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Blog overview

Effective guitar practice tips

Team Soundbrenner, in Music insights
Jan 10, 2022 | 4 min read

Effective guitar practice is very important if you are determined to become a better guitarist. If you find yourself spending hours every day playing the guitar, but are still stuck at the same level, you might begin to wonder why that’s happening.

This is mainly because you keep playing the same guitar pieces that you’re already familiar with. When you are not learning anything new from that repeated routine, it doesn’t count as effective guitar practice.

What we consider as effective guitar practice:

  • learn new techniques and improve your skill
  • study new songs and explore new ideas
  • work on your mistakes
  • improve your guitar knowledge and theory

In this post, we’ve included some important tips to help you figure out the most effective ways of practicing guitar.

Set a guitar practice goal

For effective guitar practice, first, you need to set a clear goal of where you want to see yourself after practice. Then, break down your long-term goal into smaller milestones.

Credit: Justin Guitar

An example of a practice goal

For example, if you want to learn a new technique like alternate picking, focus your entire practice session to learn it first. Here is how you can start practicing alternate picking.

  • The picking angle plays an important role to play the alternate picking. Try to hold the pick at an angle rather than flat or parallel to the strings. You should hit the string with the pick’s edge rather than the flat side. In this way, the guitar pick will glide much more easily across the string.
  • Finding the right picking angle is something that you will build up intuitively with practice. The best way to find out the right angle is to practice alternate picking with the pick parallel to the strings and also picking with the pick angled to the strings. Eventually, you will find out which angle gives the best sound.
  • Once you get the angle right you are ready to embrace the secret of learning alternate picking. The secret is: don’t focus on picking the string up and down. Instead, think of it as an in and out motion. First, the pick goes towards the guitar & second the pick goes away from the guitar.

Here’s a video lesson by Marty Music that we recommend.

Credit: Marty Music

If you really focused on this, I am quite certain that you will understand the mechanism of alternate picking within half an hour. But there is a difference between knowing how to play it and applying it with the right speed and momentum to create the expected tone.

That’s where the tedious hours of practice come to play. If you practice alternate picking one hour per day for a week, you will definitely notice an improvement. However, there is no exact timeline of how long you should practice. Here, you need to be your own teacher and decide if it is good enough or do you need to practice more.

Give credit to yourself when you successfully complete your goal. Then set a new objective. In any case, if you miss your goal before the expected time, don’t be upset. Figure out what the problem is and set a new goal.

Be patient about precision

Patience is a great and important virtue for learning musical instruments. To become a better guitarist you need to learn a variety of fretting hand shapes and picking hand techniques. At first glance, those might seem difficult and boring.

Credit: Dawsons Music

Think back to the first chord that you learned to play. It probably wasn’t easy to deal with the finger strength and flexibility required to play it properly. But with practice, you eventually learned those basics.

In the first few weeks of learning guitar, you probably have learned many things. But as you move forward, you begin to focus on more advanced techniques, and realize those are not as easy as before.

For example, if you want to learn sweep picking, it could take more than a month of regular practice to apply this single technique properly.

Also, it’s important to know the precise method of practicing any technique, as practicing with precision will always keep you on the right track.

Practice slow

Making a habit of slow practice is actually the best way to ensure the best progress. This is because it gives you time to think and move your fingers in a certain position to grab the right notes and shapes. It is important to maintain the right rhythm and timing while you are playing anything on guitar.

Credit: David Wallimann

Use a metronome and set it to a low bpm like 60 to start learning anything new. Once you are comfortable enough to play at the 60 BPM push yourself to a higher BPM level. In this way, gradually speed up with the right rhythm and technique.

You need to be completely focused during the practice session. It is completely normal to ring some wrong notes or miss the timing while you are practicing something new. But if those mistakes happen repeatedly, that might mean you are not focusing well enough, and now you’ll know what you need to work on.

Practice songs and techniques that you love

guitar practice

Practicing your favorite songs and techniques will always keep you motivated to practice more. Try to challenge yourself with a piece of difficult music. If the song you want to learn seems very difficult to start, then focus on the techniques required to play it. Work on the individual techniques separately.

To get the maximum benefit, work on one technique at a time.

Learn music theory

Learning music theory can open the doors to a world of beautiful music playing abilities for you! For example, have a look at the image above. It shows the E major triad notes throughout the different fret positions. As the name suggests, the major triads consist of three notes from the major scale. They are:

  • The root note
  • The 3rd note &
  • The 5th note. 

The notes of E major scale are-

  1. E (lower octave) 
  2. F#
  3. G#
  4. A
  5. B
  6. C#
  7. D#
  8. E (higher octave)

So by the major triad rules the notes of E major triads are:

  • The root note, E
  • The 3rd note, G#
  • The 5th note, B

These three notes are common in every shape of the E major chords you have, and major triads are the building block of major chords.

If you understand the guitar tuning mechanism you can find out the major triads in different fret positions by yourself. This is actually a great opportunity to play the guitar by exploring throughout the fretboard, instead of playing on a fixed fret position.

Keep a separate plan for studying music theory. We say that because understanding music theory will definitely help you to practice guitar more effectively.

Practice guitar without a guitar!

This might seem strange, but it actually comes in handy if you take a week off from playing the guitar once every couple of months. This timeout actually gives your brain rest and time to digest what you have learned earlier. After the break, you will notice that you can actually play better than before.

During this timeout, enjoy yourself, listen to good music, and explore new ideas.

For more practice tips, take a look at our post on practice habits every musician should develop!

Got a question about Soundbrenner wearables? Reach out to us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!

This article is written by Arifur Rahman, a student of Physics, studying at Shahjalal University of Science & technology. Arifur has been practicing music for ten years now, and is working as a guitarist & music composer. Learn more about Arifur on his website.

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