When you are just starting to play the guitar, there are several fun moments, in which you really enjoy learning about chords, scales, arpeggios, and all these music theory concepts that are so important to our development as guitar players. The reality is that anyone can play guitar by following some tips that I give in this article.
At other times, however, it may become a burden to play so many hard exercises to increase your speed, flexibility and dexterity at the instrument.
It is at these moments that you may start to think if it really makes sense to spend so much time to become a guitar player…
What you need to understand, however, is that nobody started on this art without knowing everything. Everyone, even the best players had once to start from zero, and build their guitar shops little by little. It takes a while to see the results, and it is not an easy process.
To play the guitar as a pro, you need to have a guitar pro attitude: which means, playing everyday, and doing all that is necessary to achieve your goals.
It is not different from any other activity: practice and effort are the building blocks for every success in life. The difference, however, is that as a guitar player you are doing something you truly love. This BIG difference makes it much easier to enjoy even the hard work to become a guitar player.
When I started still as a teenager, I knew that it would take a long time to get really good at what I wanted. This doesn’t make difference, however, when you are truly committed to achieve your goals with the instrument.
1. Learn the Basics
Great players never stop practicing the basics, because they know that this is what they need to master. Think about a golf player for example. He is never stopping the practice of basic plays, because this is what makes the difference in an important game.
Similarly, for guitar players what matters is the mastering of the following skills.
- Chords: leaning chords is fundamental to do play most popular songs. Without a good chord vocabulary, you’re severely limiting your playing.
- Scales: scales are the cornerstone of lead playing ability. It is very important to known scales in all directions and positions. Once you know this, playing solos becomes much easier.
- Arpeggios: another skill related to chords is the use of arpeggios, which is basically playing harmony note by node. With arpeggios you can mix harmony and solo in an easy and powerful way.
- Music theory: finally, professional players spend aways some time to learn or refresh their theory knowledge. This is important to learn new skills and help analyze songs. This understanding give to the player the necessary tools to create powerful performances.
2. Increase Your Speed and Dexterity, Slowly
Playing at high speeds is one of the hallmarks of good professional players. It is a skill that most guitar players want to develop. However, what many people miss is that to play rapidly, you need to practice slow at first.
The problem for many people is to believe that you need to always practice at high speeds. This is really not necessary. The main skill you need to develop is playing with clarity at regular speeds, and then slowly increasing that speed. By doing this, you will maintain control at all times, and make what seem to be complex, easy. You just use the same training for slow speed, but increase it until you get to the velocity you want.
The training for high speed playing involves constant repetition of exercises. The repetition, however, needs to be done in a slow and deliberate way. Once you have master playing at regular speeds (without error), then you slowly start to increase the velocity. Using this method, in a few days you will have the ability to play fast.
3. Play with Your Ear
Your ear is the most perfect musical tool. However, you need to use it. Playing by ear is an important part of practicing your musical listening skills.
Like in other areas, ear training also can be improved using digital tools. The digital tool can help you slow down songs and repeat the parts that you want to play by ear.
The main resource I currently use to get songs using my ear is this super fantastic tool. It has helped me to develop my ear, and I just need to use freely available music videos from youtube.
4. Learn Each Note in the Guitar
One of the things that will make you a much better guitarist is to learn by heart each note in the fretboard. Many players spend several years playing the instrument without even haven a solid understanding of the notes in the guitar.
This is a big problem, because if you have to think too hard about the name of a note in the fretboard, you will certainly have problems understanding more complex chords and solos. The goal of every guitar player must be to have quick recognition of any note in fretboard, even the more complex ones.
The good news is that it is super easy to learn the notes in the fretboard if you really want. You just need to spend some time every day to refresh this information. After a few weeks, naming the notes in the fretboard will become second nature.
5. Learn About Music in General
Professional guitar players have put a lot of time in their skills with instrument. However, to go beyond that you also need to have a solid foundation of music in general.
That is why I advise every student and friend guitarist to lean music notation. It is very useful to be able to read music in a way that is recognized by other musicians, such as piano players, sax players, violin players, etc. Knowing traditional music notation will open the doors to easier understanding of music and also facilitates collaboration.
Learn More About Guitar Playing
I have created a free course to give access to access music theory lessons. It has a big variety of topics for guitar, and I can read the content in PDF format for free (and is much easier than trying to find some quality lessons on the internet).
Click here to have access to your free copy of this course.