How do I improve my guitar skills?

There are more than 50 million guitarists worldwide, each with their own set of goals. Some play to create their music band, and some may play just because they enjoy playing the guitar. But everyone should have a mindset of getting better at it. Because whatever the goals are, we should reach it seamlessly. Without proper guidance, getting better at the guitar can be very inefficient. So I came up with the ultimate guide on how to improve your guitar skills.

  1. ALLOCATE TIME

You must allocate a certain amount of time practicing your guitar. How much of your time you want to specify, depends on your final goal and your life stage. Some people have jobs, and some are still students. Some might be students and have a job. It goes without saying we do not have the same amount of time to spare practicing guitar. But what does matter is how you find a free space from your busy schedule and work on your guitar. Now let us go through some questions you might have on this topic, and we will go through the answers.

How much time should I allocate daily?

Let’s say you want to become a pro-guitarist or thinking about making music. Then you should specify at least a few hours a day. If you are a student and playing guitar is your hobby, then an hour a day is just fine. The effort you are putting into your practice is much more important than the amount of time you spend on it.

How do I specify time?

You should always pre-plan when it comes to time management. Let’s say you are a very busy person, and you have no more than 15 minutes per day and a few hours on the weekend. You can sort this through by putting those few minutes into practice. It may seem like a great idea to practice for an extended period on one specific day. It is much more efficient to practice every day with a lesser amount of time.     

  1. LEARN THE MUSIC THEORY

One of the biggest misconceptions about playing the guitar is you need to be fast. The statement can be true to some extent, but it does not apply if you lose the knowledge battle. The guitar world is vast. There are many things to learn before we can call ourselves guitarist. Being able to create and play is much more important than playing faster. So we should focus on learning about things which will help us to create music. 

Now we will go through some basic to-learn stuff. 

Notes:

Notes represent the pitch of a sound in a musical notation. Notes are the building blocks of music. In the guitar, the name of the strings represents the note it will play if played open in a standard tuning. There are 12 notes in an octave. The notes are A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, and G#. The difference between one note to another is called a half-step. The difference between the two notes is a full-step. Without learning about notes it becomes impossible to learn about music theory. 

Learn More About Notes On Guitar :

The video shows how you can tell the name of a note by following a simple patter. It can come very handy because it can be very challenging memorizing all the notes.

Scales:

A specific pattern of notes represents a scale. There are many scales, but we only need to learn the patterns. The most common music scale on a guitar is the major and minor scale. To begin with, we will represent a full step with an F and the half step with an H.

The pattern of a major scale is F-F-H-F-F-F-H. 

Watch the Video for a start-up:

Chords:

Chords are probably the first thing we learn on a guitar. We learn about the basic chords when we are trying to play a song. The basic chords being the major chords, minor chords (m), suspended chords (sus), and the power chords (5). Learning the chords is very important, but We need to learn to build a chord. We need some basic music theory knowledge before we can learn how to make a chord. 

Video on Building Chords:

  1. EXERCISE

Whether to improve your guitar skills or to become a guitar god, we need to practice some exercises. Playing guitar aimlessly for hours is a waste. Few minutes of well-thought training can improve your skills more efficiently. There are many types of guitar exercises. For example, each guitar exercises have their unique goals. Some guitar exercises can train you to move your hands freely. Then some exercises will help you master one specific technique.

Now we will go through some exercises that help you get better. 

STRETCHING:

We must start our exercises with some stretching and warmups. We can avoid injuries like wrist, fingers, or hand pain by performing some stretching. Stretching not only helps you avoiding injury, but it also helps you to get that buttery movement. To improve our skills, we need to practice daily. So we cannot have injuries as it can create a huge obstacle to our goal.

Video Link on Stretching :

WARMUP:

Warm-up is a must, because before we cannot jump into anything challenging. It can help you to regain that muscle memory. Anything that is challenging can be effortless, because of that few minutes of warmup. Warmup exercises are built around some basic finger exercises. We will go for 2 warmup exercises. You need to go back and forth between 1 & 2 until you are done with the warm-up.

  1. Warmup 1:

The first warm-up will be one of the most common exercises. I call it the 1,2,3,4 warm-up. Follow the guitar tab and try to keep the tempo the same throughout the whole exercise.  

  1. Warmup 2:

Warmup 2 is the polar opposite of warm 1.

Find More Warm-up Exercise : 

INTENSIVE FINGER EXERCISE

After the warm-up session, we are going to do some intensive finger exercise. These exercises will make your finger stronger and more independent. There are many finger exercises, but for this section, I will show you two of the exercise.

  1. Finger Exercise 1:

We call this exercise The Spider Walk. On each string, you have to play four notes. Use your 1st finger to play the 1st note of each string, and so on. You are advised to use a metronome so that every finger is getting the same training.

