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How limited am I by my genes?


The Doctor

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I play sort of a rhythm guitar, with a very few little accoustic licks. I can finger pick. I'm talking Paul Simon or Gordon Lightfoot stuff, no better.

 

Is it possible for me to eventually play like Herschel Yatovitz, David Hidalgo, or Albert Lee? Tony Rice? Vince Gill? Can "anyone" make it to a high level just with lessons and lots of practice? I ask because:

 

1. There seem to be alot of people who make it to that level. I amlistening to an old "Desert Rose Band" CD and John Jorgensen is making his axe ring like a bell. There are lots like him.

 

2. I have been playing for many years and from time to time try to play lead like these guys, an it seems hopeless.

 

If I can make it, how do I do it? Instructional videos? Personal instruction? I watched Herschel play on PBS and even the things that I can sort of mimic, he fingers completely differently.

 

Help?

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i think everyone has a certain level of dexterity that is either a help or hinderance.

we all have different levels of desire and commitment.

so to answer the question, partly genetics may come into play, and some of it is just our personalities and how we approach it.

some people want to be great but don't want the work involved.

some people are just not coordinated enough.

but i think that most of it is just plain hard work.

no easy answer.

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How many fingers were you born with :D

 

If you have the traditional complement and they bare a resemblance to bread sticks rather than marshmallows you're likely set to go :thu:

 

The rest... as they say.. is your for the taking.

I still think guitars are like shoes, but louder.

 

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I'm listening to some instruction videos by John Heussenstamm

 

(http://www.guitarschool.net/teacher_show.asp?teacher_id=3)

 

This guy can absolutely tear up a jazz guitar. Plays it like its a shredding machine. He said that after graduating high school, he was going to get out of rock and make a living as a jazz musician. He went to Mexico to live in off the land in the woods and play jazz guitar from morning until night until he felt he was good enough to earn a living. He ended up getting sick AFTER 3 MONTHS and his brother had to rescue him. Then in his first jazz band, they all went to a midwestern state and practiced 8 hours a day. He would then play on his own for the rest of the day. This lasted a couple of months.

 

So I'm guessing that time with a slow disciplined course of study is what it takes to be great.

Raise your children and spoil your grandchildren. Spoil your children and raise your grandchildren.
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I have great fingers, ten of them, of am pretty dextrous at other things. And I have a decent ear for music. So it sounds like you think I can reach Hidalgo's level of skill. Let's say I want to play the opening riff from "One Time One Night". HOw to begin? I know Chris Proctor has a video out to teach his style. Are there videos to help me learn R&R? Does watching Vince Gill play "Oklahoma Borderline" up close help? Or do I just sit in the chair and chop away until "Luxury Liner" comes ripping out of the guitar?
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Thanks, friends. KPB, I'll check out that site.

 

BTW, have you heard ALbert Lee's acoustic, instrumental version of Luxury Liner on his new CD? Whoa. That's some mind-numbing stuff.

 

Also, did you know that Jim Stafford and Jerry Reed are 6-string maestros? I saw them play Yakkety Axe in unison (!!) on the old Midnight SPecial TV show 30 years ago. More great stuff.

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(Opens can of worms)...

 

I don't think that it's necessarily dexterity that limits us. That which limits us most is our ability to hear, and our imagination.

 

Well, dexterity is a factor, but, I think that the people who can really "tear it up" have something extra that those who can't...don't. But it's not an all or nothing thing, there are degrees of it. Certainly tastes vary too. So part of the reason someone who plays B.B. King licks isn't Joe Pass, is because they either a). Don't want to be Joe Pass...b). Don't think they could be Joe Pass or any combination of a bunch of factors. They LIKE B.B King...that style moves them more. But, some people have told themselves (I among them) that no matter how hard they try, they won't be that ideal.

 

And that goes at all levels of guitar playing. I think Django Reinhardt proved that there aren't any necessary limits on guitar playing based on dexterity. He played those amazing runs with only two fingers. It was his imagination and keen ear that enabled him to overcome what most of us would consider insurmountable physical hardship.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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I think it`s more about reaching your maximum potetial with the genes you have, rather than

fuming about someone else`s foot-long fingers-or perfect hair or sports car or hot girlfriend, for that matter. Okay I still get a little bent about the hot girlfriend thing. The point is, ya play the hand that`s dealt ya.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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Cmon now (opening an even bigger can of worms) this ain't rocket science. All of us non God human types have a great varience in our talent levels. Practice all you want. You may become as good as you can, but that may or may not be all that great.

