7 Ways To Become A Better Guitarist And Musician

Want to make your guitar playing better RIGHT NOW? Read this article for 7 guitar practice ideas that will exactly that.

Ultimate Guitar

Are you having a hard time becoming much better at guitar even though you desperately do everything you can to advance your progress?

Regardless of what you want to achieve in your guitar playing, your results will become much faster once you discover how to get the maximum effectiveness out of every moment you spend working on your guitar skills.

Below is a list of several ideas you can take RIGHT NOW to become a much more advanced guitarist:

1. Become Clear About The Causes Of Your Guitar Playing Problems

See if this sounds familiar: you try to practice something on guitar, only to notice (vaguely) that "something" doesn't sound right, but you can't identify what the source of the problem is. This situation is extremely common, and solving it often requires coming up with ways to deliberately make some aspect of your playing MORE challenging, so that you can become aware of the problem. You can come up with a variety of ways to increase the difficulty for both hands individually AND for their ability to stay in sync with each other. This approach will help you to reveal the causes of the problem and make easier for you to know how to overcome them. To see an illustration of this guitar practice concept at work, watch the video below:

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2. Have A Specific Reason For "Why" You Include ANY Item Into Your Guitar Practice Schedule

Too many guitarists are eager to start practicing exercises without first understanding "how" these practice items are going to help their guitar skills improve. This causes several problems:

A. There is no way to evaluate the progress being made (or not made) from your practicing, unless you consider first what results you are looking to get out of any given exercise.

B. If most of your guitar practice time is spent on practicing general and unsystematic exercises, many of your ACTUAL guitar challenges will continue to persist for a long time because you haven't found "specific" solutions (exercises) to fix them.

To prevent the above problems from happening in your playing, get very clear about why you intend to practice any item in your guitar practicing. This will clear the clutter from your guitar practice routines leaving you free to focus only on the items that REALLY help to make you a better guitarist.

3. Group All Guitar Exercises By The Goal They Help You Work Towards

To maximize your rate of progress on guitar, you must break down your guitar playing goals into a series of steps to go through in order to achieve your objectives. To increase your efficiency in going through this process, you must sort all guitar practice items you are working on into groups based on what result they help you to achieve. This is important for a number of reasons:

A. You will be growing in several simultaneous areas of guitar playing in an intelligent and predictable (rather than "random") way. By knowing exactly what skills a certain guitar practice item is helping you improve, you will be less likely to end up out of balance in your playing.

B. Having the clarity described above will help you to avoid making your practicing a monotonous process. If you have multiple exercises in each group, you can rotate between them at any time, keeping your practicing focused on the same general objectives without spending too long on any single item.

4. Learn How To Create Guitar Exercises Out Of Everything You Practice

When you find yourself struggling to play something on guitar, there are often a variety of reasons why that is the case. However, most people simply "assume" (or guess) what the problem is and therefore are not likely to find the correct solutions to their challenges.

To prevent this, make exercises out of the very music you are learning on guitar. Isolate the sections that are challenging to play and treat them as "exercises" for improving your general guitar playing. This is a much more efficient way to allocate your limited practice time.

To be clear, I am not implying that you must abandon all guitar exercises you practice, I'm only saying that most of the time you already have the exact exercises you should be working on within the songs and solos you are practicing.

5. Know What You Are Going To Achieve Each Time You Pick Up The Guitar To Practice

To maximize your guitar practice results, you need to start each session by clearly defining specific results you intend to reach when you are done practicing. This will help your concentration to stay high and will direct all your efforts towards making that goal a reality. Doing this will help you to keep track of your results and know exactly what aspects of your practicing may need to improve or be refined further.

6. Measure Your Guitar Practice Results

Knowing how every area of your musicianship is improving at any given time is critical for your guitar playing for two reasons:

A. The more accurately you keep track of your improvements (or lack of them), the better you can assess how well your guitar practice efforts are working.

B. You will know right away if some elements of your musical skills are lagging behind (compared to other areas of your guitar playing) and immediately modify your practicing to bring your guitar playing into balance.

7. Continuously Refine Your Picking Hand Technique

Regardless of your goals or your skill level as a musician today, your guitar playing abilities will always increase if you focus on refining your picking technique. The best way to do this is to focus on making your picking hand movements more economical and streamlined. I explain exactly how to do it in this free video you can watch about improving your guitar picking motions.

Armed with what you have learned from this article, begin using these strategies in your guitar practice sessions, starting TODAY! If you are consistent in applying this guitar practice advice into your playing, you will soon see your results on guitar and your confidence in your ability to reach your goals improve like never before.

About The Author: Mike Philippov is a guitar instructional author, professional guitar player and composer. His articles and videos about how to practice guitar are studied by guitarists around the world. Visit his website to learn more about getting big results from your guitar practice.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It was a well written article. But, I've seen like 30 similar articles here on UG. 25 of them being from Tom Hess. Plus, I feel like articles like this (and more in general) need to establish the fact that you don't have to be a speed demon, guitar acrobatic to be considered a good guitarist. I feel like that has become somewhat of an epidemic within the guitar community. In my opinion, the amount of time people spend trying to just play fast is time that could be spent being more creative and discovering originality. Fast playing is fun as shit, I'll admit to that. But, it can be counterproductive from a musical, creative standpoint. Just my thoughts on that.
    But, nevertheless, it was a well written article no matter what skill and/or goal the guitarist/reader has.
    I like how this article didn't really present anything new. At all. Edit: Oh, except the video link, which makes this article scream "I'm a guitar teacher, check out my stuff!"
    These articles are so generic.
    In short, yes. That could've saved much time if it just said that and "Have a plan and don't halfass something if you want to do it right."
    That's what all these practice articles say. This guy spent all his time sweeping and forgot how to tone. IMHO Although the sweeping was good.
    it's more about the mindset and techniques you bring into solving problems in general, it's a very focused scientific mindset that works wonders on technique but the effect it has in focusing on details that the average listener will find meaningless often at the cost of the overall quality and originality of composition means that it's a mindset that must be tempered with a constant awareness of the big picture.
    My Last Words
    The last point should say "Continuously Refine Your Technique". That goes for picking hand, fretting hand, posture, and above all the control of unwanted tension.
    My Last Words
    Are you from Dutch origin? Your profile pic says you're from chicago but you talk like someone from my country..
    LOL, true, it sounds like a Dutchman trying to pull off an American accent, only succeeding partially. There's that hidden Dutch pronunciation of some words, like 'technique'.
    My Last Words- Isn't it a real nad-kicker when you ask these "guitar teachers" a legit question and they don't answer back. Again, I know I'm beating a dead horse but, Tom Hess does the same thing. Teacher: If you're going to post articles here on UG, you are part of the community. Answer back. I hope your "students" receive more attention than this.