Here are the seven steps to becoming a highly effective guitar player:
1. Enjoy the guitar you play. Picking an instrument that fits you physically and has a sound you like is an important aspect of becoming a highly effective guitar player. Lets be realistic about this. Regardless of what activity you may be performing, such as driving a car, if you enjoy a fast sporty car, than you probably won’t have much fun driving your dad’s old super long Buick wagon. Point in mind is that we have to enjoy our guitars feel, it is also a mental/ego issue too. Driving the sporty car is an ego trip and empowers us to be a better driver (better, not reckless), therefore enjoying the drive more and being more aware of using your best skills. A guitar that suits you well brings out more emotive feelings and adds creativity and promotes success with a good feeling and brilliant sound.
If you play guitar for beginners, perhaps, one would do well by getting in a car they enjoy driving and going to the nearest Guitar Center. As you sift through the plethora of guitars, be aware of the way it feels, how heavy it may be and all things in general such as: how well do the controls work and more important, are they easy for you to use. Does the curvature of the guitars body suit you. If you are a small person a don’t mistake a guitar for beginners only for a smaller top quality guitar such as Baby Taylor it is a great value, or simply examine the ever growing lines of well expressed instruments that are smaller than full sized guitars, available in every type color shape and vibe that a person desires. Beware, you may spend an unusual amount of time at the guitar store. it may be wise to think about it for a day and return to make sure, or enjoy playing more guitars.
2. Not to include recommending that you take your guitar to a competent luthier or guitar maker and have a perfect set up performed properly would be a disservice to you. It is not even imaginable to the novice guitar player how much better your axe will play after it is adjusted properly. The icing on the cake is that a set up is affordable, generally about 55 to 75 dollars. Change the strings regularly. How often do strings need changing? Well, if you only play your guitar two or three of times a month then you will probably get away with perhaps 3 or 4 sets of strings per year. But if you play in a band or put in 1 hour or more per day of practice time then once a week is probably adequate. Experience, and a large body of evidence suggests most strings lose their brightness in 1 hour or less. On another note (pun) some players like older strings and the sounds they produce. You have to be the judge.
3. Play your lesson. Yes, I know sometimes it gets repetitive and boring. I’m not suggesting that one should stay away from experimenting with other techniques such as right hand tapping techniques, that does not mean that you should try to use it at every opportunity either. Instead, concentrate on your discipline and what feels and sounds natural for the piece you are working on. Possibly it is not as self self gratifying to play ten notes slowly where you could have squeezed in fifty, but it can often be far more effective to learn to play slow and play the right notes. Once you complete your lesson and feel good about your practice, go have a riot with techniques.
Most cases of technique sampling leave the sampler in awe, this is a common ocurance and should not deter you. The fact is the bulk of lessons in Guitar World and Guitar Player magazines are really for intermediate and advanced players. Realistically speaking, some essential scales basic knowledge and a simple hip job in chords and their usage is important before you can tackle those lessons and songs. Simply put, if your teacher is not teaching you these essential scales and chords, find a new teacher.
4. Practice with focus. Set up a logical and effective practice schedule? Your guitar practice session should include practicing techniques, slow playing, fast playing, rhythmic playing, scales and chords. By playing what you enjoy only during solo practice sessions instead of the lesson, does not always perfect the proper technique. That is why we practice adnauseam, what our teachers assignment is until your/our old lady or mom screams “can’t you play anything else?” You can’t cheat on practice time, it is a law of mother nature. Some things you can’t cram for! You are not in a race anyway. The greatest masters at any type of discipline practice more than the lesser folks.
5. Get involved in jamming, play with other players, don’t hog the show. Never turn your amp up to max and expect the rest of the band to join you. Not only is it a quick way to get tinnitus and early deafness, but it can also get you replaced by a more team/band oriented guitarist. An effective guitar player will be listening to the whole band, not just him/herself, and if the guitar sounds too loud the effective guitar player will turn the volume down to a level that matches the rest of the band!
6. Be original. Do not only copy your guitar influences. Of course it is natural and essential to actively incorporate the chops of your favorite players, such as blends licks and vibes into your own sound. It gets easier as you grow and learn. Even though most of us strive to play like their favorite players in the early stages, we all tend to develop our own subtle styles over the years. It actually becomes more fun to play, the longer you play and develop more skill.
7. Keep an open mind and ear to your equipment. Buy related products that suit your tastes. For instance, if you play electric guitar, the choice of an amp is important, since amps have a personality too. All of the best guitar players spend a lifetime developing their vibe using different effects gear and ways of altering sounds. Most beginners don’t need the extra complication of learning how to use effects and other equipment, but as you grow, listening and getting familiar with the way your favorite sounds are manipulated is an important step to take. Again, take your time, you are not in a race. You will know when the time comes!
Not to beat a dead horse, without the commitment and deep focus, no teacher, 2 week course or any known method of teaching can be substituted for the time invested, and devotion it takes to play a simple 3 chord song or Jimi Hendrx. And, boy are there a lot of teaching methods, including online lessons that are very well structured.
Some points of interest and simple logical advise in regard to your guitarists health issues are talked about in detail here, including an article on preventing sore wrists and elbows. Health issues are not well taken by many guitar players, especially in bands. The conditions most bands play in are not good, especially if smoky bars are a venue you play. More than that, a lot of musicians don’t have health insurance. which is understandable with it’s current costs. Don’t be like the great genius Frank Zappa, who died of the silent killer, prostate cancer, getting a physical exam and making health issues important can prevent emergencies. To put it in better terms, if you have a tooth ache, it is far easier to attend to it now, instead of suffering for a week or two and then having it pulled. If you get your teeth cleaned, which is important, than perhaps you prevent an emergency, like an extraction.
Make the most important things important. Take care of them, prevent an emergency by dong just that, make prevention important. Avoid emergencies. Apply it to your life in general, it really makes a difference.
That being said, Guitar Players Center provided this post with the idea that you can’t fool yourself or anyone else if you don’t follow basic, realistic and effective methods to your practice time. Please leave a comment, or just as good, experiment with the Share It features and share this with more guitar players. Enjoy.