You are starting a new adventure into the music world, so you want to get it right from the very beginning. This is where my 4 habits of a successful guitarist will kick start your fun and progress.
Habit #1 – Tune up First
Are you thinking that this is an obvious suggestion? It isn’t really. I know many guitarists who have not created the automatic action of picking their guitar up and tuning it. The first time, every time.
The main problem with this is that you will sound worse during your practice if you don’t tune up. Even worse, is that you will be concentrating so hard that you won’t realize that your audience wants to throw something at you for being out of tune.
Create New Habits
It really is a simple habit to develop. Tune up when you pick up your guitar and then check your tuning after about 5 songs or half an hour of practice.
The easiest way to remind you to do this is to buy a clip-on tuner and leave it clipped onto your guitar when it is on the guitar stand. Green is a good color for a tuner, so you notice it but any color will work to remind you it’s there.
You may wish to consider buying a tuner that has a built-in metronome as well ———- check them out below at this awesome music store.
Habit #2 – Start Your Practice with Something Easy
Why shouldn’t practice be fun? You need time to warm your hands up and get your head into gear. If you are very new to the guitar, just play around, strum, or pick some notes. Make something up. Relax your hands and get the feel of the guitar. This is a beautiful instrument to play, anyone can play guitar, strum the strings and enjoy the sounds. You will be doing ear training in a natural way.
If you have been playing for a short time and have learned a few chords to a song and feel good about playing them. Strum away and relax. I personally enjoy picking a song I have just worked out and have fun playing it for about 10 minutes. As I go through the chords a second time I hum along to get the timing down. Just cruising and having fun.
Choose One Skill to Practice at a Time
The next step is to choose one new skill you want to learn or practice today. It could be a new scale or some finger agility practice. A new chord or changing between two hard chords. Run through a few times. Then set your metronome at a nice easy tempo and work away at it for about 10 minutes.
Stop, relax, shake out your hands, re-tune, and get ready for the next step.
Habit #3 – Learn a song
Now, I am being obvious. But tip 3 is important because, unless you are planning to play in your room forever, at some point you will be playing for an audience. It could be just your mum, your husband or a friend.
You still want to shine, consequently, you need to pick a song, learn it ALL the way through to the end and then polish it, until it’s smooth.
Polish Your Song Everyday
Doing a little on that song every day will make the chords come easier, your melody line stronger and your timing steady. I know it may feel strange the first time you use a metronome but it’s just a fancy drumbeat. You can imagine you have a guitar teacher beating the time for you.
A method I use that has helped me to play lots of different tempos is playing along to the original song on YouTube. It makes your first efforts sound terrific and will inspire you to learn and grow. You may even find a singing voice in there.
Habit #4 – Plan Your Next Practise
Have you ever wondered why some guitarists seem to shoot ahead in their learning? While others never seem to get far over many years. I will tell you the secret. Planning!
It has become such a habit with me over the years, that I don’t really register that I do it now. But as I finish up my practice, I am already thinking about what I will work on tomorrow. I find it exciting to plan the next step.
What is Your Next Skill?
It may not be a big step. Perhaps, a new chord sequence. A new lead rift. Start learning a new song I’ve always wanted to play. See, if I can speed my finger exercises up by a few beats. Nothing huge or earth-shattering. Little steps that every day develop my skills. Until even I am surprised by how quickly I mastered a skill, I thought I would never be able to do it.
You have total control over where your playing will be in a month’s time or even a year. What path will you take to become a lead guitarist? A rhythm guitarist? A singer/guitarist? Set a goal and do a little research into the fastest way for you to reach that goal. If you need to do more lessons as all great guitarists do, check out my review for my personal guitar teacher Steve Krenz.
What Sort of Guitarist do You Want to Be?
If you want to be a lead guitarist, you will need to understand the Pentatonic scales and do agility patterns, to be able to have the dexterity to play rifts. Learning easy rifts that you like will begin your journey. But don’t shy away from learning about chord structures and keys.
Most lead guitarists spend 90% of their playing time backing with rhythm chords, so work with a metronome or beat machine to be able to hold a steady heartbeat all the way through a song. The Bass players and drums are the anchor guys (girls) for the whole band. Together they hold the beat so that the guitarists, keyboards, and singers can weave around them.
