Guitar practice is repeating a particular thing to perfect your performance of it. It can be anything from a pull-off to a two minute solo. It can also be used to learn to play scales or chords better than you are doing right now.
Guitar practice isn’t like it was years ago. Repeating an exercise too much can actually be bad for your playing if you aren’t paying close attention to what and how you are playing.
Practice is used to etch a particular thing into your brain and make it an automatic response like knowing scales or chords or perfecting your expertise on a Wah Wah pedal. No thinking, you just do it because you know it well.
Stay in Tune
Staying in tune especially when you practice is important because you are paying closer attention or should be to everything you are playing.
If you stay tuned with a guitar tuner to concert pitch you will learn to hear and remember the different intervals and chords easier. Concert pitch is used around the world for tuning.
Go to the page below to learn about tuning.
The Ultimate Guitar Practice Books
There are no scale exercises in these books. They teach you how to practice not what to practice. This will stop many bad playing habits from forming.
There are two of these books one is for beginners and one is for those who are looking to break all the bad habits they have and develop new ways to practice and learn.
I have the second one which was the original from 1999. The above beginner book is from 2005 and little easier for beginning guitarists.
They are no-nonsense books and you have to apply yourself for them to work. Nothing is hard it just requires your attention, patience and a steady routine of practice(20 minutes a day) and you will be a better guitar player fairly quickly depending on your effort and time you put into it.
Before You Practice
You must know what you want to practice first. Don’t worry about playing in time or anything else until your fingers can do what they are supposed to do.
If it’s a scale go through it slowly a few times making sure every note is coming out clear.
If it’s a chord make sure all the notes are clear. If you have open strings in it make sure to keep your thumb in the middle of the back of the guitar neck or where it has to be. The thumb in the middle of the neck is a general position that won’t work on every chord.
If it’s a movable chord move it up and down the neck and check for good tone on every string. Adjust your hand until you got it.
This may sound like a waste of time but if you do this it will help stop errors when you play up to speed. You have to crawl before you walk and you have to walk before you run.
Beginner Guitar Practice
Guitar practice for the beginning guitar player can vary from using a metronome or not depending on how comfortable they are with the material. Don’t rush things, learn all of the material before moving on especially if you don’t understand it completely. Work at it until you get it a little at a time.
The time you spend now getting your practice sessions organized will save you hours of useless practice. Remember to start simple and work up to more complicated music.
Guitar Practice is for Perfecting Things
Guitar practice is used to perfect what you already know. You should use a metronome when you practice guitar, starting with a slow speed about 60 beats per minute and work up gradually to a faster speed. This will vary depending on the material you are using, faster for the easy stuff and slower for the hard stuff.
You should be able to play what you are practicing 20 times without a mistake before increasing your speed. Increase gradually by 5 beats per minute and repeat for 20 times without a mistake before moving on to a faster speed.
This doesn’t mean you can’t move on to something else before you can play something perfect, but remember to come back to it.
Keep a log book of your practice sessions. Write down the things about your playing that need work; a particular chord change, a lick or anything at all.
Remember to practice the things you are not good at, don’t waste time practicing something you already know unless you are trying to improve the quality or speed.
When you start out all this practice will seem like a lot of work, but it gets easier because you are practicing everything when you practice one thing.
When you practice a particular piece of music you are also practicing a lot of other music. Remember there are only 12 notes plus octaves. Also the same chords are used in many songs.
What you learn from one piece of music will apply to many other songs.
The guitar learning process is the 1st process before guitar practice, we have to learn what to practice first before we can practice it.
The learning process starts with your eyes or your ears or both. The first thing we have to do if we are using our eyes is to get what you see in sheet music, tablature or something someone wrote down from your eyes to your brain.
This is the easy part we do it all the time in everyday life. With guitar playing you have to get what’s in your brain to your fingertips and make it sound musical.
It works the same for your ears, you hear a song on the radio and you try to figure it out on the guitar. This is learning to play by ear. This is an essential skill to master for playing music.
Learning and Using Metronomes
When you are learning a song or any piece of music don’t use the metronome unless it will help you with the timing on a group of notes.
If you want you can break the piece up into smaller sections and practice that with a metronome.
I find that if you learn the whole thing without the metronome first and then practice with the metronome to work for me. You should be able to play the piece from beginning to end, not perfectly that’s what practice is for.
You can also play along with the song. The song will be your metronome in this case. This is how I learned a lot of Beatles and Stones tunes when I was learning.
This is what works for me, it’s not the only way. Use what works for you as long as the end results are the same. Good sounding guitar music.
Beyond Basic Practice
Here you Go…
Don’t be a Robot
Timing in music is very important but so is phrasing your solo. Play the music with feeling. If there are lyrics you can tell what mood the music should be. If there are no lyrics you will have to play it through once or twice until you set an emotion to the music.
Remember a metronome is good for timing but it can’t teach you how to phrase a section of music. This can only be done by a human, at least they saved that job for us. Sensing(No counting) the timing will come with practice.
Here is where you play something. It can be anything, something you have or haven’t practiced. Here your main concern is how it sounds.
Here is where you find out what you need to practice. Listen and record yourself if you can and listen for rough spots.
This is what the football teams do on Monday, they watch their mistakes from Sunday’s game. You will listen to yours. You may need to work on a particular chord change or a timing problem.
Just make a mental note of these things but keep playing the song if you mess up during a performance you can’t stop and start over keep going, everybody makes mistakes.
This is the final stage. Here is where all your work or lack of it shows up.
You don’t have to wait until you can play like your favorite guitarist but you should try to sound as professional as possible for your level of playing.
Most of us have to overcome stage fright, just concentrate on the music and try to sound as good as possible.
Remember that the recordings that you hear on radio , mp3 or other source are probably using top notch sound systems. Something that not all of us can afford to buy.
Keep on Truckin’
Keep trying even if you have a bad experience. One day you will look back and laugh about it, this is part of the learning experience.
Playing in places that weren’t made for performing music like school gyms or church basements can be tough to sound good in because of the acoustic properties of the building.
A school gym might have too much echo from the sound bouncing off the walls while a basement might suck up the sound especially if there are acoustic tiles in the ceiling. These are meant to deaden sound.
These are the jobs you have to take in the beginning. Just try to sound as good as possible with what you have. That’s all you can do.
It Wasn’t My Fault!
Don’t blame everything else if it is your fault. Be honest with yourself about your playing and improve where needed.
This is more important if your in a band because human nature makes us want to blame something or someone else for a bad performance. It’s probably because every one isn’t in sync with each other.
Being in a band is a lot like being married. You have to work out those rough spots or hit the road.
The bottom line is you must practice and pay attention to what you and your fingers are doing so you can get it right. This will pay off enormously as you progress in your playing.
I hope you found this page useful.