These Might Just Be The Best 10 Tips For Guitar Players Ever

10 Tips For Improving On GuitarIn my capacity as a guitar teacher I hear lots of excuses, including the time-worn “I don’t have the talent.”

Talent, schmalent.

While we can’t all be Hendrix, you can get pretty damn close if you follow these basic guidelines:

10. Learn the notes on the fretboard

There’s a lot of them but you don’t have to memorize them all at once.

Start with the open strings – EADGBE (top to bottom) — and use a mnemonic trick.

I like “Eddie and Dave Got Bad Eggs.” If you go from bottom to top, try “Every Bad Girl Deserves an Eggplant.”

Once you’ve got that, move on to the first four frets on each string.

Play each string slowly and say each note out loud, from the top (bass) string to the bottom.

After those are memorized, you can move to the next four frets. This chart will help:

Why learn the notes? For a myriad of reasons, Grasshopper.

  • You can communicate better with other musicians.
  • You’ll understand theory better.
  • Most importantly, you’ll play in tune.

If you’re playing an F note in your solo and the song is in the key of G, your audience’s ears will bleed.

If you know the names of the notes, you’ll know where that pesky F lives so you can avoid it and save the hearing of millions of people.

9. Learn the sound of chord types

Start with the difference between a major and a minor chord. You can hear the difference between an A minor and an A, right?

Without diving into too much theory, I’ll tell you that a minor chord has a flatted third.

That’s what gives it that dark sound, perfect for a change in mood. Other chords have their own associations.

A seventh chord has a blues feel. They also sound great at the end of a phrase, especially if you go to a major chord after that.

Ninth chords are perfect in jazz and sometimes as a transition in other styles.


If you usually play a minor chord in a song, what happens when you substitute a major? Ninth?

Becoming familiar with different chord types will help you figure out the chords to a favorite song. It’s also a great tool for songwriters.

8. Listen to a variety of styles for inspiration

Okay, you’re a metal head. Did you know that Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne) studied classical music?

Maybe you’re into classic rock – did you know that in the early days the Beatles were a skiffle band, a form of folk music? That’s where that picking pattern in “Blackbird” comes from.

So, raid your little sister’s music collection and play along to that Shawn Mendes tune. You don’t have to love it and I’ll bet you’ll learn something.

Or see what your girlfriend’s Bob Marley mix has to offer you. What happens when you play a reggae strum for a pop song?

Magic, that’s what.

7. Learn how to hum and play simple melodies

Ignore the advice you got for grade school choir. Ear training is possible for even the most tuneless singer.

Start by playing one note and singing it. Once that sounds pretty good – and it may take a few tries — try for two notes, then for more.

Record yourself and see how you’re doing. Have someone with a good ear listen to you.

Once you’re better at singing a melody you’ll be able to look at that challenging section of a guitar solo. Hum it slowly and match the notes on the guitar.

It can also help you compose an original lead part or figure out what chords go behind a melody.

I once worked with a record producer who sang the bass player his notes (albeit in a different octave); we ended up with great arrangements.

Keep in mind that being able to sing doesn’t mean you have to be your band’s lead singer, it’s simply a tool.

6. Play music and not just scale exercises

If you’re a soccer player, you don’t want to spend hours kicking the ball into the net.


Same thing for guitar. Find a song you really want to learn and even if you can’t yet play all the riffs, slow it down and figure it out.

Or learn from one of the great teachers at JamPlay. Or, if you’re a songwriter, write a song you can hear in your head but can’t quite play. It’s one of the ways I became a better guitar player — I kept writing songs I couldn’t play.

Scales are still good but learning within the context of a song will make you remember why you picked up the guitar in the first place.

5. Learn to play slowly and in time

If I had a nickel for every time a student came to me and played too fast and with lots of mistakes, I could retire to a villa in the South of France and fly in Bonnie Raitt for private lessons.

When you play too fast, you’ll make mistakes.


And muscle memory is a pesky thing — your fingers will play those mistakes over and over again.

Play the piece slowly and correctly. Play it with a metronome on snail speed.

Once you’ve mastered that, kick it up a couple of notches. Play it again.

Keep playing it at increasing speed until the mistakes start to creep in, then stop. The next time you practice, do it again, starting at something slightly above the snail setting.

While I’m yammering on about rhythm, I’ll tell you that it’s important to play with a metronome.

