Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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layzee Apr 29, 2009

Let's say I would like to play various pieces of video game music on a guitar for my own enjoyment. For example, I'd like to play MAGMA BURNING (MAGMA MAN STAGE) from Rockman 9 (or any other Famicom Rockman game music) or Battle 1 from Final Fantasy USA: Mystic Quest. I'd also like to imitate the songs on the 20th Anniversary Rockman 1~6 Rock Arrange Ver. album, specifically Dr.Cossack 2 mix and Get a Weapon (Rockman3) mix (except at a "faster" i.e. normal speed) as well as the usual suspects like the Guilty Gear series (I'd love to play The Mask Does Not Laugh from Guilty Gear 2: Overture but this might be a little hard) and more recently BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. I can also imagine Killing Field! from Live-A-Live (Ninja scenario battle theme) sounding good on a guitar. The guitar strumming in the song MEGURO from Lumines I'd also like to replicate.

Long story short, I wanna play existing video game music using a guitar and that's the only thing I wanna do (with the guitar).

My only problem is that I have no music ability and I know nothing about guitars, nor do I have one.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to educate myself to do what I want to do? And what should I look for when it comes to buying a guitar for this purpose?

TIA.

Nick G Apr 29, 2009 (edited Apr 29, 2009)

VGM was the main source of inspiration for my little brother and I to learn to play guitar. I think it was around the time Gate of Thunder came out. We were blown away by its awesome music. I had the Sega CD which came with a CD+G sampler with a few Hendrix songs on it, so he was a big influence on me, at least initially.

I'm going to assume that you'll want a solidbody electric guitar. That's what most rock and metal is played on. Of course, you can play other styles of music on one, as well. Definitely start on something cheap, I say. You should concern yourself with developing good playing technique than having flashy gear. Cheap doesn't mean bad. Ask someone at your local music shop about some beginner's gear. There are tons of combo packages available to help you get rockin'.

For learning how to play, I've always gone the instructional video route. I highly recommend the Metal Method Complete Basic Course by Doug Marks

http://www.metalmethod.com/store_front.htm

It's brilliantly designed and comprehensive. Doug is an awesome teacher! I had the course on video cassette years ago and have been tempted to pick up the updated DVD remake just to see how he's refined it and improved as a guitarist himself.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need any other tips. Good luck!

layzee May 1, 2009 (edited May 1, 2009)

Nick G wrote:

I'm going to assume that you'll want a solidbody electric guitar. That's what most rock and metal is played on. Of course, you can play other styles of music on one, as well. Definitely start on something cheap, I say. You should concern yourself with developing good playing technique than having flashy gear. Cheap doesn't mean bad.

Yeah, I definitely do not care for flashy gear or the overall rock image. I'm just here for the music and to sound reasonably good. A guitar similar to what Tsuyoshi Sekito is carrying in The Black Mages live shows would be great.

Thanks Nick, I'll keep your advice in mind in the future.

Nick G May 2, 2009

layzee wrote:

Yeah, I definitely do not care for flashy gear or the overall rock image. I'm just here for the music and to sound reasonably good. A guitar similar to what Tsuyoshi Sekito is carrying in The Black Mages live shows would be great.

I wasn't implying that flashy is bad smile I have a few very nice guitars that I take out of their cases every now and then just to admire. It's just that a beginner shouldn't have to worry about banging up the instrument as they learn to play it.

I'd have to see a pic of the guitar you're talking about.

FuryofFrog May 4, 2009 (edited May 4, 2009)

Well let me say that if you are getting into guitars awesome. First rule don't get a starter guitar like a Squier. In the end you will end up getting rid of it in the first 6 months that you play. Here are 3 different options you should consider.

1. Begin learning on an acoustic.
I know the tendency to play things that you know is large and you want them to sound like metal but don't worry about it for right now. An acoustic will challenge your fingers, make them hurt, make them bleed and ultimately its the best type of guitar to build finger strength. You should start with acoustic then add a metal guitar to your collection. Also you need not have an amp to play this guitar. Saves $$$

Try this one. Its cheap and its good quality. Something to start you off.
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Martin-LX1E … 1148318.gc

2. Get a Mexican Stratocaster.
The Fender Stratocaster is one of the most versatile guitars you will ever buy and once you purchase one you will own it for life. While its not really known for playing metal that doesn't mean that it can't. Pretty much most things you want to play are at your fingertips and some good stomp boxes will help you out here too. Now you might ask me why Mexican? Well these things come as either American or Mexican and by getting the Mexican you save about $500. Some people believe in buying only American style but honestly most people don't see the difference because the difference in negligible.

