Start Becoming a Better Guitar Player Today
If you're reading this, there is a good chance that you're looking to beef up your guitar skills. Thankfully, you've come to the right place!
Whether you're a seasoned guitar vet who has hit a bit of a plateau or you've never even touched a guitar, we have broken down ten great tips to help you achieve a great mindset and start reaching your guitar playing potential.
Why is your mindset important?
Well, if you don't think you can get any better or you don't think you can play the guitar at all then spoiler alert - you can't and won't!
So, if you're serious about guitar playing and want to become the best guitarist you can be, check out our top 10 tips to become a better guitar player below.
Table of Contents
- Decide What You Want
- Learn Something New Every Day
- Practice What You've Learned Every Day
- Avoid Bad Habits
- Record Yourself Playing
- Play Along
- Find a Guitar Teacher
- Enroll in a Music School
1. Decide What You Want
Before you worry about paying for a guitar lesson, what guitar exercises you should do, or figuring out how to turn your fingers into a pretzel for various chords, you should consider what you want to do and achieve as a guitarist.
Really sit back and think about what you want to accomplish with the guitar.
Why do you want to play the guitar? Who are your guitar heroes? Do you want to master a repertoire of songs off the top of your head or write your own songs? Are you going to be part of a band or a solo artist?
There are no limits to what you can be.
Write down your favorite song, your favorite guitar players, and songwriters.
Jot down your favorite guitar techniques and skills, your favorite riffs, solos, and dreams you have as a guitarist. Once you have everything on paper, narrow it down to the five musical goals you absolutely have to achieve.
Then get specific and pick one or two goals to focus on right now. Once this is done, you can break down each goal into smaller chunks.
Write down the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks you can take to get you one step closer to achieving your goal. Figure out what you need to practice, the skills you need to develop, and what you need to do to get yourself to the next level.
The key here is developing a purpose, especially if you're just starting out. The first few months of learning the guitar can be frustrating, so having a "why" can help push you through those difficult moments.
Or, if you've already been playing guitar for a while, this technique can help you re-establish why you picked it up in the first place.
Does this sound a bit much? Remember: the goal here isn't to help you just become a guitar player. It's to help you become a better guitar player.
Most new guitarists think they can only practice when they have their guitar in their hands.
Believe it or not, that's not true.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout your day that you could use to improve your playing, even if you can't get to your guitar.
If you're commuting to school or work, daydreaming in the middle of class, or waiting in line at the grocery store, use that time to get inside of your head and visualize yourself flawlessly executing that riff you've been working on.
Actually see and hear yourself playing it with ease. Visualize each guitar string and chord. The power of visualization is actually pretty crazy.
Do this whenever you can and you will start noticing your guitar playing is better off than the last time you practiced.
When you get better at connecting the imagined and the real, you'll find that the accuracy of translating what you hear in your head through your fingers to the fretboard will significantly improve.
Now, can this completely replace legitimate practice time? No. But it certainly helps.
3. Learn Something New Every Day
You should find something related to your guitar or playing music every day that you don't already know and learn it.
Maybe it's a new riff, chord, scale, exercise, altered tuning, strum pattern - anything.
Being disciplined enough to seek out, learn, and internalize a new piece of guitar or musical knowledge every single day will feed your musical instincts.
It will also add new concepts to your musical memory and aid in your ability to express yourself while performing.
If you do this every day, you will find that learning one thing will eventually become two, which will eventually become three, and so on.
Soon you will devour as much as you possibly can every day.
4. Practice What You've Learned Every Day
On the flip side, you should also practice what you've been learning every day, too.
If you are learning a new chord or fingerpicking style, don't dedicate just one day to it and then move on. when it comes to other skills like riding a bike or shooting a basketball everyone knows you can't just do it for a day and then master it.
So, why would that work on guitar?
Think of various guitar techniques, chords, picking styles, and strumming patterns as if they were tools inside your tool kit.
Master them with repetition and fine-tuning now so that when you're performing live you can whip those tools out flawlessly.
5. Avoid Bad Habits
Here is where things can get a little tricky. You can practice hours upon hours a day, but if you're practicing bad habits, two things may occur:
- You'll never reach your full potential
- You will reach your full potential...but your path to get there will be more challenging than it needs to be
This is true for most things in life. Bad habits can wreck you even if you have a boatload of natural talent.
