Feeling limited

Dominik Graeber

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So I find myself at avoiding the lessons. Yet again. I started with the CAGED system and basicly understand it but I lack the motivation to go through all the chords. Problem is that I only wanted to move on to the next lesson once I got something out of the previous one and made a video about it.

Thing is, I feel very limited with what I can do and play when it comes to theory. I learned my pentatonic scale all over the neck, know my campfire chords and what the CAGED system is about. But I can't really use that information to get something useful out of it. I can't even improvise at moderate speed because I can't process fast enough which note is in my scale when I play wherever. And I don't see a point in learning more CAGED chords because I would not know what to do with them.

Don't get me wrong, I am having tons of fun with guitar lately, but that's mostly playing covers and doing some metal jams. It's just that I WANT to get a better guitarist and use the site to the fullest but I find it really hard to make any progress regarding the lessons.

That was just something I needed to get off my chest. How do you guys do it? Any tips on how to approach this?
 

Lindsey

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You worded this really well. I have the same problem. Existing songs are fine, but once I play for myself nothing comes out.
Perhaps making improvising over a backing track a part of your practice may help? And stealing licks and riffs from songs.
I haven't found the secret yet.
 

Ethan Keeling

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I felt the exact same with the CAGED system, I had learned the chords, pents and arps and major scales (however ive forgotten most of the arps and major scales), so i started the etudes because I enjoyed them, and then i just jam using what I know from the CAGED system. I play to have fun, progress comes faster when you have fun...
 

Chris Johnston

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Hey Dominik! I've felt like this so many times in the past, and it's usually just before a 'light-bulb moment' in my playing.

When you're improvising, you want to have things practiced so much that any time you're playing over a chord progression, that you don't have to think of any theory. It's sorta like trying to have a conversation in a foreign language while referring to a dictionary, it'll only leave you stopping and starting. You basically want to know what the notes you are about to play will sound like before you play them. Kind of like if you were singing over some chords, all of your notes would be authentic, and controlled by your ear, not just your knowledge.

That's great that you have your Minor Pentatonic all over the neck! You can do so much with just that scale alone improvisation wise.

Here are some Minor Pentatonic hacks/Soloing hacks to get your teeth into (Try sticking on an A minor jam track and doing these) :

1. Sliding to each note in the scale from a fret behind/half-step below.
2. Adding the b5/Blue note into your scale in every shape (Look up A minor blues scale - it's a Minor Pentatonic with the extra note added)
3. Try playing E minor Pentatonic over the track instead of A min - This is a bit of Pentatonic superimposition (sounds complicated but isn't) this will mean you're adding the notes E G A B D over the A minor harmony, which will give your solo a different color. You are basically borrowing the pentatonic scale from the 5th chord in A natural minor.
4. Look up some Major and Minor Arpeggio shapes and try playing these over the track: A minor arpeggio, C Major arpeggio, E minor arpeggio, G major arpeggio. (You can use the sliding from a halfstep below technique with these too)
5. Try singing or humming something over the track, then try and figure out what you sang on the fretboard. Don't worry about it being fancy, just make sure you like it, and then try and copy it.

I'd be better explaining exactly how I get this approach in a private message, as I don't want to write a book in this post haha! Basically there's a really logical way of looking at a Key that gives you these options :)

Hope this helps!
 

Ids Schiere

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It really helps to understand something to a point where you don't have to think about it anymore. I barely know the names of the positions of CAGED but I use it all the time because It kinda goes automatically.

If you want to play by yourself try this as a little exerciese. Start with simple Arpeggios like Em-Am-D-G in whatever shape you want. Now try to add some extra notes from the G major scale to each of the arpeggios and try to find the notes that sound good in combination with the chords. After a while you will find some sort of motif you like. Of you have a looper you can record the chords and play that motif over it and change it up every time.

Hope that helps a little bit
 
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Dominik Graeber

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@Ids Schiere @Chris Johnston you don't seem to get how far I am. You are already going way too deep for me. Yes I know the pentatonic shape. But I can't apply this in a key or over a chord progression, definetly not on anything that goes beyond the first CAGED lesson using only these chords. Also my ear is terrible and I don't sing or have a sense for notes. And don't get me started on new scales. I haven't even nearly mastered the pentatonic scale, I see no point in going into a new one as for right now. Sometimes I wonder how I even got into guitar :D
 

David Deatherage

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So I find myself at avoiding the lessons. Yet again. I started with the CAGED system and basicly understand it but I lack the motivation to go through all the chords. Problem is that I only wanted to move on to the next lesson once I got something out of the previous one and made a video about it.

