How can you hear how bad you are?

edited January 3 in Technique Posts: 85

I've been practicing a lot, getting the gypsy picking down, practicing with the metronome, backing track, things were going going well.

So I thought. Until I recorded myself!

Then I heard all the missed notes, fret buzzing, weird timing (couldn't hear even with a metronome). Things sounded not as I thought they did when playing.

How to hear these things when practicing/playing live?!?!?!

I felt like one of those Guitar Center "gods" who think they're good, but not to other customers around.



  • Posts: 50

    It's hard to be truly objective about ourselves, you're probably not be as bad as you think.

    Don't worry about it, and don't record yourself!

    Keep things fun.

  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,337

    Keep things fun.

    Amen! It's the journey, not the destination.

  • luckylucky New
    Posts: 39

    If you want to progress it’s good to listen to yourself and be honest about what’s working and what needs more work. Learning guitar is a real snakes and ladders game, which can be frustrating but it’s part of the journey. Sometimes it’s good to go right back to the beginning.

  • adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
    Posts: 546

    I've been playing this style for about 20 years and this still happens to me constantly. If I record a gig and listen back to it, I'm only happy with maybe 15 percent of it. The album I made in 2023 took many, many takes of the various guitar parts until I had stuff I was happy with.

    A couple of thoughts, which are perhaps slightly contradictory:

    * A live performance is a multisensory experience — which means it's easier to overlook mistakes/sloppiness. In the last few years I've started a little thing while attending concerts: I'll close my eyes and ask myself "Would I intentionally listen to this if it were an album?" More often than not, the answer is no. Live music nearly always has sloppiness and imperfection. Plus bad acoustics, a bad mix, etc. But there's more to a live performance than the raw audio; seeing it with your eyes and being in an enthusiastic audience are totally different sensory experiences that have their own pleasures. So my point is: if you're playing a gig, keep in mind that the audience is getting a fuller picture than just the pure audio.

    * Recording yourself and (importantly!) listening to it is one of the very best things to do to improve. Step one is realizing you have a problem. :-) I think lots of musicians don't have the discipline, courage or self-awareness to face that.


    BucoJojoopus20000WillieScoredogJangle_JamielittlemarkrudolfochristDoubleWhiskyCraigHensleyand 7 others.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited January 4 Posts: 6,155

    I think being really serious and realistic about your practice is the key. People have a tendency to noodle around or half learn stuff and then are unpleasantly surprised to find on the gig/recording/jam that nothing is coming out right. Songs, phrases, chords, etc all have to be practiced to the point that you can replicate them with near perfection at the drop of the hat. It takes lots of repetitions and honest self appraisal to achieve this. This is where the Gypsy lifestyle helps a lot as they always have their hands on the guitar and have friendly competition with other players on a daily basis. But even if you only have an hour a day, you can do a lot by being focused and aiming for perfection.

  • Posts: 50

    This is all true, putting in the hard work is essential if you want to be a good or even competent player. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if we put ourselves up against these great players that we have no chance of ever being as good as, we can set ourselves up for a lot of frustration. But, at the same time, as Michael pointed out about that friendly competition among les manouche, that can be used as fuel to push yourself. Speaking for myself purely as a hobbyist and a beginner, I get my satisfaction from what most here would consider pretty small achievements (like learning a new header or chord structure). It's all about your goals. Yours may be different. Either way, don't forget to enjoy the process!

  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,337

    This comment is so true. I remember some of my favorite concert experiences that I raved about for the experience. Years later, I found recordings and thought it would be awesome to relive the experience. It was usually not as great as I remembered and I found all the flaws. That is why I lament all the people today who record all these shows with their cell phone. It is like setting yourself up for mediocre memories. Maybe it is best remembered in your mind's eye and not with the video/audio assist. In that way, the concert gets better and better with every re-telling of the story.

  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 352

    I think that if we could all go back in time to our past self that hadn’t yet started this style and played, that our past self would be blown away. The better you get, the more you realize how much more there is, but is easy to forget how far you’ve come. I’ve heard my favorite musicians complain about their playing, while everyone listening loved it. If you can get sounds out of your instrument that bring an instant smile to your face, you have arrived.

  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
    Posts: 389

    Here's another take on this interesting subject: dont be so hard on yourself, dont be so scrutinizing & critical. A couple of times I've come across a recording of something I did quite a while ago & it actually sounded better to me now than it did back when I first recorded it (and listened to it). I've actually said to myself, "what a bummer that I didnt really like that recording before or was critical to myself about it. What a waste of time & and energy it was to be down on myself about it back then. Listening to it now, knowing what I now know, it's not bad!"

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