  1. Finger Exercise 2: 

Finger exercise 2 is a modified version of the spider walk. It will be a bit challenging than the previous one. Again, use the metronome to keep the tempo the same. Play the first note with your 1st finger. Second note with the 3rd. Third note with your 2nd finger, and the fourth note with your 4th or pinky finger.

Here are some links to more Finger Exercise

Now you know some of the best finger exercises. Now let’s talk about how to practice these exercises. At first, grab yourself a metronome. Select a comfortable tempo from the metronome. Try to keep up with the metronome. Like, do not go faster than the metronome and try not to fall behind too. You must play the notes perfectly. When you start feeling to get comfortable, crank up the tempo.

How Do I Improve My Guitar Skills?

You need to learn Different guitar techniques

There are a lot of guitar techniques we can use playing a guitar. For example, Alternate picking, bending, hammer & pull off, sliding, tapping, arpeggios. A good guitarist should be able to do these techniques without any mistake. These techniques will be very significant in creating your solo. A good guitar solo is a combination of all these techniques. I will go through some of these playing techniques and how to practice them.

Bending

The goal of string bending is to play a different note by bending a note perpendicular to the fretboard. Bending is a very common and important technique. In an electric guitar, it is easy to string bend, but on an acoustic guitar, it can be challenging. 

  1. Bending Exercise

In this exercise, our goal is to bend the string to the perfect amount. Let’s take the B string for this exercise. Your job is bending the B string on the 3rd fret and make it sound like the G string’s 9th fret. After completing the task a few times, try shuffling the notes.

Bending Exercise:

Hammer-On & Pull Off

Hammer-On & Pull-Off is the technique of able to create sound without a pick. It creates a long, smoother, and more connected sound than a usual picking style. Almost every legendary solo has a few legato, and Hammer on & Pull Off technique used.

Practice Hammer & Pulls :

Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is the technique where it allows you to play way faster than just a down picking. You should never skip the alternate picking practices. It depends heavily on your muscle memory. 

We will use our intensive finger exercise for alternate picking. Start with a down pick, instead of down picking again do an up pick. That is pretty much it. 

Alternate Picking Lesson:

Tapping

Tapping is the technique of playing on the fretboard using both of your hands. It is probably the coolest guitar technique ever.

Video on tapping:

CHORDS:

Some people can play and make a killer solo but struggles to shift chords flawlessly. One should be able to play both the solos and the chords. Not practicing every day can also deteriorate your chord playing skills. So few minutes of everyday practice can keep that muscle memory. It can also improve your learning skills. For example, when you are playing a new chord, you will be able to adapt quickly. There are many ways you can improve your chords playing skills. One of my favorite and fun way to practice chords is playing with a song. You learn a song, then you try to figure out the chords, and you play with it. Play with the song until you can play it faultlessly. When you are playing with a song, there are few minor stuff you should be careful of

Things you need to look out while practicing- 

  • You are holding the chord right
  • There should be no buzzing sound
  • No string is muted
  • You are playing the perfect rhythm

I am going to link a video, and I strongly suggest that you watch the video carefully. It talks about how to train and practice chord in detail. Following the video, the success is a must.

  1.  PLAY ON BACKING TRACK

Practicing on the backing track is a very effective way to improve your guitar skills. You are already aware of many guitar techniques. The backing track is the playground for you to try out the guitar techniques. Pick up a backing track you find interesting and try to create your solo. To play a good solo first, listen to the backing track. Find out on which key the backing track is being played. Work on the scale. It is okay if your solo does not turn out to be that good. The more you spend time on it, the better you get.

Learn more about Backing Tracks:

  1. LEARN TO PLAY BY EAR

So our last topic is on learning to play by ears. Before the time of the internet, people used to grasp a song by using their ears. There was no guitar tabs or website where they can look up their favorite song and learn the chords. Most of the legendary guitarist is from an era where there was no internet, so they had to rely on their ears. It draws the line between a breathtaking guitarist and just a regular guitarist. It is necessary to learn by ears because it helps you to grow an understanding of the music. You can play your favorite song in your way if you can master learning to play by ears.

How to learn to play by ear:

SUMMARY

I hope this article will help you to improve your guitar skills and at least it gives you a glimpse on how to improve. To improve your guitar skills, you must not give up. Always try to put the best effort. Whenever you get any time, make sure you use it well. If you follow the exercises and take the tips, you will come across at least some sort of success.

Further Reading

Different Parts of an Acoustic Guitar

The most common and widely reputed Acoustic Guitar is an essential musical instrument that produces music via its vibrating steel strings just above the hollow

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