How To Get Better At Guitar

So, you have always wanted to be a guitarist, to play, strum notes from great songs. You went ahead and bought a guitar. However, the acquisition of a guitar has done nothing to bring you closer to your dream. Now, you need to learn how to get better at guitar.

Well, it is possible that you might be doing a few things wrongly. And if you are serious about being a better guitar player, then you have come to the right place. Here are a few tips on how to become a better guitar player.

To play guitar better than you have been doing, adhere to the following to hone your skills. 

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Hand Position And Bending Your Guitar Strings

In guitar playing, perfecting the basics matter. If your foundation is faulty, you will find it hard to play at the level you want to. Hence, why learning how to bend your strings and getting your hands’ position right is important. 

The hand position on a guitar involves the fingering and hand placement on the fretboard. To prevent wrist-ache and the pain that comes with having to press guitar strings against the fretboard, hook your thumb over the top of the fretboard. 

While this technique will ensure that you have a strong grip on the guitar, it will affect the freedom and flexibility of your fingers. The best technique to opt for is placing your thumb behind the guitar neck. This positioning forces you to use your fingertips to play guitar notes with more accuracy. You can study more on thumb technique to get this right.

When it comes to bending your guitar strings, practice the whole, quarter, half, a whole and half and several other forms of bends. To make this easier, switch from playing the starting note to the target note and back to the starting note. Constant practice of your bends every day also helps to increase the strength in your fingers.

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Sitting Vs Standing Position

These are the two guitar holding positions for all guitar players and they play a large role in becoming a good guitar player. 

In the sitting position, you would have to watch your posture and how you position your fingers. Because while it is easy to see your fingers and the strings, it tends to lock the body in a postural position and lack of motion can cause pain. 

Keeping your shoulders and back as straight as you can while sitting in a chair would reduce the strain on your lower back. While focusing on aligning your upper body by positioning your neck, shoulders and back in a straight line. 

Keep your feet placed solidly on the ground and spread them apart in a way that feels comfortable. All these should be done on a folding chair or a chair that is low to the ground. Make sure the chair allows you to sit comfortably upright. 

To hold a guitar while standing, purchasing a guitar strap is the first step to take. Follow the instructions that come with the strap to ensure that it is correctly attached to the guitar before playing so as not to run the risk of your guitar falling off your body. 

Ensure the strap is adjusted to fit your style and it falls naturally to your waist. The angling of the straps should depend on the positioning of your guitar, vertical or horizontal. Keep the guitar at a 45-degree angle, allowing your shoulders and hands access to the strings comfortably. Keep your guitar aligned with your shoulders, spreading your feet in a natural way would allow you to assume the proper posture and help you avoid back injuries while playing.

While both positions of holding a guitar are right, it is advisable to go for the standing position. Especially, if you want to become better and move on to performing for a larger audience. Take it slow, practice daily and you’ll get the hang of it. 

Try To Record Your Practice Sessions

Endeavor to record yourself while playing to know what is working and what you can do to improve what is not working. Drawing up constructive criticism while acknowledging your success is important when doing this. 

Use your phone or a camera to record and keep it short and quick as the more time is spent in fussing with the phone the less time is used to practice. Make sure you record only what is needed for feedback. 

When you review your video, make a list of areas where improvement is visible and where extra work is required. Do not get too invested in the lighting and camera effects when recording. A simple tool, such as webcam, can be used since the goal is feedback and a thirty-second glean is recommended. 

When recording on your phone or a regular camera, there are three camera angle options for recording your guitar practice sessions. They include the close-up of the left hand, close up of the right hand and the full-shot. 

Most guitar players use the full-shot because it gives an overall view of your posture. Be specific with the answers you seek, note what needs improving and work on it as soon as you can. The goal should be to gain direction in your next playing session. Use the video daily in order to make persistent incremental steps and train to notice more details even without the camera rolling. 

The best affordable camera to use for this purpose is GoPro. Check the details below:

Create A Practice Schedule

Don’t get carried away by stories of guitar players that practice for 10 to 12 hours. While this might be good for them, you do not need that kind of pressure. If you practice for 30 minutes every day, that is enough to improve your skills.

During this practice, try to build your fingers’ strength, learn new things like riffs, chord progression, new techniques, and several related topics. Avoid rushing at these topics, break them into bits. It is not about how much you can learn during a short while. It is about how learning has impacted your guitar-playing career.

If you realize you can’t do this yourself, get a mentor or teacher. They have more experience and can effectively create the sort of guitar lesson syllabus for you. A consistent 30 minutes practice every day will definitely make you better at playing the guitar. Ensure that you remain focused.

Invest In A Metronome

This depends largely on the goal you have set to achieve. Contrary to popular belief, a metronome does not build your guitar playing speed for you, you do. What it does is to measure your existing speed level and how well you have learned a particular technique. In other words, it shows how fast you can play what you have learned without making mistakes. The metronome improves your time and helps you strum perfect rhythm. 

If you have been struggling with a bad rhythm and you want to get better, this is the way to go. And before you blame yourself about the bad rhythm, we would like to tell you that most guitar players have had this problem, one time or the other. This is because there is so much attention paid to other mechanics like fretting, fingerpicking that most beginners forget to work on their timing and rhythm.

To use a metronome in guitar playing, the first thing to do is to set it up. The setup process largely depends on the type of metronome you own.  After setting it up to a 4/4 time (1, 2, 3, 4 // 1, 2, 3, 4), the next step is to keep in time with the device.  

Do not add the guitar immediately. You can start with clapping, counting or tapping your foot along with the metronome. As time goes on, you can start exploring the beats. Divide a beat into smaller bare beats and practice by tapping or counting them aloud to synchronize with the metronome. 

