Monthly Archives: February 2016

How to got talent in guitar

This post is for anyone who has thought about picking up the guitar but hasn’t yet. For those of you who aren’t musicians, becoming one is both more fun and easier than you imagine. I’m writing this post in the hopes that I can convince 1 or 2 of you to pick up a guitar and start making your own music. Below I describe a basic theory and method for getting started with the guitar that I’ve taught in real life to many friends with success.

Before I picked up the guitar, I was operating under a lot of false assumptions about how difficult it is to become a musician.

  1. I believed I was too old to start to learn music.
  2. I believed I had no musical talent and that I wasn’t a “musical” person.
  3. I thought you needed to learn to read music to play an instrument.
  4. I believed to overcome these barriers it would take too much time and effort.

I couldn’t have been more wrong on all these assumptions.

If you don’t have musical talent I’ve got good news for you– you don’t need it.

You just need time. Playing guitar is fundamentally about teaching your fingers to do weird things they aren’t used to doing. That’s it. It doesn’t take a genius. It takes some hours. Set aside 10 hours with the guitar and you’ll be playing some great songs. Promise.

I love playing the guitar. When I think of the decisions I’ve made that have changed my life the most, picking up the guitar was one of the most important and meaningful decisions I’ve ever made.

Learning how to play an instrument opens tons of doors:

  1. A quality and productive way to “unplug” and relax.
  2. You’ll enter in to a community of musicians who are looking to jam, sing, write, and take over the world– it’s like learning a new language and culture.
  3. No matter what your race, sex, creed or color you will increase your sexual attractiveness.
  4. Listening to music will become more enjoyable because you’ll start to pull apart the composition– you’ll begin to understand what is going on. (Eventually you’ll start to make your own).
  5. And as a bonus… once you learn your first instrument, the next ones get easier.

This post will teach you how to play songs on the guitar in less than 10 hours.

The information you need to play the guitar can be learned in 5-10 minutes. That information consists of 5 finger shapes you must remember. I’ve posted them below. The rest of your 10 hours will be spent teaching your finger muscles to play chord shapes.

Tips to easy practice the guitar

The guitar is a great instrument. It’s fairly portable, relatively inexpensive, easy enough to learn the basics – and you can take your playing as far as you want. Lots of people – from kids to grandparents – learn the guitar every day. And if you’re one of them, here are ten things you need to know.

On a recent Open Mic we asked the question, “What advice would you offer someone considering learning the guitar?” Lots of you answered, and your main points are included in this article alongside my own thoughts. And please feel free to add even more advice in the comments. Thousands of learners will appreciate it.

1. Practice!

This might seem obvious, but it never stopped anyone giving this advice when I started learning.

I started learning music when I was 20 – keyboard first, then guitar later. I was keen and enthusiastic, and constantly asked every musician I met for advice about the best and fastest way to learn. Every person gave me just one word of advice: “Practice!” It drove me crazy as hell – I wanted more – but it was good advice.

A big part of learning to play the guitar (and any instrument) is finger memory – motor skills. Your fingers need to know what to do without your brain needing to tell them. And that comes just one way – practice.

How much do you need to practice? I still stand by the advice I was given at the time: half an hour a day, or an hour a day if your really serious about learning. And the daily part is important – practice every day. One three hour session a week just isn’t going to cut it. Remember we are trying to develop finger memory, and that comes by regular, constant practice.

Most of you agree. Here is the advice you gave in the Open Mic:

  • “Practice, practice, practice. There’s no substitute for actually playing music.” (vladh)
  • “Practice practice practice.” (lisote)
  • “Be prepared for hard work, playing the guitar is hard at first and requires patience, determination and above all time. If you are prepared to practice half an hour a day you will start to get results within a month or two and you will be playing your favourite songs which is when the fun really begins.” (Jon)
  • “Persistence. To begin with your fingers won’t like it & it can be frustrating, but with regular practice (said countless times, 10/20mins a day is better than a 4hour practice once a week) it will suddenly click & feel very natural, almost so that you’ll find it hard remembering what it was like in the beginning.” (Simon)

2. Find a Way to Stay MotivatedLearning to play the guitar won’t be easy. To begin with you will sound terrible and feel totally uncoordinated. Your finger tips will suffer daily pain until you develop callouses. After countless hours of practice you will feel like you are not getting anywhere. Although your family may encourage you on the first day, their words may not be so complimentary after a week or so of daily practice. (Actually, it’s better to practice where you won’t annoy anyone if you can manage it.)

You feel good about learning the guitar now, but what can you do to keep that motivation when for a month or two if you feel like you’re wasting your time?

You might want to set small short-term goals that won’t take so long to accomplish. You might want to visualize yourself onstage playing with a band. You might want to reward yourself somehow after each practice. You might want to find a guitar buddy who is also learning, and cry on one another’s shoulder. You might want to remind yourself that most people find learning very difficult to begin with. However you do it, maintaining motivation is essential, or you might just give up.

