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Thread: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    I confess: I've been playing guitar for over 50 years. Of course, there was a stretch of time when I never took one in hand, but time waits for no one...

    Ninety-nine percent of the time I'm performing for myelf: Solo. At home. In private. If I perform in public, any stage fright I might have goes away very quickly, as I get into the pure enjoyment of playing. And having someone else listen (it's better if they're a captive audience, like in a church setting).

    However, there's always a part of me that, upon hearing someone else play, says, "Don't you wish you could play as well?"

    I had a weird experience today.

    I came across a video (I've long said if the Internet existed back when I first started, I'd be a guitar god today), and after watching it, said to myself I'd like to try that. After only a very short time it occurred to me: I already know this! In fact, I was ahead of what the video was teaching. I felt very pleased with myself. I also felt somewhat surprised: Do I have a level of knowledge that I take for granted? Can I actually play better than I often believe? The problem I have with my performances is that I have no one to give me feedback. Last year, when I finally took lessons, I had someone who could hold my feet to the fire (e.g., this scale form begins with your third finger) but I never got a sense of whether my playing was "good" or not.

    Self-doubt can be a real downer. I can't begin to describe the joy I get from playing guitar, whether I'm the only audience or not. That doesn't stop me from getting surprised when it turns out I know more than I think I do.
    Striving to be ordinary

  2. #2
    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    I've been playing since 1972 or 73, sure wish I had kept a journal back then. I had high standards, i wanted to be like Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Mark Farner, Joe Perry, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Dicky Betts, Billy Gibbons. Compared to them, I sucked royally to the most highest. But I kept at it. I met people I worked with who played and got invited to join a band that was essentially a KISS tribute band. We played for 18 months in the lead player and drummer's parents' basement. We had a paying show at a local ski area lodge and I broke my left hand in a motorcycle accident the afternoon before our show that night. I ended up having to sell all my band gear (including an Ampeg V-4 with 8x10 cab), my motorcycle and car to pay my uninsured medical bills. That lead to a dark period where I barely touched a guitar for 5 years before the industrial accident that would have claimed all the fingers on my left hand but for my ninja-like reflexes. I only lost the tip of my left middle finger. After that I awoke anew to guitar playing since I had come so close to losing it forever.

    I bought books and tapes and CDs and DVDs, I amassed a library of magazines (1974 to 2003 Guitar Player). I fashioned home recording setups and over several decades had piles of often unlabeled cassettes (Oh, I'll remember that session, LOL). I can quite honestly tell you that I really hope none of it ever sees the light of day ... but having said that, I could glean a few rough gems in the mountains of slag.

    I have a couple of friends who play acoustic guitars, neither of them owns an electric. For quite some time, I didn't own an acoustic but we'd still get together to jam. I really enjoyed doing that and I always seemed to learn something or do something better the next time we played. It's been far too seldom that we've gotten together the past decade or so. Just when it looked like we had a new generation looking to join us, literally the next day was the Covid shut down on March 17th.

    I've been playing and recording with Garageband for almost 5 years and last year bought Logic Pro X. The quality of my recordings, and I like to think my playing, has soared. I have about 20 recordings on a thumb drive that I listen to in my car, some are only 45-60 seconds long, others are around 2 minutes. They are like seeds of songs. I hear them in my head during the day and sometimes catch myself going "What, what song is that? Oh, it's one of mine." So I like to think I don't suck as much as I used to
    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

  3. #3
    Forum Member dirtdog's Avatar
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    @Old_Strummer - I think you've reached the point and earned the right to use this one:


  4. #4
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    LOL!
    Striving to be ordinary

  5. #5
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    The only way I judge how well I play any more is the comments I receive from others when they here me play. Am I any good yes I dont get booed at and people dont run away. Do a lot of the teaching videos I look at seam redundant to what I all ready know yes. But I watch to see if there is something I can learn.

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    Forum Member Gravity Jim's Avatar
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    I think I'm always better than I think I am. I'll listen to something I did two years ago and think, "Man, that was pretty good! I don't remember playing that well." But the thing I'm working on right now... man, nobody ever sucked worse.

  7. #7
    Forum Member Laker's Avatar
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    I was a hell of a lot better player 50 years ago than I am now. Arthritis and other “blessings” of aging have slowed my abilities as a bass player. I have learned to play lines to my abilities and not as I hear them. The real trick is to still play in that pocket that I hear but to do it with an altered approach, with less effort.

  8. #8
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: Are You Sometimes Better Than You Think You Are?

    Not really. I know I will always be below average regarding technique, skill and "being a natural", but I have a pretty good deal of self-knowledge and I know that I am a rock and roll lover, more than anything else. The fact that I am a musician is merely a consequence. I play the guitar because I love it, I love the fact that this instrument exists and so many great guys have made and still make such great music with it. So why not play it live myself? That's what it's all about, to me.

    Having achieved the status of 'professional guitarist' (i.e. someone who actually is hired by night clubs and gets paid for playing live to an audience that paid to see the band, someone that plays well enough to be invited by biker clubs to play at their gatherings in big stages, and so on) is something that still makes me go "hey, is this even real?".

    But I've been on the road with a guitar in the backseat of my car for years and I feel I belong in the guitar world so...

    Anyway, though I do play what I play decently, I don't think I'm ever better than I think I am.

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