When you can do this well, you can add playing your guitar to the practice sessions. Set up your device to an easy tempo and strum to an even beat. As soon as you can, try more complicated strumming patterns in order to improve your guitar playing skills.

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Improve Your Guitar Techniques

This cannot be overemphasized. When it comes to guitar playing, there are several guitar techniques to work on before to can improve your skills. Some of them include:

The Bend

This is done by bending the string on your guitar to raise its pitch. To do this, use your fourth finger to fret a string, proceed to position your middle and pointer fingers behind it. Now, push the string up or down against the neck by exerting pressure with the three fingers.

The Double Stop

This involves making music with two notes at the same time, especially in a guitar solo. The double stop is a chord and it is played like a chord sequence. You simply have to fret and pluck the two strings at the same time. This creates a short and stabbing sound when played.

The Vibrato

This is another great guitar technique to learn. The vibrato is produced when a sustained note is left to pulsate in a pitch. To do this, use your pointer finger to fret a string and then pluck the note. Leave the note to ring as you move your pointer finger across the fretboard. By doing this, the note will pulsate between staying in tune and slightly sharp.

The Fingerstyle Technique

While the standard technique is using the thumb to pick the fourth to sixth strings while the remaining fingers are used to pick the third to first strings. Learning and using your bare fingertips helps to add a tonal warmth and subtle nuances to your playing.

Speaking of the fingerstyle technique in guitar playing, you can also learn its alternative form in order to get better at playing certain licks and riffs on your guitar. This alternative form is called hybrid picking. This involves replacing the thumb with an actual pick, while the middle and fourth fingers pluck the higher strings. This is a good choice for playing riffs in the rock music genre.

Hammer-on

This is a good technique that adds fluidity to your playing and you literally have to hammer your fingertip on a string to produce a note. To do this, use your pointer finger to fret a string, then pluck that string. Follow this by fretting the string a whole step above the note produced.  This time, don’t pluck the ring.

Slides

This is a very important technique you need to practice consistently in guitar playing, especially if you are playing rhythm or lead guitar. This technique involves fretting a note then sliding to another fret without reducing or taking off the pressure on your finger as you do so. 

While the explanation appears simple, the technique requires a lot of accuracies. So, before you attempt a slide, you have to determine which finger will work best for you. Also, there are varying forms of sliding technique, try to learn one at a time. In case you need a song to practice your slides, Blackbird by The Beatles is a good choice.

You can also try to learn the following techniques in other to improve your guitar playing. The pentatonic scale (consists of the major, minor and minor blues scales), arpeggios, tapping licks, sting-skipping licks, alternate picks, open, power and barre chords, pull-offs, slides, palm-muting technique, harmonics, and several others.

Learn To Play Guitar Solos

Soloing is an integral part of guitar playing and learning how to play solos provides you a chance at getting better at playing the guitar. Before you can do this, you have to make sure you familiarize yourself with the right guitar techniques. 

Then play the track you wish to use, count along, identify where the beat is and how to detect the rhythm. The rhythm and melody of the song are very important as they bring your guitar playing to life. 

It is advisable to start with learning how to play the solo without the jam track for a while. Once you have this nailed down, you can now play along with the track. This will help you immensely. Also, it is important to pay attention to the underlying chord sequence of the track.

Don’t avoid difficult chords.

Play New Tunes And Song Covers

Don’t be rigid in your guitar playing. To get better, you have to diversify your guitar repertoire. Learn to play new tunes and cover songs. Apart from broadening your guitar playing range, it helps to make practice less tedious. 

To do this, try to pick songs that are different from your preferred genre. For instance, if you are more of a rock guitarist, once in a while, try to incorporate blues and jazz in your guitar lesson sessions.

Have Jam Sessions

While playing in your room or basement is good, you have to learn how to play in accompaniment with other musical instruments. Yes, get into jam sessions and the most obvious choice would be to play in a band or another musician that uses a different musical instrument.

Doing this will help to improve your nuances, endurance, and improvisational skills. And if you are unable to find a band, there is no need to worry. The internet has a wide range of virtual backing bands like the garage loops and EZ drummer. 

This can provide a solid backdrop needed to improve your skills.

You can also jam along to your favorite songs by playing along, note for note. Tv commercials or movie soundtracks are also good substitutes.

Keep Record Of Your Growth

Nothing motivates better than seeing how far you have or seeing the evidence of your progress. This can only make you to do even better. When you create a practice schedule for your guitar playing, try to make an entry of your daily progress in a diary. 

Doing this will help you identify your weak and strong points. It will also help you to figure out the time to upgrade from the beginner level kind of playing to an intermediate or advanced level. And as you upgrade, you are simply becoming a good guitar player.

Take A Break

You can’t keep going like a clock. Guitar playing comes with a lot of discomfort. Backache if you are hunched over in the sitting position, wrist ache, and finger pain if you keep playing for too long. Once you realize it’s getting too hard to play as a result of this, take a break. Listen to a song and relax. Rest your fingers in order to prevent irreversible damages to them.

Finally, do not rush the process. Don’t try to play fast or learn all at a quick pace. Having a good guitar technique is about accurate and correct fingerings. The aim is to be able to play notes and complicated chords correctly. 

Once you get the hang of these, speed and increased tempo will follow naturally. Also, before you start practicing your guitar, try to get blood circulating in your fingers. To do this, run your hands in hot water. Make sure the water is not scalding. 

Simply stretch your hands and let the water run over them. Leave them there for as long as you want but make sure you stop before you get the prune hands effect. And in all, the one thing that matters is consistency.

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