The other day on Chasing Tone – Brian and I had a customer write in and ask what tips we could offer a beginner guitar player. Expanding on that concept – I thought I could go over the 6 things I do to improve my practicing. These 6 steps are super easy and can be applied towards a beginner or a seasoned guitar player.
Standing up: So this one, I’ll admit, is hard for me sometimes. I often sit to practice – but when I get to the rehearsal space or the stage – I’ll sometimes mess up – “it just didn’t feel right/ natural.” Standing up and practicing – can often help put you in a certain mind set for live performance and will get your hands/ body used to being a different position.
Don’t beat a dead horse: If you aren’t getting it right away – don’t get frustrated – walk away and come back – patience is the name of the game. Remember – NOBODY got good at guitar over night.
Set a time limit: Let’s face it – we’re musicians. Not all of us have a huge attention span. There is a reason TV shows are only 30 minutes long – anything longer than that – and your attention will wander. If you are anything like me – 30 minutes can be a stretch sometimes. I always like to tell players just starting out – pros as well – play a concentrated/ focused practice for 20 minutes at a time. You can do that a couple times a day – it all adds up. Remember – it’s the long game. Too much focused practice – and you can burn out. Find the magic time slot for you – and roll with it. It could be less than 20 minutes or it could be more. Remember, just because Steve Vai used to practice for 8 hours per day, you don’t have to… he’s not from this planet!
Low volume tones: When you have good tone – you are inspired – plain and simple. It’s why we are all in this crazy tone-chasing world. Find a good “bedroom” volume and tone and roll with it. The number one tool in your guitar-playing arsenal is your ears – and you don’t want to wear them out prematurely. Find a comfortable volume to play at (switch to a smaller amp maybe)– set up some of your favorite pedals – and enjoy your practice!
Practice with others: Get out and practice with other musicians! Find an open jam night at your favorite watering hole and rock out! If you want to play live – or want to polish up your skills – nothing beats playing with other musicians. Bonus if you have never played with them before. Getting out of your comfort level is good. If you don’t have an open stage jam nearby or you can’t find another person to play with – Loopers (like the TC Ditto) or jam tracks on Youtube – can be great tools to use!
Get out of your comfort zone: The last bit of knowledge I can offer – is get out of your comfort zone. Find a genre of music you don’t typically listen to. Actively listen to what the guitar/ other instruments are playing. Trust me – you’ll take something away from it. You will then be able to use those lick, chops, tones – and incorporate them in your style of music. Always be a student of music – not just guitar – and your skills will continue to improve.
So what steps do you take to improve your guitar playing skills? Do you have a set practice routine?