Sometimes getting good at guitar can feel like it takes forever. I’ve been there. I didn’t really feel like I was a “good” guitar player until multiple years into my playing journey. What I’ve learned over the years is that there are a few unique ways to make faster progress on the guitar, and potentially get good at guitar faster than you think.
Below are my 10 favorite tips for getting good at guitar playing fast, and a special bonus tip at the end. These tips will help make your playing more enjoyable, help you to practice more, and thus help you to get better at the guitar faster.
1. Practice Daily
I’ve written previously about why it’s important to play guitar every day. Essentially, practicing guitar every day simply leads to faster progress. You’ll build calluses more quickly and progressively build your skill on the instrument over time.
The biggest problem I see with newer guitarists is that they don’t stick with it every day. Often, beginners pick up their guitar and stick to it for just a few days. They get discouraged and put it down for a week or two. Then they decide to pick it up again and put it back down.
If you keep at it steadily, it moves a little faster. This is why daily practice is so important. Nothing worth doing happens overnight. Time is needed to build muscle memory and train your hands to play. You simply have to put in the work.
2. Consider Guitar Teachers, Lessons & Courses
With the digital age in full swing, it can be tempting to think that you can teach yourself everything you need to know. Why shell out for lessons when there is so much material available for free?
However, I think the valuable of a truly great guitar teacher is still priceless. For me personally, there are some guitar techniques that I just wasn’t motivated enough to learn on my own. I’d say I would learn them, but I’d really only practice them for a few days, and then go back to the things I was already good at.
In my case, I really struggled with finger picking in particular. Even basic Travis picking and relatively easy fingerpicking patterns…. I just was not motivated to stick with them. So? I hired a local guitar teacher who specialized in those exact things. I kid you not: I was fingerpicking some of my favorite tunes in a few weeks!
Getting a teacher may not make things easier, but having someone to hold you accountable and guide you along the way can really motivate you to reach the next level. Check out my recommended courses, lessons & teachers for my biggest tips here.
3. Learn to Sing
I started singing to remind myself where I was at in the songs I was playing and learning, and to keep rhythm better. And to be clear, I am NOT a very good singer. I never thought I could sing at all before playing guitar, and singing along out of necessity.
But the truth is – singing opened a whole new musical world for me. Suddenly, I had a whole new list of songs I wanted to learn, and to sing along to. Again, I want to emphasize that you do not need to be a good singer in order for this to benefit your guitar playing.
Singing along as you practice will not only improve your guitar playing and musical ear, but also change the kind of songs you want to learn, and thus keep your guitar journey fresh and interesting. Simply put, singing improves your ear, sense of rhythm, flexibility, and more.
When you’re ready to get started, check out my Top 5 Singing Tips for Beginners.
4. Learn New Genres
If you’re anything like me, there was probably one particular genre of music that made you really want to start playing the guitar. For me it was the red hot blues rock of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy, and others.
That may seem strange to hear, since you’re reading this on an acoustic guitar website. But that’s just the thing – through the years I’ve hopped around from genre to genre. From blues to rock to jam bands to bluegrass and back again. And that’s a good thing!
There’s so much to learn in the world of guitar, and if you pin yourself down to one genre you may be limiting yourself and stagnating. Exploring a new genre of music on your instrument can open a lot of new possibilities. Plus – you’ll already have a rock solid foundation from whatever musical styles you were playing in the past.
5. Learn New Techniques & Styles
Have you only been practicing flatpicking? Or maybe you’ve only been working on fingerstyle or finger picking.
Now’s the time to change things up and learn a new technique or style of guitar playing. Doing so will keep things fresh and interesting, and also open you up to learning new songs that make use of this new technique.
Don’t be afraid to change directions and start pursuing a new technique or style of playing you’ve always wanted to learn.
6. Record Your Playing & Progress
In the day to day reality of practicing and learning, it can often feel like you’re spinning your wheels and not improving at all. I know because I’ve been there. You look up after a few months and wonder: have I even gotten any better at my instrument?
The fact of the matter is: you probably have. Especially if you’ve been practicing every day. But without recording your progress, how would you ever know that?
This is why I like to recommend people have some way of tracking their progress on the guitar. Whether it’s keeping a written journal, starting a youtube channel, of just recording yourself with the voice recorder app on your phone.
Keeping a record of where you’ve been can help you see your progress and improvements through the years much more clearly, and keep you that much more motivated to keep getting better and better.
7. Jam With Friends
Guitar, like anything, can be tough when you’re going at it all alone. That’s why I recommend jamming with others. This can be a handful of friends, or just one on one with another guitarist or musician.
The great thing about this is that it’s a learning and motivating experience regardless of your skill level. If you’re a beginner guitarist, you can jam with other beginners, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to jam with someone more experienced than you. Trust me – they will love teaching you all sorts of new tricks, techniques, and ideas.
Similarly, as an experienced player you’ll get to share your knowledge and skill with others. Studies have shown that teaching actually ingrains our knowledge even more deeply, so you’ll be getting better yourself while simultaneously helping others!
8. Study The Masters
Who inspired you to pick up the guitar in the first place? It seems like a simple question, and yet many of us drift away from that initial inspiration moment and figure.
If I’m in a motivational rut, one of my favorite things to do is go back and watch the people who made me want to play in the first place. Guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tony Rice, Jerry Garcia, and Derek Trucks.
The glory of the internet is that so much inspirational footage is available for absolutely free. So the next time you’re needing some motivation, hop on YouTube and revisit the guys who made you pick up your axe on day one.
9. Learn Music Theory
As guitarists, we can sometimes feel like we have a free pass to skip out on music theory. I know I used to feel this way. “The Beatles didn’t need it, so why do I?” Right?
The truth is, music theory can change everything about how you see your instrument. Nothing opened up the fretboard to me more than learn scales and modes and the CAGED system. Taking some time to learn those 3 things will put you miles ahead of casual guitarists, and allow you to create incredible solos.
If you’re just starting out, then learning basic theory like the circle of fifths or the pentatonic scale will provide a foundation that will last the rest of your guitar journey. It’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you have a theoretical foundation behind what you’re doing.
That said, whether or not you learn theory is up to each player. I wrote a whole post on 11 famous guitarists who never learned to read music.
10. Invest In a Quality Guitar
Oftentimes when we’re first starting out on the guitar, we’re encouraged to go for the cheapest option available. The idea is that if you give up or lose motivation, at least you haven’t shelled out a bunch of money.
The problem with this mindset is that sometimes it can end up getting you a subpar instrument, and that in itself will actually act to demotivate you. Even if your instrument was a great starter guitar, you may have outgrown it and be ready for a mid-range or premium quality guitar.
This is not to say that all budget guitars are bad. In fact, you can find awesome guitars to fit your budget. But you should never be afraid of treating yourself to an upgraded instrument, especially if you think it’ll inspire you to reach new heights in your own playing.
Check out my recommended premium guitars if you need some help here.
Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?
Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out a few of my favorite resources below:
The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings – A unique polymer coating makes these guitar strings last for months or even years at a time, making for an exceptional value. They provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for. — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
The Best Acoustic Guitar – Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the Martin D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever… It’s an excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is also what I play myself — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Chords, Tabs & Video Lessons for 100 Epic Songs – This free guide that I created for fellow guitarists gives you chords, tabs, and video lessons for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar… I spent many hours putting this guide together to help you get better at guitar, faster. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE
Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar – Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style. Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE