How To Get Better At Guitar?
Many people learning a skill know the feeling when it seems like they've plateaued, and playing guitar is no question. You feel like no matter what you do, you can't create a better sound or add more songs to your repertoire. It may not be a matter of skill, but a matter of focus. Reorganizing how you spend your time with your guitar can play a big role into how far your music can go.
Whether you're looking to start a band, are looking to entertain family and friends, or just want to develop a new hobby, becoming better at playing guitar is contingent on how you use your practice time. If you're looking how to get better at guitar, here's some steps you can implement into your daily routine right now.
What You Will Need To Get Started?
1. A guitar: This may sound a bit obvious, but remember that no two guitars sound alike, so you're going to want to find a guitar with the sound and look that you want.
Now, for those that are starting out, let's address the elephant in the room. Should you go for a more expensive guitar, or try and buy a cheap one? The answer isn't always an easy one, but be mindful that cheap guitars may cause you to think your playing sounds bad when it isn't entirely your fault. For example, warped necks or poorly cut necks will hurt your pitch perception.
At the same time, you don't want to buy an expensive guitar if you're on the fence about playing. A good thing to do may be to buy a cheaper guitar just to see if you like playing, with the expectation that you will move to a more expensive one if you do.
2. A tuner: A cheap tuner can cost about $20, but will pay for itself very quickly.
3. A metronome: Using this to help you keep in time will pay dividends.
4. Music software: If you're looking to learn more about playing certain songs, music software can be great. Inexpensive software like Audacity allows you to slow down mp3 files without changing the pitch. GuitarPro allows you to play any song at any speed, has a built-in metronome, can let you mute specific instruments and even allows you edit the tab. There is also a free/open source program called TuxGuitar if you're on a budget.
Okay, you have the tools, now let's get into what you need to do.
Steps To Follow
1. Set Aside Time To Practice Daily If You Can
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times, practice makes perfect. It's no secret that daily time with your guitar is going to help you improve, so let's get into how you can get the most out of your practice sessions. You may have heard the story of musicians practicing for hours, but one 30-minute session can be helpful as well if you stay focused.
Understand that practice time and "jam" time aren't one and the same. During your practice, you want to set concrete goals on incorporating new techniques, as well as regular maintenance of skills and concepts you have learned. This leads right into next step.
2. Look Up Exercises To Help You Improve And Develop Good Habits
From theory to ear training, from picking to fret work, exercises are going to be the backbone of how you improve at playing guitar. Finding what works for you may be a bit overwhelming at first, but finding a routine of exercises and arranging them in your practice sessions will pay dividends for your guitar skill.
While you'll know better than anyone else what aspects of your playing you need to maintain, there are some universal exercises that are useful for anyone trying to bone up on their essential guitar skills. Guitar Player has a great list of 60 exercises, complete with audio, that you can put into your practice routine right away.
3. Find Other Like-minded Musicians
Earlier, we mentioned that practice and jam time aren't one and the same. This doesn't mean that jam sessions are bad! Far from it, actually, a jam session is a great time to put some of the skills you've been working on in your practice session. For the best results, bring some musician friends or join a group. Group jam sessions are great for you to help experiment in a no-judgment environment.
In addition, working alongside other musicians will also inform some of the skills you've been working on, like playing in time. In an interview for Guitar World, Metallica's Kirk Hammett went into some of the benefits of playing with another guitarist, and how he works on creating a better sound.
When you’re first starting out, there’s always the temptation to hide behind distortion because it lets you get away with murder. But, when it comes to rhythm work, you’ve gotta back off that gain control a bit, especially if you’re playing with another guitarist.Actually, over the years, James and I have found that besides giving our tone more definition and cut, backing off the gain makes us play our riffs better because we can’t get away with being sloppy.
4. Consider Taking Lessons
Some people may say that the concept of a guitar teacher is dying out. After all, we live in the age of YouTube tutorials and teaching software, so why shell out your hard-earned cash for a teacher right? Wrong.
Think of the time you spend with a guitar teacher as similar to that focused practice session. For however long your lesson is, you have a trained professional who will help you work on your personal strengths and flaws, as well as go through all the information out there to find what is most applicable to your progression. Even all the great guitar players who may not have taken traditional lessons still had some sort of mentoring figure.
There is still value in some of those online tutorials out there, especially if you're not ready to make the step to a teacher yet. But if you are serious about your guitar playing, this may be one of the best investments you can make.
5. Use Recording And Progress Tracking To Help You Improve
We are our own worst critics sometimes, but this instinct can be a helpful one. One of the best things you can do is record some of your practice sessions or songs, then play them back to yourself. This provides a rare, objective look at your skills. Find yourself struggling with that one chord? Create a new exercise for it and implement it into your next practice.
Also, be sure to log your progress in a journal as you continue to improve. Not only may this provide insight into some of your strong and weak spots as a guitarist, but it's also great for a confidence boost. When you feel down on yourself, just take a look and see how far you have come compared to a few months ago!
Using these tips will certainly help you take your guitar playing to another level. Let's review some of the major steps you will want to look into to help improve.
- Set aside time frequently, daily if possible, to play.
- Don't be afraid to invest in improving your music.
- Try to find other practicing musicians if you can.
- Record yourself and try to track your progress.
I hope this tutorial on how to get better at guitar would be useful and help you become a top level guitarist. If you can do that, leave a comment below and we're happy to check back on you.