NZMetal's Learning Log - the path to shredding! (fingers crossed lol!)

Right… down to business! :joy: Time to learn to shred! :metal::metal::metal:

After many years of picking up a guitar, then shortly afterwards putting it back in the closet, now is the time to really focus on improving so I can play all the songs I’ve worshiped over the years (and maybe come up with some of my own too?! :crossed_fingers: :joy: ). Essentially I have been on & off with guitar since my mid-teens but have been much more committed this year, with a regular practice routine that I have now maintained for many months. (My full backstory is in my intro if anyone is interested Kia ora from NZ! \m/><\m/)

I have been working through the beginner course for the past couple of months and am currently up to Grade 2, Module 14.

I have done a couple of AVOYPs (see below) and am now recording at least something most times I practice (RLS slowing starting to fade away thankfully! :joy:).

PLAYLIST
These are songs I sort of know, and are working on, that I hope will form my initial playlist:

Metallica

  • Seek & Destroy
  • Four Horseman
  • Creeping Death
  • Master of Puppets
  • One
  • Fade to Black
  • Blitzkrieg

Slayer

  • Die by the Sword
  • Black Magic
  • Fight Till Death
  • Behind the Crooked Cross
  • Angel of Death
  • Postmortem

Death

  • Zombie Ritual
  • Pull the Plug

Goals

Short term:

  • Continue working way through beginner course to completion
  • Begin ear training and theory courses
  • Learn, record and post one song from my playlist per month
  • Find someone to jam with

Longer term:

  • Have learned rhythm for all songs in playlist
  • Begin learning lead metal guitar shredding :metal:
  • Begin writing own songs
  • Form a band

Equipment
Acoustics:

  • one cheap Cataluna (my first guitar)
  • and a slightly better Cort

Electrics:

  • LTD AX-360
  • PRS Standard SE
  • Solar GC1.6FAB

Amps:

  • Boss Katana MKI Artist
  • Boss Katana MKII 100

Pedals:

  • Boss GA-FC (for controlling the Katana)
  • Boss TU-3 tuner
  • Boss RC-3 Loop Station
  • Boss Expression Pedal
  • Digitech Drop pedal
  • XVive Dynarock T2 distortion
  • Xvive Tube squasher

AVOYPs to date
Blues module attempt

Enter Sandman

Master of Puppets 85% speed (aim to revisit this again soon to do an updated version)

Zombie Ritual 85% speed

Blitzkrieg (Metallica’s version) 90% speed

Smashing Pumpkins - Hummer

My aim will be to update this log after each module to maintain a record/keep myself honest :joy: as well as show progress on songs in playlist…

Update 2
Update 3
Latest update

14 Likes

Great start to your learning log. I missed your blues AVOYP and hadn’t yet watched your pumpkins one (just watched them both now).

I reckon your playing is really good! Waaaay beyond beginner and well into the intermediate zone. Just the way you seem to easily move around the fretboard and pick up songs quickly. You’ve learnt a lot over your years playing guitar for sure.

Have you seen a guy on Youtube called Bernth? If you haven’t he might be interesting. Teaches metal techniques. Well beyond my playgrade but might be something there for you.

I’m curious about your recording setup. You’re recording guitar tone, plus backing track through Youtube and your two cams, and it’s switching between your cams. No headphones… Sound is leveled pretty well between BT and guitar too. How are you doing it?

1 Like

Great stuff and a very worthy goal. My wife is originally from Napier. About 10 years ago, when I was still very much a beginner, we lived in the Napier area for about 3 months. We asked around and soon I was jamming with others on Sundays at a local pub. I still remember those jams fondly. I did my first ever open mic at cafe between Napier and Hastings, thankfully the crowd was patient and kind. Haha.

Playing with others has been a great experience for me, not only has it helped me musically I’ve picked up many great friends along the way. Other guitar players generally just love music and love sharing it.

Find your tribe, you won’t be disappointed.

3 Likes

Thanks JK!

So I actually forgot to post it and only realised when putting this together, so above is the AVOYP for that one I guess! :sweat_smile: Your sharp eyes didn’t miss anything mate!

Thank you! That’s very kind of you to say! I feel my playing is a bit like an out of control train that’s always just a blink of an eye away from coming completely off the rails (which it invariably does :joy: )! Working through the beginner course and doing these recordings is really helping me to build some control and begin tidying up all the sloppiness and bad habits I have picked up over the years when I was just messing around.

Yes thanks JK, he’s awesome! Such a ridiculous shredder!! :star_struck: I really enjoy his videos although his ability is so light years ahead of even my wildest dreams that it is a bit depressing to watch! :joy: He shares a lot of great practice and technique tips though which are super useful.

