OK so we all get in a slump and may often feel discouraged when we are learning something new especially if we want to accelerate at playing the guitar. I love playing guitar and have been doing it for over 35 years but I sometimes lose steam and feel as though I am playing the same 3 chords over and over again.
I have found many ways to keep myself inspired and keep the desire to become a well rounded guitarist. Always remember that trying anything new can be a very humbling experience so not every piece of advice in this article will be for you. If you are getting discouraged from learning how to play guitar try ONE or several of these motivators.
1. Learn a new song
Tablature and lead sheets are everywhere on the internet. Its easy to read, easy to obtain and you can probably find one of your favorite songs that you already know all the words to. You can play a lot of songs with just three or four chords.
There are other ways of learning new songs on the guitar and several of them are listed in this post. Learn form a friend, take lessons or downloading accurate sheet music are probably some of the typical ways to learn a new song.
2. Buy a new guitar
This does not need to be a big investment. If you are primarily playing an acoustic, shop around for a reasonably priced electric or vice versa. You will notice a difference in your abilities or desires between the two. Upgrade to a nicer, newer instrument. There are a lot of fine quality instruments available at a low cost. I love my Jasmine C Series steel string acoustic. Get one here from Amazon.
3. Play with other guitarists
You can learn a lot by playing with someone even if they are on the same level as you and especially if the have several more lessons under their belt. I have learned a lot from playing a few songs with friends and exchanging techniques or teaching each other.
4. Jam with other musicians
Bass and drums go great with guitar! Find some friends who listen to the same style of music that you do and create music. A couple chords with a steady beat sounds like music to me. Nothing has to be refined as long as you and your fellow musicians are having fun and it motivates you to keep playing.
5. Make audio recordings
Recording yourself making music can be a telling tale of your playing abilities. It’s a lot like playing in front of an audience and will force perfection out of your playing. You don’t need top quality recording equipment either but take a few minutes to eliminate back ground noise. There are a lot of simple apps available on your phone that you can download for free and start recording in minutes.
6. Write songs
I can write a song with 2 chords. Don’t let your novice guitar playing get in the way of some awesome song writing abilities that you may have. Make sure you notate everything, lyrics and chords at the very least. Learning someone else’s music can be difficult sometimes but writing your own can make your playing unique.
7. Record videos
This takes a little more refinement that just an audio recording but is a great way to review your posture and position of your hands. So what if you only know 3 or 4 chords that’s, more than the person that has just picked up the guitar.
8. Post videos on Youtube
This is a combination of recording and teaching as each will encourage you to practice perfection. Have an established agenda when posting your videos. Maybe it is a great idea to track your progress through a school that you are learning from. Don’t expect results right away and have a regimented posting schedule with valuable information.
9. Teach other guitarists
Share what you know with other guitar players. It is a great way to validate what you already know, and they will certainly appreciate a free lesson. There is plenty that can be shared or taught such as scales, chords, melodies, and songs.
10. Buy new accessories
Purchasing anything new can be great encouragement towards whatever it is you are learning. New guitar accessories can be something as simple as a comfortable guitar strap, a set of picks, a capo or a slide. Using a slide or a capo will encourage learning and listening to new styles of music and incorporating that into your playing as well.
11. Try out instruments at the music store
I love the Guitar Center for letting me play everything. I have sold guitars to that store (in regret) but I have never bought one from there. Plug in to a killer amp and play your favorite licks or ask to play a top of the line Fender Stratocaster. Its OK to dream and don’t worry about who is around you listening.
12. Play the bass
But I don’t want to play the bass I want to play guitar. The bass is just a big ol’ fat guitar anyway. Believe it or not you will be able to play some of the same scales and riffs on bass as you do guitar. Don’t get me wrong this is an entirely different instrument from the guitar, but how encouraging would it be that you can play 2 instruments!
