Tag Archives: chords

How to Improve Your Guitar Skills

How to Improve Your Guitar Skills

Whether you are an experienced guitar player or just starting out, it is very easy to plateau at any stage in the game. Of course, this tends to be the case more often with experienced players, but a novice can go through it as well. Sometimes, we get fixed into a practice routine and fail to broaden our horizons, resulting in the dreaded “noodling” throughout our practice time. If there is anything I would like you to take from this today, it is that to get a different result, you have got to try something different. There is an old adage saying, “If you always do what you always did, you’re always going to get what you always got.” Now, I don’t know who said it, but it sure is brilliant! With that said, we are going to discuss some of the finer points of this philosophy as it applies to guitar playing. More specifically, we will be discussing adjusting your technique, learning repertoire, and learning music theory. Let’s get started!

Technique

If you have noticed that your playing is a bit sloppy or not as crisp as you would like it to be, chances are your technique could use some adjustment. Really, the best way to go about correcting this would be to find a teacher whose technique you admire. We are not always afforded this opportunity, so the next best thing would be to watch videos of great players whose technique you would like to emulate. See how they hold the pick and how their hands look holding the guitar and the fretboard. Does it look like yours? Maybe some posture adjustment is in order here. If you never had anyone coaching you in the early stages, you might suffer from bad form. This is perfectly normal and can be adjusted with a bit of practice.

Learn Songs

Learning songs and learning from other players in general is, in my opinion, the very best way to break through plateaus. Now, I am certain you have gone through the process of learning several of your favorite songs, but did you really? Sometimes, as beginners, we tend to skip parts that give us trouble, or maybe we play “reduced” versions of certain sections. I know this is definitely something I used to do. The fact is, I didn’t get better until I made an effort to really get into the nuts and bolts of each song.

Now, if you are someone who does learn songs as they are played, great. The next thing to try would be songs that you find particularly difficult and songs in other genres. We tend to box ourselves in to one or two styles of playing. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake. I feel there is no better way for us to really expand our musical minds than to learn from other genres. Every genre presents its own techniques, challenges, and obstacles for us to overcome. This also includes genres you do not particularly enjoy! You would be surprised to find out that there is always something to learn from another style of music and this can also help to open your mind a bit and appreciate different things.

Theory

Guitar – particularly electric guitar – is often regarded as a “street” instrument. Many of us got into playing because we heard a wicked guitar solo or some cool riff, or maybe we saw a friend starting to play and became interested. What this also tends to mean is that our approach was not particularly academic. I know mine wasn’t. For this reason, electric guitar players tend to skip out on being able to read music and learning the theory in the early stages. This is a big mistake. Knowing the theory means knowing how your favorite sounds are generated and that leads to being able to access those sounds at a moment’s notice. It also means knowing the fretboard from top to bottom.

Knowing this information is not only valuable in an individualistic sense. It also helps to communicate ideas to fellow musicians. I’m sure you have been this person before: “Ok, 3rd fret on the 2nd string, then you play the 6th fret followed by the 5th fret. It goes something like, ‘bum bum ba’.”
Sound familiar? Yeah, many of us have been there. It is much easier – and quicker – to simply say, “D then F then E, and it’s two 8ths and a quarter note.”

Sing What You Play

This is kind of on the back of the previous section, but it is important to note. As a guitar player, it is important to be able to sing what you play. Because of the nature of the instrument, we tend to rely on shapes. This is perfectly fine so long as you don’t let the shapes dictate what you play. To remedy this, first you will have to learn your intervals and what they sound like. There are a ton of great resources online and through YouTube for this. Next, learn each interval’s shape as it would be laid out on the fretboard. With a bit of practice, you should eventually be able to connect each sound to a particular shape, and you will be able to sing what you are playing while you play it. This is an incredibly valuable skill, particularly if you have any interest in improvisation.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this little lesson has helped you out some or at least provided some insight on how to improve your practice routine, thereby improving your playing. As it is with just about anything in life, the best way to improve is to work on the backs of those who have done it before you. Someone has already figured out most of what you want to know, so learn from them and build on that. Take these considerations and you should see marked improvements in your playing in just a few months time. Happy practicing!

About the Author

Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, a phenomenal 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.

Tips for Learning to Play Guitar

Four Tips for Learning the Guitar

The following is a post written by guest blogger Mark from Know Your Instrument.

So you want to learn how to play guitar. How hard can it be?

It all depends on what skill level you’re looking to achieve. If you want to be a virtuoso, you have a long road ahead of you. It takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to achieve that level of mastery for anything. Up to the task? No? That’s okay.

Almost anyone can learn to play their favorite songs on the guitar, solos included. All it takes is some basic eye-hand coordination and the ability to read tablature. Let’s begin with that.

1. Print Out a Tab of a Song You Like

Tablature consists of one line per string of the instrument you’re playing along with numbers representing notes. The numbers correspond to places on the fretboard. There is a simple key to go along with it for things like palm muting and pinch harmonics. Learn the finger positions and notes first, and then try to play along with the track.