No worries! Here’s my setup :slight_smile:

  • USB out of Katana to laptop (using “live feel” setting) and into OBS
  • Desktop audio captured by OBS too
  • Typically I boost the Katana and drop the desktop audio level depending on the volume of the backing track (mostly around +10-12dB for Katana and -3-6dB for the desktop)
  • Also there’s latency on the Katana audio so I currently have 120ms of offset on the desktop audio to compensate.
  • When playing, I listen to the Katana itself (not via my laptop) and the backing track through my desktop speakers so that I hear everything in sync.
  • Two Logitech C930e webcams go into OBS and are set as separate scenes. I use the Advanced Scene Switcher plugin to automatically transition between them every 20 seconds.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this setup. The main advantage for me is that I can quickly make a recording with two rotating camera shots, my guitar audio and a backing track at essentially the push of a button and not need to spend lots of time later editing (essentially as soon as I hit stop on the recording its done). The downsides are that you don’t get the chance to really tweak anything afterwards, it’s kind of “you get what you’re given” so can’t alter my guitar tone as you might if recording in a DAW or,perhaps, if my computer has a background task that causes it to lag on processing the Katana and webcams for a moment then the desktop audio goes out of sync (thankfully this doesn’t happen much… just on my best recordings :roll_eyes: :joy:). I believe I could resolve this by adding greater flexibility to edit later by recording the audio as multiple tracks? I haven’t played around with that but will try to look into it some time.

Here’s a screen shot of my OBS setup, hope this helps :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Thanks Tony! Napier/Hastings is such a beautiful part of the country or at least it appears to be from what I have heard/seen in pictures. Somehow I haven’t made it there yet but it is pretty much next on my list!
Your story is really inspiring! That is definitely my goal, I just need to get out of my guitar room and go looking I guess! Thanks again mate! :sunglasses: :+1:

1 Like

Might feel like that, definitely not the way it comes across though. Although it sounds familiar. Perhaps that’s what we all feel like when we’re playing stuff that’s close to our limit. Depending what that limit is.

You might feel you’re not where you want to be, but I look and go - damn, wish I could play like Jeff! :rofl:

Thanks for the tips on the recording setup! I’ll have to try it. Looks so much easier for quick videos than what I’m doing currently.

1 Like

Thanks JK! Yeah totally on to something there, pushing limits definitely takes you out of your comfort zone and certainly shows which wheels are the wobbliest (so to speak! :joy:). It’s about keeping perspective eh! Thanks for helping me see that cause it is easy to get lost in the trees! :see_no_evil:
Hope the recording setup works out if you try it, please hit me up if you have any questions! :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

Me too.

Completely agree with JK. I get the impression that you are doing the right thing and going through the beginners grades to capture anything that you’ve missed whilst working on anything that you feel needs a bit more attention and it’s paying huge dividends. Keep on doing what you’re doing as its certainly working.

2 Likes

Thanks James! :smiley: Yes working through the course is really helping a lot! Not only just the technical aspects of playing but also the discipline of creating practice routines. Hugely appreciative of the fantastic work the JG team have done with creating this for us! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
With regards to the blues AVOYP, I had forgotten to post it! :roll_eyes::sweat_smile: So above is the debut, you haven’t missed a thing :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

The blues jam was great, Jeff. Loved the way you just let rip after playing through the study. Had moments of ZZ Top feel to me … and that’s a good thing!

1 Like

Thanks David! That’s very kind! ZZ Top are great, they have some killer tracks! If I was able to even channel a small hint of that, I’m very happy! Thanks again! :smiley: :+1:

1 Like

Hi Jeff, I think that you’re well on the road to your aims! All of the examples of your playing were very good in all ways, I really like that Solar Guitar it’s a beaut!
I’m also a bit of a metal head but my tastes lie more in Symphonic metal and those a bit heavier like Nightwish, Epica, Unleash the Archers, Halestorm and Spirit box, Jinjer, Queenstryche and a few more.
I don’t really play their music, it’s a bit beyond me but I really enjoy listening to it!

1 Like

Thanks Darrell! Really appreciate it :smiley::+1:
Yeah I love that guitar! I think it looks great but also super nice to play. Also really love the Evertune bridge, have you tried one? In fact, I have another Solar incoming which I’ll share soon (GAS is full blown with me :rofl:)!
Some great bands you’re into there! :metal: I totally relate to what you’re saying though. I would really love to play more death metal but just seems beyond me for now. The (mostly) thrash tunes I’ve listed above are hopefully attainable (excluding solos of course! :sweat_smile:) but ideally down the track I’ll move into some more complex, heavier songs :crossed_fingers:
Thanks again for checking this out! :metal:

1 Like

Update on progress…

Since the last post I have completed Grade 2 and have worked through Module 15 at the start of Grade 3. I am planning to sit on this for a while as it touched on some great stuff I want to continue working on, especially transcribing.

I had a go at a few of the suggested easy tracks (Molly’s Lips, Blitzkrieg Bop & All the Small Things) and managed to figure those out in a few minutes which was super inspiring as I always figured I’d be rubbish at it :joy: So I am keen to work on that with some more difficult tracks.

