Whether you are looking to fill stadiums with roaring riffs or want to impress at a jam with some jazzy licks, good practice is the key. Being able to play the electric guitar well is an aspiration of music lovers. You can elevate your skills immensely by practicing electric guitar with focus and intelligence.
Taking your talent to the next level requires a knowledge of the instrument and the music you are playing. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to success on the electric guitar. Thankfully, we are in an age where they are many resources that can make practicing electric guitar easier.
Whether you are practicing electric guitar alone or you are having weekly lessons with a professional tutor you should look to improve your playing by focussing on a few key areas. Below we have outlined some of the top techniques that could become part of your electric guitar practice routine.
1. Practicing Electric Guitar Scales and Arpeggios
Becoming comfortable running scales and arpeggios over and over again is fundamental to being a great electric guitarist. Scales and arpeggios dictate your ability to move around the strings in inventive and exciting ways. Whilst scales might not be the most appealing part of your practice routine it is important that they become a staple of your guitar practice schedule.
It is best to start with the most common scales and then build from there. The pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales are useful to try at first. These scales form the foundation of many great songs and will unlock the ability to play many of your favorite tunes.
Along with practicing your scales, you should also be incorporating arpeggio practice into your routine. Understanding the common arpeggio types like the Major, Minor and Dominant 7 are vital to improving your electric guitar playing.
Arpeggios are a great way to improve your electric guitar technique. Knowing your arpeggios will help you play blazing solos and keep up with other musicians at a jam. When you are doing your electric guitar practice exercises you should always ensure that you dedicate some time to playing and discovering new scales and arpeggios.
2. Chord Progressions
It may seem obvious but getting into the habit of practicing chord progressions will greatly advance your electric guitar ability. Becoming comfortable with chord progressions will enable you to move around the guitar with ease. Soon enough getting from one chord to another will become second nature.
Some of the most common chord progressions include: 2-5-1 or 1-5-4. These chord progressions can be applied in any key and are the basis of many of your favorite songs. By devoting a considerable amount of your electric guitar practice routine to chord progressions you will internalize them and become a more natural guitar player.
Some chord progressions are used more in one style than in another. For example, in jazz, the 2-5-1 chord progression is by far the most common progression. Whether you are looking to fit in at a jazz jam or impress at a blues session, knowing which chord progression suits the genre you play is important.
3. Training Your Ear
Developing your sense of melody and harmony is often undervalued. Your instinct in practice may be to immediately pick up your instrument and start playing. It is equally as important to improve how you listen to music. Some people are born with perfect pitch but more commonly people develop relative pitch over time by playing and listening to music intently.
Training your ear can be done by listening with and without your electric guitar in your hand. Absentmindedly noodling along with some jingle on TV or some theme on the radio is a great way of teaching your fingers where to move when you hear certain sounds.
If you practice enough you will find that you are able to pick up tunes faster. You will bypass that frustrating period of figuring out the key and tempo of the song. Training your ear is a long term habit that certainly pays off. Whilst it may seem difficult to grasp, all good guitar practice for beginners will in some way be training your ear for the future
4. Picking and Strumming
If you are practicing the electric guitar you should be experimenting with different picking and strumming techniques. Your right hand is as important as your left at producing the sound, timbre, and tone you want.
Practicing your picking technique is especially important on the electric guitar as each minute sound is amplified. Developing a smooth picking style can be the difference between a clean or messy sound. Whether you use a plectrum or your finger it is important to work on your picking technique to ensure you are getting the sound you want from the guitar.
Alongside picking, strumming is also a vital technique that you can improve over time with concentrated practice. Strumming is key to rhythm and can also have an impact on the sound you make. You can experiment with down and up stroke strumming, muted strum patterns and incorporating rests.
Both picking and strumming are guitar techniques that will develop over time with concerted practice. Being able to pick and strum complex melodies and rhythms will greatly improve your overall skill on the guitar. If you want to become a better electric guitar player you should definitely devote time to developing these skills.
5. Hone Your Electric Guitar Tone
When it comes to the electric guitar improving your tone refers to various techniques and habits. It may be useful to specifically touch on how you can improve the sound of your electric guitar by learning about the technical side of the instrument.
Creating a personal tone requires one to experiment with your equipment. You can add vibrato to your playing by using a whammy bar or play with pedals to get distortion and reverb. It is important to experiment with this equipment because a lot of electric guitar playing in genres like rock requires the guitar’s sound to be malleable.
Over time you will develop a technique for getting the best out of your guitar with a combination of your amp and pedals. Unlike the other tips and techniques mentioned above, experimenting with tone will probably never become arduous. Part of the appeal of the electric guitar is its ability to sound entirely different in the hands of different players.
You should make it a habit of yours to be aware of all the new developments in amp, pedal and guitar technology. Creating your own personal electric guitar tone will take you to the next level and keep your playing fresh.
6. Practicing Electric Guitar with a Metronome
Your electric guitar practice schedule should have room for a metronome. A metronome will teach you timing, rhythm and will help you learn your pieces faster.
By setting your metronome at a slow tempo and then slowly increasing it as you master each section of music you will become a better player. Your movements around the guitar will be more precise and you will develop a greater understanding of the guitar. If you are struggling with how to practice guitar chords and melodies grab a metronome and get playing!
Make Your Electric Guitar Practice Count
There are many ways to improve your electric guitar playing. As long as you are practicing regularly you will see your skills become sharper. If you want to refine your playing you should pay attention to some of the points mentioned above. Your practice should be focussed and purposeful.
Training your ear and listening to a wide variety of music is important to developing your musical palette. If you gain a wider appreciation of music it is likely that you will be more invested in your practice of difficult and niche techniques.
There are fundamental measures you can take when practicing the electric guitar. Spending time practicing your scales, arpeggios and chord progressions are a great way of gaining a comprehensive guitar skill set.
There are also unique aspects to the electric guitar that can make practice enjoyable. Playing around with your tone using pedals, amp settings, and different picking techniques is a fun way of advancing the breadth of your guitar capabilities.
Ultimately, it all comes down to consistent and smart practice. Hopefully, the above tips have demonstrated how certain techniques can make your practice time valuable.
Which practice technique has helped you improve your electric guitar playing?
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