HowToTuneAGuitar.org

101 Guitar Tips

If you've become stagnant in your playing or you are new to guitar, here are some tips that might light your fire. One hundred and one of them to be precise.

  1. Always learn new things; there are hundreds of different techniques that you can learn on guitar.
  2. Learn a new chord every day. There are 1800 on this site alone. When The Beatles were first learning guitar and writing songs it is said they were into the strangest of chord formations.
  3. Buy some guitar books, as many as you can. If you can't always afford new books go to a used bookstore, they often have a section devoted to music.
  4. Take up another musical instrument, there is always cross over whether it be piano or a harmonic, your ear and improvisation will improve.
  5. Go Dancing. Seriously it will improve your rhythm.
  6. If you go to the gym and are doing cardio or even weight lifting, you can count in sets of 4. Since most music is in 4/4 time this will also help your sense of rhythm. Working out with a portable music player will also help your rhythm.
  7. If you find a song you like, instead of searching for the song on Google, try first to figure it out yourself. Use trial and error, if you do this enough your ear will improve over time and you will be amazed at how fast you can tab a song.
  8. Relax! I can't stress this enough, learn to relax when you are playing. If your knuckles are white then that it is a huge problem.
  9. Toughen up those fingers.
  10. Experiment with different guitars. People come in different shapes and sizes, and so do guitars. Personally I prefer a guitar with a slightly wider neck, because I have bigger fingers and like to finger pick. If you are 5'2 and playing a super big dreadnought you may want to reconsider.
  11. If you play electric, try acoustic. If you play acoustic, try electric. If you've tried everything, learn Flamenco.
  12. Read guitar websites like this and don't be afraid to post a question in the forums.
  13. Learn new songs. Don't stay in one place, if you stay stagnant your guitar playing will stay stagnant.
  14. Go to YouTube and search for Guitar Lessons. Bookmark and favorite the ones you like the most.
  15. Care for your instrument properly, change the strings when they are worn out.
  16. Find other people who play the guitar and ask them questions. People love to talk about themselves.
  17. Find an instructor. If you can't afford it try your local community centre, they will often have lessons in large groups that are cheaper.
  18. Listen to music! Especially the songs that you want to learn.
  19. Learn scales. The repetition will help develop consistency.
  20. If you hate scales then learn songs, and when you have trouble with certain riffs or chord progressions just keep repeating them over and over, at least 80 to 100 times. This will help your brain and body to remember the skill until it becomes second nature.
  21. If you are struggling with learning something, phone a friend (preferably someone who plays guitar, ideally someone who is better than you). A second opinion never hurts. My friend was struggling with learning a song until I realized after watching videos on YouTube that he should have been using a capo. Don't constantly bug them to tab out songs for you though, that gets annoying.
  22. Practice consistently. Try for at the very least 45 minutes every 2 days. If you can do more, than by all means practice more.
  23. It takes everyone a little time to warm up. Myself it takes 10 to 20 minutes to get warmed up. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about how long you want to practice for.
  24. Get familiar with your instrument. Learn what type of Set-Up you like. Do you like the strings set high or low in relation to the fretboard? Once you figure it out get a professional Set-Up done every year.
  25. If you are going to get serious about it, spend at least $800 on a decent guitar. Top of the line quality guitars are easier to play then ones where the manufacturing process is just to churn them out and sell them as quickly as possible. Never make a guitar buying decision hastily.
  26. Keep time or practice against a metronome. You can also tap your foot.
  27. Pay attention to your strumming hand once in awhile! Most guitar players spend way to much time focusing on their fretting hand.
  28. Get a nice hardwood chair. Try and play in the same chair all the time. Find a chair you will be comfortable with and stick to it.
  29. Don't try and take too much on. If a song is too difficult for you, you may end up getting frustrated and giving up on the whole learning guitar thing altogether.
  30. Learn new strumming patterns, there are millions!
  31. Learn to play with a pick as well as your fingers.
  32. Watch guitar players you know are good. Focus on what they do with their body as well as their fingers.
  33. Store your guitar in a safe place. If you don't have a stand keep it in it's case. Preferably in an area that stays at room temperature. Drastic changes in temperature can warp a guitar (It is made of wood after all).
  34. Play with other guitarists or musicians. Playing with other people will give you insight into your own playing.
  35. .If you are frustrated take a break. Don't try and force yourself, it will only make it worse.
