Guitar tips and advice based on questions from the guitar community part 3

In this article, you’ll (hopefully) find some useful guitar tips and advice based on questions asked by the guitar community. This is the third one of these that I’ve done. If you’d like to check out parts 1 and 2, you can do so here.

Guitar tips and advice 1

Guitar tips and advice 2

These question and answer articles continue to be popular so here’s part 3. The questions are in no particular order and they’re on no single topic. I’ll try to keep my answers concise and to the point. Let’s dive right in with the first question

guitar tips and advice 3

Guitar Tips and Advice question #1 Can a child learn guitar online?

Our first questions looks at a topic that I’ve discussed before here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat but this time, it’s more specific as it relates to children.

What are we considering a child? We can think of teens as children but equally, the person asking the question could be thinking younger. Say, 7 or 8 perhaps.

Teens yes. I think that generally speaking, a teenager would be able to follow the instructions given in the better-quality online guitar lessons but I’d still recommend private guitar lessons to get them to a stage where they can play and learn independently. Once they have a grasp of the fundamentals, they can use online guitar resources in conjunction with their private lessons (this is what I did) or, if the situation demands, they can move to non-private lesson based learning completely although they may lose that forward moving focus.

Preteens I’d have to lean more toward a no. They’re young and they require a lot more hand holding while learning so generally speaking, I’d recommend the bulk of their guitar learning to be done in a private guitar lessons setup. Learning and practicing are different things obviously.

I know that guitar lessons can be expensive so the previous paragraph probably doesn’t make some people out there very happy. If there’s a financial issue, enquire at the school. Depending where you are in the world, schools often offer things like this as free extracurricular education.

Guitar Tips and Advice question #2 How often and for how long should you let your fingers rest while playing the guitar?

Play until your fingers bleed! Then, play more! I played 8 hours a day every day so you can too! Yep, that’s the kind of thing you’ll hear and read online but it’s all horse ****. Some people out there played 8 hours a day for periods of time, but generally speaking, these kinds of statements are worthless.

The question lacks a little context so I’ll come at it from a couple of different angles. Are they referring to the gap between practice sessions? Or when their fingers hurt during a practice session?

As for between practice sessions, you should be able to recover and play the very next day once you’ve built up those calluses on your fingers. As for during a practice session, you can play through the pain to a degree but eventually, your playing will start to suffer and you’ll start to make mistakes and get frustrated so at that point, take a break.

I guess it depends how close you are to the end of your session. The funny thing is, I actually had this today. I was practicing long finger picked barre chord passages and short classical pieces and eventually, my fingers began to hurt and the mistakes started creeping in. I was toward the backend of my playing time anyway so I went away for ten minutes then came back for one more attempt. There was still some pain, but I was able to get through to the end and hit the notes how I wanted.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, listen to your hands. If you feel you need to rest them, rest them. You can then come back to the guitar later or the next day. Well done for practicing until your fingers hurt though. Clearly putting the work in.

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Guitar Tips and Advice question #3 As a guitarist, at what point wee you able to confidently say you were above beginner level in terms of playing?

There’s no better feeling than this. Well, there’s a couple but anyway, I’d say you’re an intermediate player when you have a basic command of the fundamentals or to put it another way, when you can play music on the guitar.

Being able to play a few songs is a good start and being able to improvise and make music on the fly is even better still. When you can do these things, you’re well on the way. A beginner guitarist cannot do these things with comfort.

I remember coming up with my first chord progression. G/Em/C/D. Down down up up down up strumming pattern and I even came up with a little arpeggiated riff as an intro. No mistakes, no dropping chords, felt like a proper musician. Not just someone who owned a guitar.

There is no set milestones but a good rule of thumb is to be able to play a few hits along with the record and be able to pick the guitar up and play it without a second thought. 

Guitar Tips and Advice question #4 What guitar techniques should you practice every day?

I hate this phrase but yea, it depends. The reason it depends is because it depends on who wants to know. Do you want to play like Van Halen? Well, minor 2 5 1 chord progressions every day probably isn’t something you should do. Wanna play like B.B. King? Well, you probably don’t need to spend 20 minutes a day on 5 string sweep arpeggios and dive bombs. See what I’m saying?

It all depends on your goals but your goals could also mean that you have to come at this from a different angle. What if your goal is to be as equally competent in as many guitar playing areas as possible? Well in that case, a more varied approach is needed. You’d need to analyse your playing in real time and pinpoint areas for improvement then work at them.

Do this fluidly, don’t work from a schedule. If you’re playing music one day and you think that your legato is sounding awesome but your picking wasn’t up to your standards, try some picking work in your next session.

Guitar Tips and Advice question #5 What skills should a good acoustic guitar player have?

I’m really trying to avoid those “it depends” answers that aren’t really answers but it depends on what kind of music you’re looking to play.

Let’s try to be more constructive though and come up with one playing aspect that all good acoustic guitar players should have. I’d go with chords.

Chords is a big word isn’t it? Chords means a lot and I’m phrasing it like that intentionally. You want a general good command of your chords. Picking them, strumming them, building interesting progressions with them, your chord vocabulary itself. Chords can do a lot and being a chord master will make your music infinitely better.

If I want to work on my chord-based guitar playing, I’ll often grab my acoustic. This forces me to improve the chord side of playing and rely less on the flashy flash leads. So yeah, chords.

Guitar Tips and Advice question #6 Committed third year player. I would like to play/practice with a metronome, but I’m terrible with it. Does anyone have any good get me started tips?

