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Ask Jake: It takes HOURS to learn just one riff…. am I doing this right?

Today’s Question is from Alex:

Question:

Hey! So I’ve been playing for 3 or 4 months now, and I can play almost every chord to most songs that I try (except Eb-it’s a doosy, and a few obscure ones), though switching can get a little difficult at times. I do practice a lot everyday but I’m always worrying that I’m not making enough progress. I’ve been working on riffs lately, but it seems that it can take hours to learn just one. Should I be expecting this kind of thing even though I practice a lot and have been playing it this long and am I at a good place? It’s just hard to see my heroes like Johnny Marr and Johnny Greenwood play these incredible riffs and solos when I’m still struggling to tackle the intro to ‘Under The Bridge’

Answer:

Alex! First off…..Don’t be so hard on yourself. These guys have been playing for years and years and years and years.

If you’re already tackling the “Under the Bridge” intro (which has some pretty big finger stretches) after only playing for 3 or 4 months, you’re doing great.

IT IS TOTALLY NORMAL TO TAKE HOURS TO LEARN EVEN SMALL RIFFS AND SOLOS.

I’ll give you a personal example:  I wanted to learn the solos from Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing”.   It took me months.  I would sit for an hour…. literally 60 minutes…. working on a riff that lasted 10 seconds…. I feel like an insane person just writing that.

But that’s how it works.  You put in the time.  And I mean TIME.  A lot of it.  But it pays off.  That’s how these guys get so good.  They lock themselves in their rooms and play.

Also – if there is a particular solo, progression, or riff that you’ve seen Johnny Marr or Johnny Greenwood play…. see if you can start to work on that. Focus all of your energy and practice time on those solos – or maybe simpler/easier versions of those solos.

If you want to play like your guitar heroes, start learning their music. But be patient. You’re going to get frustrated (totally normal). Just keep going and going. Since you have pretty specific goals… you may want to think about getting a guitar teacher (if you don’t have one already) and really focusing on some specific songs/solos.

Good luck my friend!

Let me know if you have an questions… and keep me updated on your progress!!!

I share even juicier stories and guitar playing tips on my e-mail list…. you can sign up here!

(Jake Posko does in-home and online guitar lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at jake@jakeposko.com).

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