2. Practice Often Enough to Get Calluses

At first, you won’t be able to play for long. Your fingertips will hurt too much. This is normal and gets better with time. If you have nylon strings, it’s not as much of an issue. But it’s safe to assume most of you are playing on steel strings. You have to keep going until you develop calluses on all four fingertips. Then you won’t even notice it, no matter how long you practice for. And if you’re not playing often enough to develop calluses, you certainly won’t be developing your skills, either.

Listen to Music–a Lot

Part of how I learned was by listening to my favorite songs so much that I could hear the melody and notes in my head. Then it was just a matter of learning where they were on the fretboard and playing them in proper timing. As mentioned, be sure to play along with the song once you figure out the basics, to make sure your timing is on point. A metronome can be of assistance as well.

Learn Basic Guitar Chords

Get a poster that shows all of the most common guitar chords. It looks overwhelming at first. Just focus on the basic ones at first. A, C, D, E, and G along with their minor keys are the most common ones that almost every song you have ever heard includes some variation of. There are a few others as well.

These four actions will get you started. Remember, the best way to improve at anything is to practice with someone more advanced. When I was learning, I played with a few people who were in bands. Quantum leaps of my comprehension ensued. If you learn chord basics, listen to music often, attempt re-creating that music by utilizing tablature, and develop calluses on your fingers along the way, you will be on the right track.

Writing Songs on Guitar

Five Tips For Writing Songs on Guitar

Picture from https://takelessons.com/blog/how-to-write-a-jazz-guitar-song-z01

The following blog was guest written by Alex Frank, who has worked in the sound technology industry for over 10 years.

Songwriting is a process that takes a lot of dedication, commitment, and joy. The act of songwriting is very personal, unless you are in a band or duo that co-writes the songs. Sometimes inspiration strikes when you’re playing your instrument, and sometimes it happens when you’re just going about your day.

For the guitarist, writing a song can be more demanding than performing a song on stage in front of an audience.

Do you play the guitar, and are you looking for tips for writing songs? We’ve checked out five trusted tips for writing songs on guitar that we think will help you in your process.

The Parts of a Song

Songs can be broken down into various parts. We’ll discuss them in this article in order to guide a beginner through writing their first songs.

The Intro

Intros open your song and set the listener up for what is to come. It usually comes at the beginning of your song. The intro you use might cut across your whole song.

The Verse

The verse tends to be where most of the narration or storytelling happens in your song. Most songs have multiple verses. They can be short or long depending on your own inspiration, and you can even manipulate an early verse to form another verse later in the song.

The Bridge

This section fills the gap between your chorus and the return of the verse by creating a contrast. Some songs have them and some leave them out.

The Chorus

The chorus usually comes first in people’s hearts when they think of a song. It is the main part of the song, is repeated throughout, and is often very catchy and memorable. As a songwriter, you use your chorus to captivate your listeners. It is what sticks in people’s minds.

The Outro

The outro is the exit music for your song. It might be a piece of your chorus or just some instrumentation.

Five Tips For Writing Songs on Guitar

Get to Know Your Notes

It may sound obvious, but learning the notes on your guitar and how to play them instead of simply strumming can help you turn your song into something magical. Knowing your notes will help you be more inventive, which will help you compose songs easily and naturally on your guitar.

Create Your Rhythm

Another tip you need for writing a song on your guitar is to create (and mostly stick with) a rhythmic pattern. Your rhythm and strumming pattern will differentiate your song from other ones out there. You can get inspiration for your strumming pattern from many places, anything from rhythms notated in books to ones from other songs you’ve been listening to.

Cross-Pick

Use your plectrum, or pick, to imitate fingerpicking. Imitating fingerpicking with your plectrum isn’t the best option for everyone, because you do lose a little of the agility and warmth of your normal fingerstyle, but it can still be a very useful tool. To implement this strategy, start with a chord progression you strum from time to time. Pick one of the chords and select three sequential strings from the bass note; from your bottom string, up-pick the three notes in ascending order.

Finger-Pick

Unless you’re an expert, playing without picks sometimes makes you feel less in charge of your guitar. However, taking up the challenge of playing without your pick will help when writing a song on your guitar. Fingerpicking offers quite a wide range of unique tonal colors by allowing for more intricate patterns. It might result in the creation of new, engaging, and soul-filled songs.

Search For Chords

Be on the hunt for new chords. These chords might sound strange at first, and may also cause you to have to work out new stretches and shapes that temporarily make practice more challenging. This shouldn’t deter you from practicing them over and over again though. By putting in the time and effort, you’ll open up many more options for creativity.

Writing a song on guitar is a demanding, time-consuming task that requires a great deal of dedication and commitment. I hope you find the tips in this article helpful. If you did, pick up your guitar now (yes now!) and begin to write songs.

Author Bio

I’m Alex Frank who has worked in the sound technology industry for 10 years now. Today, I am an affiliate blogger who likes to educate my audience about sound technology. Visit musicinstrumentscenter.com to find all the information about music that you need.