The 20 Minute Guitar Practice Routine for Beginners

guitar practice routine for beginners

Practice makes perfect.

As a beginner guitarist, I’m sure you’ve heard that over and over again.

And it’s true:

Practicing really is the key to becoming a better, more advanced guitarist.

But what exactly should you be practicing?

There are hundreds of musical concepts a beginner guitarist needs to understand, and finding the right place to start can be overwhelming.

But not anymore:

I’m going to share my very own 20 minute practice guitar routine for beginners.

The only thing you have to do is grab your guitar, follow along, and get practicing.

Plus, I’ll also share some awesome guitar practice software that can help you take your playing to the next level once you’ve grasped these basics.

Exclusive Bonus: Click here to download The Insider's Guide to Online Lessons, which is a 71 page PDF that outlines the best ways to learn guitar this year.

Before You Start:

Before you jump into our lesson, here are 2 important tips to keep in mind:

First of all, remember to set clear goals on what you expect to get from your practice routine.

This provides a lot of clarity on where you expect to be as a player and the steps you can take to get there.

These goals can be short-term and focus on the specific outcome you expect to get out from a particular session.

Before starting your first 20 minute lesson, for example, you might set the following goals:

They can also be more long-term and hone in on larger concepts of where you expect to be as a player in a month, 2 months, or even 6 months time.

The specifics of the goals you choose to focus on are completely up to you. Just remember to set these goals consistently so you know what you’re working towards.

Next, remember to build a weekly practice routine.

A good way to do this is to make a practice timetable at the beginning of each week.

Start by filling in your regular commitments and see where you can slot in the 20 minutes sessions explored at the end of this article.

Also, try to use scheduling apps or setting reminders on your phone to remind you to plan out your schedule each week as well as when individual lessons take place.

We’ve taken the liberty of preparing a simple 7-day practice schedule at the end of this article.

Feel free to use this routine or tweak it based on your needs and other commitments.

The Ultimate 7-Day, 20-Minute Guitar Practice Routine For Beginners

20 minute practice routine for guitar players

So, you’ve set your practice goals and planned out your weekly schedule.

Now it’s time to dive into your new beginner practice routine.

Below we’ll cover the key concepts that your beginner practice routine should cover.

These concepts are divided into 5 different sections.

Then, we’ll lay out a simple 7-day plan of how to fit these sections into separate 20-minute practice sessions.

Warm Up Exercises

Every practice session needs to include some basic warm up exercises.

These exercises are a great way to warm up the muscles in your hand and prepare you for further playing.

Plus, as you continue practicing them over time, warm up exercises also help you improve your technique in both your fretting and picking/strumming hand.

Here are 2 basic warm up exercises to practice every day before your main practice session:

1. Play the first 4 notes of each string, starting on the low E.

Make sure to play along to a metronome (the tempo isn’t important, just choose something you’re comfortable with), and remember to keep an eye on your technique so that each note rings out clearly. Here’s how this looks in tab form:

e|———————————————————1–2–3–4—
b|———————————————-1–2–3–4————–
g|———————————–1–2–3–4————————-
d|————————1–2–3–4————————————
a|————-1–2–3–4———————————————–
e|–1–2–3–4———————————————————-


2. Like the previous exercise, play the first 4 notes (frets 1 to 4) on the 6th string.

Then, follow it up by playing the following 4 notes (frets 5-8) on the next string. Continue this all the way up the neck until you hit the 12th fret on the 4th string, and then work your way back down. Again, make sure to play in time with a metronome. Here’s how this looks in tab format:

e|-------------------------------------------------------------3--2--1--0
b|--------------------------------------------------7--6--5--4-----------
g|--------------------------------------11--10--9--8--------------------
d|------------------------9--10--11--12--------------------------------
a|-------------5--6--7--8------------------------------------------------
e|--1--2--3--4-----------------------------------------------------------

Pro Tip:

To get more out of these warm up exercises, remember to play them both ascending and descending. This’ll seem challenging at first but will help improve your ability to move around the neck and general finger technique.

Section 1. Learning Basic Chord Exercises

As a guitarist, knowing how to play chords effectively and smoothly is super important.

Hence, one of the first concepts we focus on in this lesson is basic chord exercises.

