A Guitarists 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!

Tom Gledhill

Tom Gledhill

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 think 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:


If you’re looking to better your guitar skills, one of the best things you can do is practice with a metronome. A metronome is a device that produces a regular, audible beat that you can play along to. This is a great way to improve your timing and rhythm and increase your speed with flawless precision.

One of my favourite ways to practice with a metronome is to set it to half the tempo of the song or phrase you are working on. This means that the metronome will click on beats 2 & 4 which will really improve your time feel.

A metronome will help you with feel, consistency, performing with other musicians and much more – click here to shop all metronomes!

Best metronomes for guitar practice


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


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!

Recording that first loop is a form of practice in itself. Playing a part so spot on it’s worthy of multiple repeats is a tricky art to master. It’ll improve your timing and encourage you to play to perfection – click here to shop all loopers!

Let us know your creative looper ideas across our social platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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 record and experiment with practice and ideas. As a beginner guitarist it may well feel as if recording should be a million miles away from your level. However, whether you’ve been playing for 10 weeks or 10 years, home-recording is one of the most effective ways to develop all aspects of your guitar playing.

Audio interfaces such as the Focusrite Scarlett and Universal Audio Volt have made recording yourself at home easier and cheaper than ever – all you need is a semi-decent computer with a DAW (Digital audio Workstation) the interface a cable and your Instrument and you’ll have everything you need to create high quality recordings of your playing.

Even if you’re an advanced guitarist with decades of experience, it’s difficult to objectively hear how you sound while you’re playing.
Not only are you distracted by concentrating on the music, but you will also be hearing how the passage should sound instead of how it actually does.

By recording your isolated guitar to a click track you can listen back objectively and critically to identify areas of your playing that need improvement. When listening back ask yourself:

  • Are you locked in time with the click?
  • Are your bends pitched correctly?
  • Does every note ring out clearly?
  • Is your picking hand in time with your fretting hand?

At first, you’ll likely be a little surprised at just how different it sounds being played back compared to how you thought you played it.
Don’t let this discourage you, by regularly recording yourself playing you’ll always be finding ways to improve and will therefore develop at a much faster rate than someone who doesn’t get the objective feedback that recording can provide.  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

Guitar Headphone Amplifiers

Let’s face it, a wall of Marshall stacks isn’t always the most appropriate of rigs if you’re at home wanting to practice without disturbing your roommates or family. It is no secret that we love turning that volume all the way up. Guitar Headphone amps will allow you to do just that late into the night.

Headphone amps are a great way to practice silently. While many regular guitar amps feature a headphone output, these handy tools are considerably smaller and much easier to take around with you on the go. It also means you can leave your bigger amp at the rehearsal space, knowing that you’ve still got a practice tool at home. All you’ll have to do is plug your guitar and headphones into it. This way you won’t disturb anyone, and you will be able to play as loud as you want. It is perfect for practice for both beginners and expert guitar players.

You don’t need to sacrifice tone to practice quietly, or on the go – Click here to shop all guitar headphone amplifiers!

Best headphone amplifiers 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!)

Slow and steady wins the race.

Being able to slow down music without changing the pitch is very useful during practice. You may want to hear a certain riff in a song, the timing of a certain section of a piece or just play along with a track, but slower. The good news is there are a multitude of tools which allow you to slow down audio. iphone/ipad apps such as Anytune Pro allow you to slow down music and help you learn pieces, play along with pieces/backing tracks or transcribe music.

My personal favorite program to use for slowing down music to learn guitar parts is called Transcribe! This software is simple, clean, and has all the functionality you need without going overboard. If you’re looking for a simple solution to slowing down music while maintaining the correct pitch, Transcribe! Is the software for you.

The HeadRush Prime includes a convenient built-in Practice Tool that you can use to play along with songs from the internal storage, connected USB storage devices, or a linked Dropbox account. In addition to being able to play along with a song, you can also set loop points within a song, and use speed controls to slow it down to making learning the song easier, or use pitch controls to practice a song in different keys.

“Why not just read the tabs?”  While guitar tablature certainly has its place, all professional guitar players transcribe music by ear on a regular basis. Why do they do this if nearly every song ever can be found on popular tab websites? Because tabs can be slow, tabs can be wrong, and transcribing works out our ear and makes us better musicians.

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!

Tom Gledhill
Tom Gledhill
Tom is a session guitarist based in London and has worked with artists such as Anne-Marie, Rod Stewart, Mika, Gabrielle, Mimi Webb, Zak Abel and many more.

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