plan to change that starting this year, you can see my "I suck" post right here in this subforum.

Author:  kunos [ Wed, Jan 04, 2017 6:05am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

In my experience it's pretty easy to spot those without a decent background just by listening to them trying to jam, it's pretty obvious really.

Author:  UberKrankenschtein [ Wed, Jan 04, 2017 12:20pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

kunos wrote:
In my experience it's pretty easy to spot those without a decent background just by listening to them trying to jam, it's pretty obvious really.


Well, yeah, it would be like trying to speak a foreign language with someone even though you have no understanding of it lol. If for nothing else this is why I'm going to work on understanding and implementing theory on my fretboard starting this year. I haven't jammed with anyone in years, don't really have time to, so it's mostly just me wanting to learn, and being tired of playing the same old crap.

Author:  SpiderWars [ Wed, Jan 04, 2017 2:11pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

Not sure how to explain this but when I try to learn a Django song I'm amazed at all the horrid notes when played slowly and without the phrasing. I'm thinking no fucking way can that be the right note...it is THE worst possible note there. Yet when played to speed and with phrasing that horrid note then becomes the spice that makes it interesting/awesome.

I have no idea how to do that. I guess the saying is true; "There are no bad notes, just bad resolutions."

Author:  UberKrankenschtein [ Wed, Jan 04, 2017 2:16pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

SpiderWars wrote:
Not sure how to explain this but when I try to learn a Django song I'm amazed at all the horrid notes when played slowly and without the phrasing. I'm thinking no fucking way can that be the right note...it is THE worst possible note there. Yet when played to speed and with phrasing that horrid note then becomes the spice that makes it interesting/awesome.

I have no idea how to do that. I guess the saying is true; "There are no bad notes, just bad resolutions."


I agree for sure, of the bands I was in I thought we had some kick ass songs, none of which were based upon theory, or key. That said, I'm still going to learn, so that I can have the ability to jam with anyone, anywhere comfortably

Author:  UberKrankenschtein [ Thu, Jan 05, 2017 12:06am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

Just jammed with my buddy who plays sax, we both don't know theory, so we just played system of a down instead

Author:  Fuego [ Thu, Jan 05, 2017 4:34am ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

dabbler wrote:
justinl101 wrote:
I'm just curious how many people out their consider them self's comfortable about finding the notes chords, and sounds they are after, yet don't grasp or want to use traditonal music theory thinking.


TAB has really changed the game, when I was in school it did not exist, so you either played by ear, learned to read sheet music, or a little of both using chord drawings.

I suppose many musicians just like to play, occasionally throwing things together that sound good without knowing why it sounds good. I've recently gotten back into it and consider refreshing my theory as not only critical but actually the easier route to good composition. With all the resources available today, youtube, this board, other boards and the amazing advances in home studio technology, this seems to be a great time to be a musician, wish I had this stuff when I was a kid.


Tablature has been around since the 1500's. I know what u mean though.

Author:  sorcerscore [ Mon, Mar 06, 2017 1:43pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

i'm horrible at voice leading and connecting chords when it comes to theory...i just use my ear. theory helps you put the name to what your doing. for example i was playing ii-V7-!'s before i even knew how to analyze what i was doing. never put theory over feel or technical ability. at the end of the day shredding and playing a solid riff that feels great is the best thing ever!

Author:  HellraiserJohnny [ Tue, May 09, 2017 1:23pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Curious how many guitarists jam and suck at theory?

For what it's worth, I learned to play by listening to LP's and learning songs one phrase at a time. I scratched a lot of records and burned out a lot of needles but it worked for me. I developed a great ear for knowing what chords\notes were used just by hearing them. I also learned the neck forward and backward. I learned all the chords from books and learned how to play them in every position (inversion) on the neck. This with no music theory whatsoever and I became a monster guitar player, but it took a looooong time. I could listen to a new song played on the radio and know how to play it in 10-15 minutes due to all the ear training.

Later on in life I felt like I was illiterate in the music world I had become part of. I decided to go and study music at a private conservatory. Boy was I in for a rude awakening! I was one of 12 players auditioning for 4 open spots. They put sheet music in front of me and I was so embarrassed I almost did not audition. I mottled through it the best I could and when I looked up, I saw it was a no go for me. Then I threw the music on the floor and played Steve Howe's "Mood For A Day". I guess it worked because I got a letter accepting me into the school.

So what did grasshopper learn? If you really want to be more than a garage or bar room guitarist and want to take a shot at working in music, theory is something you should know so that you can communicate effectively with other professionals (they don't look at your fingers while you say" Play it like this") as chord progressions, time signatures, Key signatures, tonality, scales and many other aspects of music come into play. Can you go without, sure but would you really want to?

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