It’s really hard when you are at the beginning of something to imagine yourself not being a beginner and to comprehend how much you are going to learn. I distinctly remember sitting in the attic at my house trying to learn barre chords (!). At the time, I was looking at my bright pink pointer finger and was like I cannot imagine EVER getting these effing barre chords to not sound awful and muted ( we have all been here though right?). I think it’s really important to have people spurring you on and making sure you don’t lose hope in the beginning of your guitar journey because it’s a time that you don’t love the sound of yourself playing, but you don’t know how to sound better. It’s also a time of curiosity and also (typically) being kinder to yourself.
In this blog, I wanted to share with you what I wish I would have known/ thought of/ taken more seriously when I was first starting guitar so hopefully you can feel better about your improvement with guitar and stay inspired!
Tip #1: Be Positive About Your Progress
I put this at the very top of the list because I think it’s most important! I don’t love when I am looking for advice on something and it’s super vague like this… but really if you can make the thoughts in your head positive about your practice time and progress, it will make you want to spend more time with your guitar and therefore get better. One way I do this is if I’m frustrated or can’t get something down, I’ll go back to playing a song that’s just pure fun and makes me pumped (AKA classic rock for me!). Also, not reviewing my progress too much and focusing more on creativity, rather than specific accomplishments. When I compare myself to other people’s progress, I tend to get more in my head about things, If this is a problem for you (I learned this technique lately) try working backward and thinking about everything that person has given up, and every detail that got them where they are. It’s easy to think that other guitar players might have a talent/magic dust that you don’t have, and then you don’t take into consideration the time you aren’t seeing that they put into practice. Working through exactly what they had to do to get there makes things feel more logical, and can help you be motivated that if you take those steps, you can get there too!
Tip #2: Sign Up For Group Lessons
A lot of people say they don’t prefer group lesson and I have no clue why! They are the perfect test band scenario to get you out of the house and playing with other people. You can mess up and not feel like you are throwing off a band, and learn tips from peers who are more on your level or maybe just a step ahead. Also, helping other people might help the knowledge/ concepts sink in better for you.
Tip #3: Work On Your Bends
Bends took me a second. For them to sound good, you really have to get them up to an exact note. If you know all the theory in the world but have sloppy bends, it’s really going to mess up the emotion of your playing. Practice playing up to an exact note, and getting that muscle memory strong right off the bat!
Tip #4: Don’t Get overly Focused On Theory and “Rules”
It’s easy to think if only you knew more scales, then you would be better at guitar, but you can do SO much without knowing everything. So many great songs and licks are simple but hold a lot of emotion, have cool timing, or maybe use an interesting or creative technique. Obviously, theory is great and can be super helpful, but in the beginning as a guitarist, it may be more beneficial to practice having flow in the notes you are comfortable with.
Tip #5: Pay Attention to Your Technique
As a beginner guitarist, you are in luck because you can start your technique off strong and it sets you up for the rest of your guitar career! Try to get your fingers bubbled around the fretboard, have clean right-hand technique, and have good timing!
Tip #6: Learn About Tone
I never thought tone was THAT important until I started playing out more. Your tone can really set the whole vibe of your guitar playing and determine who exact you get a part of a certain song. You can play really simple chords and licks and if you have awesome tone, they will sound great! Tone is something that is difficult for me because everything can sound different with one small change. If you are not a “gear nerd,” get someone you trust to help you set up your pedal board/ choose your gear.
If this article was for you, I hope you embrace the excitement of learning something totally new, and that you also learn more about yourself and what inspires you!