No one wants to hear a guitarist who speeds up and slows down. Your fans will love you and your band’s drummer will quit throwing her sticks at you.

4. Learn songs in different keys

I once wrote a country song in the key of F, unusual for that genre (unless you’re playing with a capo). While I hated myself for the first few weeks, I got really good at a barred B flat.

Expanding your chord knowledge will make you a better player. No one wants to jam with a guitarist who can only play in C.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others

Everyone’s seen that video of the little Korean kids playing the complicated classical piece.

Don’t look at that and throw up your hands. You don’t know what torment those kids endured. And likewise, don’t watch a great Jeff Beck solo and think, Why even try? Maybe you should start on something more accessible.

There are lots of JamPlay videos that can help you with that. At some point, maybe you can tackle that Beck solo and if you don’t, the world won’t end. Pardon me while I give the special snowflake speech but you are unique. No one plays exactly like you.

2. Record your practice sessions and listen back to them

What we hear in our head is not always what actually comes out. If you’ve ever been in a recording studio, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I once recorded with a guitar player who was a half beat behind everyone else and we didn’t notice it until it was time to mix.

Expensive mistake.

If you record your practice sessions, especially if you can do it with a metronome, you can better evaluate your timing. It’ll also help you remember that improvised solo that was so good in the moment. And you can mark your progress.

Listen to that recording from six months ago and pat yourself on the back because you finally mastered those Stevie Ray Vaughan licks.

1. Learn something new every day

If you’ve been playing the Beatles for thirty years, it’s time to branch out, even if it’s learning one new chord.

Are you mostly a country player? Look up ninth chords. They’re fun and who knows, they might sound good in that Dolly Parton song you just learned.

Are you a rocker who can’t fingerpick? Learn one fingerpicking pattern. Just one. Practice it every day and soon, you’ll be playing “Blackbird.” And yeah, I’m back to the Beatles but maybe it’s time to try that new distortion pedal — what would “Blackbird” sound like with that?

All right, Hendrix Junior, follow these tips and quick coming to me and whining about talent. With enough sweat and stellar attitude, you’ll master whatever you want on the guitar.

About The Author:

When Jamie Anderson was fifteen, she memorized every chord in a Mel Bay songbook and then taught herself Joni Mitchell songs. Fast forward forty years and she’s still cranking out tunes, from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “The A Team” as well as original songs. After touring for thirteen years, she settled in Ottawa, Canada, where she teaches and writes.

9 Undeniable Reasons You Need To Get Back Into Guitar (#4 Will Surprise You)


So you’ve set your guitar down.

You gave it your all, and at some point decided to leave it behind while you went on with life and tried new things.

However, for those of us, much like you, who have music pumping through our blood, you probably miss playing. There’s something about having and holding the guitar that made you feel inspired.

You listen to your favorite tunes, ones you used to play (or at least try to) and remember how great it felt to strum along. You remember writing the songs that held all your carefully-chosen words and melodies.

You loved that.

Well, if you your love for music never died, why should your interest in playing guitar?

We live in a time where it’s so easy to learn new skills and communication has become instantaneous and worldwide. The internet has exploded into a vast pool of free knowledge, all accessible by a few keystrokes.

You can literally have the sights and sounds of a personal teacher in your livingroom teaching you guitar while you sip your coffee.

It’s the primetime to get back into strumming your axe, and here’s why.

1. Because it’s fun

You picked up the guitar for a reason.

You love music, you love being creative and the guitar was the perfect outlet that ties those elements together.

If you’re still learning the instrument, it’s a great way to challenge yourself, impress your friends and see music in a new perspective.

If you’re already pretty sharp, you know how liberating the instrument can be. It’s a tool for endless expression and creation.

The guitar is so versatile. It can be a powerhouse that can rock the room or a delicate songwriting device.

Either way, it’s the perfect utensil for creation and expression, and that reason enough to get back into it.

2. Makes for a great hobby

An empty mind is a devil’s workshop.

If you have some free time on your schedule then guitar sessions is a great way to utilize that time. It makes for a great hobby.

Even by comparing it to other hobbies like expensive coin collections, demonstrating your guitar skills will earn you more respect and eyeballs.

It is not boring like collecting stones and/or stamps.

3. Playing is better than listening music

Listening to music is a marvelous experience, but being able to play music is even better.

