How long have you been playing the guitar? Are you as good a player as you should be? Our new series, ‘How To Get Better At Guitar’, is aimed at guitarists who feel that their playing could and should be better.
Over the coming weeks, we will provide articles and lessons to inspire and improve your playing. They will be of particular help if you feel that your playing has plateaued, or if you are frustrated with where you are as a guitarist and want to take your playing to the next level.
Below, you will find ten things you can do that will immediately improve your playing.
Over the coming weeks we will start to delve deeper into individual aspects of guitar playing. As new articles in the series are added, links will be included here.
Warning: the following article will seriously improve your guitar playing!
Articles In This Series
How to Get Better At Guitar: Introduction
Even if you don’t harbour any ambition to become a professional guitarist, you should still aim to become the best player that you can be. Part of the joy of playing a musical instrument is finding out just how much you are capable of. As you progress you will be surprised at what you can achieve.
Three main areas that you can improve are: knowledge, physical ability and musical awareness. There are many practical things you can do to improve your knowledge and physical ability. Your musical awareness will get better the more you play and listen to music.
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How To Get Better At Guitar: Ten Ways To Improve Your Playing
Want to know how to get better at guitar? Here are ten things you can do that will instantly make a difference to your playing.
1. Practice At A Regular Time Each Day
Setting aside a certain time each day for guitar practice proves that you are dedicated to improving your playing. Even fifteen minutes every weekday will make a big difference.
Make the most of your practice time: make sure you are actually practicing and not just playing! Don’t waste time ‘practicing’ what you can already play.
2. Practice With A Metronome.
‘Metronome’ is a word that you will be seeing a lot of in the coming weeks, and for good reason.
Playing to a rigid tempo ensures that your playing is precise and exposes areas that may need work.
Forcing yourself to play at tempos that are slightly outside of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to improve the speed and fluency of your playing.
Handy, guitar case-sized electric metronomes are available to buy very cheaply. There are also free metronomes available online and you can download metronome apps.
If you don’t have access to a metronome then your first step towards getting better at guitar is to order / download one right away!
3. Make sure that every note you play is played correctly.
Don’t ignore problem notes. It’s all too easy to play the same licks over and over again with the mistakes left in. Slow down your playing and work out how to play every note perfectly.
4. Define what you want to achieve
This means that instead of saying ‘I want to be a better guitarist’, you should say, ‘I am going to learn ten new chords and practice playing three-octave scales this week’. At the risk of sounding like a hackneyed self-help book, breaking down large aims into small, defined steps really does work.
Just by sitting down with a guitar chord book and learning one new chord a day you will will be making more progress than if you spend the time playing licks you’ve played a thousand times before.
Our Guitar Chord Of The Week articles are written to help you break out of your usual rhythm guitar habits by introducing new chords and providing example chord progressions so you can practice using them.
5. Buy A Guitar Book and work through it methodically
It’s easy to order a book from Amazon, skim through it and only take small parts of it in. In order to gain the maximum benefit from a book, use a bookmark and work through it from cover to cover – don’t skip the bits you think that you already know.
You could work through any of the books on jazz guitar mentioned here and be a significantly better player at the end – if you do it properly.
6. Record Yourself Playing
It can be quite hard to listen to yourself at first, but doing so objectively can help you identify areas that need work.
Most phones or tablets have recording apps; I use an app called ‘Sound Recorder’ on my Android device. I also have a Zoom H1 digital recorder in my desk drawer for when I need better audio quality.
7. Seek inspiration
Go to see other guitarists and bands. Read biographies on (or autobiographies by) musicians you admire. Listen to guitar albums and seek out new music.
Chances are it was when you first took up the guitar that you made the most improvement in the shortest space of time. Would you like to continue to improve at the same rate? Start by listening to music that inspires you to want to play.
If you aren’t excited by the thought of improving your playing then it’s unlikely you’ll ever get any better.
Once you’re mentally fired up, you can start to look at the individual aspects of your playing.
8. Transcribe Music
One of the very best things you can do to improve your lead playing is to transcribe other guitarists’ solos. I can almost guarantee that you will pick up new licks, techniques and ways of approaching the fingerboard. If you feel that your playing is stuck in a rut, then this is a sure-fire way of getting it moving again.
9. Get lessons
Getting lessons from a professional guitar teacher is an obvious step to take if you are serious about getting better at guitar. A good teacher will inspire you and ensure that you are heading in the right direction. Making a financial investment usually helps to focus the mind, too!
10. Play In Public
Organize a gig / recital and play in public. Nothing will focus you more than an impending performance! It’s surprising how playing in front of other people changes everything: your playing is put under a microscope and you’ll soon realise whether or not you have been practicing the right things!
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Get Better At Guitar – How To Improve Your Playing
Over the following weeks we will provide a serious of articles devoted to helping you to get better at guitar. Be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter so that you don’t miss any.
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