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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IF you have enough of an ear to know of the guitar is in tune with itself, most of your fingers, and enough dedication, you can learn to play as well as anyone. You may not be an innovator or great writer, but I am convinced that pretty much anyone can play as well as anyone else as long as they ain't tone deaf and are really willing to work at it. Django Reinhart, Jerry Garcia,and Phil Keaggy have shown us we don't even have to have all out fingers to do it well.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Sasquatch51:

There are some people that are more talented than others. That just means they don't have to work as hard as everybody else to get to a particular level.

I think that has to be amended-there are some people that are more talented at some things than others. So maybe they don`t have to work as hard to play really fast but they can`t sing. Or maybe they can`t sing or play that well but they are brilliant at marketing themselves. Skills are not distributed evenly, that`s the game. You make the most of what you have.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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Originally posted by skipclone 1:

Originally posted by Sasquatch51:

There are some people that are more talented than others. That just means they don't have to work as hard as everybody else to get to a particular level.

I think that has to be amended-there are some people that are more talented at some things than others. So maybe they don`t have to work as hard to play really fast but they can`t sing. Or maybe they can`t sing or play that well but they are brilliant at marketing themselves. Skills are not distributed evenly, that`s the game. You make the most of what you have.
That's true, but I think anyone that can speak can be trained to sing at least to some degree of proficiency. It may take an extremely patient teacher, but it can be done. Same as playing guitar or anything else. Natural talent makes it much, much easier, but lack thereof doesn't preclude one from success. If you can hear when someone else is off-key, then I think you probably can hear well enough to play or sing. Nearly everyone can hear that well. The real question becomes: "Is it really worth the effort?"

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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What's that old joke?... something like:

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

 

I think one of the best ways to become a better player is to play with others as much as possible. And to use a sports expression, you want to play up - meaning try to play with other guitarists who are better than you so you can learn and evalate your own "game."

 

Personally, I feel that I advanced the most during my first 4 or 5 years of playing guitar. Granted I was in high school and college and had time to devote to playing but I also played with lots of other musicians, whether it was in a real band situation or just sitting around jamming with other guitar players.

 

As an adult with other responsibilites, guitar playing is less of a priority in terms of hours per week that I can devote to it. I rarely jam anymore and I feel that my playing has reached a plateau. Hopefully a little personal instruction and meeting some new "jam" friends can get me progressing again!

 

Regarding the John Jorgensen comment that he "makes his axe ring like a bell and there are many like him." GP had a recent write-up on him (discussing his Django influence). I have to think that he is blessed with a bit more talent than the avg guitar player and has put in a very significant amount of effort/work to develop it. Yes there are numerous other guitar players with similar abilities but I don't think there are many, especailly compared to the entire guitar playing population!

"Spend all day doing nothing

But we sure do it well" - Huck Johns from 'Oh Yeah'

Click to Listen to Oh yeah

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I think you can be limited by your physical ability. But I don't know how much of a limitation that would really turn out to be. I think most people could probably be pretty skilled with enough practice.

 

And practice is probably the biggest factor in developing your abilities.

 

It takes three things to be a guitarist. You have to know where you want to go (know what you don't know and know what you want to play). You have to find a way to get there (find someone to teach you, watch others or find a written/video course). You have to expend the energy and time required to get there (practice, practice, practice).

 

Most of the guitar greats got where they are probably through an enormous amount of practice. They may have been able to pick it up quicker than others. They may have had great teachers. They may have just done nothing else for years.

 

Yes, I think everyone does have a inate level of ability that will manifest itself once you start the journey to learning to play. In some people that inate ability is quite large. In others, i't nearly non-existent.

 

I think those with large inate ability will probably stick with the guitar much longer than those with little or no inate ability to learn the guitar. I think they stick with it because they don't get as frustrated with it as those with little or no inate ability.

 

There are two other facets. Desire and "ear". The amount of desire you have to learn the instrument will govern how much effort you are willing to put into learning it. If you have little or no inate ability and not a great desire to learn it, you aren't going to go far.

 

On the other hand, if you have a great deal of desire to learn the instrument, you can overcome even a complete lack of inate ability. It will just take longer to learn.

 

Now, as for "ear", if you are tone deaf and you can't train your ear, then you can still play the guitar but it might as well be a robot playing it. Without an "ear" for the sound, it's highly unlikely there will be any feeling in your playing.

