Tips To Help Your Guitar Playing Improve
Your goal is to keep getting better at the guitar. The best times when playing are those times that you can just feel the music without thinking and let your fingers go where they know they are supposed to go.
That’s when your creativity will start to blossom. It’s almost like breathing because your brain knows what to do and you don’t have to force it. Here are some things to help your guitar playing improve. If you are looking for step by step tutorials, click here for a free trial to a proven system to get you playing as soon as possible.
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Table of Contents
Guitar Playing Tips
Some tips may feel like they aren’t important, but, very often, it’s those little things that can propel you forward much faster.
Tap Your Foot And Count
Always tap your foot when you are playing, so that you can develop timing and coordination of movement.
As you practice this technique, you won’t have to think about the timing of a song and it will be as internalized and as thoughtless as breathing.
Build Up Those Calluses
To build calluses quickly, soaking your fingers in salt water can help. You should also practice more than usual, and using an acoustic guitar will build your calluses a lot quicker than an electric guitar.
Just remember, give your fingers a break if they start hurting. Everyone has to go through this. You don’t want to develop a blister or a cut on your fingertip, otherwise, it will be days before you can play again.
Correct Posture Is Important
Be sure that you are using the correct posture. Your back should be straight and your hand should be placed that will give you the greatest reach of the frets.
Be sure that you are arching your hand properly and holding your thumb behind the neck. If your hand is big enough, you can even wrap your thumb entirely around the neck and use it to play the low E string.
Just be sure that you are holding your hand in a position that is comfortable for you and that you are not slouching, otherwise, you will get tired out way too quickly.
Learn The Right Touch On The Strings
Make sure that you aren’t pressing too hard when you press down. Try to find the lightest touch possible, while still allowing the notes to ring out clearly.
You become tense when you try to push the string too hard. This can limit your dexterity and may bend the string as you are pushing.
Know When To Walk Away
When you are trying to learn something new on the guitar and you just can’t seem to get it, instead of getting frustrated, put that lesson aside and sleep on it.
You will be surprised when you try to practice it the next day and you get it on the first try.
Your hand and brain develops muscle memory and as long as you practiced correctly, the muscle memory develops when you give your brain and hand a rest.
Push Yourself To Learn But Not Too Fast Too Soon
Be sure that you learn songs that are suited to your skill level, but find one or two songs that you can learn that push you beyond your limits.
Just be sure to take it slow and break everything down into small chunks.
Start off slow and build up your speed.
Take your time and don’t expect to learn these hard songs overnight. It may take you a few months to learn it, but when you finally get it right, it will boost your confidence and you can show off.
Find A Jamming Partner
As you progress in your playing, it will help if you find someone to jam with.
Maybe someone else you know is just learning or you know someone who enjoys sharing their knowledge. This will help you to perfect your timing and you both can learn off of each other.
Playing Rhythm Is Fine To Start Out
There are many people who get caught up in wanting to be the lead guitarist and that is fine, but any good lead guitar player will tell you that you must get good at playing rhythm first.
Without a good sense of rhythm, your leads will not sound very good.
It’s great to know a ton of riffs, but without the song, there really isn’t much point to playing a lead.
The song should always come first.
You should play what sounds good for the song, not what’s good for you.
It’s fine to show off a little, but people get bored with that kind of playing pretty quick.
Even if you are the “lead guitarist” in a band, you still spend about 90% of your time playing rhythm.
You could have the fastest, loudest solos, but if you can’t cut it on rhythm, no one will listen very long.
If you are auditioning for a new band, you will NOT get the gig if your rhythm playing sucks.
Learn To Listen
One of the best things to do to focus on your rhythm playing is to put your guitar down and start listening.
Start developing your ear and always be listening to the rhythms.
When you are using tablature to help you to learn a new song, you should listen to the recording first.
Some rhythms you may be able to pick up by reading the tab, but more often than not, you need to hear the rhythm and then, feel it, before you can play it.
Having The Right Accessories
This is a must have for any new guitar player. The guitar must be in the proper tuning.
I recommend a chromatic tuner by Korg. You should only have to buy one guitar tuner and a chromatic tuner will be necessary as you grow as a guitar player.