13. Listen to great guitarists
Listening to great guitar players like Jimmy Page, David Gilmore and Eddie Van Halen will certainly inspire you to learn their riffs, tricks and techniques. There has got to be a thousand professional level guitar players to get inspiration from.
Try listening to guitarists who play a different style of music that you are not accustomed to. If you are a guitar lover like me than anyone who has mastered the instrument will inspire you, no matter what style they are playing.
14. Download recording software
Free recording software is available everywhere and it can be very enjoyable to record your own songs. Apps like GarageBand allow you to add vocals, drums and effects to your guitar playing and help create songs. A simple riff or chord progression can be looped so you can use a couple chords to create some unique recordings.
I remember making $5 outside of McDonald’s on Salina st in Syracuse NY as I was waiting for my friend. I pulled out my guitar to occupy my time as I was waiting. To my amazement people started throwing me money. Everyone loves live music!
Put together a few songs and play at your local coffee house. This will help you refine your skills and will really present your abilities. One hour of music can be worth a lot when you are performing in front of a live audience.
16. Learn new chords and scales
You know them ALL!…impossible. You may have to explore different styles to find new chords. I like to make up my own chord patterns and figure out what they are. Start with the major, minor, and seventh chords and work your way up to diminished, suspended and augmented chords.
Practice scales in different positions up and down the neck of the guitar. Explore major, minor, pentatonic, Mixolydian, Phrygian and you will cover every note on the neck of the guitar.
17. Buy a pick up and amp for your acoustic
I love the natural sound of an acoustic guitar but running it through an amplifier and effects unit can shine new light on your desire to continue playing. Delay and reverb can thicken up a natural acoustic sound but don’t use too many effects…it will cause your guitar to sound unnatural.
18. Visit a web site
There are many web site out there (like this one) that really encourage learning new scales, chords and theory. There are also individual sites featuring lesser known but very accomplished musicians. Try a Google search for guitarists.
19. Buy an effects rack or pedal
These units are fun! You can get a simple rack effects unit for a couple hundred dollars. The sound capabilities are endless, and it will make your guitar sound like a completely different instrument. Effects pedals are just as great at expanding your playing capabilities. I have always liked a classic delay pedal.
Zoom makes a multi effects pedal with over 100 effects in a single pedal! The MS 50G MultiStomp by Zoom puts your favorite delay or reverb right under your foot…literally. When I began playing this took 12 different pedals. Check the latest bundle pricing here at Amazon that includes cables, an adapter and guitar picks.
20. Experiment with different tunings
Drop D tuning is one of the easiest alternate tunings for the guitar. Tune the low E and high E strings down a whole step to D. This tuning allows for a lot of open string playing and gives the guitar a rich, thick textured sound.
21. Buy new strings
Don’t buy the usual strings that you always purchase. Upgrade and get a set either a little thinner or thicker. Try some Ernie Ball Super Slinky or some D’Addario. I have always loved the super light XT from D’Addario…get em here at Amazon!
22. Take some lessons
A good teacher can show you several chords, riffs and songs in just a few minutes. Learning something new is one of the most encouraging ways to continue learning the instrument. Find a teacher that you can sit down with, not Youtube or Facetime.
23. Join a band
Get a repertoire of about 10 – 12 songs learned that you can play from memory. Usually you will want these songs in the same genre and style as the others, assuming the band your auditioning for plays the same style of music.
Ask the band you are auditioning for if they have a list of songs that they play regularly. Pick a few and learn them as quickly as possible.
24. Learn music theory
Almost all music theory can be learned on the neck of the guitar. It helps you understand the instrument and gives you a broader understanding of all music. Theory can introduce the way chords and scales are built and will present an understanding of chord progressions.
25. Learn to read sheet music
Learning to read music is a huge step is performing, learning and teaching the guitar. It is as easy as reading tablature and will broaden your abilities to become a well rounded guitarist. Start here from my lessons page! It’s easier than you think.
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