So you grew up with the dreams of being the ultimate rock star, you know how it goes, learn to play that electric guitar and it’s money for nothing and the chicks for free.
Or so they say.
You went out and bought your brand new acoustic guitar, you have all the ideas in your head about how you’re going to write songs with a better melody than Lennon & McCartney.
Of course you’re better lyricist than Bob Dylan, and you have the potential to shred better than Eddy Van Halen.
The world is your oyster and nothing is going to stop you, in no time at all it’s going to be Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium and a bevvy of beauties at your beck and call.
But hold on wait a minute, 2 years later the guitar is gathering dust in the corner, the superstar lifestyle is still a million miles away, and you haven’t even formed a callous on your fingertips, and you still can’t tune a guitar.
So what went wrong?
But don’t you worry because all is not lost, the future is still bright and its all a matter of making some minor adjustments to get your music career back on track.
Musicandgoodshit.com has compiled 10 tips for you to follow, to make sure you achieve your goals and make it to the musical big time.
Chapter 1 : Making Excuses; you’re just too lazy. Now pick up the guitar and practice
Chapter 2 : Playing the Same Old Songs….Over and Over and Over etc. etc. etc
Chapter 3 : There is more than one genre of music you know
Chapter 4 : Rhythm is everything, swing is the king
Chapter 5 : Break out of the bedroom and find the Jam
Chapter 6 : There’s more than one way to skin a cat
Chapter 7 : The rusty string will never sing
Chapter 8 : Sex Drugs and Rock n Roll…erm No
Chapter 9 : Control is the goal, in more ways than one
Chapter 10 : Just because it costs more doesn’t make you play any better
1. Stop Making Excuses; you’re just too lazy. Now pick up the guitar and practice.
I hate to break this to you, but looking cool just isn’t enough! If you want to be a Rockstar, unfortunately you’re going to have to practice.
And I don’t mean 10 minutes a day, I mean hours on end if you want to be really good, if you really want to be a pro, then you have to put in the work.
If you haven’t heard about the 10,000 hours rule, then you need to get acquainted with it.
To be a pro you have to practice, practice and then practice some more.
We’ve all heard the stories about how Eric Clapton practiced till his fingers bled, well I’m not saying you have to be that dedicated.
But the damn thing isn’t going to play itself.
Even if you’re not dreaming of the big time, and all you want is to play in a local bar, or sing to yourself at home.
You still have to put in the work. There is just no substitute for practice.
So rule number 1 is practice as much as you can, and in a few weeks of consistent practice of at least 1 hour a day, you will definitely reap the rewards as you become more proficient, and those chord changes flow together to make songs.
Oh yes I forgot to mention, no one became a great guitar player while spending their time on Facebook, or the Xbox.
So cut out the distractions, pick up the acoustic guitar and practice, practice, practice.
If you need some tips on guitar practice check out the below resources to get you going.
2. Stop Playing the Same Old Songs….Over and Over and Over etc. etc. etc.
Stairway to Heaven is an amazing tune, but if it’s all you play, then you aren’t getting any better as a guitar player, and that’s a fact.
House of the Rising Sun is a classic, but if its all you know….boooooooring.
If you want to advance as a guitar player from playing beginner guitar chords then you have to break out of your comfort zone.…Fact.
I know you’re a star, you don’t do covers, you are unique.
Sorry to break it to you, but unless you spend a lot of time learning a lot of different songs, then you will write the same original song 50 times over.
If you want to look cool at the party, then playing the same 4 songs on repeat for two hours just isn’t going to work I’m afraid.
Learning a diverse catalog of tunes from a varied range of artists is only going to enhance you as a player.
Don’t be the lone wolf, stand on the shoulder of giants, all the greats did.
Learning the chord progressions that made the classics will seep into your guitar playing unconscious and help you to forge those future hits.
Here are some great tips below to get you going again.
3. There is more than one genre of music you know
Bob Dylan is the best songwriter ever.
Fuck that hippy shit, I only listen to Metal.
Metal are you serious, Nu Wave, Nu Rave, Indie, Rock, Pop…Just bleeding stop.
The point is if you only listen to one style of music, then you are going to have a blinkered opinion on songs and structure, and that will reflect in your playing.
I’m not saying you have to change your friends, take on a new dress code and drink in new bars.
However you can certainly broaden your horizons when it comes to listening to music.
There is a multitude of styles out there, and with the availability of music available via the Internet on YouTube.
I’m sure you will find something out there you will love, in a genre you thought you would hate.
Personally I’m not a fan of country music at all, hates a strong word but it’s not far off for me as a genre.
However there are still a couple of tunes that fall into that genre that I really love.
Jolene by Dolly Parton being one of them. Kris Kristofferson’s Ruby being another.
But I would never have come to appreciate those songs if I hadn’t broadened my horizons.
It’s an amazing feeling when you find a song you never would have thought you’d like.
So broaden your horizons from a listening point of view and this will seep into your playing style and advance you both as a player and a writer.
Need some help in finding new music, check out these great links below.
4. Rhythm is everything, swing is the king
How’s the tempo? What’s the pace, can you change the beat.
Variation is the key, both in listening taste and the speed you play, broadening the repertoire is one point to note, but if its all at the same pace, then one song just blends into another.
Varying the tempo of the songs you play is vital to enhancing your playing; don’t get caught in the comfort zone of those mid tempo sing alongs.
Up the tempo and get the foot stomping, you can do this by playing the same songs at varying speeds, but changing the speed will invariably help you to experience a tune from a different feel.
Not only will this help advance you as a player, but it also helps give a new spin on an old tune.
Likewise this can be reversed by slowing down a tune that has traditionally been played at a quicker pace.
This has been done top great effect by player such as Jonny Cash as he covered Nine Inch Nails.
