Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Guitar Skills: For Beginners

Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Guitar Skills: For Beginners

How did that guitarist ever get to sound that smooth?  Most people would answer, “By practicing a lot”.  

That may be part of the answer, but it still begs the question, “Yeah, but how?

Let’s take a look at a couple of things that just might answer those questions.

Warm-up

Some guitarists have seemingly ridiculous warm-up regimens more worthy of Olympian status.

It’s actually the opposite whereby a good warm-up before playing the guitar is more of a gentle acknowledgement of the body to go to work and do what the brain needs done.  

The main goal is to gently get the brain and hands to do what they need to do.

A good warm-up is to start on the fifth fret where the frets are a little closer together and then work your way down the neck to where the frets are further apart.  This is more gradual on the hand.

Here’s some tab to get you started.

Tablature

You don’t have to read music to be a great performer, but learning how to read some guitar tablature (tab) is really helpful.

Take the above warm-up for example.  Each of the six lines is a guitar string with the high E at the top and the low E at the bottom of the tab.  The numbers represent the fret number.

Practice

Now that you are ready to play guitar, it’s time to get to work on those chops.

Time is important and for most busy people it can be difficult to find enough time in the day to get a little practice in on the guitar.  

You have to make the time.  Therefore it is important to practice with a purpose and make the best use of your time.

As long as you make it count and really focus, practicing for 30 minutes a day is great, even 20 if that is all you have.

  • Know what you are going to practice.
  • Set goals.
  • Write it down and chart your progress.
  • Go slow at first and gradually increase the tempo as you improve.
  • Strive for clean notes and chords with no half-muted strings or buzzes.

Building a good guitar foundation in the beginning is critical.

If you are like some people, getting a good instructor is the way to go.

Play With a Metronome

This will help you rhythmically and allows you to go slow at first emphasizing clarity.  Once you have accomplished that slower tempo, then move it up a few notches and so on (again focusing on clarity).  

Listening

Listen intently with focus to some of your favourite songs.  Are they holding those chords till the end or chopping them off?  How are they doing that?  Those chord changes are smooth.

Listening gives you something to strive towards.  It’s also very enjoyable and relaxing to listen to some good tunes.  Relax.  Can you figure out what key the song is in?

Listening to a song that you want to play is especially important and learning it by ear is one of the best ways to improve your guitar playing skills.

Keep it Handy

Having your guitar within sight and easy reach can really help you to play a bit more because it is right there when creativity strikes.  

Use that thing.  Don’t keep it behind glass as a mere thing to look at.

Notes?

We’ve talked a bit about tablature, but why do we have to know the name of the notes on the fretboard?

Some of the first notes I learned on the guitar were on the 6th and 5th strings.  These are the low E and A bass strings of the guitar.  This really helped me to learn what chords to play when someone would yell out that the song is in E for example.  

So, why does learning the notes of the 6th and 5th strings particularly help with chords?  Most chords (not all) usually have the lowest note sounding first.  

It gives you a reference point by indicating where you should play that chord, and is especially handy when playing barre chords.  Your index finger basically points to the name of the chord all the way up the neck.

There are other great advantages to knowing the fretboard too.

Summary

The absolutely most important thing for improving your guitar skills is having fun.

Enjoy!

About the Author

Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.

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One Response to “Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Guitar Skills: For Beginners”

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