Comes in many colors, its very nice to customize, one of the best.
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Stan … 1431991.gc

3. Dedicated metal workhorse? For that you have Ibanez.
I know many people will probably dispute this one and call Ibanez Japanese crap (its a Jap guitar) But it really is one of the best metal machines and one of the most affordable guitars you can buy. Any type of blazing metal you want to pull off will be best suited here.

I recommend this guy
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-RGT6 … 1168524.gc

Or if you can't afford it try this model. Its the downgraded version but still very nice nonetheless.
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-RG35 … 1397686.gc


Learn scales and chords and then everything else will come onto itself. Be prepared for finger blisters, calluses and all sorts of mayhem.

Buy a tuner, some Monster cables,
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Monster-Cab … 1128541.gc

and for a good, solid amp with some preset distortion try Line 6
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Line-6-Spid … 1168996.gc


If you doubt anything I say I back it up with I own a Sigma acoustic w/no electronics, a Mexican Strat with Monster Cables leading to my Line 6 amp. Its a nice set up for anything you want to play.

Let me know if any of this helps you.


Edit:

I forgot to mention stomp boxes. They are exactly like the sound. The cord of your guitar usually goes straight to your amp but if you have a stomp box the cord will go there instead. You will need a second cord to go to the amp from the box. Basically what it is a box that gives your guitar a particular sound when played through an amp.  In order to activate it you "stomp" on the box.

Check these out. Digitech is my preference.
http://digitech.com/pedals.php

Don't concern yourself with all the extras right now though. Hit up a nice acoustic and start playing.

layzee May 16, 2009

Nick G wrote:

I wasn't implying that flashy is bad smile

Yeah, I wasn't implying that either, but you know what I mean. smile

Nick G wrote:

I'd have to see a pic of the guitar you're talking about.

I tried searching on the Internet but I couldn't find what guitars The Black Mages guitarists plays with. So I've only got pictures to go with:

Michio Okamiya's Guitar (Close-up)

Tsuyoshi Sekito's Guitar (Close-up)

Keiji Kawamori's Guitar

FuryofFrog wrote:

Let me know if any of this helps you.

Thank you too for your advice. Also, I know that most teachers would recommend newbies to start learning on an Acoustic Guitar first but personally, I'd rather (for better or worse) skip straight ahead to an Electric Guitar (In fact, some would also approve of this choice). smile

FuryofFrog May 16, 2009

Thats good. Im glad I helped. Acoustic isn't mandatory, just get some high gauge strings. That'll toughen your fingers up. The real advantage to the acoustic is that you don't need an amp to play all the time.

Btw I believe Keiji's axe is a bass.

Smeg May 16, 2009

Don't worry about what instrument other people play, no matter how much you enjoy their playing. They're going to sound like themselves regardless of what instrument they play, and buying the same instrument won't really make you sound like them. Personally, I wouldn't purchase the same guitars those guys are playing because I am strongly biased against bolt-on necks. That's only my preference, and you may not agree.

Nick G May 16, 2009 (edited May 16, 2009)

layzee wrote:

I tried searching on the Internet but I couldn't find what guitars The Black Mages guitarists plays with. So I've only got pictures to go with:

Michio Okamiya's Guitar (Close-up)

Tsuyoshi Sekito's Guitar (Close-up)

Keiji Kawamori's Guitar

OK, I was going off of this image...

http://vgmdb.net/db/covers.php?do=view&cover=88

FWIW, I think that Sekito's axe is a Music Man Steve Lukather Signature Model.

http://www.music-man.com/instruments/guitars/luke.html

layzee Dec 22, 2013 (edited Dec 22, 2013)

It took me almost 4 years but I finally bought one (an electric guitar). It's a cheap one though, albeit a brand-name one.

So why did I take so long to buy one? Well, back in 2009, buying a guitar was still a low priority item. I was focusing on other higher priority things like being a good wage slave (like most people) and learning Japanese (like not most people). If you recognise my name online, you'd probably know that I love all things S.S.H. (heavy rock/metal game music composer). He never disappoints (me) and this year was no different. But what does that have to do with this thread?

Koihime Musou is a visual novel game series with an all-female cast set in I think, feudal Japan. I don't really care for it. This year, there was a 2D fighting game spin-off called 真・恋姫†夢想 ~乙女対戦★三国志演義~ (Shin Koihime Musou: Otome Taisen - Sangokushi Engi). The soundtrack is, of course, composed by S.S.H. and as usual does not disappoint. The "first half" of the music (by the in-game stage select order - no official soundtrack released yet) is more electronic/techno-trancey in nature (though with signature guitar riffs) while in the second half the guitars take center stage.