  36. Get something to record yourself with. This will give you some direct feedback. Most computers usually have some basic recording capacity. And remember don't be too critical about what you hear, think about what you like and what you don't like and how you can improve your playing to fix it.
  37. Subscribe to a monthly guitar magazine. They have columns dedicated to certain aspects of guitar technique and repertoire. They also review the latest books and practice materials, saving you alot of time and money. If you can't afford this, and you know what RSS is you can subscribe to this sites feed for free.
  38. If you learn every song or exercise in a book and master them, go back and learn to play them backwards.
  39. Start a lick book, blog or journal. If you are learning lots of things you should be keeping notes on them so that you always have a reference of things to play. You can get a free blog online.
  40. Share books with your friends. You can swap ones that you have already been all the way through for one of your friend's that you've never seen.
  41. Create your own exercises. This is pretty easy to do. You can also modify other exercises you find in books or online.
  42. Visit guitar stores if you visit another city. You will come across an amazing variety of books. You may even buy some books that are too advanced for you at this stage but stash them away for later.
  43. If you can't afford new books, keep your eyes peeled for Garage Sales, or likewise you can also search eBay or Craigslist. I've done all of these before, you will be surprised at what you find.
  44. The study of musical theory can be helpful. It enables you to understand how chords are build, how to compose and arrange, how to transpose and how to write music out by hand.
  45. Likewise if you don't know already, learn how to read guitar tab.
  46. General knowledge is about knowing the history of the music you are playing, from its very beginning to its present day. Reading biographies of the performers is also interesting. Knowing about the leading artists and having a good working knowledge of their different styles will enhance your guitar playing.
  47. Learn to sight read. Sight reading is the art of being able to play a sheet of music immediately, with no mistakes, the first time. Sounds incredible? It can be achieved through daily sight reading practice.
  48. Train your ear. Nobody is born with a musical ear; training your ear is the only way you can develop one. The benefits of ear training are immense. You will be able to hear chord progressions and solos and play them back note for note by ear.
  49. Develop your repertoire. Repertoire is the learning and memorizing of many tunes in your chose area of study. This includes chord progressions as well as solos. Get guitar tabs or sheet music of the songs you want to learn or write them out yourself and store them in a binder.
  50. Practice at a steady pace. Always begin learning any new technique or song very slowly, making sure your fingering and strumming is correct. Then gradually work up the speed.
  51. Learn a blues scale and then learn how to improvise with it.
  52. Learn different picking patterns. One of my favorites is Travis Picking.
  53. Learn different rhythms. Reggae is a poplar one to learn.
  54. Learn how to do palm mutes. This is also referred to as dampening. A dampened sound can be created by resting the strumming hand on the strings while strumming. This sound is achieved by resting the fleshy part of the hand close to the bridge.
  55. Learn bar chords and bar chord patterns. Altering the pinky on a bar chord you can make lots of different chords, Like sixths and sevenths.
  56. Learn to hammer on. A hammer on refers to the technique of sounding a note without actually picking it. The sound is produced by striking the string with one of the fingers of the fretting hand.
  57. Buy a capo. Capos can be great if you get bored of playing in standard position all the time.
  58. If you get bored of standard tuning, then learn an alternate tuning.
  59. Always tune your guitar before you practice or play.
  60. If you really want to learn a song correctly put some headphones on when your playing and adjust the volume level so you can hear the song and yourself playing. Works well with an iPod.
  61. The web has about 1 million trashy and spammy guitar sites, (believe me I've looked at thousands). If you find a good guitar site you like, bookmark it, odds are if the person has published good content in the past they will publish good things in the future. Note: I went to search other sites for inspiration for this post and found practically nothing! The good stuff that I did find the websites lacked good navigation and layout. I realized how many trashy sites there are. I will try and do a top 5 or top 10 guitar websites in the future, I know of at least 5 great ones.
  62. Search social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon or del.icio.us. Odds are if hundreds or thousands of people have bookmarked a website or guitar article it will be a good one.
  63. Try visiting Heartwood Guitar. It's one of my favorite guitar websites and it as a wealth of information put together by someone who is passionate about guitar and isn't just trying to sell you a product.
  64. Use Google or Yahoo! to find your favorite guitar tab. There are hundreds of guitar websites. When searching search for "Song Name Guitar Tab". If you do it with quote marks around it you will get better results.