Firstly, well done for incorporating the metronome into your guitar playing. It can be tricky getting the hang of it at first. That click can really expose a musician so making these steps to improve is a great thing.

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It’s hard to give specific advice as I don’t know where you are in terms of your ability but the fact that you’re three years in suggests that your intermediate level and already have a grasp of the guitar fundamentals.

What I will suggest is to go backwards to go forwards. Take a step back to basics and then work your way up. Learn how to do very basic things with the click rather than trying to go about your normal guitar playing day. Do basic technique exercises and chord changes and very basic strumming patterns. Try picking through some scales with the metronome using quarter notes and 8th notes and 16th notes. Try it with triplets. If you’re practicing a technique, go out of your way to incorporate the metronome into whatever exercise you’re running. You could even go as basic as playing one downward strum on a chord on each beat then changing chord at the end of the bar.

Then there’s the tempo. Reduce it if it’s too fast. Start slow and gradually build up the speed by say 5 beats per minute each time when you feel comfortable and when it gets too much, dial it back.

To be honest, I remember finding it tricky at first but your timing and precision will improve exponentially. Timing is so important. Putting this work in will make you a much better guitarist, I guarantee it. Don’t do all your guitar playing with the metronome though.

Last point on the metronome is that there’s no excuses. There’s an abundance of free metronomes out there or very cheap physical ones. If you don’t use a metronome, start doing so. I’ve even built one here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. Well, built, stole the code. Same difference.

Online Metronome

Guitar Tips and Advice question #7 Can your fingers be too small to play the guitar?

No. Don’t look for excuses. This question feels like one of those “I can’t go to the gym today because” kind of situations. No. Having small fingers generally speaking does not mean that you can’t become a competent guitarist. My fingers aren’t exactly long but I get by just fine.

In the interest of balance, I’d also like to point out that longer fingers will make some things easier. Yeah, I can taste the salt of your tears. That’s right, I see you. That person who’s about to send me a butt hurt message but physics is physics. I’m a pretty good guitarist if I do say so myself but playing this chord on acoustic and getting everything to ring out consistently is a b****.

guitar tips 3 f minor add 9 chord

That’s life folks. Don’t let small fingers put you off though because like I said, there’s no reason why you can’t become very good. Even if that F minor add 9 chord really irritates you.

#8 What musician should I follow if I desire to master the guitar? Whom do you recommend to me to see or listen to?

I have two answers to this question. The first is the blog friendly non-controversial but admittedly bland one where I say something like this.

There’s no easy answer to this. Nobody has truly ever mastered the guitar as such and many guitarists are great for different reasons and it’s all down to a matter of taste at the end of the day. Then I give a list of about 50 guitarists who we all already know are great and you don’t get a particularly useful answer.

I think the person asking the question would prefer a more direct answer though so here it is. Joe Satriani.

If you desire to master the guitar, listen to Joe Satriani. A true guitar master and one of the all-round greatest of all time.

I was first inspired to pick up a guitar because of the Beatles. I wanted to be just like Paul McCartney. I eventually signed up for some lessons at my local guitar store and two weeks in, my teacher asked me if I’d heard of this guy Joe Satriani. My answer was swift. No.

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He said when you get home, listen to his guitar playing. I did just that. I opted for YouTube and came across a live performance of Satriani’s Cool#9. This video changed my life. My entire perception of what a guitar was changed in that moment.

My aspirations had now changed. I now wanted to become one of the greatest guitarists in the world, just like Joe Satriani. I digested more and more of his music and I was mesmerised. From that moment on, I pushed myself a million times harder to get better and better and you know what? It doesn’t matter if you fall short of Satriani. There’s no shame in aiming for the stars and landing on the moon.

#9 Is there such thing as too much Beatles?

Absolutely not. The Beatles are one of the best bands of all time and they have oceans of immense music, a lot of which features some tremendously good guitar. If you’re looking to improve your composition skills, listening to the Beatles is a great way to get inspired. Their discography is crammed full of all kinds of great guitar. They have unbelievably good guitar solos and some of the best guitar riffs ever written and the story doesn’t end there. I’m not going to get into listen to this song, listen to that song, so in short, no, there’s no such thing as too much Beatles.

That said, I’m not telling you to mimic them. Be you. Don’t try to copy what they did. Listen to their music closely and take valuable things from it.

#10 As a guitar teacher, what methods do you use to teach your students to play lead guitar?

Last one for today and this time we have a question based on guitar teaching which is interesting. Assuming the student wants to learn lead guitar, I’d first start by introducing them to the 5 shapes of the minor pentatonic scale. I’d explain what the scale is, and how these shapes link together, and how to use this knowledge to play the scale in any key. I’d introduce some very basic licks and the fundamental techniques such as hammer ons, pull offs and bends and I would encourage experimentation. Then, we could look at improvisation alongside the 12-bar blues and also, we could look at a couple of songs in the student’s preferred genre that have easy guitar solos.

The next things you’d want to cover are the major pentatonic scale and the blues scale and then the major scale, natural minor scale and finally, the harmonic minor scale (all modes). Lastly, introduce more intermediate to advanced techniques. All this together forms the foundation of a lead guitarist’s arsenal.

What next?

Thanks for checking out this edition of my guitar tips and advice based on questions from the guitar community. I hope you found something valuable or at least I hope you found it an interesting read. Want to do something more practical? Try one of the recent guitar lessons that I’ve written for Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat.

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