Then I came across this track:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz_20Omv308

Also known as my single favourite game music track of 2013 and probably one of my favourite (or my favourite) heavy rock/metal song of all time. Forgive my ignorance of music/guitar terminology but so many f---ing... um... layers! Or something. i.e. Each time I listen to this tune, my ears find something new.

Anyway, that reinvigorated my desire to learn a guitar, and now, with 2014 only a week away, I got one. Wish me luck.

Also, to continue from my first post from 2009... I don't really follow game arranges/doujins but it's always nice to hear an "updated" version of an old game tune (pre-PS1 generation) - a small inspiration for my learning guitar. I have absolutely nothing against say, FFVI: The Decisive Battle or FFIV: Battle With The Four Fiends but goddamn, choose something different for once! What I want to hear are the underrated and underappreciated game tunes from the more obscure games (such as Live-A-Live as noted in OP). Hopefully, I can fix that (but probably not). Anyway, that's 5-10 years from now.

layzee Dec 22, 2013 (edited Dec 22, 2013)

My amp came with my guitar but it's a bit of a cheapo one (like the guitar). It's early days yet and I can upgrade anytime after I get more experience/practice.

Yeah, I've seen that actually, I saw your one of your posts here (this forum) about it a while ago. First complete song you played you say? How long did it take for you to practice well enough to do so? I mean, how long had you been playing guitar before 2003?

Estpolis Denki I/Lufia I Shop Theme? That's a pretty unorthodox song selection, from a relatively obscure game (well not really, but from the POV of the "mainstream" then yes) no less. And that's a good thing.

layzee Mar 26, 2016 (edited Mar 26, 2016)

One word: Rocksmith (2014).

Because of it, I can now play* the famous Dr. Wily Stage theme from Rockman 2 in its entirety.

*Whether I can play it good and at 100% speed is another story. At the very least, the noises coming from my guitar sounds vaguely like music. But hey, practice makes perfect.

layzee Jul 1, 2016

So after slowly getting better (but still a beginner), I now feel that I'm being held back by my amp. Anyone got any recommendations or anything I should look out for?

The amplifier I have now (apart from the built in amp in Rocksmith 2014) is the one from this pack and as you can see, it's a basic little one with not many options at all (sound volume, treble, and bass). At the minimum, I would like something with distortion. But really, I'm not fussed which one I get, just a decent value all-purpose one (leaning towards metal obviously) would be fine.

Guitar-wise, my guitar is the same from the link above, except it's the Les Paul Special II version. It should continue to serve me well in the foreseeable future so I won't be getting any new guitars. Yet. When (if) I get better, then I will. I would like a whammy bar though for my future one.

Technique-wise, I practice a bit of everything but apart from power chords, all the other chords are my weak point (I swear I must have shit hands/fingers or something). Then again, I've been mainly doing lead guitars so maybe I just haven't practiced chords enough. Also, I'm disappointed I haven't got pinch harmonics down yet, because I love squeals.

Song-wise, I practiced various stuff from Rocksmith 2014 but mainly Iron Maiden songs (Fear of the Dark, Aces High and Afraid to Shoot Strangers I keep coming back to in particular). But of course, the vast majority of my time is spent playing (or trying to play) video game music in and out of Rocksmith. As predicted, playing VGM gave me a deeper appreciation for the music. It's like discovering the song a second time (the first, passive by listening, the second, active by playing).

layzee Sep 21, 2016 (edited Sep 21, 2016)

The very bad: Must stop watching YouTube videos of pro-guitarists playing guitar. Massive de-motivator.

The bad: My high e string broke when I did a bend. It had to happen eventually, I haven't changed my guitar's string even once and it has taken abuse for a year or so. I was more amused than anything at this event. I consider it a rite of passage of sorts.

The sort-of-bad: My non-power chords chord-playing is still pretty undeveloped (due to lack of practice) but marginally better than before.

The good #1: My power chords are faster and sound better than before. Still room for improvements of course, but better than say 6 months ago and any progress is progress.

The good #2: Steadily building up my fretting speed in a noticeable way. 6 months ago, I couldn't handle  Top Man theme's (from Rockman 3) BPM but now I (mostly) can.

The good #3: I don't have to study guitar tab sheets as intensely as before. Getting easier to memorise notes. Saves paper and ink too (not really necessary to print tab sheets).

