If you’re like most guitar players, you can probably relate to this:
No matter how much you play, you just don’t seem to be getting any better.
While it might come as a surprise, you’re actually not alone.
In fact, this is a very common problem for guitar players of all skill levels.
But what if you could break out of this little black box and get back to progressively improving your playing?
In this article we’re going to explore why so many guitarists feel like they’re not improving regardless of how much they practice.
More importantly, I’ll share 3 pro tips that’ll help you get back to improving your guitar playing.
Free Bonus: Click here to download The Insider's Guide to Online Lessons, which is a report that covers the best ways to learn guitar this year.
Reasons Why You’re Not Improving
Most guitarists face this problem:
Despite spending hours playing the guitar, they just don’t seem to be getting any better.
We’ve all faced times where we feel “stuck” with our playing.
But what really causes you to feel stuck in the first place?
It All Comes Down to... Practice
First of all, it could come down to how you’re practicing.
Many guitarists get caught in the trap of practicing something to get it right ONCE.
These are the typical guitar players who find out about a new skill, practice it until they get it right, and then move on to the next hot thing.
If this sounds like you, here’s why this affects your ability to get better:
By learning this way, you fail to integrate new skills into your playing.
Instead, you just memorize a skill but completely forget about integrating it into your playing style to improve your overall ability.
Take this example:
You want to learn how to do a hammer-on.
So, you jump on Google or Youtube, spend five minutes finding out what hammer-ons are, and then practice until you manage to hammer on from one note to another.
Then, you either put your guitar down or keep playing until you discover you want to learn how to play harmonics, and then repeat the same process.
What you’re doing is basically loading up on a bunch of information.
This can be a good thing...
However, you’re not making any effort to find out what to do with this information.
This, unfortunately, is detrimental to your playing.
Just like a poet can’t expect to become better by skim reading countless poetry books, you can’t expect to be a better guitarist by just learning a bunch of different techniques.
Another popular reason guitarists struggle to improve their playing is this:
They don’t know what to practice.
It might sound silly, but finding the right material to practice is actually really important.
Many guitarists fall into the trap of simply playing the same old chords, licks, and finger exercises.
The result? They stop improving and simultaneously get bored of the guitar.
There are countless other reasons why you may not be improving:
- You’re practicing things you already know
- You’re practice is sloppy
- You're trying to practice too many things at once
One thing is for sure:
You can definitely get back to practicing effectively and improving your guitar playing.
Here are 3 basic ways to do so:
Start Getting Better RIGHT NOW!
1. Get Back to The Basics
A great way to get back to improving your playing is to go back over the basics, regardless of how many years you’ve got under your belt.
You might find that you’re making some really basic mistakes that have a big impact on your playing.
Take fretboard knowledge as an example.
You might find that, despite being able to play fast and smoothly, you lack adequate knowledge of the fretboard to really push your playing that little bit further.
A good way to improve this is to focus on practicing 3-on-a-string scales, for example. This technique focuses on expanding your knowledge of scales and how to play them.
Unlike regular scale patterns, 3-on-a-string scales help you get familiar with the notes of a scale all over the fretboard.
You’ll also learn to play using the entire neck of your guitar and simultaneously improve the technique in both your fretting and picking hands.
In turn, this will help you drastically improve your lead guitar skills and soloing.
A great way to learn more about 3-on-a-string scales is via JamPlay’s Fretboard Roadmap course.
This course focuses specifically on 3-on-a-string scales and how to use them to master your knowledge of the entire fretboard.
Alternatively, maybe you find that your fingerpicking sounds dull and repetitive.
To spice things up, take the time to go over your thumb technique. When you first started fingerpicking, chances are you learned a few different patterns to get you started.
While those patterns are really important foundations, they soon start to get pretty boring.
Learn to use your thumb independently from your other fingers and you’ll soon be able to break free from standard, pattern-style fingerpicking.
Instead, you’ll start adding more melody, rhythm, and colour to your picking, which will ultimately help you push your playing just a little bit further.
A great course to improve your thumb technique is JamPlay’s Thumb IQ.
Featuring US National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Don Ross, this 3-day course will help you break out of basic pattern-style fingerpicking.
Some other basic guitar skills to focus on include:
Music Theory: While you don’t need to be a theory whizz to be a great guitarist, it's important you have a solid understanding of some basics including chords, scales, etc, and how to apply them directly to your instrument.
Melody: Make sure you understand the nuts and bolts of melody to add colour and life into your lead and solo playing.
Rhythm: Understanding the basics of rhythm is important for all kinds of guitarists, including lead players. Make sure you go back and understand the foundations of rhythm and practice basic techniques like strumming, muting, etc.
JamPlay's Live Lessons are probably the best tools to help you improve in these areas. Learn more about ALL of JamPlay's Live Courses here.
2. Choose Inspiration Over Information
What defines great music?
The best ingredient to improving your playing is getting inspired.
A great way to get inspired to become a better guitar player is to learn new challenging covers.
Playing covers can help you pick up new techniques and tricks that are featured in the songs you love to listen to.
In turn, you’ll be able to further build on these techniques to make them your own.
A great way to learn challenging covers is with lessons found at GuitarTricks.com.
This website has compiled a comprehensive list of over 700 songs from countless genres into one huge database.
All you need to do is log in, pick the song you want to learn, and follow the simple step-by-step lesson.
You can watch me find some easier guitar songs here:
From thumping metal tracks by Killswitch Engage to smooth jazz classics by George Gershwin, Guitar Tricks has something for all kinds of players.
Another great way to get inspired is by studying your favourite guitarists.
By studying your favourite artists, you’re able to focus on specific skills they use and adapt them into your playing.
Some great guitarists worth checking out include:
- David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
- Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
- Eric Clapton
- Buddy Guy
- Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
At Guitar Tricks, all members get exclusive access to artist studies where they can pick apart the unique style of the players they love.
Doing this will help open up your creative channels and will help you get inspired to become a better player.
Below is the Eric Clapton Artist Study:
This video was created by GuitarTricks.com
If you're interested in more of these artist studies, or more Eric Clapton song lessons, I recommend you visit the official website: http://www.GuitarTricks.com
Remember, scales, chords, and other aspects of music theory are just pieces of information.
And while it’s an important aspect of being a musician to know this information, you should never choose it over being inspired to play your instrument.
3. Find Out About Online Lessons
Last but not least, if you really want to step up your guitar game, you should consider some better instruction with online lessons.
We live in one of the most exciting times of history, where we have countless amounts of information available at our fingertips through the internet.
And thanks to the launch of online lessons, you’re able to find out exactly how to use this information to your advantage.
Remember how I hinted at picking inspiration over information?
Well, online lessons give you the best of both worlds:
Not only do you get expert information from qualified guitar teachers, but you can also find new and inspiring ways to put that information to use.
In this article, we specifically explored the problem many guitarists face with practicing ineffectively.
Online lessons can help you change that:
Whether you want to hone in on specific guitar techniques or learn some fun covers, there are plenty of online lessons available to suite your style.
Platforms like Jam Play and Guitar Tricks are packed full with detailed lessons by professional players designed to help you practice more efficiently.
Want to improve your strumming?
Want to learn to play like Jimmy Page?
I've personally been using online lessons for several years.
I always recommend that if you're struggling to get better, consider starting a free trial at GuitarTricks.com.