Singer/Guitarists are Special Performers
Singer/guitarists have to be good at two skills. So learn them separately at first. Practice playing the chords on the guitar, then hum the tune along with the chord changes. Meanwhile, sing around the house, and memorize the words, phrasing, and timing. Finally, combine the two skills. At first use one slow strum and sing. It’s a bit like learning to drive a manual car (for those of us who remember) it stops and starts until you can synchronize the two skills. Keep trying, it will come!
In bands, there is a bad habit of the guitarists looking down on the non-guitar-playing singers. Don’t! It takes great skill to play guitar, drums, bass, and keyboard. Being a great singer takes just as much training and skill. If that person can also play guitar at the same time, you should be inspired by them.
Be a Successful Guitarist in your lifetime
If you incorporate all 4 habits of a successful guitarist into your life and the pattern of how you regularly practice, you will get results. Take the time today to set up your playing space, with a chair, your guitar on a stand with a tuner clipped on, your computer, or music on a stand, and go for it. Just remember you don’t need to have the talent to play guitar, you just need a plan. If you are not sure, have a read all about it here. Do I need Musical talent to learn to Play Guitar?
I will be cheering you on and adding more information here to help you over the bumps and hollows of learning. Enjoy your journey and plan to succeed. Be the best guitarist of your dreams.
I hope you have enjoyed this training post and if you have any questions or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below.
8 thoughts on “4 Habits of a Successful Guitarist”
I remember that when I was little (kind of five years) my father had a guitar in the house, and in one evening he shortly showed me how to keep in the hands. Unfortunately I didn’t develop myself as a guitarist, but we know so well how beautiful it can be playing a guitar, and how many musicians perform it in their bands! You are giving good advice to people who want to create & improve their guitar skills. And each instrument has its well-established place and meaning within a band!
Have good luck with guitars and music!
That’s a lovely story. Thank you for your kind comments. Perhaps one day you will have another go. I love sharing my experience with other guitarists.
Hello Lily, thank you so much for sharing this post on the four habits of a successful guitarist.
If I don’t tune up, my audience will feel like something at me if I am sounding off 😆
I have gotten experience like that as an audience before, I felt like throwing something at the lead guitarist because he was enjoying playing Off.
These tips will go a long way in my journey to becoming a better guitarist.
Thanks for your fun comments. Yes, we all feel that way when the guitar player doesn’t realise that they are off key.
Sometimes they don’t care and the rest of the band have to wear it.
As a singer that I am, one of my dreams is to play the lead guitar while singing. Most of my self composed songs need this lead guitar to thrive. I am planning to start my guitar lessons anytime soon, so I found these tips useful.
Ps: I don’t want to play just locally, I want to play to the world at large. I want my music to go far and wide.
Best regards Lily!
Wow, that is an awesome goal. Wishing you all the best with your dreams.
Thank you Lily for your guidance in the 4 habits of a successful guitarist. Personally the instrument I first learned to play all the way back in grade school was the drums. Now later on in life I would like to learn a new instrument to play and the guitar is what I am getting ready to learn.
I have a friend who is a lead guitarist and singer in a rock and blues band. Though I do not want to be a singer I would like to learn to play guitar. These four habits you have provided her will help me greatly and give me more confidence in my playing abilities prior to me asking my friend for lessons.
I want to have some knowledge going into taking my first guitar lesson and something to rely on when I practice at home. My sister has an acoustic guitar she has hardly ever played that she is giving me. It has the 80/20 bronze strings. Should I restring the guitar and if yes, should I restring it with the same kind of strings?
What a great project to be starting, how exciting. That is very sweet of your sister to give you her guitar. I would suggest you restring it with the same strings or even get it done at a local music store. Buy yourself a clip on tuner.
I love rock and blues music, as I sing Jazz and Blues. You may want to google some You Tube lessons on playing the blues before you approach your friend. This will get you through the basics and feeling comfortable with holding the guitar. Please keep in mind that being an awesome singer and guitarist in a band, may not necessarily make someone a great teacher. It takes patience and the ability to slow down the basics.
My husband has just started learning to play Bass at 66 and as his teacher, I am learning that I need to keep it simple and fun. I am also getting him to find his own pdf on the net and encouraging him to watch a You Tube bass player. It all helps in learning anything new.
Have fun and thank you for your kind comments Robert