The good #4: Arpeggios (e.g. opening of Akira Yamaoka's Silent Hill 2's "Promise", a long time favourite of mine) are coming along nicely though with occasional mistakes (e.g. wrong string picking).

The Attack-On-Titan good: Early on in the anime, Eren Jaeger and the other military recruits are given equipment and must pass a series of tests using said equipment. Eren is the only one to fail and only until after he was about to give up joining the military does he find out that it was his defective equipment that was failing him. His abilities were and should never have been in question.

Turns out that I've probably been doing pinch harmonics all this time but my amp was too basic and simple to pick up on it (it doesn't even have a high gain function). One day I used Rocksmith's internal guitar amp and made a what-I-thought-to-be a futile attempt at performing a pinch harmonic when I heard the distinctive high-pitched "squeal" emanating from the speakers. "Me? Do a pinch harmonic? Surely you jest." I thought before trying a few more times. A few standard frets. A few attempts at the pinch harmonic version. The sound between the two was unmistakable. The "lady" was "screaming". One thing I learned is that pinch harmonic theory (YouTube instructions) and pinch harmonic practice are two different things. Theory doesn't give you the subtle "feel" that practice does. No more how much you watch or read about it, you won't know if you can do it until you try it. Anyway, it's still early days yet and playing pinch harmonics in a song proper is a different story. As a person with no natural musical talent, any progress is appreciated. Just remember to stop de-motivating myself by watching Yngwie Malmsteen videos.

layzee Dec 14, 2016 (edited Dec 14, 2016)

It seems like I've been practicing guitar for over a year now. I'm not practicing it full-time 10 hours a day, 7 days a week Yngwie Malmsteen-style (according to him, that's how much he practiced in his early days), but I do try to practice a few riffs every day, even if just for a few minutes. The most I would do in a single day would be probably 3-4 hours.

I began early-to-mid 2015, about the same time as getting a copy of Rocksmith 2014 (the encouragement I needed to pick up the guitar). For posterity's sake, I bought my guitar in December 2013, unboxed it, held the guitar in my arms (and felt foolish about it), plucked the strings a few times (and felt foolish about it), and then put it back in the box for at least a year.

Now that 1 and a half years has passed, I still consider myself a beginner. Whether that means it is because I naturally suck or because I have high standards (of myself), both are probably equally likely. The most important thing however is that 1) I am making progress and 2) I don't feel silly holding a guitar anymore. Giving up is still a perfectly valid option though.

Improvements made:
- My power chords in general are better. Not perfect, not even great, but better. e.g. sounds are cleaner, speed is faster, low E string muting and/or low E string avoiding is more consistent.
- 4th finger AKA pinky is getting stronger and faster. Still not fast enough for my liking though.
- Bends are getting better.
- I can or can almost reach the speed requirements of BlazBlue's "Rebellion" now. Months ago, my fingers just couldn't keep up. 1 year ago, it was basically impossible. Still have difficulties with the guitar solo though. Or any guitar solo of any song really.
- The last time I recorded myself (quite a while ago), and played the recording back to me, it was very cringeworthy and noob-like. It's like the Piano Lesson minigame from Final Fantasy V. I don't cringe so much now so that's good.
- I have no idea when it happened, but one day my F-chords clicked. And I wasn't even practicing it much (none of my VGM so far uses it, except "Hell Frozen Rain" from one of the Silent Hill games). I believe the F-chord is a common reason for people giving up guitar (it's called an F-chord for a reason). I also read that 90% of people who learn the guitar, gives up. So yay I haven't given up (yet). Anyway, like I said, I can now manage to form F-chords fairly reliably with no muted strings (but not at full speed). I think my improvements in power chords translated to improvements in F-chords. After all, an F-chord is nothing more than a power chord plus three strings.

Work-in-progress
- Palm muting: it doesn't come naturally to me yet, and I'm sure I would sound decently better if I got this down.
- Vibratos: I think I'm doing the technique right but it's not sounding as strong as I would like it. I think my playing would sound a lot less boring and noob-like if I improve my vibratos.
- Tremelos: Significant progress has been made (e.g. I used to have a bad habit of holding the pick too tightly while doing a tremelo, leading to fatigue).
- Speed in general: I might be a fan of heavy metal but that doesn't necessarily mean the songs I like are 9000bpm. In fact, I would say many of my favourite songs are merely moderately fast, or fast, few if any are very fast. For example, "Hunting" the battle theme from Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, and my favourite Shoji Meguri track, is slow. Granted, it does require good technique (bends etc). Anyway, I'd like to improve my speed to the point where I can play the songs l like.

