Saturday, 30 January 2010

How To Become A Great Guitar Player

So you want to play guitar so good that your friends hate you out of jealousy.

If that sounds about right, keep reading.

Do you know what’s keeping you from being a totally killer guitar player?

It’s not talent.

It’s Practice.

More accurately it’s the total number of hours of correct practice.

Who’s your favorite guitar player? Would you like to know something very interesting about this person?

Well you see, the first time your favorite guitarist ever touched up a guitar… he could barely play anything… most likely nothing at all.

Let’s put your favorite guitar player in a time machine, send him way back to the first time he picked up a guitar… and let’s put him right next to you on the first day you touched a guitar… well you’d both sound pretty much the same…

Like Crap.

There is something that you must understand. There is a natural progression that has to take place to go from being a beginner to a deadly professional.

Let me break it down for you:

You have to suck before you become ok… you have to be ok before you become good… and you have to be good before you become great.

Suck to OK to Good to Great

It’s a natural progression.

You can not become great at guitar (or anything) without first sucking, then just being ok, then being good and then eventually becoming great.

It’s a law of nature.

There is absolutely no way around it.

The biggest difference between you and a master guitar player is the total number of hours of correct practice you’ve put in.

How much does talent factor into the equation?

Over the long run… very little.

Recent studies have proven this.

There was a study done on 20 year old violinists, in which their skill was judged by conservatory teachers.

The best violinists out of the group had all averaged about 10,000 hours of proper practice.

The second best violinists had all averaged 7,500 hours of proper practice.

The third best violinists had all averaged 5,000 hours of proper practice.

Just to really beat this into your head, there was not a single student who had practiced a total of 5,000 hours that was as good as the students that had racked up 10,000 hours.

So talent does not make up for those big gaps in practice time accumulated.

Not to say that talent doesn’t help. Maybe it’s talent that separates a really great guitar player from a legendary guitar master.

But you know what? Either you have the talent or you don’t. And no wishing or being depressed about it is going to change that.

So you have to ask yourself one question:

Do I want to play this damn instrument or not?

And that’s all that matters. You can’t increase your talent… but you can sure as hell increase your skill.

And you know what? When you become very skilled, people will look at you and say, “Wow, you’re so talented.”

The more skilled you become, the more talented you seem to be.

Now let me share something really cool with you. It’s called…

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Recent evidence shows that if you total up 10,000 hours of correct practice on an instrument, or in a sport, or whatever skill… basically you will be pretty awesome at it.

Note: the best violin students had 10,000 hours of practice under their belts.

When I was growing up I was just awed by the ability of certain guitar players. Guitar players like Steve Vai for example.

I was always astounded by how good he was… and how quickly he got good.

He started playing guitar at around the age of 13 and by 18 he had impressed one of his biggest influences, Frank Zappa, so much so that Zappa hired him.

So I was always blown away at how good he got in about 5 years of playing guitar.

How many people do you know that have been playing guitar for 5, 10, or 15 years and they downright suck? There are a lot of people like that.

Back to Steve… not only was I blown away by how quickly he got good, but by how much he would practice.

He has personally reported practicing anywhere from 10 to 12 to even 15 hours a day!!

Let’s do some math:

At 10 hours a day, it would take you 2.7 years to rack up 10,000 hours of practice.

Other well known rock guitar stars like Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen have reported similar practice numbers.

So imagine that. Imagine becoming a killer guitar player in just under 3 years. It’s possible…

If you put in the time.

Now I’m not recommending that you do this. That kind of obsessive practicing is reserved for the rare few. The rare few that end up making guitar history.

But you do get the point.

If you want to play better… you have to practice more (and practice better).

Now I don’t want to scare off those of you that want to learn a few chords and play songs for your friends around a campfire.

You don’t need 10,000 hours for that so don’t worry.

But the more you practice (correctly), the quicker you will get to whatever your goal happens to be.

Whether you want to be a jaw-dropping virtuoso or just learn a few chords, the more you practice, the quicker you will achieve your goals.

Now before you run out and start practicing 10 hours a day, please keep in mind that your hands are delicate and need time to adjust to the practicing.

If you start out playing 5 hours a day right off the bat you could seriously injure your hands (I know that from painful experience).

