On motivation to learn difficult techniques

Hello! Glad to have a new post here.

I am looking for advice on learning and figuring out “difficult” techiques. It seems like my brain is kind of shut off, reluctant to think and address the issue in situation of incomplete tabs, technical right hand picking/percussive techniques. Andy Mckee makes my day easier by explaining step by step what is going on in his song, and I can learn it without looking at the tab. But not for songs from other finger-style guitarist…

Getting a mentor (coach) would help in pointing out the problems and facillitates my learning, but I am looking for alternatives (probably some mindset, habits) to tackle the apparent difficulties. (Can’t afford a coach given my situation, ha!)

Shoutout to Andy Mckee for providing great cover and walkthrough of this song. I am honoured to learn it right now!


My advice is not to dive into specific songs but apply the technique on songs you know best; you need as much autopilot as you can.

no need to go into Andy Mckee like percusion/slappijg/tapping/pull-of/harmonic stuff before you got a good fingerpicking flow going on.

Start with the chords you find the easiest; example C and Am and do a very simple pattern while aternating between them.

doing a basic thumb, index, thumb, middle pattern and moving it along on a chors progression, you start to engrain a certain flow in your playing. Doing that with other patterns, also involving ring finger, moving on applying it to different progressions and even songs, you build a good primer.

Decorate your chords; Apply the basic tricks to variastions of chords by adding and removing fingers in chord chapes while you maintain a steady flow…ex: D/Dsus2/Dsus4 and C/cmaj7/Cadd9/C9 cycles etc


Thank you for your detailed explanation Lieven! I wish I know all these when I started guitar and definitely would be extermely helpful for any beginners!

Utmost grateful of me if you would check out my recent song

Would not say I am an adept player, so I am looking for advance ideas on tackling songs from great musician like Andy Mckee and others. Thank you!

Probably I should get the whole idea of the particular song, feeling down first and then try to work on section by section, and pay attention to the difficult section.

This is a lesson learnt from mixing; human loves progress and I think this is the way to do it here. If I am not mistaken Andy has mentioned in his song tutorial before; some section may require more attention than others (Like in Rylynn, the technically difficult section is actually Outro lol)

And most importantly a very strong reason/desire to learn the guitar (here it would be working through that specific difficult piece). Oddly enough I remember I have given this advice to completely novice who want to start playing guitar

I forgot if I first learned this from Justin or read it from Dale Carnegie; nevertheless I think this is the most essential mindset I need to have in mind

I checked it out;
the loud vocal and me not being completely familiar with this style, language and genre make it hard to judge but my first impressions were:

  • you seem to have a more than decent “toolbox” to work with already; keep it up!
  • You can’t blame the guitar, it sounds fine ^^
  • The rhythm seemed off more than once or twice; it sounded like the focus on trying to play certain phrases or chords right made you pay a a little price in the rhythm. From what I hear, there is a certain fluency in forming and playing the tiny bits that make up the song, but the flow isn’t even enough yet.

I can imagine a healthy ambition and persistent practice made you progress, perhaps even faster than others but it’s easier to hear yoursel make mistakes like a bad chord grip or pricking something wrong than being off in your timing. Perhaps that is why your granular pieces like strums, grips, passing notes etc sound good on their own but the engine could pur somewhat more evenly.

Recording yourself over a metronome and drumtracks (more fun imho) and being really cricial in your listening can be the eye-opener here. If your rhythm is oslid you can even fumble a chord grip; just keep it going in that even pace and it will not hut your song at all.

What I’m saying here reminds me of a Bruce Lee quote:
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

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Thank you so much! Will pay attention to the rhythmic and time feel. And listen mindfully. Definitely one of the thing I am struggling to do. Your words inspire me on some approaches for next song!

To do the recording I make click tracks with simple drums. I apply a small trick to let the voice stand out/not too artificial - the tempo within each section varies (the time slows down at certain measure then gets back to normal, say for a section with 8 measures).

Despite so, I think I sounded inconsistent and lack of practices on the recordings. And a better setup (like proper mic stand) will help me to be comfortable and play the tune at ease. Need to be managing time and money adeptly :smiling_face_with_tear:

So sorry for being too loud on the voice. Will definitely take note of this! Since my song is only a guitar track and voices, so common sense on how loud a guitar track should be in a mix doesnt apply.

And again thank you Lieven and have great day ahead!

Until today I am still stuck on the first few measure of Aerial Boundaries :rofl: :rofl:
Upcoming days are holidays so I have some time to work on this piece. Yay.

Keep practicing, you’ll get there eventually!

I’ve been stuck on a song by Alter Bridge for three years (practicing it regularly on and off) now and only recently made progress that allowed me to move on to the next part. Funny enough, I made progress during holidays. Don’t forget to enjoy the process of learning it though!

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Hi! Revisiting this topic as I find it intriguing.

I could be wrong, so… to summarise what I know

  • Get the whole idea down then break it down section by section. Pay attention to difficult sections. Feelings of progress do matter.

  • Have a very strong reason/desire to do it. And followed up by, “I got to show to people what I am capable of!” that sort of determination, every time picking a guitar.

  • Having mentors, not necessary a coach but friends who could point things out so I could correct it immediately (friends could be mentors too!)

  • Almost forgot, got to utilise technology (loading up the songs/tracks in DAWs, recording myself playing) Would love a condusive environment (as simple as putting a nice guitar in sight to be easily picked up and play)

I definitely agree about breaking stuff down, sometimes right down to the most basic concepts. Managing to play a sequence of a few notes in the context of a fancy guitar solo might not seem like much but it is progress.

I agree having a reason to do it, however I’m not convinced that proving something to someone else is a good motivation. What if you show them something that has been months of hard work and they just shrug? Do it for yourself, your own satisfaction / sense of achievement / pleasure etc

There’s certainly days when I reach for my guitar that I choose to play the stuff that I can already play rather than tackling something different. As long as that isn’t every day then I don’t think it matters as I’m still improving by spending more time playing, even if it’s a bit of a sideways step in my journey to learn a favourite song


And to add a bit of useful advice, when you are dealing with difficult passages, start with the first few notes only. Stop there and repeat from the beginning.

Once feeling comfortable slowly add in the next few notes. Rinse and repeat the procedure until you have mastered the whole passage.

Well, hope this could help anyone interested in mastering fingerstyle guitar =)


Note by note. bar by bar. Build it slowly until you have it all under your fingers, then speed it up. :sunglasses:

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A funny vids of explaining what I have been doing :laughing: Pretty much elaborating the points I was trying to say in much better way