Other
- Guitar/music theory: My eyes just glaze over. I don't get it. Why am I reading this.
- Improvisation: Apparently this is important/high encouraged but there is absolutely no way (at this point in time at least) I can do this. I don't have any musical talent to just play my own thing.
- Scales: I practice them once in a while but I don't know the reason for learning them. I just do 'em. For the record, my favourite one is the Harmonic Minor (yes, the Yngwie Malmsteen sounding one).
- Guitar solos still seem out of my reach.
- Sweep-picking: Gotta be realistic, it's quite possible I will never get the hang of it. Still at the impossible stage.
- Hand-size: Speaking of being realistic, let's be realistic, let's not beat around the bush: big hands = more potential to be a better guitar player. I'm not saying you can't be a small-handed guitar expert. I'm saying that having big hands is better than having small hands. Jimi Hendrix had "freakishly large hands" - I haven't compared my hand size to his but I'm pretty sure mine are a lot smaller. And I'm pretty sure I will find limited use of the "baseball-grip" of the guitar. I have a hard enough time muting the low E string with my thumb, but muting both the low E and A at the same time? I'll need thumb lengthening surgery for that.
- Ear training: I have not done much of this at all but I probably will have to do so eventually, in order to play game music that doesn't already have guitar tabs for it (basically 99% of all game music). I attempted to ear train using Mighty No. 9's "Raging Flames Smolder - Retro Style -" (my fav track) but I was only able to do the first few notes. I also attempted the bass notes (couldn't find bass tabs on Internet) of Funky Kong's theme (Super Donkey Kong/DKC) with I think, success. I feel like I'm missing something though. Am I on the right track (see below)?

Funky Kong (Bass)

E||------------------------------------|---------------------------------------|
B||------------------------------------|---------------------------------------|
G||------------------------------------|---------------------------------------|
D||------------------------------------|---------------------------------------|
A||------------------------------------|-33------------------------------------|
E||-5-555-555-555-555-555-555-555-555--|----111-111-111-111-111-111-111-111-33-|
and repeat

or

E5 a bunch of times, then A3, then E1 a bunch, then E3, then repeat from beginning. To me it sounds like mainly triplets but the exact notes when going from one string to the next isn't clear to me.

Also, if I ever upload a non-cringeworthy video of me playing a song on YouTube, then "Hollow Tree" from the SNES Battletoads game would be my first choice. Perfect power chord practice song for beginners by the way. For a power chord song, there is variety, it's moderately fast but not too fast for those who don't have fast-as-lightning fingers, and to top it off, it sounds rockin' too.

layzee Dec 2, 2018

I already knew it was the case but I unfortunately don't have any natural talent* for guitar (). Although that does sound bad, the good news is that I'm too far into it to give up now. As far as I'm concerned, giving up the guitar is not an option. I don't have the stats/studies, but most people who take up the guitar, give it up within a year.

I should clarify that I'm treating this hobby very casually i.e. this is hardly a full time hobby. Some days I practice for a few hours but most days for 15 to 30 minutes. My guitar is always next to my bed so there are rarely any days where I don't touch it. Usually I noodle around before I go to bed. And maybe noodle a bit more after I wake up.

Earlier this year I wanted to buy a guitar but there were so many choices, I didn't know which one to buy. So the choice was simple: I bought a Yngwie Malmsteen Signature Fender Stratocaster. So that's one reason (e.g. $$$$) not to give up the guitar. People say that scalloped frets are weird and/or hard to get used to, but I prefer it actually.

Improvements made:
- My pinky almost feels like a proper finger now, and not just some weak and uncontrollable appendage. I actually don't mind using it.
- General power chord improvements made.
- General bending improvements made.

Work-in-progress:
- For the longest time, I've been avoiding guitar solos. Every time a guitar solo popped up, all I saw were a bunch of notes at impossibly fast speeds. It became the point where I would play a song, feel hopeless during the solo, then resume the song. Basically play everything except the solo. I got bored of doing that so I finally decided to face my demons. I need to work on timing, fast and accurate bending, effective muting, etc, and hopefully some good results will come out of it.

* Assuming that you subscribe to the notion that some people have some special talent or affinity that is written into their genes i.e. mastery of a talent = time + effort + natural talent. The less "talent" you have, the more effort you need. So I'm not one of the minority of people that becomes an expert at something after 1 year or some child prodigy that becomes a master guitarist before age 16.

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