Start by picking out some beginner guitar songs and get the chords for them.

This will help you get a basis of the chords you're going to practice.

Some popular choices include:

  • House of The Rising Sun by The Animals
  • Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
  • Father and Son by Cat Stevens
  • Bad Moon Rising by CCR

You can get chords and lessons for these songs at Guitar Tricks, an online database of songs and practice routines we’ll explore in more detail later.

Let’s take Folsom Prison Blues, for example.

This country classic consists of 3 basic chords: E, A, and B7.

guitar chords e a b7

Best of all, it uses open voicings of these chords, which is perfect for beginner players.

So, without actually sitting down and learning this song, we can take some of these chords and build a basic 4 bar progression that looks like this:

E | A | E | A |

Set your metronome to a comfortable tempo (60 BPM is great for beginners) and play along to the click, making sure to keep time and focus on smooth transitions between chords.

If this is too easy, you can try using all 3 chords in a progression like this: ‘

E | A | B7 | E |

The way you strum these chords will depend on your ability.

However, a great place to start is using a simple down strum on the 1 and 3 counts of each bar.

If this is too easy, you can try hitting a chord on every beat of the bar and even use a more complex strumming pattern, which we’ll explore next.

Section 2: Strumming Basics

Understanding different strumming patterns is extremely important for all kinds of guitar players, regardless of whether you want to shred epic solos or glue together the rhythm section of a band.

To build up your strumming technique, it’s really important to focus on improving it right from the get-go.

To do this, try the following routine:

Take a basic chord progression like the one we built in the previous section.

However, rather than simply strumming in one direction, try mixing things up a little with alternating up and down strokes.

Do this by breaking down the beats of a bar into 8th notes (or 8 beats). Most metronomes will have a setting to do so.

Then, try playing a basic progression using this strum pattern:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

D U D U

If this is too simple or boring, try a more advanced technique that incorporates muted downstrokes (DX) or rests (R).

Here’s an example:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

D U DX R D U DX R

While strumming patterns can be difficult to wrap your head around as a beginner, incorporating them into your practice early on is vital.

This will help you play more rhythmically, rather than just bashing out one chord after another.

It’ll also give you a good basis for learning songs in the future.

Section 3: Barre Chord Basics

Barre chords are arguably one of the most challenging guitar techniques for new players.

However, integrating them into your practice routine at an early stage is really important.

f chord on guitarThe first barre chord most players learn is F major, which looks like this:

The first thing you’ll want to do is play this chord by itself in order to get used to gripping it and building up some strength in your index finger.

To do this, play the chord along with a metronome just like we did with the other chords in section 1 of this routine.

Using a slow tempo (50 or 60 BPM), build a simple 1 chord progression using only F major.

Start by playing the chord on the 1 beat of every bar. As your hand gets stronger, you can try to step things up a little by playing it on the 1 and 3 beats.

Whatever you do, don’t rush this.

Pay extra attention and effort into fretting all the notes of the chord and producing a rich, clear sound.

Trust me, this will take some time. But once you get this down, you’ll notice a huge improvement in your playing.

Pro Tip:

As you become more familiar with barre chords, feel free to combine this with your regular chord practice routine outlined in section 1. A great song that does this is House of The Rising Sun by the Animal.

Section 4: Basic Scale Theory

A key foundation to becoming a better guitarist and musician is understanding scales.

However, do a quick Google search for “scales in music” and you’ll quickly stumble on some really complex concepts.

To keep things simple for beginners, here’s a really basic summary of scales:

Scales are a collection of notes that sound good together and work well to create harmony and melodies that are naturally pleasing to the ear.

Songs are usually written in 1 key (or using 1 scale), although more complex compositions can switch from one key to another.

The best scale to learn as a beginner musician is C major. Here’s what the C major scale looks like on the guitar:

e|------------------------------------------------------
b|------------------------------------------------------
g|-----------------------------------2--4--5----------
d|------------------------2--3--5---------------------
a|----------------3--5---------------------------------
e|------------------------------------------------------

It’s really important to get familiar with this scale.

Try playing it slowly and along with a metronome to familiarize with the sound and finger pattern you use to play it.