Thing is, I feel very limited with what I can do and play when it comes to theory. I learned my pentatonic scale all over the neck, know my campfire chords and what the CAGED system is about. But I can't really use that information to get something useful out of it. I can't even improvise at moderate speed because I can't process fast enough which note is in my scale when I play wherever. And I don't see a point in learning more CAGED chords because I would not know what to do with them.

Don't get me wrong, I am having tons of fun with guitar lately, but that's mostly playing covers and doing some metal jams. It's just that I WANT to get a better guitarist and use the site to the fullest but I find it really hard to make any progress regarding the lessons.

That was just something I needed to get off my chest. How do you guys do it? Any tips on how to approach this?
Dude I'm glad you said it bc I'm literally feeling the same way with the CAGED system. My current plan is to spend a portion of my practice time in the CAGED system and then skip over so it doesn't drive me insane. Don't know if that's an okay way to go about it so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. There is just so many awesome guitar players that I believe are leaps and bounds over me on this site that my advice probably is not best lol! I think about a month ago I left off on the CAGED system and starting noodling over backing tracks with the pentatonics as well as making random riffs with looper pedals and I've noticed I'm literally playing the same stuff over and over and I hit a wall... I just gotta hop back on that practice horse again!

Speaking of practicing I should be doing that right now but I'm off on the forums again!:rolleyes:

Wish you the best of luck and if you find a way through it let me know!

P.S.
Your'e one of the badass guitarist on here I think is leaps and bounds over me! :)
 
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David Deatherage

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Ans also thanks for the awesome video @Jak Angelescu that answered a lot! Makes sense the muscles in my hand aren't developed enough when first starting out so that gives me hope and motivation to at least make the shapes in my routine!
 
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Alicia Willis

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I feel this. I think for me, sometimes I get discouraged because I learn certain things slower than most people. I get frustrated when I attempt a certain thing and just don’t retain it. When I get to that point I move on to something else, but still revisit what I’m having a difficult time understanding or utilizing. I use this same technique with my son in regards to his school work. For example, if we are working on his math work and he’s reached the point it’s just not clicking anymore or he isn’t retaining the information , we will move on to his language or science (something he is very good at) and then refocus and redirect back to the difficult subject. I find it truly does help to not get discouraged. I myself am still stuck in the beginners section and that’s cool. I will however take a break and just do some fun stuff or things I’m good at. Even if it’s just busting out the acoustic and playing wonder wall 😁
If you’re bored and it’s not sticking, move on BUT go back. It doesn’t matter if you have to go back and revisit it a million times, eventually it will stick and you won’t stress yourself out.
I hope my “motherly” advice helps 👍🏻
 

Dominik Graeber

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Thank you so much for taking the time to make this Video! I definetly got a Lot Out of it.

But I am have to say this. You and A LOT of the active guys Here also have somewhat of a Background in theory of Just the topics of the beginners section. Although I Play since quite a while I don't. It's like picking up guitar all over again. And I feel like the lessons don't Always give you quite enough to apply them when you are starting at 0. I don't say they are bad, it's Just that you're gonna have a hard time without preexisting knowledge. And I get where that comes from, as a guitarist that knows what he's doing and knows His stuff in years it will be hard to Imagine what a newbie needs in Order to make the Most Out of His playing.

So I Want to give some more Info / questions for you. Up to the CAGED system PG didn't exactly go into how the Key, chords and the scales Work together. He says you can do it now but can I? It's Like throwing in snippets or examples but I don't get the full Picture or can apply it. So I am Not Sure how to really apply the pentatonic scale over a chord Progression. Hah! Chord Progression. So how do I even write one?

I don't know to be honest. You say we should Focus on chords but we only "learned" campfire chords Up to this Point. So when I am writing a Song with These chords without lead playing. Why would I use the CAGED system? After all it tells you how to play the Same chord in a different Position. I assume going down the Neck the chords change, idk then it's a c2 and not a c1. But I don't KNOW this. So this is where my Limits currently are. That is why I am asking myself "why should I practice These chords when I don't know how to make use of them?"

