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10 Simple Steps for Being a Better Guitarist

Learning to play the guitar isn’t difficult. With a few hours of practice, you can learn a few chords and several songs without a lot of natural skill. However, if you want to become a guitar master, you’ll need to develop some practical habits that will naturally improve your skills over time.

Great guitar players are disciplined and dedicated. Though some may be naturally talented, most spend hours each week practicing to obtain master status. If you really want to become a better guitar player, here are some things you should do.

1. Nail the Basics

It’s fun to jam out to your favorite songs, but you’ll never achieve greatness if you don’t first master the basics.

Learn the major scale intervals, which provide the building blocks for understanding everything in between.

  • Understand notes and proper finger placement.
  • Learn to read music and get better at sight reading.
  • Memorize a few simple songs.
  • Know the terminology.
  • Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can progress to any skill level.

    2. Practice Speed

    Guitar masters know how to play accurately and quickly. You don’t have to learn dozens of guitar exercises to grow your speed, according to Tom Hess, guitar teacher and music career mentor at Tom Hess Music Corporation. His philosophy is that if you use directional picking, you’ll practice more efficiently, reduce movement, and rapidly build speed.

    3. Learn Something New Every Day

    It’s tempting to play only the songs you know well when practicing, but that won’t help your growth. Instead, choose something you don’t know. It could be a song, a chord, a scale, a lick, a melody, a strum pattern, or anything in those categories. By learning something brand new, you’ll avoid the trap of becoming bored in your practice and improve your guitar playing every single day.

    4. Track Progress

    Improving is much easier if you’re aware of the progress you’ve made. Keep track of your practice time. Each day, write a few thoughts about what you learned and what you need to improve. It can be incredibly motivating to look back on how far you’ve come and give you direction for future improvement.

    5. Form Habits of Perfection

    When you make a mistake, don’t continue playing as if nothing happened. Stop and correct the mistake. If you continue playing without correcting the error, the mistake will work into your muscle memory along with the correct notes.

    You’ll have a much harder time reversing that mistake once you’ve learned it by heart. Form habits of perfection by not continuing your practice until you play each note correctly.

    6. Play with Others

    Every guitar player has a different style and has learned different things while practicing. When you play with others, you can learn new techniques and get tips for being a better guitarist. You can do the same for others in your group.

    7. Record Yourself

    Your playing may sound great in your head, but while you’re focusing on getting the notes right and accurately picking, you might not notice certain nuances. By recording yourself, you can go back and listen more intently, catching mistakes that should be corrected and defining areas for improvement.

    If you’re not easily discouraged, you might even compare the recording of a certain song to the original artist. You can pick out key differences that will help you improve, like more confident strumming or better timing.

    8. Play for People

    You have to get used to playing in front of people at some point, and the pressure can help you practice more effectively. Start with local talent nights or playing in front of family and friends. As you become more comfortable in these settings, you can look into playing paid gigs.

    9. Learn Your Favorite Guitar Solos

    Make practicing fun by learning your favorite guitar solos. This is useful in multiple ways. First off, it can motivate you to practice and act as a reward after you’ve labored through a few scales.

    It can also teach you the skills of the greats. As you mimic your favorite guitar soloists verbatim, you’ll boost your guitar “vocabulary,” improving delivery, accuracy, timing, and the feel of the music. You’ll develop top talent and learn to assert your personal style.

    10. Take Private Lessons

    You have a general idea of where you want to be based on what you hear from your favorite rock bands, but you may not know how to get there. A guitar coach is trained to hear mistakes and areas of improvement in your playing you might not otherwise recognize. Once they’ve identified ways you can be better, they can suggest a series of methods and practices to help you improve. If guitar playing is something you’re passionate about, it will be well worth the investment.