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.