Like anything worth doing, learning to play guitar takes time.
Whether you’re in guitar lessons or learning on your own, there is no such thing as a shortcut.
But this should be seen as good news!
Playing guitar is a lot of fun even at the beginning stages. If you enjoy the process, there is no need to try to speed things up.
That being said, it can be tempting to look around and decide that you are somehow behind.
Whether you’re looking at friends who have been playing longer than you, or watching the 9 year old shredding the blues on youtube, there is always something out there to make us want to take our playing further.
One mistake I see is when people try to “catch up” by working on several things at once and trying to multitask in their guitar practice.
The idea that you can just do more and speed up your progress is tempting to buy into - but unless you have several hours a day to practice (and the attention span/stamina to match), it just doesn’t work out that way.
The best way for you to make progress in your guitar playing is to be patient, and work on one thing at a time.
Consistent practice (picking up the guitar most days) is your fastest path to improving your guitar playing.
While this may sound like a no-brainer, many guitar players and students I come across don’t follow this simple idea.
It’s easy to let life get in the way, especially when you have a busy schedule and don’t feel like you have time to practice.
When you let too many days go by between practice sessions, you’ll start to get rusty - even if you practice for long sessions on days that you do play your guitar.
This is typical even with more serious students at the college level.
They will tend to practice a lot just before an impending deadline - whether it’s a lesson day, or a performance - and then put the guitar down for a couple of days until the next deadline pops up.
With a little effort you can build a habit of playing your guitar on more days than you don’t - and keep your guitar skills moving in the right direction.
The more often you pick up your guitar to practice, the faster you’ll improve (and it will be much less stressful to get ready for your big performances)!
The whole reason we learn scales and patterns is that they are used in songs and riffs that we hear every day.
By learning your scales and being able to use them musically, you can make it easier for you to learn riffs or melodies that you want to learn.
Let’s look at the riff from Born Of A Broken Man by Rage Against The Machine:
This is an important scale pattern for improvising and playing melodies to jazz standards.
Many melodies use the major scale in some way shape or form as a foundation.
While melodies will likely have notes that don’t fit this pattern exactly, it can serve as a template to keep yourself organized when you play.
Listening to great guitarists is an essential part of learning to play guitar. Hearing great players will give you ideas, inspiration, and help you develop your own unique sound.
Below you'll find a list of some of my favorite guitar players in a variety of styles, with links to recordings of their playing. This list will get updated regularly, so check back often.
If there's a guitarist that isn't on this list that you think should be or any of the links don't work for you, contact me and let me know!
When it comes to playing guitar, you are what you listen to. So keep listening to great guitar players of any style you like.
Keep checking back to see what's new on the list, and feel free to contact me to let me know what you're listening to!
Learning the notes on the guitar neck is an important part of learning guitar, but is often overlooked in guitar lessons.
This lesson is the second part in a series about learning the notes on the guitar neck.
If you haven’t gone through the lesson on natural notes, click here.
Learning the natural and sharp notes on the fretboard will help prepare you for more advanced guitar playing skills like movable chord and fill in some of the gaps in your fretboard knowledge.
There is a simple process you can use that will help you learn all of the natural and sharp note names on every string, and it only takes a few minutes a day to master.
In this lesson you will learn:
Pentatonic scales are an essential skill for any guitar player.
They are almost always a good first bet when playing a guitar solo, and are an essential building block for becoming a complete guitar player.
This is the second part in a series of lessons on the major and minor pentatonic scales for guitar.
If you haven’t caught the lesson on 6th string pentatonic scales yet, click here.
Once you’re comfortable using your major and minor Pentatonic scales starting on the 6th string, it’s a good idea to learn a new scale pattern.
Learning the pentatonic scales on the 5th string will give you new options for playing in different keys, and because the finger pattern is different these new scale shapes will help you develop new musical ideas.
Have you ever wondered how guitar players come up with interesting guitar parts to songs like House Of The Rising Sun, Hotel California, or Stairway To Heaven?
Some of the most iconic guitar parts you can think of are created by using a technique called arpeggios.
While some of these parts can sound tricky and complicated, it’s actually a pretty simple technique to get started with.
Arpeggios are an important technique for guitar players in just about any musical style you can imagine.
They provide a different texture for your chords than strumming does, and can be a helpful songwriting tool.
Arpeggios are used throughout all styles of music, and in many cases they make up some of the most memorable guitar parts to songs you like.
Luckily, arpeggios for guitar can be as simple as learning a picking pattern to play while holding down a chord.
Learning your arpeggio patterns will give you more options to play with as you improve your skills, and make your picking technique better at the same time
In this lesson you will learn the basic 4 string arpeggio picking patterns, and how to apply them to basic open guitar chords.
By the end of this lesson you’ll have the tools you need to play simple arpeggio picking patterns over chord progressions, and apply them to some of your favorite songs as well.
Imagine being able to play a great sounding solo next time you’re jamming with another guitar player, or playing along with a backing track.
Believe it or not, you don’t need to study advanced improvisation techniques to get going.
You just need to learn one or two simple scales, and you’re ready to get started!
For a guitar player, pentatonic scales are an important tool you need to have at your disposal.
In almost any style of music you want to play, major and minor pentatonic scales are going to be your go-to scale pattern for improvisation and playing guitar solos.
Learning your major and minor pentatonic scales will give you the tools necessary to improvise in both major and minor keys with confidence - whether you are jamming with your friends or taking a solo in jazz band.
A solid foundation with your major and minor pentatonic scales will also make it easier for you to learn other scale forms later on - like major and natural minor scales.
In this lesson you will learn how to play the major and minor pentatonic scales starting on the 6th string. We will look at suggested finger patterns and learn the scale tone numbers for both of these scales.
You will also start to see how you can move these scale patterns around the neck, so you can improvise in any major or minor key with confidence.
Reading music is an essential skill for guitar players, and would be something that gets covered in your guitar lessons.
There are 3 types of music reading that all guitar players should be aware of:
In this lesson, we are going to focus on reading TAB, or tablature. Reading TAB is a skill that will help you start to learn songs, riffs, and other material that is written down
Tab shows you the strings on the guitar, and uses numbers to tell you what fret to put your fingers on.
It’s kind of like a coordinate system - you find the right string or line, and then you find the right fret or number - then you’ll have the right note!
It is important for you to learn how to read TAB because most guitar resources today incorporate it into the way they present musical ideas, whether they are showing chords, single notes, or arpeggios.
Depending on how serious you are about learning music, TAB might be the only music reading skill you need.
If you are looking into learning to play guitar as a hobby, TAB is a perfect way to get started.
If you are looking into a degree or a career in music, TAB is still a great way to start out - you’ll just want to transition into reading standard musical notation as well.
In this lesson, you will learn the basics of how to read TAB for guitar, and get a basic understanding of how it will help you learn to play songs on your guitar.