Do you imagine yourself holding a guitar and dazzling your friends and family? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a musical instrumental and quarantine blues are making you want to pick up the skill. You’ve got to admit, it looks really impressive when someone can bust out a guitar and play the catchy tunes! Think about your favorite rockstar. Isn’t he or she always wielding a cool guitar? Exactly! From Jimmy Hendrix to Taylor Swift, every one of the musical genius cannot be separated from their guitars. How do they do it? How can you get better at playing the guitar?
Regardless of whether you want to learn an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar or even an electric guitar, the tips for new musicians are still the same. If you are a beginner and are looking for tips to get better at playing guitar, look no further. Here are some beginner know-hows to play the guitar:
1. Go Slow:
When you are a first-timer it is better to concentrate on the accuracy rather than the speed. Know that you are going to take time. A skill like playing the guitar cannot be learned overnight. So be prepared to pick up every move one by one and concentrate on every step deliberately. The classic techniques of fingering and hitting the right chords can be really tricky. Just concentrate on the specific chords and practice your hand movements. Once you know the chords down pat, speed will come by itself.
2. Practice with your Right Hand
Before you can get a good grip with your left hand, first try to get your right hand strumming correct. Create a percussive rhythm, by muting the strings. This can help you improve your timing and sense of rhythm. You can even pick an easy chord and focus on how you would move your arm, your hands, your fingers with the pick (plectrum). Since most of us are right-handed, we focus on how to get the left-hand technique correct but it is just as important to train your right hand to strum the guitar properly. It is the coordination between the two hands that creates the music, after all!
3. Metronome It Up!
To improve your sense of timing and rhythm you can play the metronome in the background. You can use a metronome playlist on YouTube or there are plenty of mobile applications that can give you a metronome sound. It is hard to keep to the beat on a metronome in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it will help you keep track of the beats so much better. If it seems too daunting you can adjust the beats per minute (BPM) speed to be slower and match your pace. A metronome will help you play the chord at a steady tempo and in right time.
4. Left-Hand Grip:
If you hold the guitar for a long time, you will realize how hard it is to carry it for so a while. Pressing the guitar strings on the fretboard can leave fissures on your fingertips and can cause wrist cramps too. A tip to avoid the pain is to hook your thumb over the top of the fretboard to get more leverage so that it makes you press the guitar strings more with the pad of your finger. This helps in reducing the fissures on your fingertips.
This kind of grip is called the death grip as it is a decent grip on the neck of your guitar and you can also have your thumb on the back of the neck of the guitar. The death grip causes you to move your fingertips more, which is the accurate way of hitting the note without unintentionally muffling the strings next to it. All beginners are scared of using the death grip because at first, it makes your wrist feel weak. But with practice, the thumb on the back of the guitar’s neck will help your wrist get stronger.
5. Be Accurate!
There are so many tutorials online either video or on blogs written by experts who have not only figured out the right way to learn the scales and the chords but also which is the easiest accessible finger for which chord. Certain fingers should be playing certain chords and notes on the fretboard. Make sure you are looking at a picture or a video tutorial and copying the same technique, correctly.
Some other technique that you may have discovered while practicing might feel easier but try to stick to the expert’s rules. It is because you might have a simple time playing that particular chord but your easy technique might ruin your chance of playing another chord. Pay really careful attention to the fretboard and your technique of fingering along with the position of your hand.
6. Patience is the Key:
It is a hard skill to earn, playing the guitar well. So be patient with yourself. You might feel frustrated that you are not learning enough even though you have been practicing non-stop. So just stop practicing non-stop. Make sure you are taking breaks. A good way to practice would be to play it on alternative days, or 3 to 4 times a week. If you rush your learning process, you might learn some wrong techniques which will hurt your guitar journey in the long term. You might know more people who have quit the guitar compared to people who actually still play it. Keep practicing, keep your patience and be persistent until you feel yourself progress.
7. Track that progress!
A good way of not getting frustrated and losing your patience is to keep a track of your progress. Remember on day one, you didn’t even know how to hold a guitar properly, now you know, which is progress. Small steps, but steps in the right direction. You track your progress by setting up goals for each of your practice session and then when you feel confident that your have mastered a certain chord, you can check that off your progress list.
Another way of measuring your progress is to record yourself. If you record your playing in audio, you can go back later and see how much your strumming has improved. If you record yourself on a video, you can check how much better your form, posture and confidence is after a few weeks.
8. Test Yourself:
Make it a game where you test yourself periodically. The best way to check whether you have actually retained what you have learned and practiced is to take an exam. Go online and hear some random chords and try to guess which note it is. Or you can take online guitar tests, which are free, where you can check your knowledge. Make note of where you went wrong. Go back and learn the points that you find difficult. It can be a simple thing like holding the guitar wrong or a daunting thing like transferring from one chord to another.
In the end, learning how to get better at playing guitar is just like learning any other skill. It seems like these tips are the basics for learning anything else too, but its important because they work. Keep on practicing the right chords in the right way, shown by the experts and you can go slow. Be patient with yourself and be persistent. Make a game out of learning the chords and try to test yourself on how to retain the grips you’ve learned and the techniques that seem hard. You are a beginner, but so were all the superstars that you love so much. Don’t give up and you will be one yourself soon enough.