 

In my view, if you don't develop your ear, then you are not going to be even a good guitar player much less a great one.

Born on the Bayou

 

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it's a fact that some people have a higher percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers in their bodies, and that accounts for some folks being stupidly fast.

 

and not everyone can ride like lance armstrong because of his unnaturally large heart.

 

there is also a bit of luck in discovering your gifts. maybe you're potentially a brilliant speed skater, but you grew up in french polynesia and haven't seen snow or ice.

 

so, yes, you may be shortchanged genetically - but you can still be as great as you can be. and you can feel pretty damned lucky to have the social, economic, and cultural ability to play guitar :wave:

 

*if i don't make any sense, blame it on the hang-over*

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When I don't get to play for awhile...

...I sound like shit and I'll be stumbling all over the fretboard (same goes for keyboard).

 

After playing again for awhile...a few days...

...all that dexterity comes back.

 

That's just plain old practice.

 

But once you push your dexterity to your own personal limit, the size of your hands/fingers/etc...

...after that, it's like Tedster said...it's more about your imagination and how you hear what you are playing, than it is about physical ability.

 

Sure...long fingers never hurt...but that's not the only thing standing between great or mediocre playing.

 

Note selection, expression, phrasing...that all comes from your head...not your hands. :)

Some people are able to "hide" their physical limitations by exceeding in those areas.

While others...as gifted as they may be with large and fast hands and fingers...play like they got bricks! :eek:

 

You ever see the 7-foot guy that couldn't dribble or shoot a basketball to save his life!!! :D

 

 

So...you need to practice developing your dexterity...but more important...develop you hearing and your imagination.

 

Ohand on the importance/impressiveness scale of playing any instrument

high-speed shredding is only a small portion of any good playing ability, and actually, it gets down right annoying as shit listening to someone just twiddle and twiddle away and high speeds all the time!!!

I never hear those people play much of anythingits more of a finger exercise than it is musicIMO.

 

Make do with what you have...and then just push it to the limit. You will be surprised how far you can go. :thu:

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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And...I also believe that the "good" players have the ability to hear the melody and the rhythmic variations...a few notes ahead of where they are playing at any given moment.

 

Just like a good chess player.

 

Kinda' also reminds my of my ski-bum days...

The big "word" when learning how make all those quick, great moves...was...

...anticipation (didn't Carly sing about that also? ;) )

 

Kidding aside...knowing how and learning to anticipate your playing moves makes a big difference...rather than just going from note-to-note...pinball-style.

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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Okone more thought... :)

 

I know this is starting to segue a bit from the basic genes topic

 

But also...if you want to improve your playingyou gotta get away from the learned licks/patterns mentality.

 

I hear too many guys just regurgitate stuff they coppedand often, maybe only stringing together a few of those learned licks/patterns without ever expounding and improvising on their own.

 

No imagination

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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Some of you seem to feel that enough practice and anybody can become great. That's just purely not true. I can practice 24/7 at golf and I'll never hit the ball like the pros do. I can shoot baskets 12 hours a day and I'll never be in the NBA. Everybody's mind and everybody's body are different. Some are simply better than you. If you are twice the player I am, and so I practice twice as hard as you, that does not mean I will become as good as you. Too many talent variables here. I love playing and I think that to be the best I can be means a lot of practice, but that does not mean I will be as good as the greats. Maybe that's why I never try to emulate other guitar players. I don't pay any attention to the "play like so-and-so" lessons available everywhere. I think I'll just play like me. :)

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Originally posted by Bbach of Bismarck:

Some of you seem to feel that enough practice and anybody can become great. That's just purely not true. I can practice 24/7 at golf and I'll never hit the ball like the pros do. I can shoot baskets 12 hours a day and I'll never be in the NBA. Everybody's mind and everybody's body are different. Some are simply better than you. If you are twice the player I am, and so I practice twice as hard as you, that does not mean I will become as good as you. Too many talent variables here. I love playing and I think that to be the best I can be means a lot of practice, but that does not mean I will be as good as the greats. Maybe that's why I never try to emulate other guitar players. I don't pay any attention to the "play like so-and-so" lessons available everywhere. I think I'll just play like me. :)

I agree 100 percent. Be like the Army says, be all you can be...but in the end, that's ALL you can be. That's not to say that you should ever be content with where you are, because I think everyone can improve. Not everyone will be (insert your favorite player here)...but, everyone should continue to strive to improve.

