Effective Way of Guitar Practice

This is for players at an intermediate stage.

Ultimate Guitar
Effective Way of Guitar Practice
I divide my practice routine into 5 different ways:
  • Warm up
  • Technique
  • Learning Songs
  • Improvisation
  • Having fun playing.

1) Warm up

This is the most underrated part of guitar practice. 5-7 minutes of warm up is essential. Take your metronome and start playing some chromatic lines. Use a metronome regularly, it will save your time. For the picking hand, arpeggiate chords, inversions etc. The goal here is not to play faster, it is to play using minimum finger movement of both the picking hand and fretting hand.

2) Technique

Building technique takes time and effort. Don't be frustrated if you cannot hit 160 bpm in a week or two, that is a long term goal. Set realistic, achievable goals. Do not learn techniques that you don't know how to incorporate into your own songwriting or if a song that you're learning does not require you to be able to play it. What I do is I take up to 3 techniques and practice them for four minutes and one minute rest. If you new to lead guitar, just practice hammer-ons, pull-offs and alternate picking. Start at comfortable speed, say, 60 bpm or LESS. You want to be able to play whole notes, eighth notes and quarter notes. Do not overlook eighth notes. Some other techniques are vibrato, slides, hybrid picking, legato, sweep picking, economy picking, gallop, tapping, string bending, pinch harmonics etc.

3) Learning songs

This is where you get the inspiration to solo, learn about harmonies, chord progressions, techniques. This requires patience, efforts to learn and excitement. You should be excited to learn any song. And please don't learn songs you don't like. Learning songs is the best experience about playing a guitar. Listen to the song till you're familiar with it. Use your ears or tabs or a transcribing software. Always breakup the song into sections, even the solos. First you want to learn the rhythm part and then go for the lead. Loop sections, listen repeatedly, slow down the song, change the pitch to a key you're comfortable in.

4) Improvisation

This is where you learn scales and learn to use them. Learn scales by its note name rather than degree or fret number. Memorising the fretboard is the best way to improve your lead guitar. Pick a key and improvise or learn a lick from your favourite song and use that over different chords and listen to how it feels like. ALWAYS listen out for the chord. Make minor changes to the lick, change its rhythm, incorporate those into your playing. Remember, rhythm is your friend. Not all licks work over every chord. The same lick sounds different over an A chord and an F# minor. Learn to stop, give some space in your playing. Start building patterns, go three in row, four in a row, five and six. Play in thirds, sixths, use double stops, use notes that are not in the scale. Use some techniques that you've been practicing. As you progress, you might want to change scales when the chord changes.

5) Playing

Last but not least, actually playing what you learnt. Self-explanatory, just play. Rock out.

If you are short on time, let's say about only one hour a day
Divide these into
Warm up - 5 minutes each hand
And 10 minutes each for the rest.

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