If just listening to your favorite tune can lift up your mood, then imagine what creating those tunes will do to you!

Start practicing now and within a few months you will able to play your favorite tunes yourself.

Trust me, the feeling of being able to play your favorite tunes is just spectacular and even priceless.

It is not the same as listening through your expensive set of earphones.

4. You can learn a lot quicker now

You’re not stuck learning “Mary Had A Little Lamb” from some old method book anymore. And with an online learning platform like JamPlay, you get the guided direction of in-person lessons BUT you can take them anytime you want!

Seriously, things have changed quite a bit from when you were learning as a teenager.

But don’t get sidetracked by sites without live interaction and goal-oriented learning…

A lack of direction leads to de-motivation which leads to your guitar going back in the case and collecting dust.

5. Potential band members are everywhere

If you’re looking to share your guitar skills with other people, social media can also be used to find other players to join you.

While putting up ads in your local coffee shop may still be effective, using sites like Craigslist or Bandmix, you can narrow down your member search by city, state, and instrument.

You can either request that the members reach out to you, or you can reach out to them.

Again, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can expand your reach when searching your potential members.

Just post your needs, and let the comments roll in!

6. Recording is easier than ever

Studio time is expensive.

You don’t need much these days to pump out a great-sounding recording.

You’ve put all the time and effort into learning the guitar, writing the music and words and completing the song.

Now you gotta set it in stone and share it with the world! All you need is a computer, headphones, instrument and XLR cables, mic stands, a microphone, a recording interface and some recording software.

If you’re on a budget, there’s plenty of free tools out there to help you the job done. Software like Audacity can get you started.

If you’re using a Mac, it comes preloaded with Grageband, which is powerful DAW that can definitely do the job.

7. Spreading the word is even easier

If you’re feeling pretty confident with your guitar chops—and aren’t interested in lessons—but want to spread your songs with the world (literally the world), then you can upload your song to countless different social media sites that are viewed by millions of users daily.

I know Facebook gets a bad rap these days for being the productivity killer, but that’s also a good reason to post to it.

The more time people spend on social media, the better your chances are for your song to be heard.

Upload your song to Facebook and it’s instantaneously available to all of your friends. The same thing goes for Instagram and Twitter.

These sites are a little more brief than Facebook, but just as powerful. Tease a song on your Instagram page with an easy-to-watch, 15-second video to prepare them for the release of the full song.

If those sites seem to be too busy for you, you can always keep it simple by uploading your tracks (for free) to sites such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp. These sites are dedicated to the online presence of your music.

8. Express and let it go

Sometimes it is difficult to express yourself with words.

Sometimes it is difficult to move forward in life, to let go of something or someone.

Forgiving and forgetting are two wonderful virtues that not everyone possesses, but music can help you develop it.

Playing the guitar will help you ease the pain, making it easier to express yourself and your feelings.

9. Blissful experience

At the end of the day, all I can suggest you is that playing guitar is a blissful experience.

It is not necessary to have a larger goal or purpose in your life in order to learn how to play the strings.

Even if you are not looking to take it up as a profession, you should still learn how to play a guitar.

If you think without goal or purpose, it will be hard to muster up the confidence and motivation required to pick up the guitar, then I would advise you to go ahead and try it once.

Some things are meant to be experienced rather than being discussed, and playing the guitar is one of them.

What’s Your Reason?

Leave a comment below and tell us your reason for getting back into guitar!

5 Reasons Playing Guitar Over 50 Can Benefit Your Health

Learn guitar after 50

We’ve all heard the excuses for why you’re not picking up the guitar. One excuse that we’ve often heard is that it’s too late to start playing.

Whether it be due to age, health, etc. you’re convinced that you’ve missed your shot to learn how to play guitar.

Luckily there’s people like us, who are here to tell you that it’s not too late.

Once you get over the mental hump of thinking that it’s too hard, you’re too impatient, your hands are too small, etc. you can really start digging in and focusing on mastering the skill.

Here are a few reasons how guitar can benefit your health:

1. It Stimulates Your Brain

Let alone guitar, learning any instrument can stimulate your brain and make you sharper.

Playing an instrument requires you to use different parts of your brain, mainly the visual, motor and auditory parts, to work simultaneously.

Just the simple act of listening to music forces your brain to become active. According to TED-ED (TED Talks), learning an instrument is a fantastic workout for your brain.