One aspect we'll touch on a little later in this article is finding a good guitar teacher. While there are tons of videos on YouTube showing guitarist tips and lessons, they may not always be providing the best habits.
A good guitar instructor can help reveal and distinguish bad guitar habits.
Just to name a few, we'd recommend avoiding:
- Playing with too much tension or force
- Only practicing sitting down - especially if you plan on playing electric guitar on a stage
- Practicing too fast
- Not cleaning your guitar - your guitar needs some love too! Check out some top guitar cleaning tips.
- Practicing without a metronome
- Inconsistent practice and not revisiting what you've learned
- Ignoring music theory
- Limiting your musical tastes and genres
- Incorrect thumb position
- Not learning how to tune your guitar
Don't let bad habits derail a solid practice session.
6. Record Yourself Playing
Video recording yourself playing the guitar has multiple benefits.
First, you'll always have a recorded copy of any riff, song, or chord progression you've created. This will help you remember your work in case you end up putting it on the shelf, so to speak, for a while.
Second, the video recording allows you to diagnose your own playing. Remember those bad habits we discussed? This is a great opportunity to objectively watch yourself perform and analyze your technique.
Third, it's also a major indicator in terms of how far you've come along since you began recording.
If you have a recording of yourself playing the same riff six months earlier, you will be able to see how much you've improved.
7. Play Along
As a guitar player, one of the most critical skills to acquire is keeping time.
To practice and improve keeping time, you can play along with jam tracks and songs on YouTube. Learn to play along with the music and lock in with the beat.
Do this as much as you can. If you're learning scales, use a metronome when starting out.
Start slow, and once you feel comfortable playing clean and concise at a certain tempo, you can gradually build up speed. It's also a great idea to practice with other musicians.
That leads us to our next tip.
Ask any guitarist and they'll tell you that there is nothing like performing with another group of musicians.
Try to schedule regular meet-ups and jam sessions to play your favorite songs and learn new ones.
If one of your goals from above (remember when we talked about deciding what you want?) was to start a band, then chances are collaboration is already on your mind. So, why not look for a band to join?
If you can't find a band that needs a guitar player, consider starting your own. Look for musicians with similar interests, goals, and skill levels.
In a band, you tend to learn and develop by trial and error.
Just remember that as a band, you are a team. One person's ego shouldn't outshine the rest, and yes, we are talking about the lead singer.
9. Find a Guitar Teacher
Everyone serious about playing the guitar should eventually find a teacher. Just remember that all teachers are not created equal.
Every teacher will have different styles of music, experience levels, and credentials that tells you how good they are.
You should try to study with a teacher that has a proven track record of helping students become great guitar players.
10. Enroll in a Music School
A step above finding a singular guitar instructor is attending a Music College.
Why a music college? For a moment, think about how competitive the music industry is and always has been. Now, add in new advancements like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok where just about anyone can upload an original tune, cover song, or riff.
There is a lot of "amateur quality" out there. Let's be honest, everyone has watched a free video lesson on YouTube at some point or another.
The market is more saturated now than ever.
While talent alone is important, you need a separating factor. Earning a music degree or certificate from a music school can go a long way in terms of pushing you ahead of the DIY crowd. At a music college, you gain:
- Beneficial instruction
- Music theory knowledge
- Networking opportunities
- Inside and advanced techniques
- Life long support
Having a music degree can open doors that you didn't even know existed within the music business world.
Put Yourself in Position to Succeed
If you're wondering how long it takes to become a good guitar player, it honestly depends on the work, effort, and time you put in.
But once you feel you've got a solid grasp on the guitar, the best way to fast-track your success in the music industry is by attending an accredited music college like Atlanta Institute of Music and Media.
AIMM is a fantastic music school that features multiple guitar programs, state-of-the-art recording studios, industry-leading instructors, and extensive courses to help every musician reach their potential.
AIMM offers the following on-site programs for guitarists:
And if you don't live near Atlanta, no sweat.
You can enroll in AIMM's online music program - the Online Certificate in Music and Technology: Guitar Concentration.
No matter where you are located, you will have access to all the benefits of attending AIMM with greater flexibility.
Put yourself in a non-stop music atmosphere where your skills and career opportunities are sure to blossom. Click below to learn more about AIMM today.