Also remember to play the scale ascending (from lowest to highest sounding note) and descending (from highest to lowest sounding note).

This will also help you build up strength and technique in both your fretting and picking hands.

If you want to step things up a little bit, consider playing a 2 octave C major scale, which looks like this:

e|------------------------------------------------------------5--7--8--------
b|--------------------------------------------------5--6--8------------------
g|-----------------------------------2--4--5--7-----------------------------
d|------------------------2--3--5--------------------------------------------
a|----------------3--5--------------------------------------------------------
e|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pro Tip:

You can take this same pattern and start on the 5th fret on the 5th string (D) and you’ll automatically be playing in D major.

Once you’re familiar with the C major scale pattern, try transposing it to other popular song keys, such as D (5th fret on the 5th string), E (7th fret on the 5th string), and G (3rd fret on the 6th string).

Section 5: End With A Song

Got a song under your belt?

Playing songs is probably one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences for beginner guitar players.

Hence, it’s really important to incorporate song playing into your practice routine.

This will help you actually make music and will ultimately keep you motivated to practice more regularly.

Scales, chords, and other music theory can be a bit dull at time.

Playing songs is a great way to break into a new headspace and keep the fun alive. Check out our list of easy guitar songs here.

Plus, it is also a great way to put the skills you learn in your routine to use.

If you don’t have a complete song under your belt, don’t worry. Take one that you’re working on and dedicate some extra time to it.

Your Weekly Guitar Practice Schedule

So, you have your practice routine set out.

Now you’ll want to make sure you’re progressively working through it on a daily basis.

Below you’ll find a basic practice schedule that covers all the key concepts discussed above over 7 days.

You can change this schedule based on your own preferences. Just remember to dedicate equal amounts of time to each concept so you progress evenly.

Also remember to do at least 5 minutes of warm up exercises before each practice session.

Monday:

Section 1: Basic Chord Exercises (10 mins)

+

Section 4: Basic Scale Theory (10 mins)

Tuesday:

Section 2: Basic Strumming Patterns (10 mins)

+

Section 3: Barre Chord Basics (10 mins)

Wednesday:

Section 5: Song practice (20 mins)

Find easy songs here.

Thursday:

Section 1: Basic Chord Exercises (10 mins)

+

Section 2: Basic Strumming Patterns

Friday:

Section 3: Barre Chord Basics (10 mins)

+

Section 4: Basic Scale Theory (10 mins)

Saturday:

Section 5: Song practice (20 mins)

Find easy songs here. 

Sunday:

REST DAY.

Taking Your Guitar Practice to the Next Level

The above routine should keep you busy for some time, but there’s going to come a point where your playing ability calls for more complex material.

Guitar Tricks LogoA great place to find extra material to add into your practice routine is from my favourite guitar learning website: GuitarTricks.com

Want to try to learn a new song?

Want to pick apart the basics of key musical styles like jazz or blues, or even hone in on the playing style of one of your favourite players?

Guitar Tricks is complete with song tutorials, as well as in-depth studies of musical genres and even key guitar players like Jimmy Page, Hendrix, or Buddy Guy.

Plus, the site also features more technical lessons on some of the key concepts we covered in this routine, including strumming and scales, as well as fresh ways to practice these.

Once you’re ready to move beyond the basic routine outlined above, I suggest checking out Guitar Tricks’ fully guided practice routine for beginners.

This routine will take you through all the basics you need to know as a beginner guitarist.

You’ll learn everything from how to tune your guitar and warm up your fingers to unique chord progressions, speed building exercises, and more.

The lesson is structured into 5 stations which touch on all the basic concepts we covered above in a lot more detail, plus many more concepts as well.

Thanks to the lesson’s progressive build-up, you’ll learn simple techniques to begin with, and slowly raise the bar as your skills improve.

Best of all, you’ll get to play along with your tutor as if you were in their physical practice studio.

To check out this lesson, visit the official Guitar Tricks website by clicking here, and find tons of material to make your practice routine fun and effective.


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About The Author

Tyler

I'm Tyler, the webmaster here at VoicesInc.org. My passion is music, and my job is to supply reviews and articles about all the different ways you can learn and produce music online. I hope you find this website helpful.