This article is aimed at the people who are serious at sounded good. I hope to help you guys grow. If there's anything you'd like to add here, feel free to comment.
Now before I start, keep "Practise makes perfect in mind". This clich has become the most used on this site, but it rings true. In any art, the harder you commit, the better you get out.
1. Let's start at home
What ever it is: acoustic guitar, bass guitar or electric guitar, you got the rig set up at home, and you commit yourself everyday to practice a few licks, scales, perhaps some song tabs you got of UG and then what...? Have you heard yourself play? If u said no, then continue reading. If you said yes, this article shall bore you..
You should record yourself play. Listen for clarity in the instrument, timing and tone. Does the chord sound dead? Check your finger placing when you play your chord. You perhaps not pressing hard enough.
There's plenty of ways to record yourself playing your instrument. Your cellphone has a built in microphone, why don't you record yourself playing through there?? Distortion won't sound great through your phone, softer acoustic sessions will sound better. Go online and download Audacity. Free recording software which can record vocals and instruments. Mic your guitar up to the computer (or Line-in) and record yourself playing. If you learning a cover song, record yourself playing the song and listen if it sounds like the song. Once it sounds good, give it personality by adding your own style. Please note: If you playing bass guitar, DON'T line-in your bass to the computer without D/I'ing your signal or you could fry your system. Rather mic up the amp.
2. Jam Sessions
It's fun meeting up with friends who play instruments. Theuy can teach you a lot about the instrument, can influence your style or even teach you something new. Always be open minded when jamming with other musicians and allow ideas to flow. You man not be song writing, but you are creating music. Experiment with scales. Play a Pentatonic Scale in the A key while your other friend plays an A power chord. Improvise and experiment
If your friend plays a different instrument, even better. This way you can hear how music ties into one another and how different sounds influence certain feelings in music.
Always be willing to learn from a jam session, you'll walk away a different person, and hopefully more willing to grow as a musician and guitarist.
3. Go out and support your local bands
Chances are you'll get to speak to them and learn how they grew as individual musos and as a band. Here you'll also be exposed to a show where you'll get to witness raw energy of music. This drives most musicians to work their hardest. Some reasons being: To get exposure and build a name; To experience the energy of a gig; or even to get scouted.
Remember that the bands were just like you. Got a guitar and thought: "What now??". They saw it as an opportunity to become an artist. Many unsigned bands in this decade are starting to sound better and better because of all their effort and PRACTISE.
4. Join a band
Woah!! Yes! I said it! It ties in with point two. You'll be influenced by your band mates to work hard. You'll learn a lot from them and you could also be exposed to other styles of music. Even if your band isn't gonna make it big, use the opportunity to learn from the other musicians. Everyone is different. Their influences, playing style, their views on music. Be open to their ideas and be willing to learn.
Most of your first bands might not be successful as you hope, but don't let it kill you. It gives you a chance to build as a musician
5. Get lessons
As the articles ends, I want to say that this is optional. Please take this column as guidance and not as your bible. I'm only explaining what helps me play. You might disagree.
Lessons will help u patch up rough spots, help your style of playing and even correct your ear for music. Theory lessons are always great because you will learn to understand music, scales and the other gibberish you read on this website. There's plenty online lessons that can help you, google is your friend
One last note. Take some criticism. Play for you girlfriend/boyfriend. Show your parents that you can play 21 Guns by Green Day. Show your friends that you can play a Jazz Scale, and then tell them you want their honest opinion.
Remember to Practise hard. . .