NINE TIPS FOR JUMP STARTING YOUR PLAYING
- Choose a guitar that you want to play
- Set up your guitar space for easy access
- Clip a tuner to your guitar
- Have your computer and printouts close
- Plan ahead what you want to practice
- Choose a song
- Bookmark the YouTube of the original
- Draw out new chords
- Find Tabs for fills and lead rifts
I know this sounds obvious but you need to want to play the guitar you have sitting looking at you every day. I’ve been playing for over 40 years professionally and although I own 4 guitars, I still tend to play the 2 I enjoy the most.
One is a Cordoba Nylon string, which I use for fingerpicking ballads and classical pieces and the other is a Classic Ovation round back steel string that is always sweet and in tune. I use this guitar on stage and in jams with friends around the fire.
If your guitar is sitting in the wardrobe and half-hidden you need to bring it out in the light where it will call you every day.
- Consider what type of music you want to play and match a guitar to that style.
- If you want to be a rock god then you will need a small amp and a solid body electric guitar (make sure the action is low and the strings are low gauge.)
- Perhaps you have a great voice and you just want to be able to play some chords and sing along? Then a nice steel-string guitar that sounds great with chords will have you wanting to play.
- Do you dream of playing Jazz or classical, even some fancy fingerpicking, then a nice classical or Spanish guitar will give you those sweet mellow tones (nylon strings are also more gentle on your fingers.)
Finding the right guitar for you that fills you with excitement and makes you itch to get started is a must. Take the time to choose a guitar that you are going to be excited to play for years.
2. Set up your guitar space for easy access
We can’t all have our own music room but find a space that you can feel comfortable in and where you can leave your guitar on a stand with your music and bits. It’s important that you don’t have to get your guitar out each time and find your music.
You will need;
- Guitar Stand
- Music stand and/or table to put your computer on too.
- A comfortable armless chair or stool (try not to sit on the bed if possible, it’s not very good for your back and hands)
- Tuner for your guitar
- Picks (or thumb pick)
- A guitar strap for electric guitars if you are standing (usually not necessary if you are sitting down with an acoustic, but up to you)
Fiddle with this setup until you have it comfortable and inviting, this will help you to play for at least 20 minutes a day. Don’t try and do a marathon of playing. A little each day will toughen up your fingers without too much pain and keep it fresh and fun.
Always start your practice with something you are itching to learn. Perhaps a new chord or song and plan what you will practice in your next session. This will keep you coming back.
Once you have started and warmed up. Spend a few minutes practicing something a little hard, then go back to easy. Then practice a new skill. Then back to something easy. Review what you played the day before. Don’t be tough on yourself, just note the small improvements along the way.
3. Clip a tuner to your guitar
Clip a small tuner to the head of your guitar and leave it there, it won’t come off when you put your guitar on the guitar stand. All professional guitarists tune up several times when they are playing. If you are sitting down playing and your guitar is on your lap than the wood will warm up and this changes the tuning.
It is considered unprofessional to play with your guitar out of tune. So, practice tuning up quickly and efficiently. Other musicians will stop and go quiet for you to tune up (make sure you return the courtesy when they tune-up.)
Amateurs make a habit of playing with a string out of tune, it’s very annoying and you won’t be invited to play again (well not with professionals anyway.)
When you are jamming with other musicians always keep an ear on your guitar so that you can quickly retune.
4. Have your computer and printouts close to your guitar
There are few things more frustrating than having to go searching for your practice material or computer when you are ready to play for a few minutes.
Next, you need to get your head in the right space for practicing.
- This is your time for fun
- It’s not meant to be hard work, plan progressive learning steps, you are in control
- Start with something easy, go hard, then easy before you stop
- Find a YouTube of the song you want to play, google the chords, and play along. You can jam with others at any time of the day or night! Print off the words and chords and put them in a book for easy reference.
- Learn one whole song at a time
- Learn a little theory as you go along
- Stretch a little each session
- Find a guitar course to inspire you. I’ve reviewed several on my website so shop around at aussiemuso.com
5. Plan ahead what you want to practice
This is the secret to staying motivated while learning or developing your guitar playing. No matter how long or short you have been playing we all stop when we are not looking forward to our practice.
