Just wondering what you guys feel really pushed your playing to the next level and what I should focus my energy doing?

Just wondering what you guys feel really pushed your playing to the next level and what I should focus my energy doing?


For me it was spending a couple of years dedicated to developing my rhythm hand and timing. I feel like rhythm is the main thing beginners neglect, which is ironic because it's the main thing that makes listeners enjoy what you're playing.


I absolutely second this. Rhythm is so important. A previous teacher played for me Happy Birthday but with all the wrong notes. It was still noticeable because he played the rhythm exactly. Another teacher once told me that “rhythm should be seen as a tool of expression.”


I was bouncing back and forth between practicing rhythm and lead and making little progress in both and was getting frustrated. Then I came across a quote from Eddie Van Halen that said every guitarist should learn rhythm. It’s kinda hard to ignore advice from one of the greatest of all time. So even though my goal is to play lead, I’ve mostly put that aside to work on rhythm. I practice a few scales now and again but 95% of my practice and song playing is working on chords and strumming. It’s not as exciting as shredding but I trust that Eddie knew what he was talking about.


Well timing applies to lead just as much as it does to rhythm, if you build that internal metronome your solos will always be on point.


I'll second this one I neglected mine for years now Im trying to correct it.




I just opened this thread to post this and I'm glad it's the top answer. Rhythm is so absurdly overlooked. Guitar forums are flooded with guys that really know their scales, you can tell they practice their technique like crazy but their rhythm is severely lacking. Improv? How about non-stop 16th notes without any accents at all?


In the same vein I feel like one of the biggest leaps I took was learning to properly alternate pick.


Thanks man great advice


Absolutely! Solos are flashy and fun, but you can’t have a song that’s just solo. You can have one with just really good rhythm playing. This has been a main focus for me lately.


Biggest help for me was joining a band. My playing exploded because I was doing so much more of it, and between practices I knew what I had to learn/improve for next time. When there’s other people standing in the circle depending on everyone else, it’s motivating to practice like hell!


Thanks man I have always enjoyed playing with others but I just find people so flakey. It was better back in college but now people are settling down ya know


Ahh this is what I want so badly. I’ve jammed like 10 times in my life and it’s unbelievable how much I feel I improve just from these jam sessions. Can’t imagine what will happen when I’m in a band


Why not start/join one? It takes a handful of really good songs, a practice space, and some PA gear and you have a band!


Main thing for me was playing to a backing track. It's like practicing to a metronome but with the context of a key. My practice tracks use drone notes, so just one bass note. This lets me practice different modes, switch easily between major and minor, etc. It also really helped develop my ear as I learned what the sounds of the intervals were against a backing root note. I'd say it changed me from a guitar player to a musician.


Thanks for the advice. Do you just get these backing tracks from YouTube? Or do you have a different source?


You can just go on YouTube! You can play with tracks in different keys or just to drums alone. I recommend putting on like a 20 minute drum track and just try to come up with some riffs. I’m the same age as you and I started playing again when the pandemic started and that really accelerated my progress and now I’ve been able to write my own songs and solos and have basically become a one man band


thanks man


I use my DAW and create them myself. Simple 4-on-floor drum track, simple bass note pattern. The best thing about using the DAW (and MIDI drums+bass) is you can dial the tempo to anything you need... playing a little sloppy? Bring it down 5 bpm and get synced up! I also have tracks for practicing chord changes, but to really get the juices flowing when I first warm up, and practicing speed, I use the drone tracks. Here's an example: [https://onlinesequencer.net/730772](https://onlinesequencer.net/730772) These tracks are also a great way to come up with riffs, and since you're in the DAW anyway you just create an audio track and record the ideas right then and there.


The thing that made it clicked for me was learning the triads and their inversion all over the neck. That subsequently opened up a lot of things.


Do you have a good resource or direction to point someone in whose looking to learn this?


[major and minor](https://online.berklee.edu/takenote/guitar-chords-101-triad-inversions-up-the-fretboard/) You should be able to come up with the augmented and the diminished ones from these major and minor by changing a note. Practice with a slow backing track and visualize these and superimpose these triads on the major scale of the same key. Then arpeggios too.


You are the bomb! Thank you :D


Another question: should one get familiar with these major/minor triads before adding seventh chords? Can you even have a 7th chord triad? Since that would be 4 notes, and a triad implies 3 notes. Would you remove the 5th since it doesn’t really affect the chord tone as much as the tonic, third, and seventh?


Ya you should get familiar with these first before adding the 4th note of the 7th chords. Where possible I try not to omit the 5th although it doesn't add much to the chord quality but obviously that would also depend on your physical limitations when fingering of the frets, my hands are small so there are some chords where I wouldn't be able to transition fast enough with the stretching so I would omit the 5th. Other factors would involve whether you are playing alone or in a band, as playing in a band context you would try to omit notes where it would clash with other melody instrument or the bassist. As I'm after playing solo chord melody I try to not omit.




