I’ve spent hours online searching through hundreds of articles on how to get faster, better, and more accurate at guitar, and gotten the same message repackaged over and over again:  play scales slowly, then build speed.  And yeah, that’s sound advice, but boring.  Now, over the course of weeks and months, I’ve found a few things that hindered and helped me keep guitar alluring.

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1)  Not Neglecting The Pinky:   He’s a weak little piggy, but somehow manages to hold his own on most pentatonic scales.  The problem came when adding more major and minor scales.  Luckily I stumbled across a few exercises to help with it.

2)  Using thicker picks: Some of you may have figured it out faster than me, but switching just from mediums to hards made scales much easier, especially on acoustic.

 

3)  Guitar Positioning: After trying everything from chest-high to below the waist, I’ve found that when the center of the guitar sits between my belt buckle and belly button, I get the easiest transition from strumming basic chords to soloing high on the neck.  Another thing to remember is that playing an G pentatonic scale at the 3rd fret is a whole different thing from at the 15th.

4)  Learning Guitar Theory: Site after site told me to learn theory, but let’s face it.  For every guitar player who can read sheet music, there are 485,923 who live and die by tab.  Reading what Cmajor9 was on paper didn’t always translate to the guitar, but studying my tabs and finding out that I’d already been playing it in a song made it stick with me.

5)  Switching Between Strumming and Picking: My goal for my third year of guitar playing was to play through John Mayer’s Continuum.  After memorizing chords and picking out the easier solos, I found the most difficult thing was having to play, with accuracy, the rifts in between chords, like in Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.

Those five are the cream of the crop, but here are a few more I’ve found useful every once in a while:

Warming Up: I hate it, yeah, but not as much as playing for 15 minutes then realizing I can’t play a solo because I decided to start with Purple Haze.
Wear a Watch:  Yeah, call me crazy, I don’t care.  Wear a watch, rubber band, whatever, and tell me you don’t fell more legit.
Acoustic/Electric Switch: Warming up and cooling down on acoustic made the time on the electric a breeze.
Listing Techniques: A month ago I made a list of every technique, rift and alternate chord fingering I could think of.  Improvising over songs while working through this list has kept me busy for hours.

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