Sometimes you need to choose a particular song that you really want to play (start simple and build up to harder songs.)
Or maybe you just love a lead rift and that is why you started playing. So, find a Tab or video on it and learn a little each day.
6. Choose a song
Why is this so crucial? Think back to why you decided to learn guitar, was it because you saw someone playing or heard a song you wanted to play? Maybe it was to impress the girls or your friends?
In every instance or the desire coming to us to learn to play it is because songs were involved. Fortunately, there are thousands of songs to choose from in every genre.
You can even join an online learning course that provides you with popular songs broken down in learning steps. Guitar Tricks and Learn and Master Guitar courses provide you with videos that you can work through for a small price.
7. Bookmark the YouTube of the Original song
This is a trick that most professional guitarists I know use every day. If you are going to get really good as a guitarist you will need to learn some very important playing techniques. And the easiest way to learn them all at once is by playing along with the original song.
- Melody or lead
- Rhythm and Timing
Finding the chords to a recording can be a little tricky at first but if you google the chords, usually they are in the original key.
If you feel that they sound wrong when you play along try moving your capo up the guitar neck and usually you can find the right key. Failing that, it is possible that the tuning was changed during recording. If the track was slowed down in the studio recording it can alter the key.
Tips for learning a new song;
- Learn the chords first, hum along it helps
- Learn the lyrics separate (sing in the car)
- Practice the connecting runs between the chords
- Google a backing track and practice your lead or play lead along to the YouTube original
- Now start adding them together!
8. Draw out new chords
One of the techniques I use every day is to draw out my own boxes of chords. Especially as I am learning new jazz and color chords. This was I have a quick and easy reference when I am playing a new song. Also, the actual act of drawing the chord out helps it to stick in your mind.
Here is a pdf of chord boxes that I use that you can print it out and start your own library of chords.
Clip them all together and print more sheets off as you grow. What I do is use a row of boxes or more for a song and write in the song title so it is easy to access the chords for a particular song quickly.
9. Find Tabs for Fills and lead Rifts
This is something I wish I had done very early in my guitar playing but 40 years ago there wasn’t as much available on the internet. It is exciting that you can google most of the known lead rifts in tablature these days.
If you don’t know what tablature or Tabs means, it is a way of showing which fret on the guitar neck that you would play a note for a lead or fill. Below are some classic examples from Cat Steven’s Wild World;
The E string closest to the top is the highest sounding string, you are only playing notes on the D string. The 3 is the 3rd Fret on the guitar, the 2 is the 2nd Fret and 0 is an open string. Try it!
The next rift from Wild World is a little harder but it is worth training your fingers to put these runs from one chord to the next as it will make you sound fantastic!
In this part of the song, you will be going from an F chord to a G chord. These are what are known as Transition rifts.
Now, this rift is a little harder, 1 is the 1st Fret on the B string, same string play Open. Next, play the 2 or 2nd Fret on the G string, then the same string play it Open. Then on the D string 3 or 3rd Fret, 2nd Fret, and Open. Play 3 or 3rd Fret on the A string and finish with the top E string on the 3rd Fret (you can use the whole G chord and pick the top string only as this is the next chord in the song. Head over to my website if you want the Words and Lyrics sheets to learn from and download for your folder.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these tips to really jump-start your playing. Whether you are a beginner or just trying to restart your practice, it never hurts to remind yourself that preparing to play is just as important as actually doing the practice.
What you will find is that creating a happy space with all the tools to practice at your fingertips and being organized with your song folder and chord boxes, it will be so much more fun and a whole lot less frustrating.
I’m happy to advise you or encourage you as you grow. So be in touch and I’ll see you soon.
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More training coming for Free
I have created many posts on my website that will be coming to you soon to help you progress in your journey to becoming an awesome guitarist as you have always dreamed of.
Wishing you fun and joy with your musical journey.