Here are your comments from the Open Mic:

  • “Don’t let anyone dishearten you. If they’re a musician they’re being an ar**hole because they would have gone through the same thing and if they’re not a musician then your doing something they probably wish they were. Although you should find that most people will encourage you, everyone loves to be serenaded or when you kick out a song they can bellow out to.” (Simon)
  • “Don’t be put off if things don’t sound right at first.” (Chris Blizzard)

3. Learn the Basic Skills the Right Way

Playing guitar involves a combination of basic skills. Take time to learn those skills, and learn them properly.

Some people have a very narrow musical education. Toby Pitman told me about one of his students who impressed the class with an amazing lead guitar solo. Toby then asked him to play a G chord, and the guy stared back blankly. A guy I went to uni with impressed me with a classical piece. I assumed he was an amazing player until he told me that was all he could play.

So make sure you learn all of the basic skills. Get a book or teacher or online course to make sure. Learn notes and learn chords. Learn rhythm and learn lead. Learn strumming and learn picking. And don’t be in so much of a hurry that you skip lessons.

And learn those skills properly. Be fussy. You will sound terrible to begin with, but don’t be satisfied with it! Work at it until you sound better. When you play a chord, check every string to make sure it sounds clearly, and one of your fingers aren’t leaning on it giving it a muted sound. Make sure you use the correct fingers when playing chords and playing scales. Make sure the way you hold the guitar, the angle of the guitar, your right-hand grip and left-hand wrist action are correct.

This isn’t to say that there is one and only one way to do everything – personal preference and comfort certainly come into it – but that you shouldn’t be satisfied with being sloppy, and that you should be concerned to do things in the most efficient and effective way. Remember you are learning motor skills, and if you teach your fingers a bad habit, it will be very difficult to break.

Here is some advice from the Open Mic:

  • “Two things – learn the notes, chords and fingerings in general. That’s not too much fun, though (for me).” (Zach)
  • “Learn Rock Grip now. It will make your life easier.” (thomasfedb) Another commenter and I are not sure what Rock Grip is. Would someone please explain in the comments? But Thomas points out that learning the correct grip earlier rather than later is better.
  • “Learn chords – it’ll sound like a song sooner than if you concentrate on notes and scales exclusively.” (Todd Cumpston)

4.Play in Time

My 14 year old son has just started learning the guitar. Youtube is his teacher, and he spends most of his time learning chords and putting them together. But I can hear something he can’t – often when he is changing chords there is a slight pause. Without realising, he is stopping his rhythm to get his fingering right.

While I’m glad he cares about correct fingering, learning to play in time is also important. Play regularly with a metronome. Playing along with a CD or other person is also helpful. Practice playing slow, and practice playing fast. If you don’t have a metronome, use the free one over at www.metronomeonline.com.

A few of you commented about metronomes on the Open Mic:

  • “Whatever you are going to play, play it with a metronome.” (Omar)
  • “Practice practice practice and of course, as Omar said, with metronome.” (losote)

6.Learn to Listen

Listening is a highly under-rated skill. More than just about anything else it will help you become a great player.

Listen to others playing, both live and on albums. What sort of guitar are they playing? Are they strumming, picking, or playing single notes? What sort of tone are they achieving, and how?

Carefully listen to yourself as you practice. Can you hear when you do something wrong? Is your guitar out of tune? Are all of the strings sounding clearly? Do the notes and chords you are playing sound even? How can you improve your tone?

And listening is most important once you are playing in a band. What are the other instruments playing? What can you play to compliment them? Should you play more or less to fit in with the sound of the band? What rhythm are the drums and other guitars playing? What can you play to enhance the groove?

Here is some advice about listening from the Open Mic:

  • “Learn to *listen* to music. Learn to recognize intervals, learn to recognize how different chords sound and what feeling they carry. Try to imitate your favorite recordings to train your ear. This will greatly improve your playing and musical feel, and will give you five steps ahead when learning any instrument.” (wwwald)
  • “Learn songs by ear. It’s great to be able to read music, but learning to deconstruct what you’re hearing and play it without any tablature or sheet music is a great way to develop critical listening skills, build repertoire, learn a range of techniques, and develop your ability to quickly digest and apply new material (for example, when learning repertoire of a band). What’s more, it’s fun!” (Glynn)

6.Learn Some Music Theory

When I was at school a lot of kids complained about math. “How am I going to use this in the real world?” they asked. I loved math and didn’t understand the question.

Music theory is the same. Some love it and some hate it. But it always helps to know some. Especially when you can see how it improves your playing.

Consider learning some sort of music notation. Every guitarist should be able to read a chord chart. And the Internet is full of guitar tabs, so you may want to learn how to read it, especially if you’d like to learn riffs and melodies.

You should know the note names of each string. It is worth learning the notes for each fret along each string. You might want to learn scales and how chords work.

