Thoughts on "noodling"?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music

For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:02 am
Location: Rolling Meadows, Illinois

Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by Phade » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:40 pm

I'm stepping back into classical guitar, and guitar in general after decades long hiatus, I was a novice then and I'm a novice now. One of the things that always seperated classical and regualar steel string acoustic, for me anyway, was the more relaxed approach to steel string. I would get a hankering to make some noise, grab my guitar, lean back on the couch and just go to town. Sometime i would try and pick apart a song or look up some tabs, or even just run scales while i watched a movie. Classical, was different approach and mindset entirely. I would break out the guitar, the footrest, the music stand, the metronome, and the little silicone drawer liner scrap i cut to keep the guitar from sliding up and down my thigh. there was the 5-10 minute warm up with right hand exercise, and scales, then on to the aron shearer (sp?) book. I loved it, but it could be mentally exhausting sometimes, and occasionally kind of stressful. Does anybody just kind of kick back and noodle on their classsical? can this lead to bad form or technique? I'm longer in the tooth these days, and dont have the cpacity to focus or concentrate like i used to, age and a few too many head injuries are taking their toll, i'm just looking for a little ballance i guess. anybody have any thoughts?

Rick Hutt
Posts: 326
Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:03 pm
Location: Oak Paark, IL

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by Rick Hutt » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:54 pm

I'm a regular "noodler". I started out on steel strings, and you're right, it lends itself to a more relaxed approach. When I started studying classical, I too had a pretty regimented schedule and routine for practicing. But as time went on, I drifted to sitting on the couch with my nylon string and simply running scales, or practicing a random chord change, or maybe just making sounds while watching t.v. No foot rest, not posture, no sweat.
2010 Pimentel & Sons Concert Grand
1970 Taurus (Barcelona)
2009 Ramundi flamenco blanca
1962 Martin 0-16
2000 Martin 000-18
1963 Epiphone 12 Str

Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:21 am
Location: Brampton, Ont. Canada

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by LesC » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:25 pm

A few months ago i started using a strap on my guitar. Yes, I had strap pins put on my expensive (to me) Robert England guitar.

That strap has made all the difference. No footrest, no worrying about the guitar sliding on my leg, always correct guitar position regardless of what kind of sitting or standing posture I assume. Being an electric guitarist since 1959 and very much depending on the tone of my various guitars and amps and effect units, sometimes I'll play my rock/blues/heavy metal stuff on my classical for two main reasons. Most importantly, it's a lot of fun. And if I can make it sound good on a classical guitar, it will sound incredible through my normal chain. But even just to go through my classical repertoire and to learn some new stuff, I can now practice as long as I want, whereas with the footstool etc. I was limited to about 1/2 an hour before my back started aching.

User avatar
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:19 pm
Location: Austin, Texas

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by scottszone » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:44 pm

+1 on a strap! Also, jazz standards and chord progressions are wonderful to improvise on and sound great on a classical guitar.
2006 Manuel Contreras II C-5 Cedar/IRW
2016 Cordoba C7-CE Cedar/IRW
2006 Cordoba GK Studio Spruce/Cypress

Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:15 am
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by powderedtoastman » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:02 pm

When I used to play electric guitar, at some point it turned to all noodling... And unless you have some kind of amazing gift, I think there's only so far you can go by noodling without any particular direction.
I've dropped that for now and I'm focusing on classical, which thus far has been mostly playing from scores as written, which leaves room to figure out the details of technique and interpretation.

I will say that I feel like I can make a lot more measured progress with classical and trying to progressively improve my skills by working through more and more studies and pieces. The progress we measure might be in music reading, as well as technique and performance/interpretation.

But it's also important to do a bit of that noodling. But notice the phrase I used a bit above above, "without any particular direction." If we can add some sort of direction/cohesion to the noodling, then it's a very effective thing to be able to do. So improv on jazz standards or rock progressions, or maybe even work out your own variations on a theme for something classical.. then maybe we're on to something!

User avatar
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:19 pm
Location: Austin, Texas

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by scottszone » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:38 pm

Mastering improvisation and noodling are two different things. After many years of concentrated study one may be able to improvise beautiful music by instinct, until then it requires the conscious juggling of numerous complex musical concepts and skill sets simultaneously.
2006 Manuel Contreras II C-5 Cedar/IRW
2016 Cordoba C7-CE Cedar/IRW
2006 Cordoba GK Studio Spruce/Cypress

Posts: 251
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by dtoh » Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:32 am

I do a fair amount of practice in bed or an easy chair while watching videos. A couple of notes though.

1. It's not random. I'm usually working on specific things.
2. I still concentrate on the practice.
3. It tends to be work on things like scales, tremolo, etc. that don't require as much cognitive overhead.
4. For me, it allows me to practice more because it keeps me from getting bored and also spares my back from excessive upright sitting.

Posts: 988
Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:32 pm
Location: Arapahoe, North Carolina 28510

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by doug » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:47 pm

It's one of my weaknesses, and one of the things I enjoy the most about the guitar. I'll be going thru a piece, trying to learn it, and I'll "feel" a different tune or different rhythm, and begin to "noodle." I may experiment with different chord inversions....or just make up a chord that sounds "right" in what I'm feeling??? Since I play as a hobby, what difference does it make? Once in a while, I come up with a tune that I really like. ....but more often than not, I catch myself noodling and think, "I am totally wasting time!" and I will go back to working on the sheet music.
2017 Jason Wolverton spruce/maple, 640, "Luz Blanca"
2016 Kenny Hill New World Estudio 640, cedar
2015 Kenny Hill Performance 640, C/IR

Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:18 am

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by RectifiedGTRz » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:04 am

Noodling is great on classical guitar, although I usually noodle on my electrics more. There have been times I've played a few blues licks and even some blues bends and no that won't hurt your technique. if you like to noodle, noodle away! Just try not to use a pick.
1991 Michael Thames Cedar #134
2012 Ramirez 4NE Cedar
2016 Cordoba Hauser (Master Series) #467

Posts: 4184
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:15 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Re: Thoughts on "noodling"?

Post by riffmeister » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:10 am

With a name like riffmeister you know what my answer will be!

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”