So if you are just starting off, practice in 20 minute spurts. Start off with one 20 minute practice session per day. Then add more 20 minute sessions in (maybe once every week).

I would say that a bare minimum of practicing would be 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can practice that much right?

But remember, regardless of whether you want to practice 20 minutes a day, or 10 hours a day, you must make sure to build up slowly.

There is one more thing I definitely need to mention… you see, to become a killer guitar player, you have to rack up many thousands of hours of practice… but if you have to practice in the right way.

If you practice poorly, after you rack up a few thousand hours of crappy practice you won’t be a really good guitar player, you’ll just be really good at playing crappy!

Of course, how to practice properly is a huge enough topic to warrant an article (or few) of its own.

But for now, stop reading and go dust off your guitar!

Rock on,

Johnny Cobra

The Six String Samurai

Johnny Cobra is the author of the book "The Six Deadly Sins Of The Six Strings" which exposes the Six Deadly Mistakes guitarists make that destroy their chances of becoming really great. For a limited time you can download this eBook for FREE at

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Great Acoustic Guitar Playing

Learn To Play Guitar Fast Online

Learn Guitar Online - 10 Tips to Play Fast on Guitar

Playing lead guitar fast and accurate is the goal of many aspiring guitarists. Unfortunately, only about 5% achieve their objective, the other 95% manage to play fast and sloppy.

Speed comes as a by-product of accuracy, unless a guitarist develops clean, accurate guitar technique that has both left and right hands working in prefect co-ordination true will never be achieved.

The first thing to learn is to slow down... that's right, in order to play fast we need to slow down!

We need to keep in mind that we are always listening to the final product when we hear music on the radio, CD's etc., we never get to hear a the guitarist or band rehearsing.

Here's ten tips that are guaranteed to overcome that musical brick wall that all guitarist's run into when trying to play fast on the guitar.

1. Use a thick pick: Make sure to use a medium to thick guitar pick, standard shape guitar picks work best. Avoid thin picks, they are the first hazard in developing a solid technique.

2. Use medium - heavy set of strings: I recommend .012 as the first string through to.052 for the sixth. Narrow gauge strings do not create enough resistance to develop left hand strength (assuming the player is right handed).

As the majority of guitars come equipped with .009 to .042 or .010 to .046 gauge strings you may need to have a guitar set-up especially for technical practice.

3. Medium to High action: Set up your action high enough to eliminate buzzes.

4. Warm up slowly: Just like any sporting event, your fingers need to warm up slowly. Play notes all over the fingerboard slowly. This is to get your fingers used to the differences in action travel between high and low notes on the fretboard as well as the variation in fret size.

5. Use a metronome: Your first objective should be to be able to play a steady stream of eight notes at a metronome marking of 60. we need to be patient with ourselves and remember that "music comes when it's ready... not when we're ready".

6. Add eight note triplets: As you build confidence with your eight note practice I recommend starting a separate practice session playing a steady stream of eight note triplets.

Begin the eight note triplet practice once you have achieved a metronome tempo of 120 with your eight notes.

7. Combine eight notes and eight note triplets: As you build your eight note triplet practice tempo up to a metronome setting of 108 try a combination of eight notes and eight note triplets.

Each time you start a type of practice session, eight note triplets or combination of eight note and eight note triplets remember to start back at a slower tempo 60 or 72 and then build up speed again.

8. Add hammer-on: When you are ready add the hammer-on technique to your eight note and eight note triplet practice sessions.

9. Pull-off technique: The next technique to add is the "pull off" as you combine the hammer on and pull off technique you will notice your speed developing.

10. Slides: Another important technique to practice with your metronome is the "slide" technique. Slides, hammer on's and pull off's will add a new level of interest to your playing, remember to keep in time with the metronome.

Guitarists are obsessed with playing fast, keep in mind (a) the pursuit of technique is endless (b) let the music take you to the technique you need ... translated, you only need enough technique to be able to play what you are hearing.

Just because someone can type fast, does not automatically what they are typing is communicating anything!

Practice these techniques and you will notice a new confidence in your playing.

Mike Hayes develops systems and products to help you succeed in your guitar playing. Find out more about how to learn guitar fast with his popular free ecourse, available at: =>

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