2. It Relieves Stress

Everyone knows that music can evoke emotion. But have you ever thought of music as a stress reliever?

If you think about it, it’s a rather simple explanation. Music is made in a variety of tempos and tones.

You can easily tell an aggressive song from a relaxing song. As a matter of fact, music can actually increase or decrease the rate at which your heart beats.

So, if you’re feeling stressed out, and your heart is racing, put on a song that you know relaxes you and zone out, take it easy.

3. You Become More Coordinated

The guitar isn’t strumming it self. As mentioned before, when you’re playing guitar, you’re making your brain perform more than one action at a time.

Guitar is more than a melodic instrument, it’s also a rhythmic instrument. Focusing on keeping time while playing the guitar can be a challenge, but wait until you start singing and controlling your breathing while playing.

That’s the true challenge. However it is possible!

4. Strengthens Hands and Wrists

You’ll soon realize that guitar can be a physically taxing exercise. Stretching for certain chords and running patterns can really wear out your wrists and your fingers.

Although, while it can be somewhat of a pain at first, with a little practice, you’ll be nailing those patterns and hitting those chords, thus establishing a core strength in your hands.

5. It’s an Emotional Release

I touched on this a bit before, but playing guitar can lift your spirits.

Finally getting the hang of a song you’ve been working hard on is a fulfilling feeling. It’s no simple task, and once you’ve conquered it, you’ll surely feel the sense of accomplishment.

Aside from the technical aspects of guitar, and how they can make you feel good, playing the instrument can serve as a terrific emotional release.

The obvious is in songwriting. You can craft all your feelings into a beautiful song. You can say exactly what you want and back it with the musical voicing of your choice. It’s your melodic journal.

And if you aren’t the wordy type, there’s just as much emotion in the orchestration of the music.

How to Deal with Frustration when Learning Guitar

Learning how to play the guitar is a blast! Everything is a mystery and every day is a new revelation!

But learning and practicing guitar can also be frustrating. We need to understand that frustration is not something external, we create it ourselves. If we can create it, then we can surely beat it too.

You can call it lack of patience or in some cases lack of dedication. As guitar players, we find ourselves stuck, some days it feels good while on other days it just doesn’t.

Most beginners love their weekend practice sessions, until they realize after a few weeks that they are not making any progress, that they lack focus and decide to call it quits.

It’s because they forget their last lessons easily and the techniques learned never become second nature which leads to boredom and frustration. Some of them call it quits while others continue to follow the pattern.

Here are 4 frustrating pitfalls that you should avoid:

  • Don’t try to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Trying to learn too many things will psychologically mess you up. Instead, make sure you fully learn something before moving on. The thing you are learning (barre chords, scales, licks) should be second nature.
  • Don’t learn from guitar teachers or players that are only interested in showing off their skills. Guitar is not a competition. And these people will make you feel like it is. Which will make you feel bad about your playing and start the cycle all over again.
  • Don’t continue with the weekend sessions. Most beginners start that way and it is just not good enough. You must practice daily. No excuses. Otherwise you will lose interest, forget what you learned prior to last week, skip a session or two and all this will lead to inconsistency. Being inconsistent will lead to frustration. Fight it with passion. Don’t let that fire die down.
  • Stop comparing yourselves to others, especially your chosen idol. People like to talk about their skills and this can demotivate you or worse, frustrate you. Understand that everybody has to start somewhere, each one of us has a different learning speed, not all are made equal and you are not Slash! So take it easy on yourself and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

What you should do instead:

Playing and practicing are not the same. You may think you’re putting in a lot of hours on the guitar. But the real question is – are you really practicing or are you just playing?

You might know what I am talking about here. Playing guitar is just that – you play your guitar without learning new techniques or developing new skills. You just kind of refresh your old licks and songs.

Practicing on the other hand is when you learn something new, refine or rediscover something old; find a new meaning out of a long forgotten lick or perfecting that trick you picked up some time back. The idea is to keep moving forward.

(Quick Tip For Beginners: Your fingers are going to hurt and hurt like hell. But this is ok. This is normal. After sometime the skin will toughen up and your hands will get used to the pain. This is also called muscle memory. The human body is incredible!)

What is important is to remember why you are here. Is it because you eat, drink, and sleep music? Are you learning guitar to impress other people or are you learning to just get better?

