Jamming is the opposite of playing composed songs, jamming reflects a guitarplayer’s character, jamming can be done at any level and with any technique, jamming will make you play freer.
Just some statements about jamming, and all of these statements are true.
Let me concentrate for this article on the beginning musician/guitarplayer who has been playing for maybe three to four years or so. Maybe your experience is getting some tabs from the net, from books (or otherwise) to help you to play your favourite songs. Well these tabs certainly will help you along the way to get the sound of that particular song. What the tabs cannot do is to make you a freer musician/guitarplayer who understands his/her instrument better. Logical, because the path to get better is a long and never ending process: You can always get better and it takes time and experience, however, there are things you can do to speed up your progress and learning how to jam is one of them.
Jamming All Alone:
How can you jam on your own you may wonder? Does it not take a few players who create the sound of a band? Yes that is true, but you create that bandsound on your own by playing each instrument at a time:
~ You can play a handful of chords and record what your are playing. Play the recording back and start playing basslines along with your recording. Do not know how to create proper basslines? Do not worry, just play anything which makes you feel it sounds like a bassline. Yes you can learn how to create basslines, learn about harmony ect. but for now, have fun and just play. Document for yourself the moments when it starts to sound right, these are the moments which will boost your musical skills. You can record these moments on another recorder (or write them down in tab, or any kind of method which will help you to recall what you played before)
Do the same for your riffs and solos: Just play along with these chords your recorded before to see how well they fitt into the sequence. If you like singing, do the same with your vocals, just sing over those chords while you listen and create vocal melodies in this way.
Not able to record? Do not worry, play your chordsequence on the guitar and sing over these chords whatever comes to you to see what sounds good. Having some recordingtools will help you to document what you do, but for now you can just play. Maybe get some simple recording tools at later stage (later more about equipment)
~ Invite some of your musical friends around and start to play together. Avoid proper songs and suggest to play whatever comes into your head. At first it may sound like a mess, at some point it may sound pleasing. Run a recorder along with your playingsession to document what you play. Listen back to see if it sounded any good. Changes are that the music sounded better when you were playing, you may also feel you did not play that long, but it reality that jam may have lasted 20 minutes just hanging on to three chords. All fine, do not worry. All in all, you will learn a lot from this. Just analyse it, write down what you liked, remember the fun and how you did it and move on to the next sonic adventure.
Jamming Will Only Let You Play What You Know:
True, if you only playing experience is jamming you may get stuck. You need to push yourself to learn new ideas, techniques ect. You can do this during your practise time on your own. You may want to jam with others to get these new ideas into your system. Playing an instrument reflects your personality, and there are many, many different ways to play, and jamming is only one mode of playing.
Jamming Will Let You Play At Your Own Level:
True, because you can only play what you know. I have pupils who have had only a handful a lessons, and they already jam with some of the ideas I have given them. They hear sounds in their head and try to use whatever they have learned so far and try to use that for what they hear to make music.
If you are a beginner and you jam with experienced players you may want to check the emotional field: Jamming should not be a intimidating process of showing off musical ideas. Discussing musicial ideas before you play may help to open up the atmosphere and create a friendly environment.
Jamming and Sound:
Jamming is a great tool to get you going with your effects: One guitar player may use an acoustic guitar while another player uses a heavily distored electric guitar. Jamming is a great way to explore how those two (seemingly) opposite instruments may blend very well together if played in the right way.
Jamming can also be used as an opportunity to check out particular sounds from a certain effect, and how well those sounds will sit in the mix of other instruments.
It is impossible for me to mention all the brands of various loopstations, delaypedals with hold fuctions, recordingdevices ect.
Anything you can record yourself on will do for now. It may be a phone, cassetterecorder, Ipod, whatever. Once you get deeper into jamming you can look into whatever particular tool is good for your purpose.
I use a lot of different tools. For spontenous sessions I like tools which take minimal effort and give me maximum results so I can get on with making music.
Loop pedals are great for this kind of playing, but there are a lot of them and all of them have their own issues. Just check out what you like.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article and may see you soon back in the near future,