When you pick up a guitar for the first time, you are overwhelmed with the excitement to learn it. We all crave for that moment where we become good enough to play like our idols on stage. In excitement, we forget about everything else and play the guitar on and on for hours at end. However, we soon realize that becoming good at guitar, to even play it decently, requires you to invest large amounts of time continuously every day in practice.
In fact, according to research, if you invest 2 hours per day in guitar, you’ll achieve the intermediate level in 1.8 years(!). That’s a lot of time. Thus, many players who start out playing guitar lose their interest in the first few weeks after getting disheartened that they are making very little progress. This is the worst thing that can happen to a guitar player and to avoid that, we have made this guide that’ll help you improve your guitar skills.
The tips in this article are for those who have patience and diligence, and really want to know how to get better at guitar and be a good guitarist, at the very least. They’ll enhance your guitar practice sessions and you’ll immediately notice improvement in your technique and form. Your ability to hit notes accurately and making your strings more vibrant and sustaining will also see a drastic improvement.
Best Tips to Become a Better Guitar Player:
So without any further ado, let’s get right into the tips for becoming a better guitar player!
1. Record yourself:
Recording yourself may seem an obsessive thing to do, but it’ll pay in dividends. Get a smartphone, or anything with a video camera, and just go on playing a song you haven’t mastered yet. Watching the video after you are done will tell you exactly where you went wrong and where you went right. It’ll give you an idea about your strengths and weaknesses.
Correcting your riffs and notes after watching the video will help you perfect the guitar. The video of you playing the song will tell you where your hand needs to be and where it doesn’t. Another great thing that comes out of recording yourself is you can use it as a virtual log to check your progress. Months down the line you can refer to your old videos to see how much you improved and what parts still need improvement.
This may sound silly and something only hardcore obsessed guitarists do, but it couldn’t be far from the truth. Airguitaring can be done by beginner players as well. Visualizing playing guitar in your mind gives tells you where your hands should be while playing a particular song, hovering over the right notes. This is something that can be easily done when you have a bit of free time, say, during a boring lecture or a work break.
You’ll also find that the next time you use your guitar it’s much easier for you to play it. It’ll improve your ability to translate what you hear into a language that your fingers will speak, through the guitar. Airguitaring is much more feasible and accessible since lugging around a real guitar to practice just isn’t possible. Instead, you can just imagine one and go at it, anytime you want.
3. Take lessons:
Now hold on before you say anything. You must be thinking that why would you be reading this article about tips to get better if you were going to join a guitar class anyway! The answer to that is divided into parts.
Firstly, many guitar lessons are absolutely free. You’ll find many players on YouTube who are more than willing to teach you a cover or basics of a guitar. Not only that, many online guitar classes are cheaper than real-life institutions that can teach you guitar at a reasonable price.
Secondly, while the Internet will help you a ton, it won’t guide you personally all the way. Only a tutor would do that for you. A tutor will also ensure a regular schedule for you to learn the guitar in that you’ll be forced to follow, which will improve your practice dramatically. Also, since you’ll be paying for the class, there is a better chance that you’ll be taking it seriously!
4. Keep learning:
Someone once said that the day we stop learning is the day we stop living, and it can’t be more truer. This applies to playing guitar (playing any instrument, actually) as well. You want to make sure that no matter what, you are learning something new in guitar every day. It can be a new riff, chord, a melody, a song, or a cover – it doesn’t matter. Just keep playing and learning something new.
The more you learn new things the more you’ll kindle the enthusiasm you started with. You’ll play the guitar with zeal at each sitting. It’ll also develop a routine for your brain to learn, play and remember a new concept or knowledge that’ll help your instincts and musical memory. The end result will be you expressing yourself in the most creative and original way possible. The routine will also make learning something new an automatic habit that might grow to learning more than one thing each day.
5. Play with others:
There is nothing better to help learning, especially for a beginner, than getting feedback on your skills. And this can only be achieved if you play with other people. May it be a single companion or a band of people, may it be strangers or old friends, just go out and play some music out with them. You’ll be surprised at how much your guitar skills improve with other people around. Most importantly, it’ll teach you where to lead a song and what part you’ll shine in.
This is essential if you plan on performing at stage one day, even if it’s something casual like a local event or a college fest. You cannot play by yourself all your life and expect to synchronize with others instantly, it doesn’t work like that. You need to work with others from scratch so you get an idea of what you are playing, how other components fit into it, and how team play works into creating music. Besides, an added benefit is the bonding that is created from playing music together which cannot be matched with any other bond out there.
The fun thing is, with today’s technology you can have company at your home as well for solo practice sessions. There is video calling, recording yourself, and sending it to someone for feedback or creating a new song and there are also several software that provide backdrops while we are playing.
6. Plan your playing:
Having a rigid schedule is essential for quality guitar learning. What this means is having a specific slot of time reserved just for practicing your guitar – nothing else. This time slot doesn’t need to be too large, either. About 30 mins of focused practicing in which you learn a new technique, riff, or a song, is more than sufficient. Do note that practice should not be confused with playing, wherein you’ll play anything you like freely. Normally you should play guitar for an hour or so, practice it for 30-40 mins and spend the rest of the time studying new techniques and covers or just playing some more.
It’s also important that you plan out what you’ll be learning well in advance. Know beforehand which cover you want to play, which technique to learn, etc. Preparing a day in advance doesn’t hurt anyone, and saves quality time for pure practice.
7. Improvise your routine:
We all have about 3-4 hours of free time after finishing all our chores and work. From this free time, a minimum time daily should be allocated to practicing new techniques and absorbing knowledge. This should be kept to a limited amount too, as too much practicing can make you unfocused and thus hamper your results.
