5 Tips to Improve your Guitar playing (or any instrument)
Today we have 5 Tips to Improve your Guitar playing, Everyones wants to get better at guitar (or any instrument in fact) however, getting better comes with practice and some people (including myself) can struggle with practising, well, more struggle with what to practise. Knowing what you need to practise and also making that practice efficient is very important.
So we have put together this short article to share some of the tips and tricks I use to help me practise. Will these tips help you become the next guitar god? Of course not, but it is what I use to help me get better and improve as a musician.
Play to a Metronome
The first of our 5 Tips to Improve your Guitar playing is to practise with a metronome. We have put this one first because it is the one that everyone suggests. However, when people told me to do it I didn’t really know “how” to practise with a metronome. So I came up with this system which I use for almost everything now.
The way I use a metronome (and this might be the way everyone uses them, but for me, it works best) is that I set the tempo really slow (around 30bpm) and practise the song or riff at this tempo. Then when I can play it at this tempo comfortably, I will increase the tempo by 10bpm and repeat. If I take the tempo up and struggle then I will reduce it by 5 and try again, then if I manage it I will take it back up.
So an example might be
30bpm, 40bpm, 50bpm, 60bpm, 55bpm, 60bpm……..
I find using this method lets you see the progress happening and also the progress can happen fast. Give you time to figure the fingering for a riff out and learn it very slow. Plus if you get it wrong you aren’t going back to square one.
What Scares you? Learn it!
The fasted way to get better is to learn what you don’t know. Any time you sit down and think about this it tends to be the techniques or things you are scared of. Because we are scared to learn them we tend to put off learning them or looking at them and they slowly become our weaknesses. We highly recommend picking something that scares you and practising it for an hour a week (to start with). This will get you to use to practising it, and an hour isn’t that long, as you slowly improve you can then start increasing the time practising. You will notice that the more you practise the more you want to practise it and the fear goes away. You get used to practising that technique.
My example is Sweep picking, I have put off sweep picking for ages, mainly because I am scared to learn it as I will have to go right back to being a beginner, but also for other reasons which I will get onto soon. However, I decided to sit down and try to learn to at least sweep pick at a basic level! I am slowly improving and I am now becoming less scared to practise it.
Join a Band or a Jam Group!
This is the reason we all want to play the guitar (or an instrument in general). To play with other people. This is a must if you want to improve. You will learn so many things playing with other people. To name a few some are, confident in your playing, your timing will get better and you will find that thinking on the spot and improvisation will improve vastly.
Humans aren’t perfect, people make mistakes and it is these mistakes that we learn from. Alters in tempo, wrong chords and forgetting how to play songs. All these things are things you will have to learn to deal with and workaround. Find yourself playing a song and the tempo increases? You will be able to match it and keep going without it throwing you off. Playing to a backing track can’t teach you that.
Also playing in a band will improve your Rhythm greatly! We are all guilty of getting caught up in solo’s and lead playing but playing in a band, a lot of the time you will be playing rhythm and “sitting in the back”. This will teach you when you step forwards and solo or when to sit back and just play rhythm.
From a personal level, It’s been a while since I was in a band and joining the band I am currently in, I have already noticed an improvement with my timing and my rhythm. I think being in a band alone has greatly improved my playing in many subtle ways. Things like volume control, pick attackm chord choices and variation have all improved! If you can’t find a band to join, ask around if anyone is up for getting together and having a jam session!
Play a genre of music you don’t normally play
A great thing I have started to do is to learn songs (or riffs, or solos) from songs that are in a style I wouldn’t normally play. I like to think that I play a wide variety of music however, I am aware that I tend to avoid certain kinds, mostly on the death metal side of the scale and the “shreddier” side of things.
I have started forcing myself to learn riffs and solos from these genres of music. Why is this useful? Well, this is useful because it will teach you skills you wouldn’t normally learn. For me, this has been sweep picking and legato taping. These are skills I knew I was “weak” on but never sat down and learned them. Learning these songs and solo’s has forced me to learn these techniques with it.
Let’s say you normally play metal and are familiar with the techniques used, maybe you would try learning some blues or Jazz. Something that would be vastly different from what you play.
Learn some Theory!!!!!
Now, we all put this off! (Guitarists anyway) and that is learning theory! I think a bit of theory can go a long way into your playing! Not saying that you need to be a Jazz master and learn all the theory, however, a little can go a long way, your scale shapes, how chords are made up and your Major and Minor chords in each key.
I have found that learning a bit more theory has helped me get the key of a song from looking at the chords or even helped me improvise while paying more attention to the chords themselves. All this helps me become more confident while playing in a band, knowing what the key and the chords are will help you be more confident.
EXTRA TIP: Try some Lessons!
We all think we are to good for lessons. “lessons are for Newbies”. However, I recently took some extra guitar lessons (Read the full article). I found it super useful,. The main reason was to get someones else opinion on your playing, finding your weak spot and mistakes you make!
Was super useful to have someone there to break down my playing and correct it. Not saying everyone has to have weekly lessons, but having one or two catch up lessons could help you correct bad habits, Learn new things and just expand your guitar playing!
So that is our 5 Tips to Improve your Guitar playing. They are fairly simple and some of them you would have already tried or heard, however, I think a different approach or even being told a way to do it can help people.
Do you have any Tips to Improve your Guitar playing? How do you practise? Or do you practise? We would love to hear from you all and see how you all practise! Throw us a comment over on our Instagram here! We are very active over there!
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