Oookay, enough Said now. I Hope I don't seem angry or complaining, Just trying to articulate the questions that Pop Up in my mind 😂
 

Andrei Moraru

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One thing I always found hindered my progress was when I was taking on too much stuff at the same time. You know the old adage corporate intellectuals use on LinkedIN: learn to say no? Well, it's true. What you need to do is take a step back and figure out exactly what you want to get better at.

You can start by figuring out if you want to better yourself at rhythm or lead. If you want to get better at rhythm, then try and learn the chord progression of a song of your choosing. On acoustic or electric, less important. Once you figure out the chord progression, replace the chords with a variation from the CAGED system and learn to play the song like that. You can also try fiddling around with 7th chords during this process. Lather, rinse, repeat with a few more songs.

Then, you can try and come up with your own progressions. You can, of course, start with basic chords and, once you figure out the progression, replace them with a more advanced form for each chord. How do you know what chords belong in a scale? Well, you need to start with the circle of 5ths, which gives you every possible scale along with its notes. You may also want to learn the scale formulas described by Papa Gates in one of the lessons. Then, you need to check out this lesson and this lesson. It's all you need for now to get you started on writing your own progressions. It will seem difficult at first, but you may come out of this with a better understanding of why CAGED system chords are useful (hint: it helps give your progressions a different vibe).

Now, for lead guitar, lessons may or may not be your thing. I took a look at some lessons but for the moment I can't seem to stay motivated as well. That's because I want to do my own thing though and I use the lessons and etudes as inspiration for what can be physically done on a guitar. Sure, I can't do this stuff quite as good as Syn yet for obvious reasons, but that's not stopping me.

As I've said in another post, I tend to get stuck in pentatonic scale boxes a lot when improvising. And my solution, while not the most, ahem, normal one, was to sit myself down and write whatever seems to make sense. It does help that I've been fiddling around with writing songs for a few years now. But if you start applying the theoretical aspects into your exercising and composition, you'll be able to unlock a whole new dimension of yourself.

I hope these ramblings make sense :LOL:.
 
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Ids Schiere

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How the chords work together is shown by harmony. Effectively you have degrees for each note of the scale. Let's say C major:
C- 1st degree
D - 2nd degree
E - 3rd degree
F - 4th degree
G - 5th degree
A - 6th degree
B - 7th degree

Now let's build chords out of these notes when we take each of them as the root note. For C you have the root, a fifth and the major third making it a C chord. D you have a minor third and a fifth making it a D minor chord, E has a minor third and a fifth so an E minor etc. When you continue doing this you get the following
I C
ii Dm
iii Em
IV F
V G
vi Am
vii° Bdim
How these chord work together is depicted by cadences. If you have something resembling a V-I(G to C in this case) or IV-I(F to C in this case) it resolves tension(or you could say it sounds nice,like you're back home so to speak). Any other chord change will create tension which does not sound that nice. That's how the chords work together. Keys are usually implied by the perfect/plagal cadences in the chord progression, like the chord that feels like home. In this case that's probably C so you know you can use the C major scale over it.

Why you want to use the CAGED system is effectively so you don't have to slide up and down over the neck all the time. C to G is a lot easier when you use the C shape and G shape or even the A shape and E shape. It's really all about convenience and they create kind of a different sound.

I hope this helps! If anything is unclear you can always ask!
 

Firsty Lasty

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Imo it sounds like there's no real problem here, so continue having fun. Here are the three things you need to progress from this point:

1: Improve you musical "ear" by continuing to have fun with guitar. The best thing I did to help with this was I made a giant list of my favorite vocal melodies and transcribed them. It was slow at first, but I was legit surprised at how quickly I became better at it. If you choose to do this pay attention to the way rhythms repeat in your favorite melodies. It'll probably be very educational. Also be sure to take note of when you find the pentatonic scale. It is used A LOT in popular songs. It is by doing this that I really started to learn the "sound" of the pentatonic scale, not by learning guitar licks. A good place to start is Katy Perry "I Kissed a Girl", if you like the song.

2: Improve your guitar-playing ability by continuing to have fun with guitar. You can most easily imagine the sound of what you can actually play, so gaining skill at playing guitar will cause you to think more musically. It will cause you to have better creative power. You will find the music within the scales and chords you already know as you continue to develop proficiency.

3: Continue to learn more music. Other people have had some really good ideas. As you learn more music it is inevitable that you will start seeing the structure behind it. Scales shapes look different when you know a few songs hidden in them.