End of the line – practice something new till your focus span lasts. Don’t overdo it. The rest of the time can be your leisure time for playing. This limited practice time will help you when you have a continuous guitar playing session and you’ll realize the difference immediately.
8. Learn a cover.
It’s always, always, a good decision to learn a song cover. If you are listening to songs and you find something interesting, then it’s a good idea to take time out to learn that song. Not only it helps you learn new techniques and riffs, but it also adds another song that you can play in your arsenal.
You can learn the most popular song out there on its guitar cover and you’ll be impressing a lot of people by playing it publicly. Another amazing thing is that your practice sessions won’t ‘feel’ like practice sessions, simply because learning to play a new song cover is so fun!
9. Keep a log:
We cannot stress this enough when we say this – keep a log. The reason we didn’t include this in the ‘improvise your routine’ tip and made a whole new point for it is that it’s very crucial that you understand why you need to keep a log. We’ll agree with you that it’s a tedious task and there is really no immediate benefit from it.
The benefit, you see, comes after you are playing daily for a week and can’t remember all the things you have learned yet so far. It’s just a colossal waste of time then figuring out what you need to learn and what you don’t, and you don’t want to waste time in your guitar practice sessions. Keeping a daily log of your routine helps you stay aware of your development, as well as keep a tab of your growth. By referring to this log you can easily figure out what extra efforts you need to put in to make your sessions more productive and also serve as motivation when you feel you aren’t growing that well.
10. Take a break:
Just take a break from time to time. Playing guitar continuously for weeks at end can take a toll on your creativity. You might feel that you don’t want to play anymore. We understand that. Doing something over and over again, especially something new can make you exhausted from doing it.
When this happens, just stay off and take a good, sweet break. If you know you practiced hard, that break would be very well deserved. You can do something else, like picking up a new instrument just to try it out. Doing that will help you tune your melody. Eventually, you’ll begin to miss your guitar anyway and will get back to playing it as fresh as you started.
Honestly speaking, the reason we put this tip at last is we don’t want people to prioritize taking breaks over practicing. Breaks are just temporary relief that will help you rejuvenate and help you start playing guitar with renewed joy and enthusiasm, and as such, they shouldn’t be considered anything except that.
MISTAKES That Guitarist Should Avoid!
These are important tips we thought you should know. However, there are also some mistakes that all guitarists should avoid and these are –
1. Comparing yourself:
A lot, and we mean a lot, of players compare themselves to players who play way better than them and start feeling insecure. And that’s bad. Feeling insecure and incompetent will hamper your performance and destroy any self-confidence you built after playing by yourself.
The major takeaway is that the players you watch, online on YouTube or stage, are better than you for a reason. They have put countless hours into improving their technique and mastering the guitar. If you, as a beginner, compare yourself with them then you’ll only be disappointed. When you see a guitar player that plays better than you, learn from them. Don’t compare. Just focus on what they do that makes them good, and try doing it on your own. Only that will improve your guitar playing, not any form of comparison.
2. No work, only fun:
Most beginners get into learning a guitar thinking that each practice session will be extremely fun. That’s wrong. While you can always have fun playing a song or melody you like, there also needs to be a set time for focused practicing. This practice session should be for the sole purpose of learning new techniques, methods, and finger exercises – all the boring bits you don’t want to work on.
If you practice your guitar only for the fun part, you’ll be stuck being a one-trick pony that can only play other people’s song covers. You need to constantly be out of your comfort zone and learn something new in your practice session to grow as a guitarist.
3. Neglecting new styles:
Many players start by playing only one single style religiously. They don’t reach out to play any other styles. The thinking behind their thought process is if they stick to one style, they’ll master it more easily. Ironically, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sticking to one style limits your creativity and the things you can achieve with your guitar. There is something that can be learned from every style. If you watch the interviews of your favorite idols, you’ll realize this yourself. All famous idols have multiple people from various styles that inspired them and taught them to play. Similarly, if you open your mind and listen to songs of other styles, you’ll find something you can learn and take away and apply to your own style of music. This will make your music creative, and also help you improve as a guitar player.
4. Not practicing daily:
If the tips above didn’t stress it enough already, here is a reminder again – for the love of all guitar gods, if you want to learn a guitar, then put in the effort and practice it daily. If you don’t practice regularly your growth will become stagnant and you won’t improve as a guitar player.
It’s also important that you know the right way to practice. Jamming out a 5-hour session on the weekend won’t improve your guitar skills if that’s the only practice you are getting. Practicing it out diligently each day without fail for a minimum of 15-20 minutes with focus will help you much, much more than doing it all at once. Learning a guitar is no joke, and you have to put the commitment of daily practice if you want to get good at it.
5. No plan, no purpose:
Not having a plan and aimlessly jamming out guitar sessions won’t help you get anywhere. You need to have a definite goal you need to reach, such as a song. Your goal should be to learn all the techniques, melodies, and riffs in that song perfectly. That’s your purpose for learning right there. Your purpose gives you motivation and something to look forward to when you are playing your guitar.
Another important must-do is planning out all your sessions in a log or planner and recording them each time you are done. The log will keep a record of your progress and tell you your development as a guitarist. If you don’t have a log to record your development, you won’t know of your progress and when your growth has stalled until it’s too late.
Learning a guitar can be a tricky business, so we wrote these tips especially for you so you can improve on your journey to becoming a great guitarist.
We hope our tips helped you out! If they did, please consider following our website for regular updates, articles, and news as they will help us out immensely.