Experiment with songs at different tempos to advance your feel and rhythm.
Check out these tips below to help you become a rhythm king.
5. Break out of the bedroom and find the Jam
Playing on your own is all good and well, but to advance as a guitar player you have to play with like-minded musicians.
This is key to being a good player; it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of never venturing out of the house as a guitar player.
And I know that may be easier said than done, if you are naturally self-conscious then you may find it hard to reach out to other guitar players.
But rest assured the process is the same for every guitar player, but once you do start jamming with other players you will find your advancement and technique will grow rapidly.
There is no other feeling as a musician than being in a room of players and finding that mutual groove.
Making a big noise and enjoying that feeling of musical union.
If you are struggling to find other musicians, there are plenty of sites online that are geared towards helping you find players in your area.
Or check the boards in your local guitar shop, as they always have like-minded guitarists looking to jam.
6. There’s more than one way to skin a cat
If you only play one instrument then you will only ever play in one way. There’s nothing wrong at all with having that trusty electric guitar that you play all the time sitting in the corner.
But if you want to progress as a musician, then you need to diversify what you play, its easy to keep playing that same riff over, and over, and over, and over again.
So buy or borrow an acoustic guitar to accompany the Fender Stratocaster you bought at Christmas. And low and behold you will find a whole new tone and feel.
Going from acoustic guitar to electric guitar and vice versa gives the same chords you have been playing a completely different feel.
And this can give a whole new emphasis on the way you play and the enthusiasm for which you take up your instrument.
So when possible make sure you switch between acoustic and electric guitar to maximise the way you feel the guitar, and control the tone and the chord changes.
7. The rusty string will never sing
If you don’t look after your equipment then it will never sound good, it’s a simple as that.
It breaks my heart to see a guitar stuck in the corner of a room with the intent of it looking cool, as opposed to actually being played.
I have friends like this, the guitar is literally gathering dust in the corner of a room, with rusty strings and a mouldy fretboard.
There is no better feel and sound than that of a newly strung guitar, the tone and sound you get is second to none.
So you have to know how to tune a guitar.
It goes without saying if you have a guitar with battered old strings on, it’s only going to sound like a cat getting strangled.
Maybe it’s time to visit the local guitar shop and have your axe set up properly. It doesn’t cost much and it will make the world of difference.
Almost like buying a new guitar, its and investment not a cost.
So order some new strings online, you can get some great deals for your money.
They will arrive in the post in no time and you are good to go with that great tone to enhance your sound and playing.
Let me help you with some guitar maintenance tips below, to get your guitar back in top shape and ready to play.
8. Sex Drugs and Rock n Roll…erm No
Keith cannot be killed by conventional weapons, and you bought your guitar to punish your Ma.
Well I’ve got news for you mate, if you thought just buying a guitar was going to open the door to wild sexual abandon, plenty of free drugs and a worldwide stadium tour.
Then you are delusional.
Keith Richards is the 1 percent in this category I’m afraid, and all of those rock gods you admire so much and want to emulate, well I’ve got news for you.
They spent years as loners locked in a bedroom doing you know what.
That’s right…practicing, practicing and practicing again, there is no elevator to success as they say, you have to take the stairs, and a damn lot of them.
So if you are not that good a player yet, the last thing I would advise for getting good would be to roll up a big fat one, or snort a big line.
You will just end up paranoid in the bedroom with the curtains closed thinking the postman is here to kill you.
So put down the joint, pick up the guitar and practice like a motherfucker.
Simple. Though they do make a good rock n roll story those tales of debauchery.
9. Control is the goal, in more ways than one
Becoming a good guitar player is about cultivating good habits, you have to be disciplined in your approach.
This means setting a structure to the way you practice and play, for instance if you set out to practice every day, which you should, then you have to set out a plan for how you practice.
I know when I was starting out I used a timetable for my approach, so if I was to practice for an hour, then the first 15 minutes would be about learning and practicing scales.
Then I would practice chord changes for 15 – 20 minutes or so.
Then I would practice whatever song I was learning.
This approach helped me to advance so much, the discipline in learning scales and chords, progressed me no end as a starter.
The more you know about chords and scales will be immeasurable in how you progress.
You can then use these new skills to play harder songs that incorporate more than 3 chords.
If you develop these good habits, then when you look back in 12 months time the advancement you will have made will be quite astonishing.
Here are some great tips for you to help structure your practice for better results.
10. Just because it costs more doesn’t make you play any better
I have met so many wanna be guitarists who think that they need to buy a more expensive guitar to make them play better.
Well before you go out and break the bank, let me tell you that is a complete load of bollocks.
A good player can get a tune out of a $10 guitar, you are only going to be broke and down the pawnshop in 12 months time if you take this approach.
Shelling out top dollar on Fender Custom Shop Electric guitar is not going to make you play any better, you won’t turn into Jimi Hendrix overnight by going 3 grand into debt.
It just isn’t happening.
So let me wrap this up by coming back to the one recurring theme of this article.
There is only one way you are going to get better as a guitar player, and that is to practice, practice and then practice some more.
Even if you can only make 15 minutes a day, this will still make a huge difference over time, if you an afford it I would also advise getting a guitar teacher, it really helped me to advance.
An hour a week, once a fortnight is ample for lessons, the rest of the time you should be spending practicing what you have learned.
I had lessons from a great teacher Deltabluestips, which advanced me as a guitarist no end.
Here are some great online guitar lessons to get you going.
So I hope this post will give you the kick up the arse to get back on the road to being a better guitar player.
Greatness is really in your hands, but you have to put in the work, its as simple as that.
And the more you put in, the more you will get out of the guitar.
So why the hell are you still reading this, go by some new strings, clean off that dusty fretboard and get practice, practice and practice some more.