Every guitar should have a strap, even if you are sitting down to play.
As you practice or play, you want to concentrate fully on the notes you are playing, not on holding your guitar steady.
A guitar strap will keep the guitar at the right height and angle that you prefer for your best playing.
As a beginner, you should have the guitar positioned so your hand fits comfortably around the neck with your thumb about halfway up the back of the neck.
Here’s one that I really like that holds your picks.
You are going to need to keep a good supply of picks on hand.
These things disappear all the time and they must end up in the place where all the socks go that you can never find.
There are a huge variety of sizes, shapes and colors, so what you choose is a matter of personal preference.
My personal preference are Fender Heavy picks.
You can pick up this sampler pack if you want and figure out what you like the best:
A capo is used to help raise the pitch of the guitar.
When you put it on a guitar fret, you then play the guitar as if the capo was the nut.
This allows you to play open chords, instead of some crazy chord shape that is too difficult to play.
Some chords sound fuller by using a capo, instead of using a barre chord.
Capos can also help if you do cover songs and you or a singer that you are accompanying needs to sing in a higher pitch than the original song.
This is the one I own. I’ve had it for years and it works great on my acoustic guitars and my electrics:
If you are playing the electric guitar, you want to invest in good patch cables.
When you first start playing, you might think that it is cool to get a 25 foot cable, but since the sound travels from the guitar to the amplifier via this cable, you want to get the shortest cable possible so that you don’t lose any sound as it travels.
A patch cable needs to be tough, as well, so be sure that you get a cable that has a metal casing on the end that unscrews. This way, if it breaks, all you need to do is solder it back on.
This is what I’ve been buying but I have an assortment of sizes, brands and colors.
Soldering Iron And Solder
This is for the person who purchases an electric guitar or an acoustic electric. You will need a soldering iron to fix your patch cables and for fixing any pick-ups or input jacks on your guitar.
This is a great all-in-one kit that has everything you need. And if you continue playing guitar, more than likely, you will need it.
Alan Wrenches, Wire Cutters and Screwdrivers
As you begin to improve on the guitar and learn more, you may need to make adjustments on the bridge, truss rod or pick-ups.
You are going to need wire cutters for cutting your strings off when you change them. If you leave the ends on, it can take away from the good looks of your guitar and can be quite dangerous.
The proper tools are vital to do the job correctly.
Here’s a great little kit that has everything you need:
When you are just starting out, it can be difficult when it comes time to change the strings. I always write the date on the string set box and put it with my guitar supplies so I know when I changed them.
Try to wipe your strings down with a dry, soft cloth after playing if you want your strings to last a bit longer.
If your hands sweat a lot, you will need to change the strings more often.
Once your strings start wearing out, they won’t sound bright anymore and you will lose some of the tone.
You should keep a couple extra sets on hand at all times. You never know when one will break.
I prefer the Elixir Brand for both my electric and acoustic sound. I get the bronze coated for my acoustics.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, who is my favorite guitarist played with 12’s and mostly 13’s and he had such a fat, meaty tone. His favorite guitar was a Fender Stratocaster, which is my favorite as well.
Practice Practice And More Practice
One of the most important things you can do when first starting out is to practice. You have to stay motivated and inspired.
Very often, you will feel frustrated at first but you must push through this.
Remember that every guitarist started out exactly the same, without knowing a thing. They got to where they are because they devoted their time and committed to practicing.
Even when you don’t understand why your are doing things at first, you have to just practice those scales and chords. As you start gaining muscle memory, things will start to click for you. You will start recognizing tones and patterns.
It’s important that you have the right equipment. If you are playing on an old guitar and the strings are sitting too high or it keeps going out of tune, you are just going to set the thing down and not pick it back up.
If you just commit to 15 to 30 minutes a day at first, it won’t be long until you see improvement. You will begin looking forward to practice time or grabbing your guitar many times throughout the day.
We will go over buying tips for acoustic and electric guitars, as well as, the best amplifiers on the market today but that will be for a more in-depth article.
Buying a new guitar will probably require some heavy duty research. Of course, you could just go with your favorite guitarist’s choice and see how you like it.