  65. Read interviews with your favorite musicians, this could give you inspiration.
  66. Go to lots of live shows. Big and small. Small shows can be great as you can view what the musicians are doing up close and personal.
  67. If you like to go camping and get drunk, and you have a couple of guitars, consider taking your beater. Same goes for the beach.
  68. If you can't afford any guitar books, get a library card at your local library. I have often found the library to be a better source of information then the internet; especially when it comes to quality. I know first hand that most large libraries have a huge selection of guitar related books, CD's, DVD's and magazines that you can borrow for free.
  69. If you are a really tense person you may want to try some relaxation exercises or going for a walk before you sit down for a session. Being relaxed when your playing is one the best lessons you can learn and goes a long way to becoming a great guitarist.
  70. Wipe you guitar down with a clean cloth before you play. Your fingers transfer all kinds of grease and dirt onto the strings. Often times you can even see it. Likewise make sure your hands are clean before you play.
  71. Clip your nails. I know some finger pickers prefer to keep their fingernails long, but for your fretting hand they should always be well clipped.
  72. Memorize full songs, not just the parts you like. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment.
  73. Download lots of music. Anything you like really. The more you are exposed to the better.
  74. Keep an open mind when someone else is showing you a new form of music. Likewise if they are playing in a style that you don't particularly like, you should still pay attention. You can learn as much from things you don't like as you can from things you like.
  75. If you like to play with an amp, but can't do so all the time because of noise considerations, then consider getting some headphones so that noise isn't an issue.
  76. When shopping for a guitar try out as many different ones you can. Even try out some outside of your budget. You may reconsider buying a cheap guitar once you do.
  77. When buying a guitar avoid pawnshops or newspaper ads if you don't know how to determine the value of a guitar accurately.
  78. Download guitar learning software and DVD's from the internet. If you don't like the stuff you download, uninstall it and search for more.
  79. If you can find close up footage of a guitarist you like you may consider watching it in slow motion to see what the guitarist is doing. This works if you want to tab out a song as well. I have found this extremely effective when learning a really complex song.
  80. Learn to transpose a song to different keys. Learn to transpose with a capo.
  81. Teach others. My friend came over a few weeks ago for a couple of pointers and it opened my eyes to alot of simple things that I had forgotten about.
  82. Avoid websites like Wikipedia. It is full of technical detail and will bore you to death. Although a good source for technical data, the site is barely written in english, and doesn't offer alot of practical exercises or advice. It can be good for learning theory though - just make sure you put on a full pot of coffee first.
  83. Don't make your sessions so long that you become bored. When you are starting out you may want to try and practice for 45 minutes to an hour.
  84. If your fingers really hurt alot when you are starting out - don't fret, you will eventually develop calluses.
  85. Adopt a positive attitude. Don't think just because you aren't great right away that you won't one day master it. It's more about working really hard then having natural talent.
  86. If you are feeling good about what you are doing, share it with others. Either in person or on YouTube. If you get alot of negative feedback don't let it get you down.
  87. Own multiple guitars. Playing a different guitar can inspire you indifferent ways.
  88. Buy a classical guitar and learn to play it.
  89. Learn songs by your favorite artists. This will keep you motivated and influence your own sound.
  90. Buy a guitar bag that you can wear on your back. This way if you feel like going out into public or down to a beach for a day it's easy to bring your guitar along. Playing in a different space once and awhile can throw new light on what you are doing.
  91. If your feeling bummed out about your progress read some inspiration musical quotes.
  92. If you are having problems, try slowing down. A great guitarist once said, "The slower you go, the faster you will get there".
  93. If you are more a more advanced player and playing with someone else, play songs that is within their ability.
  94. If you want to play live look around in local classifieds for Open Mic nights. Most cities have many.
  95. Learn a Chromatic Scale.
  96. If you are going to buy a guitar, you may want to read up on how they are built and what the differences are. Knowing how a guitar is constructed and a little bit of the history behind the different manufactures will enable you to make a good decision.
  97. You probably won't learn alot from playing Guitar Hero, but it may help you get inspired.
  98. Join a band or jam weekly with other musicians.
  99. Learn as much as you can about different chord progressions.
  100. Always keep in mind, it doesn't matter what your past is or if you have any type of disadvantage, anyone can play guitar.
  101. Keep playing as much as you can. Be patient and you will progress before you know it.

There you go 101 Guitar Tips. If you have any tips or comments please include them below.