 

And you're right about practicing...and the golf analogy. Some folks have a given knack. But, if you still enjoy playing golf even though you're not Tiger Woods, then by all means keep playing, and keep improving.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Originally posted by Bbach of Bismarck:

Some of you seem to feel that enough practice and anybody can become great.

No...not great...just real good. :)

 

World-class greatness (which is what you are alluding to)...also requires a just bit of "born-with-it" gift.

But that's no guarantee. There are MANY people with some talent that they eventually "pissed down the drain".

 

Thinking...."I'm never gonna be just like Mike"...isn't a really good approach.

 

So practice will make perfect...or as one of my teachers use to say..."perfect practice, makes perfect"... ;)

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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Originally posted by The Doctor:

Is it possible for me to eventually play like Herschel Yatovitz, David Hidalgo, or Albert Lee? Tony Rice? Vince Gill? Can "anyone" make it to a high level just with lessons and lots of practice?

One other thought on aspiring to musical perfection. Keep in mind that most average people have never heard of any of those people on your list, except for Vince Gill. My point is that, while us as musicians idolize those people, their musical prowess hasn't made them household names (except, again, Gill). So, there's more to musical success than musical prowess, IMO, anyhoo...
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Ya and Vince's fame came from his singing and writing not from his wonderful guitar playing skills! I met him twice and I gotta say he was the greatest guy! you didn't get the feeling that he was in a hurry to get rid of you at all. I asked him why he always used a Telecaster and he said it recorded better? but his all time favorite was still his Gretch Country Gentleman!! hard tail!! ya hard tail? I bet you can guess WHO gave him that Chet signature model..three guesses and the first two dont count. :D:thu:
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Oh ok now about the subject. I say you are most likely NOT limited by your genes. You will know when you have hit the threshold when you try to learn something new and you cannot! I mean anything new at all. As long as you can learn something new to you, you have not stopped progressing. If for instance you learn a new scale or a progression that is new to you, you are still progressing.
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I don't like the word "genes" because, if there's a gene fro succesful guitar playing, there's also going to be genes for other human endeavours.

 

And someday, some clown will "discover" the gene that leads to petty crime or whatever and then, we'll all start building the next Auschwitz.

 

No thank you.

 

I think upbringing is far more important. Having parents that teach you to enjoy music so that playing an instrument becomes as much a part of your life as driving a car.

 

Parents that DON'T tell you to stop practising and do your math homework already because otherwise, what will become of you in later life? go a very long way toward making sure you'll be really good at guitar playing (or absailing or whatever else you fancy) In other words, environment is crucially important. Oh, and a bit of elbow grease and perseverance and a tad of creativity don't hurt either.

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Originally posted by ellwood:

Ya and Vince's fame came from his singing and writing not from his wonderful guitar playing skills! ...

Not exactly true, Lee. Vince certainly became a household name because of his record deal as an artist, but he was very well known as a session player long before either his songwriting or singing put him out front. This goes back to his days in Oklahoma with buddies like Bobby Clark, an amazing mandolin player. He was strictly background with Pure Prarie League, then it was his guitar playing that put him in a position to become an artist. ;)

 

To answer the question, certainly your genes limit you. But don't focus on that. You're not going out for an NFL, NBA or other athletic team and you haven't been closely coached your entire life to be a speed demon and consumate musician on guitar.

 

The trouble with giving in to the idea you can't improve significantly because of your genes is that you're probably wrong. It isn't as easy to determine how far you can go with your playing as one can in determining that a 175lb guy will not likely become a great offensive lineman. (Where, quite literally, you'd get squashed! :freak: ) You're more likely to assume a lack of achievement means you've reached your technical high point long before you do. Learning is easy for some, but for many it takes hours and hours of painstaking work until something clicks, making it possible for you to move on to the next level.

 

I'll never finger chords like Allan Holdsworth. He, quite literally, has hands (from base of palm to fingertips) that are twice the length of mine. That doesn't mean I can't learn to compensate in other ways, in order to play similar passages to those he plays.

 

Most telling to me is that you place Paul Simon and Gordon Lightfoot in the realm of simple players. I'd like to hear the songs you play and how they play them. They may not be the pinnacle of technical virtuosity, but I bet some of the players you mention would hold both of them in high regard as players.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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