Listening & guitar I

Which is the right way to learn?

With the explosion of the internet and the vast cornucopia of you tube videos, tablature sites and other resources available online it’s easy to forget that one of the key skills for any musician is the ability to listen. Before the internet came along most of us learnt from records – through attempts to emulate or approximate the playing of artists we enjoyed listening to. Not from the internet but through learning songs from records and playing along with them.

Eric Clapton, no fool when it comes selecting his musical sources, has consistently reiterated that he listened and learnt his trade from artists such as Freddie, B.B. and Albert King for example. He didn’t use tabs – he learned by listening. Nuances come across in listening: listening cannot be written down; and while tablature can be a fast shortcut to playing a piece of music there is an invaluable experiential quality to be gained from using your ears.

Because listening is exactly what you`ll be doing when you’re playing along with a group or in the studio it’s a very highly valuable exercise for any guitarist. The particular qualities of any high calibre guitarist cannot be expressed in tablature form. What makes a guitarist exceptional is the  combination of technique, timing, phrasing and tonal quality that they bring to their playing – facets that your ear alone can pick up.

It takes a long time but its worth taking the time to train your ear through replicating the sounds that you hear on records. To begin with you`ll struggle and find it difficult, but over time the process will become easier.


Being an imitator is the first step along the road to becoming a creator but there are ways of imitation. Looking up the tab on the internet is the fast easy way, but if you really want to develop then use your ears as well. Remember though the sound you`re really looking to find is the sound of yourself.

Remember if you have purchased Jamorama you’ll also have the GUITEARIT ear training software specifically designed for guitarists and it’s a great place to start training your ear in preparation for rocking out to your favourite songs and records. Groovy.


Jake Edwards


  1. John


    Brilliant love to hear Otis. The hearing and really listening is essential, very good to try and figure the notes out they are using also trying to watch the fretting hands, which are normally going so fast.

    Cannot use your guitearit sortware as I use Linux OS but have equivalent Solfege ear training software which works on linux and is quite good.

    1. admin

      Hi John, We are hoping to come up with a solution for Mac and Linux users so they can use our software. We will definitely let you know when an update is on its way, all the best!

  2. dave

    Downloaded guitearit five times. Still won’t open.

  3. Anthony MAGEE

    I hear you and understand that the concept of ear training is essential.
    The problem I have is that with
    Different tunings for guitar
    More than one guitar (Iron MAIDEN)
    or as in a case with The Faces and Itchcoo Park
    Two synchronized tape copies of a finished recording being played simultaneously into a third master recorder, then manually retarding the rotation of one of the two tape reels, the engineer could subtly manipulate the phase difference between the two sources, creating the ‘swooshing’ phase effect that sweeps up and down the frequency range.
    Even the Faces said it was impossible to play it live.
    It makes it nearly impossible for a beginner like me to even contemplate how to make any resemblance of a record with six strings and dyslexic fingers.

  4. gayle

    Great articles but I have a serious pet peeve with the misspelled word “learnt”. It’s spelled “learned” the past tense of “learn”. Basic English grammer.

    1. Jon Coursey

      Hi Gayle, thanks for the comment. Glad you are enjoying the content. It is my understanding that neither variation is incorrect, but that “learnt” is more commonly used in the UK and Commonwealth countries, and that “learned” is used mostly in the USA.

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