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How to Improve Your Guitar Playing

By Yann, published on 01/01/2019 Blog > Music > Guitar > Become a Better Guitarist

“Art is making something out of nothing, and selling it.” – Frank Zappa

When you start playing the guitar, there are limitless possibilities. You’re like a newborn baby who doesn’t know how to walk and is learning to take their first steps. In this case, it can be difficult to work out where to start and how to stop playing the guitar.

Here are our 10 tips for becoming a better guitarist.

1. Warming Up is an Essential Part of Improving Your Guitar Playing

When you play the guitar, your hands will be in positions that they’re not used to being in.

How do you warm up before playing guitar? You need to warm up your fingers and hands before you play the guitar. (Source: KleineKiwi)

To be able to comfortably play the guitar, it’s a good idea to warm up first. However, unlike when you do sports, the goal of warming up before you play the guitar isn’t to avoid injury but rather improve your dexterity.

Start by warming up your neck and your shoulders so that you’re comfortable when playing. The next thing you should do is warm up your arms, your hands, and your fingers with a series of circular motions with your elbows and moving your wrists as if you wanted your hands to touch them.

Make sure you keep your back straight when you’re playing the guitar. 5 minutes of warming up will help you feel more relaxed and improve your playing.

To warm up the fingers on your left hand (if you’re right-handed), there are plenty of different exercises you can do.

Bit by bit, you’ll see your speed and dexterity improve. You’ll also see that you make more progress during a session if you’ve warmed up.

2. Use a Metronome to Improve your Guitar Playing

Even the most beautiful chord progressions in the world will sound awful if they’re not being played in time. Being able to play in time is an important skill for any guitarist.

I know it doesn’t seem very glamorous playing with a metronome that’s constantly clicking away, but if you want to learn how to play in time, it’s essential!

Practising with a metronome will ensure that you are always in time. Don’t worry if you can’t manage it at first. Over time, you’ll get there.

The goal is to get so used to playing in time that you can eventually play without a metronome. You’ll start hearing the regular ticking of a metronome even when one isn’t there.

3. Play Slowly at First in Order to Improve Your Speed

To get the most out of playing with a metronome, it’s a good idea to start off slowly at first. You can set the tempo to whatever you want.

How long does it take to get good at the guitar? Break down all the movements you do when playing. (Source: langll)

However, if you want to improve, it’s a good idea to start off slowly and work on individual phrases and master playing them at the slower tempo.

You can’t play quickly if you can’t play slowly. Your brain needs to understand every little movement that you need to make in order to play the correct notes with the correct timing.

If you start by playing quickly at the beginning, you’ll never progress. In fact, your playing will be sloppy and you’ll pick up bad habits that will be difficult to correct later on down the line.

4. Study, Understand, and Memorise Chords in Order to Play Guitar Better

Chords are an essential part of guitar playing.

To get better at them, you should check out chord diagrams.

By spending just 10 minutes a day studying your chords, you’ll discover new chords and fingerings. Don’t forget to go back over chords you’ve already studied from time to time.
You’ll also need to study intervals: second, third, fourth, fifth, etc.

Finally, don’t forget to work on your scales and their relation to different chords in order to improve your improvisation and composition.

5. Motivate Yourself to Become a Better Guitarist

If you aren’t motivated, you’ll never progress. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. You’re going to learn better if you actually want to learn.

However, you may notice that your motivation wavers. One day you might be incredibly motivated to play the guitar and another day you couldn’t care less. Don’t worry, though. This is normal. As human beings, we need stimulation in our daily lives.

One thing’s certain, you’ll progress more quickly if you’re motivated.

So, you’ll need to find ways to motivate yourself. Set yourself short and long-term objectives to achieve such as discovering new music and bands, talking to other friends who are musicians, writing new songs, working on new techniques, etc.

To feed your motivation, make sure that you keep things varied. This could include taking a regular guitar class, playing for your families and friends, watching films and documentaries about famous musicians you like, reading books on your favourite guitarists, etc.