Don’t lose sight of your goals. Always have a plan. This will help you fight frustration like nothing else. It will motivate you to work not only harder but also smarter.

And working smarter is the key to progressing faster on guitar!

Are You Making These Guitar Practice Mistakes?

Are You Making These Guitar Practice Mistakes?
There’s a big lie that guitar players tell themselves.

Have you ever gone to play something on guitar that you could play a few days ago but it sounds like complete crap now?

…like you can’t even play guitar.

Is your guitar playing a trainwreck?
Like this…

It’s depressing. And nothing will de-motivate you more than feeling like you aren’t making progress.

Newbies love noodling on their guitar without focus for hours… until they realize they’re going nowhere. Then they tend to give up.

Good guitar players know that not all time spent playing guitar is equal.

2 hours of random noodling on Saturday is NOT the same as 20 minutes a day of focused practice.

I’ll confess… I used to be a weekend noodler too.

I think most self-taught players are… and it’s because no one ever told us the truth…

Here’s What Not To do…


Don't get overwhelmed by all the conflicting information about guitar and what you should be learning.
This Is Not A Plan

Some guitar players think that learning as much as you can about HOW to do things is how you get good.

Of course, the more techniques, licks, and songs you know… the more well-rounded you’ll be.

But as a beginner or intermediate player, you don’t have that luxury. You’ll end up taking a very long time to be the jack of all trades, master of none.

Guthrie Govan says “Whatever you’ve learned becomes truly useful to you only once it has become second nature.”

It’s that second nature part that most people never get to because they move on to the next thing too soon.

Like I mentioned earlier, I struggled for years with practice and wondering why I couldn’t progress past a certain point.

Then in 2008 I took a job at JamPlay and my eyes were forced open.

What working for a guitar education publishing company has taught me…

Focused Practice To Reach Your Goal
Use Focused Practice To Reach Your Goal

The late night noodle fests, long weekend sessions were not what these guys did to get to a world-class level.

It had been there all along and I just couldn’t see it because of how stubborn I was.

There were fundamental things they did that I did not do.

And once I started doing what they did, that’s when the magic started happening.

I learned that getting a goal and purpose forces you to focus on solving problems systematically. And that solving problems in your playing is the only way to progress fast.

For example, in the past I would play a solo I learned all the way through and gloss over the fast ascending run at the end. I could play 80% of the solo note-for-note but the problem was the fast bit.

Now, I understand that I don’t need to practice 80% of a song or solo, just the trouble spots.

So instead of practicing the entire solo over and over for 20 minutes, I now just practice the trouble spot for that 20 minutes.

Can you see how that forces you to improve?

It’s not something that only elite guitar players understand.

There’s an old principle I recently learned about. It’s known by a few different names…the “80/20 rule” or the lesser known “Pareto Principle” (learn about it on Wikipedia).

This Illustrates How Focused Guitar Practice Works!
This Illustrates How Focused Guitar Practice Works!

Basically it states that 80% of the benefits comes from 20% of the effort. It applies to most things in life including guitar playing.

Practice your worst skill until it’s your strongest… and your playing will improve drastically” -Steve Eulberg

It’s important that you always remember that your practice sessions aren’t supposed to be jammed full of every technique and concept under the sun all at once.

They should be systematically upgrading your specific skills to accomplish your goals.

Focused DAILY PRACTICE, not weekend marathons is the best way to get good at guitar. But it gets even better…

Get Better At Guitar By Practicing LESS:

Discover how you can stop using the “old school” (Busted) way of practicing & finally play guitar like you’ve always wanted. Free Download here.

It’s a PDF guide you use to figure out your goals on guitar and the included printable template helps you stay focused and on track.

Whatever you do…


Action Steps:

  • Avoid procrastination by getting a solid goal with your guitar playing.
  • Once have learned something, master it by using focused practice.
  • Focus your practice by working on problem areas and weaknesses that are holding you back.
  • Avoid noodling and limit practicing things that you’ve already mastered.
  • Hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress. (Download our free practice template here.)
  • Don’t just learn songs and move on. Use the 80/20 principle and hone in on the trouble spots.

If you do these things you will see a big difference in your playing in a short amount of time. And that progress will keep you motivated to continue practicing… which is how you get really REALLY good at guitar.

Talk Soon,
Aaron Miller

(NOTE: Want to get better at guitar? Download our free 30-Minute Practice Template and start making progress today!)

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