3 Simple Hacks for Practicing Guitar Like a Pro

by Alec Plowman, Mar 4, 2018 . 6 min read

3 Simple Hacks for Practicing Guitar Like a Pro

Fun Fact: 90% of newbies quit learning the guitar in their first year of playing. 90%? That’s a HUGE number! 

Is learning guitar really so hard that only one tenth of people see it through?

Yes, learning guitar is hard. It wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t. But that’s not why people put their guitar playing dreams to bed after just 12 months.

The main reason is that people don’t know how to practice.

You can start out with all the how to play guitar guides, easy guitar song lists, guitar chord sheets, guitar tab books and guitar music theory resources in the world, but it won’t get you anywhere if you don’t have a solid practice regimen to use them in.

But how do you practice guitar efficiently?

The good news is it’s not rocket science. In fact, there are a few simple steps to follow that will get you guitar results week-on-week and keep you motivated to continue. And the first of those is…

Set regular goals

One of the biggest mistakes that guitarists make is sitting down to practice… without any idea of what they’re supposed to be practicing.

Coming into practice without any goals is a bad idea. Why? You’re practicing without a sense of purpose, and that’s a major motivation killer.

Practicing without purpose leads to meandering. You pick up the guitar, strum a few chords, noodle on a few pentatonic scales and then get bored. The guitar goes away, the X-Box controller comes out and, aside from boosting your Gamerscore, you don’t accomplish anything.

If you want to be a better guitarist, then sit down and work out exactly what you want to achieve in the short and long term. Then, set weekly, monthly and yearly goals that will get you towards that place. Goals can be anything; learning a number of guitar chords in a week; mastering an easy guitar song; working through that pile of guitar tabs in your bookmarks bar, or brushing up your music theory. Whatever you as a guitarist are interested in will inform your goals. The important thing is that you set them and stick to them.

With goals in place, you’ll find you’re making tangible progress as a guitar player. That’s an incredibly satisfying feeling, and will give you the drive to keep practicing and to keep improving.

So set yourself regular goals, and watch as that X-Box controller gathers dust.

Play every day

When it comes to mastering something, working on it “little and often” is almost always the way to go. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same for learning how to play guitar.

When I started out learning the guitar, I didn’t pick it up every day. In fact, more often than not, I binged. I’d leave the guitar forlornly sitting in the corner for a week or so – usually while playing Crash Bandicoot – and then I’d pick it up and play it for several hours in a single session. Another week would go by, the process would repeat itself.

Guess what? While I got seriously good at Crash, my guitar progression was pretty slow.

And by pretty slow, I mean glacial.

The problem was that, with a week between sessions, I’d forget everything I’d learned the last time I played the guitar. This meant I’d spend about three of those seven hours re-familiarizing myself with guitar chords, guitar tabs, and music theory – whatever I’d been working on in the last session. It was one step forward, two steps back. And, to cap it all off, I wasn’t playing often enough to develop callouses on my fingers, so fretting chords really hurt.

It was my guitar teacher who soon noted my lack of progress, and told me that I needed to be practicing every day if I wanted to really learn the guitar. So, I switched from seven-hour weekly binges to half an hour of practice every day.

Technically, I’d halved the time I was putting into my guitar playing. But, my playing improved exponentially in the weeks and months that followed.

Why?

Concepts stayed fresh in my mind from day-to-day. I was much more focused, and what I was doing didn’t overwhelm me. That gave me the drive to keep coming back to guitar playing seven days a week. Oh, and by the end of a year, my finger callouses were rock hard to boot!

Close the door

Hack number 3 comes courtesy of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” He’s not talking about guitar playing here, but what he says is as applicable to becoming a shred master as it is to writing a novel:

“[Your writing room] really only needs one thing. A door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business: you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.”

Take that paragraph, replace the words “write” and “writing” with “guitar” and you start to get the idea (Fun fact, Stephen King is also a guitar player).

When you practice your guitar with the door open, you’re inviting the world into your space to distract you from learning the guitar. And, interruptions from family, friends or housemates will get in the way of you achieving your practice goals.