I did realise that I would certainly benefit from undertaking the Theory and Ear Training courses. Therefore I will be working through those over the next few months as well. I have already started the Theory course and most of the early stuff I thankfully understand however I have never fully cemented the position of notes on the fret board very well. The 1st, 5th & 6th strings are okay mostly but the others always takes me a few moments to figure out, and certainly can’t just do it on the fly whilst playing. I plan to break it into chunks and have started with the first 5 frets as Justin suggests at the beginning of Module 2.

I have also included the Minimum Movement Exercise into my daily routine to help rein in my wayward fingers! :joy: This is starting to have an impact, whilst subtle, it certainly seems noticeable looking back at previous recordings. Thanks again to @glpguitar & @LievenDV for suggesting it! :smiley::+1:

I also have had a small attempt at singing whilst playing. I absolutely suck at this… but I am going to persevere :joy: I find it very difficult to sing and play anything that is beyond just a simple strumming pattern, so this is going to take some time to practice and improve on (let alone my vocals which are horrendous :laughing:)!

In terms of songs, I have been working on Slayer’s Angel of Death as the iconic riff in the middle section uses hammer-ons and pull-offs that fitted in nicely with the finger gym exercise in G3 M15 Lesson 3 (I hope to post an AVOYP of this song soon, just working on a couple of bits to get up to a moderate speed to be comfortable recording).

Also revisited Master of Puppets and completed a comparison video with my AVOYP of it I posted 2mths ago. Some good points were that I had progressed to playing it standing up and I think my fingers were a touch more under control, but overall not a huge improvement and many of the mistakes happened in similar spots. Actually the bit I have really struggled with the most is using my foot switch whilst playing the interlude and solo section. The shift in focus always throws me off and causes fumbles. Not a problem when playing a standard rhythm section, just when doing the trickier single string picking. This is something I need to practice more and figure out how to do. I think it is much the same problem as with singing above, I need to automate one thing to focus on the other I guess! Here is the comparison video. The audio is of both recordings, just cause I thought that was interesting and you get to hear all the mistakes on both :see_no_evil: :joy:

On that note, recording myself has become much easier. I have been doing it almost everyday (most of which I delete) and it has normalised the process. I guess that means I might have to think about playing live in front of others to start tackling that fear… maybe one day… in the distant future :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Finally, you might have noticed a new guitar in the above clip. Yep, I bought another one! GAS strikes again :joy: It’s another Solar (SB1.6FOB). I love these guitars, although this one wasn’t exactly the look I would have ideally gone for but I got it through a local supplier who had limited options (importing was out of reach this time given the drop in the NZ dollar). The reason (if there ever needs to be one! :laughing:) for purchasing was as follows… Although I still absolutely LOVE my other Solar and regularly play it, it is very heavy and found it difficult to play for longer periods standing up, also I never got used to the pickup switch position and found it was becoming a hindrance. So having the lighter SB, with better (IMO) pickup switch has been great and am thoroughly enjoying the benefits of both guitars now :smiley:

I also sorted myself out with a basic pedal board… in case I find someone else to jam with! :crossed_fingers::laughing:

That’s it for now… back to it I guess! :metal:

4 Likes

Thanks for the update, Jeff. Always inspiring to read about people making progress, in playing as well as new guitars, pedal boards. Metal in general not really my thing, I tap out when it gets too heavy and fast, but your playing sounds good, looks impressive. Keep doing what you are doing!

1 Like

Thanks David! :smiley::+1:

Hi Jeff,
Amazing :sunglasses: :metal: :clap:,…
That solo went a bit off balance, but all in all it was really fantastic and great as the first song of the day, :sunglasses: :teapot:…Happy NGD, :partying_face:…and you will definitely be playing in front of a room with people in the foreseeable future ,…at least if you want to ,because your brain is the one that determines that, your fingers are already ready for stage work (don’t go straight for the most difficult songs/solo`s, eh),…you are gooood,and will be much better :smiley: :sunglasses:
Greetings,Rogier

1 Like

Thanks so much, Rogier! Really appreciate your kind words! :blush::+1:
Yes, feeling like the steps are heading in the right direction, plenty of work still ahead, but progress nonetheless. Thanks again! :metal::sunglasses:

1 Like

Hi Jeff, for me sounds good. Nice job using the video to identify where you are struggling. If you are not already doing it, in addition to playing the whole song you can play several times just the part you are having issues (like playing the last bars of the strumming, doing the change of tone, and starting the solo).

1 Like

Thanks Andrés! Great advice! Yeah I’ve been practicing this track by just repeating the transition from the chorus to interlude to solo (the YouTube looper plugin is super helpful) but I’m still struggling at doing it well, especially when capturing a single take of the whole song. I thought about splitting the parts up and recording them separately but that seemed like cheating for the purpose I was looking at here :joy: However I’ll continue to work on it using that method, it is definitely helping. Thanks again mate! :metal::grinning: