By Darko Veselinovic, from TheMusicGig.com
Most guitar players have an image of the type of guitar player that they would like to become, and a lot of them inspire to be like their heroes. The good news is that all the great guitar players that you have come across all have implemented at least 3 of the following ideas that you will learn about.
You would have been told throughout your entire guitar journey that you need to learn certain things such as the ‘caged system’ or the ‘circle of fifths’ but this is actually somewhat inaccurate. With an avalanche of information available on the internet, it can be all too easy to get lost and lose focus on what’s important to your goals.
The simple truth is that you only need to learn what is required to reach your objectives. Though if you do aspire to be a great guitar player, there are a few things that are really crucial if you want to get the most out of your practice time.
Training your ear is one of the most important activities that you can work on and it is the activity that will help you to become a much better guitar player. When it comes to learning a song, it’s very tempting to just load up your favorite tab from ultimate guitar and play away. The downside of tabs is that there is a very good chance that the notes are wrong. The person who wrote the tab may or may not have a good ear and can give you varying results.
By constantly learning songs on your own you are slowly improving your ear and this will give you the ability to learn more complicated stuff. If you play songs that are not very well known it can be hard to find an accurate tab sheet, so that’s why it’s a good idea to have a developed ear.
The most important thing with learning songs by ear is to stay consistent otherwise you will be back to square one; having a hard time hearing the notes that you need to play. Ear training can come in many different forms such as playing songs, doing interval training, singing notes, and so on.
If you are the guitar player who wants to harness the ability to play what you hear in your head then singing what you play is an absolute must. Do you practice scales every day? If so, then start singing them while you are playing.
Jow Satriani intervals
By multi-tasking you are getting two benefits, one being that you gain a solid ability to play scales up and down the neck but you also improve your musical ear. You can take this even a step further by singing melodies that you hear in your mind and then putting them onto the fretboard. This also increases your ability to play what you hear in your mind, which is the ultimate goal for many guitarists.
The process can take a while, and you won’t see results for a long time but if you do the following exercises then you will eventually see results.
When you start playing the guitar or even a couple years into the journey you will be taught how to play a few blues licks and that’s how your foundation for your solos will start. It’s a great way to begin because it’s easy and it makes you create some cool stuff instantaneously.
While playing the blues is great, if this is the only style that you use in your guitar solos then you are bound to have a similar sound to another guitar another player. A good idea is to find unknown and underrated players who have a usual style and turn their phrases into your own.
Rick Beato - Breathing New Life into Old Licks
By doing this you have already expanded your library of licks giving you more options for when you decide to solo.
After learning licks from those guitar players, the next step is to make them your own; this means to add a few extra notes or remove them but ultimately make something that sounds cool to you.
The final step is to implement what you have learned and stick to those licks. By playing all the new phrases that you’ve learned and applying them this will become part of your signature sound; making your playing sound more distinct.
As a final tip what you can also do is to add in some ‘wrong’ notes. Too many guitar players are focused on hitting the ‘right’ notes (notes in the scale) so avoiding sounding off. Notes that aren’t in the scale can actually make your playing sound more exciting.
You don’t want to stay in one place for too long because it won’t sound all that great but throwing in a few accidentals can add some serious flavor to your playing. Check out our article on how to break out of scale shapes here. .
This cannot be said enough times as it is so crucial especially in the beginning stages. Learning on your own you are certain to run into bad habits such as holding the pick incorrectly, strumming incorrectly, or even having bad finger placement.
By investing in someone who has had years of experience and knows their craft in and out, they can easily identify where you're going wrong and fix the problem before it turns into a bad habit.
The most common reason that guitar players don’t invest in a teacher is that they find it too expensive, but it honestly worth the money even if you do one session a week. The amount of time that you will spend trying to reach your goals can be cut in half by investing in a teacher because they have been there and know exactly how to get there.
A teacher also gives you a structure for you to work with which the internet can’t offer. Google is a great resource for learning certain things but ultimately your circumstance is unique and you can’t exactly Google that.
An alternative to finding a teacher in person would be to find an online teacher who has years of experience. Even with a couple of calls, you can explain to them what you are trying to achieve and they can custom tailor a plan that will work perfectly for you. Check out our article on finding and using online resources here.
If you want to become a sharper guitar player who can play rhythm and lead guitar cleanly then you should play without music in the background. While it is more fun to play with some surrounding music, you won’t be able to hear the mistakes that you’re making.
If you ever decide to record a song for an album there will be no track playing in the background; it will just be your guitar so you need to make sure that your playing is as clean as possible.
Jim Lill - The Best Way to Start a Solo
To take things even further, start by playing in front of your friends and in front of crowds because the pressure will be at a maximum. If you're able to play confidently Infront of a crowd then you will be able to play anywhere.
Stage fright is perfectly normal, the important thing is to just stay calm and have fun because that is what guitar is all about.
Hopefully, these tips will help you become a better guitarist. If you can implement all of these practices on a daily basis you will see results over time. Try to spend as much time as you can on every exercise because as the old saying goes – ‘The more you put in, the more you get out’.