You Don’t Need Expensive Gear
You absolutely don’t need to spend thousands of dollars buying expensive gear. Most websites, ads and music store owners will try to convince you in the opposite, but that’s only because they are trying to make money on you. It surprises me how people think that expensive gear will make them sound better. No. It’s not. Only you can do that. The quality of the music you can play depends on your persistence and dedication, not the brand or price of the guitar you play. Jimmy Hendrix or Buckethead would sound amazing on the cheapest $60 guitar from Ebay. Please remember that and stop trying to “improve” by throwing more money to big guitar brands or local store owners. That’s not going to help you become better. Even if you are on a very low budget – the cheapest guitar from Ebay will work great.
Don’t get discouraged by better players
A lot of times you will see players who are much better than you are and this can discourage you from playing the guitar. This feeling is unreasonable and you should just ignore it. Just because there is a big gap between you and that guy shredding like BPM it doesn’t mean you should feel frustrated about it. You should enjoy the process of playing the guitar. Whatever level you are at – is already something. You made it from being a complete newbie to where you are now. In the same way, you can make it to where that guy is.
Don’t forget that the end goal is music
Playing exercises and practicing techniques helps you become better at guitar. But don’t forget, that a guitar is just a tool for reaching the main goal – playing music. It’s not about mastering a lick or learning how to shred as fast as you can.
Always look for ways to improve
Even if you think you learned that lick, do not stop at that point. Play it in different positions. Use different techniques, shuffle them within the lick.
Learn to play chords on different strings
This tip is similar to the previous one. Make sure you know how to play a chord on higher strings as well (4, 3, 2). Knowing how to play a chord in different positions gives you more freedom to choose in which part of the fretboard you want to play the next chord.
Learning a scale is the most helpful thing I’ve learned in my whole guitar experience. This graduated me to the next level of guitar playing. There are many benefits of learning scales. My favorite one is that this will train your ear and you will be able to play the notes from your head (which is especially useful for people with a terrible voice like me). A trained ear will also allow you to play what you hear.
When playing the guitar, stay relaxed
This is something I’ve realized relatively recently. Playing the guitar is not easy physically. The position of our body while playing the guitar is not exactly natural. This causes tiredness in your neck, lower back, hands, arms, whists etc. The most important parts of the body that impact your playing are obviously your arms, fingers and wrists. If you want to achieve maximal efficiency and accuracy in your playing, you need to make sure you keep those as relaxed as possible. I cannot recommend you anything here since everyone has a different body. Just make sure you pay attention to this and if your hands get tired too quickly – then you probably need to find a way to position them.
Use Youtube to find guitar lessons
Youtube is a wonderful source of video content and it’s just a perfect source of learning for a beginner guitar players. You can find there great educational channels, guitar lessons, live performances, backing tracks and many more. If you are not using Youtube for learning then you are missing a huge opportunity to improve.
Listen to music
This is very important. Without listening to blues, you will never be able to play it regardless of how many licks you learn. You need to have the music in your head first.
It’s not exactly a tip, because you should be doing it anyway by now. Consistency is key to everything, including the guitar. Playing 20 minutes every day for a year will make you very good.
I’ve learned it very well for the years of playing. When I grab the guitar for the first time of the day – I don’t even try to play anything fancy or fast just because I know that that will suck. The first 20-30 minutes I try to play something simple until I feel I’m warmed up enough to play some Buckethead. To warm up, you can slowly run through your favorite scale a couple of times.
Use a metronome (SERIOUSLY USE IT!)
I lack words to express how important a metronome is when it comes to improving your sense of rhythm and timing. If I were to choose the best tip from this list, that would definitely be this one. Practice over a metronome and no sooner you notice you’ll be shredding like Slash or Paul Gilbert. Make sure you start slow and eventually speed it up a little bit. Use the speed that you are totally comfortable at before you speed it up.
Recommended for reading: how to play electric guitar as a beginner.
Play solos over a backing track
If you are trying to play a soulful solo, it’s always easier to do over a nice backing track than just metronome ticking.
Learn music theory
At least learn the basics. Notes, chords, scales, roots, keys – these things are vital for guitar players. Whoever tells that he/she can master the guitar without knowing a single note is just probably bragging about how cool he is. Don’t buy that, knowing music theory is really helpful.
Learn basic guitar techniques
There are a lot of simple, yet powerful techniques to spice up your playing.
- palm muting
- alternate picking
- pull off
- hammer on
Learn and use them on an everyday basis.
Tune your guitar before playing
After 9 years of playing, I finally started hearing when my guitar is slightly out of tune. I still cannot tune it by ear so I use a very simple iPhone app called Guitartuna (I think). It’s absolutely free. At this point, you should imagine guitar tuner sellers crying.
Do not use tabs to learn songs
While there are some correct tabs out there, most of them suck. To be fair, tabs are great to use if you are a beginner. But for medium level and advanced players, tabs are just a total disaster. Most of the times they are written not for humans. Other than that, they are often simply wrong. If you are a beginner and you need tabs to learn something, I recommend using songsterr.com or ultimate-guitars.com.
Wipe your guitar
Yes, your guitar gets dusty. Especially under strings. Wipe it off. If necessary – remove strings and clean the whole fretboard as well.
Don’t limit yourself to 1 music genre
Of course, your personal music preferences are up to you, but as a guitarist, you want to explore different music genres. Instead of playing just rock or metal, try playing blues, jazz, Justin Bieber or Ed Sheeran. Yes, they have a lot of awesome and very popular guitar songs.
Check out Buckethead
This is one of the best guitar players ever (in my opinion). Besides being one of the fastest players, he’s solos are also extremely soulful and emotional. If you haven’t heard of him and think he’s not that good – 2000-2004 player for Guns N’ Roses. He is a very inspiring guitar player.
The slower you go, the faster you will get there
Think about it…
Use your pinky
That’s something a lot of beginners don’t do when they should. It’s important to use all four fingers for playing. The sooner you understand it – the better.
If you feel like you run out of ideas when playing a solo – use octaves. It’s a great way add new sounding to your licks and help you move around the fretboard.