Just don’t give up if you’re not feeling motivated one day, your motivation will come back.

6. Regular Practice: the Best Way to Improve Your Guitar Playing

We often say this on Superprof but it’s true, practice makes perfect.

How often should you practise playing guitar? Do you really think that the world’s greatest guitarists only practise once a week? (Source: Free-Photos)

Whether you’re learning a language, playing a sport, or learning how to play a new musical instrument, doing a little bit of practice each and every day is far more effective than doing a lot of practice once a week.

Even if you can only practice for 10 minutes a day, do it! It’s better than not practising and all.

Ideally, you’d be able to get a break from work for half an hour to practise your guitar playing. Don’t forget to set aside some time where you’ll be doing nothing or at least not playing guitar.

You’ll also need to give your brain time to assimilate everything you’ve learnt, and bit like when you put a computer on standby.

To get the most out of your practice sessions, consider creating a schedule of when to practise and what to practise.

Being able to see what you’re working on and what you’ve achieved is a useful way to stay motivated and monitor your progress.

7. Improve Your Playing by a Recording Yourself

Sometimes you need to be objective and critical of yourself in order to improve. Recording your playing and listening back to it is a good way to see the progress you’re making and highlight any errors that need correcting.

Similarly, it can be useful to film yourself playing as this will allow you to see any physical mistakes you’re making. You can also use this for learning languages, dancing, or other performance arts.

You can use this to check on your posture, your finger placement, and avoid picking up bad habits. It’s a great way to take a step back from your practice sessions and evaluate yourself in a more objective way.

Some guitarists will only see the negative aspects of their playing whereas others mightn’t be able to see anything wrong with what they’re doing.

It’s important to try and place yourself between these two extremes and be aware of both the good parts and bad parts of your playing.

8. Play Without Any Accompaniment to Improve on the Acoustic Guitar

As a guitarist, you might be used to playing along with the music. You may even get the impression that you playing to the best of your abilities as if you are playing as part of the famous band. Try playing on your own and seeing if you do really sound that good.

Playing records on their own one sound exactly the same when you’ve got no music to back you up.

As you train and practise, you can imagine yourself playing in a famous band.

9. Improve Your Guitar Technique by Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

You won’t improve without putting the effort in. You need to work on something that you aren’t already an expert in otherwise you won’t progress. It may be comforting to do something you’re good at but it won’t help you get better.

If you really want to improve, you need to challenge yourself and stepped outside of your comfort zone. Take a song or a guitar solo that you’ve dreamt of playing and break it down.

Slow down the tempo and play it bit by bit, step by step, until you can play it at full speed. While this may take some time, research, and perseverance, it will all pay off in the end because you’ll progress more quickly than if you hadn’t.

10. Play as Part of a Band in Order to Become a Better Guitarist

Finally, our final tip for those who want to become better guitarists is to join a band.

Which are the best ways to improve your guitar playing? Learning with other guitarists is a good way to improve your playing. (Source: Pexels)

The guitar is a great instrument to play as part of a band or as part of a group. Learning to play with other musicians, singing, creates songs, improvised, and perform shows is a great way to become a better musician.

It’s also a great way to motivate yourself because you never know what you’re going to play or how you can improve.

So are you ready to become the next Joe Satriani?

If you’re struggling, don’t forget that private guitar lessons could help. Your guitar teacher can help you learn to play, understand music theory, and improve as a guitar player as you go from strumming a few basic chords to improvising complex jazz solos.

The main advantage is that they’ll tailor each guitar lesson to you. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert, they’ll be able to teach you at your level with a focus on the types of music you like.

In beginner guitar lessons, you can learn how to play guitar at your own pace. Once you reach the intermediate level, you can take lessons focusing on techniques specific to genres such as blues guitar and rock guitar. By the time you’re an expert, your music teacher will be able to show you the best guitar techniques and how to master them.

Check out even more advice for guitarists.

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