Guitarists have varying feelings about music theory, and this came out in the Open Mic:

  • “Be able to sight read SHEET music (tabs are useless in a recording environment) . Understand chord charts. and metronome metronome metronome! Also, don’t get caught up in playing leads. Become a strong rhythm player first. You wouldn’t believe how many people I have recorded that can’t play simple upstroke patterns or lack the understanding of basic time signatures.” (Deems)
  • “I’m afraid I’ve got to disagree with this. Maybe sight reading sheet music will help you if you want to eventually become a session player, but most people DON’T become session players. Play what you want to play, the way you want to play it. BUT remember that sheet music does offer more than tab ever will, so it is worth learning. You may have found that from recording people, I’ve found whilst teaching people bass, that they don’t want to sit and learn how to site read, it puts them off. better to let them tell you a song they want to play, you listen and figure out techniques required, teach them those, and then teach them the song. then pick another song, teach new techniques required for the song, teach them the song…” (Chris Blizzard)
  • “Don’t learn theory in isolation. Whatever you learn – a new scale, chord, the name of an interval you like the sound of, a technique like bends or hammer-ons – apply it to something musical. There is value in simply repeating exercises, scales, etc., but to get these things into your vocabulary, do it in a musically meaningful way: improvise some melodies with a scale, play a riff you already know and add in those hammer-ons, etc. Again, this is fun!” (Glynn)

Play the Guitar with Good Technique

Lear how to play the guitar

I taught myself how to play guitar and I’ll admit this resulted in learning some very bad habits that are proving difficult to shake off. I didn’t have awesome apps like Uberchord to guide me. The common problem with novice guitar players is impatience — those how-to books and websites insist that you to take things slowly, focus on the basics and get things right from the start, whereas you want to begin shredding solos and be leaping from a stack of Marshalls with every power chord within… oh, a few weeks would be nice.

If you watch any of the best players in the world, regardless of whether they play classical tunes or heavy rock, they all have one thing in common — good technique, meaning they’re properly applying all those basic requirements for playing great guitar. Have a look at someone like John Petrucci (Dream Theater). Sure, on first impressions he’s going to frighten the hell out of your grandmother, but check out his left hand as he performs. Those blistering solos and chord progressions are achieved with what seems effortless ease and minimal movement, all because Petrucci mastered how to play the guitar with good technique from the start. Good technique, in the final analysis, is the proven best and most proficient way to play, putting your hands and fingers in the right place at the right time.

Here are my best 10 tips for learning how to play the guitar with good technique. Some of them are kind of obvious, while others are the result of long experience. I hope they help. By the way, let’s assume you’re right-handed player. Lefties can make the obvious adjustment.

1. Avoid The Left-Hand Death Grip

When you first start playing, straight away you’ll discover that pressing the strings against the fret board
is hard work, hurts your fingers and makes your wrist ache. The natural way to combat this is by hooking your thumb over the top of the fret board to get leverage, which inadvertently causes you to press the strings more with the flat pad of your finger (where your fingerprint is) rather than the actual fingertip.

This is sometimes called the “death grip”, because you do end up with a fairly fierce grip on your neck and it restricts the reach of your fingers. The proper technique is to have your thumb on the back of the guitar’s neck. This forces your hand to use the fingertips, which is far better and more accurate when it comes to playing just the notes you want without accidentally muting adjacent strings. The trouble is — it feels kind of weird and difficult at first, and your wrist will lack strength. Stick with it and you’ll appreciate the benefits further down the track. Remember, thumb on the back of the neck.

2. Rehearse Standing Up And Sitting Down

Okay, things are hard enough as it is without expecting you to waltz around the room while you’re playing. The important thing is, if you’re going to take this dream all the way, one day you’ll be standing up in front of crowd. Playing with your guitar slung across your shoulder is a very different posture to sitting down.

On a chair, you tend to hunch over and try to see what your hands are doing (another bad habit you want to avoid). Then, when you’re standing up, everything changes. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll find it much harder to see your left hand, for a start. Make sure you have a good guitar strap, adjust it to a comfortable length (forget slinging it down around your knees — looks cool, but it’s a crap playing position) and regularly practice playing while you’re standing up.

3. No Need For Speed

Don’t ever bother trying to learn how to play fast. Really, don’t do it. Good technique is about accurate fingering and hitting the right notes every time, especially when it comes to scales and playing tricky bar chords. Concentrate on precise fingering. The truth is, learn to play properly andspeed will happen all by itself. The biggest obstacle to fast playing is poor technique. Learn good technique and fast fingering will be a chucked-in-for-free bonus. Always take your time and play slowly. Use Uberchord Guitar App, it is a free app that listens to you while you practice guitar and corrects when you play wrong.
4. Always Use Correct Fingering

Over the centuries of guitar playing the experts have long figured out the best way to play certain chords and scales, meaning which fingers should be playing certain notes on the fret board.

Occasionally, you might discover an easier way of playing these — you’re a musical genius and never knew it. Don’t be tempted. Correct fingering isn’t just about playing that chord or scale properly. Adding variations is considered too, such as sevenths and ninths, and your custom style of fingering a chord might prove that those variations can’t be played (yep, this is one of the things I learned the hard way). Pay careful attention to the correct fingering of a chord and your hand’s position on the fret board for scales. Uberchord will show you exactly how to do it.