Closing the door to your practice space means that you’re focused on the task of hand. In that half-hour of practice time, there is nothing but you, your instrument and your practice goals (switching your phone to airplane mode isn’t a bad idea either, especially if friends are prone to bothering you on messenger).

Oh, and on a related note, your practice space doesn’t need to be anything special. You don’t need a dedicated studio, or a chic rehearsal lounge resplendent in rock and roll ephemera. A bedroom; a dining room; a broom closet – as long as there’s enough room for you and your guitar (and a practice amp if you’re using one) and no distractions, it’s a good enough space to work on your playing.



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit
Get Roadie Tuner

Check out some other similar articles

We’ve talked before in this blog about how jamming with other musicians is an amazing way to fast-track learning the guitar.

Alec Plowman
Nov 26, 2019 . 3 min read

You have bought your first guitar and are ready to begin your musical journey. But you don’t know where to start.

Frederik Nielsen
Nov 11, 2019 . 3 min read

You want to get better at guitar, right?

Who doesn’t? If you’re serious about your instrument, you’ll do anything and everything to build up your chops.

Alec Plowman
Sep 30, 2019 . 4 min read

When it comes to learning guitar, everybody has a goal piece. It’s that one song they’ve wanted to master since they first picked up the instrument

Alec Plowman
Sep 23, 2019 . 3 min read

The voice of Hawaii, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, blessed us with his cover mashup of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What A Wonderful World.

Frederik Nielsen
Sep 16, 2019 . 3 min read

Wouldn’t it be awesome if an app could listen to you play and coach you to learn your favorite songs on the Uke? That’s exactly what Ukulele by Roadie does. 

Karine Janho
Aug 14, 2019 . 3 min read

Ray Charles. Stevie Wonder. Art Tatum. There are numerous famous pianists that have proven that a disability is no match for real talent and ambition.

Frederik Nielsen
Aug 2, 2019 . 3 min read

Finger stretches for guitar: do them right, and they’ll unlock next level playing.

Get them wrong, however, and you’re in for a world of hurt.

Alec Plowman
Jul 22, 2019 . 5 min read

Practice makes perfect, but there’s always room for improvement. If you want to become a master, then you need some effective habits to improve your guitar skills.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 15, 2019 . 3 min read

Practice makes perfect, and clichés will forever be used in blog posts like these. But just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true!

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 1, 2019 . 6 min read

Teaching yourself to play ukulele is great!  Whether you’re learning to play ukulele online or with a book, it’s an awesome skill.

Alec Plowman
Jun 25, 2019 . 4 min read

So you want to learn to play ukuleleAwesome. But, what’s the best ukulele for beginners? Which cheap ukuleles won’t leave you buyer’s remorse?

Alec Plowman
Jun 6, 2019 . 4 min read

Whether you are a beginner or have some experience with guitars, you still may be wondering how to tune a guitar perfectly.

Alain Abou Atmeh
May 2, 2019 . 4 min read

Alternate tunings make life as a guitarist a bit more interesting, as it’s easy to get tired of just being famous all the time. That’s why we cover alternate tuning

Frederik Nielsen
May 1, 2019 . 5 min read

Drummers are loud people — let’s talk about it. I have to deal with a drummer who never calls in sick for rehearsals. He always shows up,

Federik Nielsen
Apr 29, 2019 . 3 min read

It’s a well-established fact: having a routine makes your more productive. Chances are you already put this into practice when it comes to

Alec Plowman
Apr 5, 2019 . 3 min read

What’s the best acoustic guitar for a beginner? If you’ve ever worked in a guitar store, you’ve probably been asked that question. A LOT.

Alec Plowman
Mar 31, 2019 . 3 min read

Developed in Hawaii during the 19th century, the ukulele has been riding a big wave of popularity since the 1990s.

Abir H. Farha
Feb 15, 2019 . 4 min read

Once you’ve read our guide on how to prepare for a mixing session, it’s time to get started. Here

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 6, 2019 . 5 min read

Recording at home is always fun. It’s possible to do so much with modern recording equipment. There are, however,

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 14, 2018 . 3 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!