As for improvisation, that is something which challenges every possible aspect of playing guitar. It's kinda the hardest thing you could try to do. Trying to improvise is a good way to test yourself and discover what your weaknesses are, but don't think it's something that you need to be good at right now. The skill, experience, imagination, etc required to sound pro at improvising is sky high.
 

Dominik Graeber

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How the chords work together is shown by harmony. Effectively you have degrees for each note of the scale. Let's say C major:
C- 1st degree
D - 2nd degree
E - 3rd degree
F - 4th degree
G - 5th degree
A - 6th degree
B - 7th degree

Now let's build chords out of these notes when we take each of them as the root note. For C you have the root, a fifth and the major third making it a C chord. D you have a minor third and a fifth making it a D minor chord, E has a minor third and a fifth so an E minor etc. When you continue doing this you get the following
I C
ii Dm
iii Em
IV F
V G
vi Am
vii° Bdim
How these chord work together is depicted by cadences. If you have something resembling a V-I(G to C in this case) or IV-I(F to C in this case) it resolves tension(or you could say it sounds nice,like you're back home so to speak). Any other chord change will create tension which does not sound that nice. That's how the chords work together. Keys are usually implied by the perfect/plagal cadences in the chord progression, like the chord that feels like home. In this case that's probably C so you know you can use the C major scale over it.

Why you want to use the CAGED system is effectively so you don't have to slide up and down over the neck all the time. C to G is a lot easier when you use the C shape and G shape or even the A shape and E shape. It's really all about convenience and they create kind of a different sound.

I hope this helps! If anything is unclear you can always ask!
Sorry Ids, but almost nothing's clear. You go too deep already. For C you have the root, a fifth and a third. Okay, heard PG talking about that. But what do I do with those "major" and "minor"s? How would I know? What's with these cadences, why do only progressions from V and IV to I resolve tension?

I get that you can play all chords at any spot on the neck but why do I need it when I am having a song made up only of chords? Why not stay in the open positions anyway?
 

Dominik Graeber

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Guys, I am starting to feel bad because it seems to me like I am just complaining, but I really just can't find a start 😂
Think of me as a new guy, name's Chad, who picked up the guitar a week ago, not even knowing what alternate picking is, cuz that's formally introduced in the advanced section here.
 

Ids Schiere

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Sorry Ids, but almost nothing's clear. You go too deep already. For C you have the root, a fifth and a third. Okay, heard PG talking about that. But what do I do with those "major" and "minor"s? How would I know? What's with these cadences, why do only progressions from V and IV to I resolve tension?

I get that you can play all chords at any spot on the neck but why do I need it when I am having a song made up only of chords? Why not stay in the open positions anyway?
Is it ok if I make a video lesson on it tonight?
 
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Ed Seith

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@Dominik, I completely get it. I'm not much farther ahead than you. @Ids, I love you brother, but your theory knowledge is so next level that you might be too advanced to teach us mouth-breathing crayon-eaters. I have some thoughts, but I haven't been able to watch @Jak's video yet and I want to be caught up and coherent before I ramble. I will reply soon, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I find theory VERY daunting even though I am finding that I intuitively know more than I realized just by virtue of whacking these things around for 35 years.
 

Ids Schiere

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@Dominik, I completely get it. I'm not much farther ahead than you. @Ids, I love you brother, but your theory knowledge is so next level that you might be too advanced to teach us mouth-breathing crayon-eaters. I have some thoughts, but I haven't been able to watch @Jak's video yet and I want to be caught up and coherent before I ramble. I will reply soon, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I find theory VERY daunting even though I am finding that I intuitively know more than I realized just by virtue of whacking these things around for 35 years.
I was kinda thinking about making a mini course on it from intervals you need to build chord up to CAGED and harmony and effectively starting from scratch. Trying to transfer knowledge from one person to another is one of the hardest things to do but I'd like to develop that skill a little more😅
 

Edward John

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@Dominik, I completely get it. I'm not much farther ahead than you. @Ids, I love you brother, but your theory knowledge is so next level that you might be too advanced to teach us mouth-breathing crayon-eaters. I have some thoughts, but I haven't been able to watch @Jak's video yet and I want to be caught up and coherent before I ramble. I will reply soon, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I find theory VERY daunting even though I am finding that I intuitively know more than I realized just by virtue of whacking these things around for 35 years.
Ed, just so you know, Dan Donegan knows no theory. And you said yourself that you have no problem with his lead playing.
 
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