Guitarist’s Guide to Practice

Practice makes perfect – a phrase that’s been tossed around irresponsibly by guitar teachers, musicians and parents for generations. But with good reason; the guitar, much like any craft, trade or hobby, only gives back as much as you put in. We put together this article to highlight tips, tricks and gear recommendations to get you back on track!

Sam Beattie

Sam Beattie

The term ‘guitar practice’ could be interpreted it lots of ways – practice could simply be you putting in the hours with your instrument. Or it could mean a rigid, disciplined routine to elevate your skill. Whatever way you look at it, it’s an essential element in any musician’s life.

So how can you make the most out of your practice and keep up motivation? Attitude, gear and influences can make all the difference. Let’s take a closer look…

Guitar practice: essential gear

Gear isn’t everything, but there are a few bits that we reckon are essential for a good practice session. Not only will it help you learn, but it’ll help you get creative and inspire you to keep going too. You can’t lose! Plus most of this stuff can be picked up at super affordable prices – we’ve highlighted some of the most popular options to save you the hassle. Read on:

Metronome

Learning to play an instrument without a metronome is like learning to fly without wings. OK, that’s a tad dramatic, but we think it’s pretty essential. A metronome will help you with feel, consistency, performing with other musicians and much more. Plus they start from under £20 – click here to shop all metronomes!

Best metronomes for guitar practice

Tuner

Nothing is going to kill your vibe like dodgy tuning. Keep it reigned in with an affordable, compact tuner. Brands like Boss, Korg and TC Electronic make excellent options that are used by novices and professionals alike. Click here to shop all tuners!

Best tuners for guitar practice

Looper

A looper allows you to quickly record ideas and play alongside them. Riffs, chord sequences, basslines – this allows you to experiment with creative ideas and put the stuff you’ve learned to the test. If you’ve been working on a certain scale, record some simple backing chords and play over the top. Suddenly, it’ll all make sense – click here to shop all loopers!

Best loopers for guitar practice

Audio interface

An audio interface bridges the gap between your guitar and your computer. Similarly to a looper, this will allow you to jam and experiment with practice and ideas. If you’ve got a DAW (more on this in a moment), you can also use your interface in the place of an amp. Click here to shop all audio interfaces!

Best audio interfaces for guitar practice

Amp modelling

Not essential, but undeniably useful. Even valve-amp purists find the prospect of modelling amp versatility tempting. Amp modelling – whether it’s an actual amp, or a bit of software – allows you replicate lots of different guitar sounds. For practice, this is useful as it allows you to explore sounds outside of your comfort zone and properly apply the stuff you’ve learned! Click here to shop all modelling amps.

Best modelling amps for guitar practice

Studio headphones

Unlike regular headphones, studio headphones are designed to offer a balanced tonal response. This means you get the most accurate impression of what you’re listening to, allowing you to easily pick out imperfections. A decent pair of headphones will also allow you to practise as much as you like without disturbing the neighbours, the family or the flatmates. Click here to shop all headphones!

Best headphones for guitar practice

How much practice does a guitarist need?

We’ve all heard of the 10,000 hour theory – practise for 10,000 hours to achieve true greatness at your chosen craft or skill. But that isn’t necessarily gospel. It all depends what you want out of your instrument. Here are a few tips to bear in mind:

  • Try to play at least on a daily basis
  • Experiment with styles outside of your comfort zone
  • Play and/or practise with other people
  • Look online for resources like backing tracks and exercises
  • Record your practice to reflect on later and track progress

Steve Vai Practice Routine - Andertons Music Co.

(above: Steve Vai is a well-known proponent of a stringent practice routine – look where it got him!)

Do you need a practice routine?

As mentioned earlier, having a practice routine can help with keeping up momentum and tracking your progress. But in many ways it can suck the fun out of it – you don’t necessarily want to be doing the same thing over and over.

If you do keep a practice routine, either for a specific amount of time per day or a specific set of exercises, keep it varied. Split your practice up into sections and spread them out over a week or a month. This could include scales/theory, improvisation, jamming along with your favourite tracks, jamming with other musicians – keeping it varied can keep your motivation up!

Do you need music theory to practise guitar?

Music theory is one of the major foundations of music. While it’s not essential to understand in order to become an accomplished guitarist, it’ll do you plenty of good. Theory can help expand your musical horizons, and push your playing outside of your comfort zone. Here are a couple of bits of music theory that can work wonders for your guitar playing:

  • Major scale modes – when these click, you’ll unlock a whole new world of harmony
  • Triad harmony – wanna build bigger-sounding melodies and brighter chords? This will help!
  • Diatonic chord movements – all chord sequences are based on basic major scale chord movements (the classic example: I-IV-V – look it up!)

Music Manuscript - Andertons Music Co.

Practice Tips on Andertons TV

Looking for a bit of extra motivation and wild guitar playing knowledge? Check out our videos with JustinGuitar, Ariel Posen and Danish Pete for wisdom galore!

More info

Have you enjoyed this read? While you’re here, you might want to check out the rest of our Learn content – especially the guitarist’s guide to recording and playing at home. See you next time!

Sam Beattie
Sam Beattie
Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw. When he's not busy being left-handed, he spends his time composing for music libraries and playing in a post-rock band. Sam plays a Mexican Telecaster and a Vigier Excalibur, and is never more than 5 feet away from his Electro-Harmonix POG.

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