This was the exact thing i too have been looking for. Thanks


To help with this, I make my own triad based licks. So I practice several things at once, a lick, triad shapes, economy picking, hand synchronization, …


Getting a teacher who you click with. I had a similar guitar journey - self taught in teenage years, kinda messed around for a while, lost interest at some point as I was playing the same stuff over and over. Getting a teacher and running through all the theory that I neglected when I was younger has really pushed my playing up. Definitely still a ways to go for me, but weekly lessons have been great for me. Also I'll second the person who recommended playing with others - my teacher does jam sessions with some of his other students, and those are so much fun. Its incredible how much of a rush it is to play a full song with other musicians.


Thanks mate! I have been thinking about that. When it comes to theory there’s so many times my question could be answered in about a minute but I end up spending half an hour trying to work it out online


Yeah I had the same problem! It can be tough to clearly articulate a theory question, and sometimes there isn't a simple answer online. But a teacher should be able to explain. Regardless, congrats on getting back into guitar! Hope you are having fun and improving! Lol now dont forget that daily practice...


Haha thanks. like I said I got nothing but time atm and I’m quite obsessive so daily practice is all I got


My approach is to find stuff you like but can’t do and start learning to do it. If you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you will expand. After playing for about 10 or so years going round the same pentatonics and learning scales and modes without really understanding what I was doing, I started learning tunes by Frank Zappa, Alan Holdsworth, Al DiMeola. It was then I started to develop an understanding of what it was I was playing. It opens a lot of doors. YMMV.


Thanks a lot!


There are a few things that I have done and am trying to do again to get to the next level: 1. Stop Noodling! FIngers going weedle weedley weedle on the fretboard is not practice! 2. Ear training: Get an app and learn to identify intervals and chords. Takes a different amount of time for everyone, but 20 minutes a day is a small sacrifice. 3. Learn songs that you like and push your boundaries. Are you into blues and metal, learn a jazz tune. Only into jazz, learn some prog rock, whatever it is to get to a higher level of playing. Odd time signatures, fast riffs, chords that make your head hurt -- just dive in. 4. Spend some time on technique, but don't overdo it. We all want monster chops but they are pointless if there is no music to go with advanced techniques. Don't sacrifice good musical ideas for techniques designed to impress a few guitar players who will just say they can do it better. On the other hand if you have some solid musical ideas, look for ways to build your technique in service of those ideas. 5. Record everything. Hold yourself to a realistic standard by going back and listening to your progress as well as the areas that need work. Don't share incomplete ideas with world! Listen to yourself critically and be picky about what you share.


Real solid advice there man. I’m very grateful!


What's a good ear training app?


I use Tenuto. It's like $3.99. I know there are a bunch.


Man...I can vouch for #4. The more I work on technical stuff, the less I feel connected to the music in my head. It's a real balancing act.


Honestly? And this was recent: The major scale. I learned the major scale in one octave, then in several positions, then in two octaves from those positions. Learning that helped me find triads, which roundaboutly led me to CAGED shapes (that I still don't use). From major scales I jumped to relative minors, which really helped break up the "blues box" I'd been stuck in up to that point. Next step is picking hand: Actually counting beats, rather than trusting my ear, etc.


1) really basic music theory. Ben Levin's Music theory from the ground up series helped a ton. 2) Troy Grady's cracking the code series helped me with string switching, and kinda helped with speed. 3) scale runs and a metronome helped me push my speed. There's still things I can do better, but those 3 things has helped me immensely.


Thanks very much!


Jump to episode 8 of cracking the code if you want to just get to the good stuff. It's kind of a diary of his musical journey.


I will second what some others have said— play in a group. It can be serious or just for fun. Learning how to listen to the other instruments and understand how you fit in among them is immensely helpful. It’s what boosted both my guitar and my violin ability. It will also help you with rhythm, something that is also vitally underrated in the “getting good” process.


Playing with other people is the thing that helped me most. It’s nice if at least one person in the group is better than you are. There was music lesson place near me that would organize people into bands. I was in two bands and it was unbelievably fun and I learned a ton!


Find someone to play with/join a band/form a band. Sometimes we forget how essential the communal nature of music is to achieving better musicianship. It’s too easy to lock ourselves away in the ‘woodshed’ and think we are making progress. (the internet helps promote this ‘isolated’ shredder fantasy) Get out there and play with other people- it’s the number one thing you can do to ‘get gud’.


Book a gig. Or commit to playing in front people at an open mic or private party. NOTHING will make you hustle like a deadline and a real performance.


Hahaha I like your thinking but fuck that I’m way too awkward




Two things for me: 1. Guitar Pro 2. Switching genres


The biggest improvement I saw was when I started working at a music store with other musicians. A bunch of the teachers were super nice would help me with stuff I was working on. Seeing them play and teach helped me to be more exposed to music. So I was able to experiment and broaden my horizon. The next thing that helped me as a player was when I started teaching. Nothing is more humbling than having a kid come back who is 10 years old and play everything perfect after a week. This pushed me as a player to stay ahead and try new things. You never know when you’re going to run into someone asking for a technique or skill and you want to deliver. TLDR; just network with musicians get feedback and try to do things outside your comfort zone.


Thanks man!


It was playing in a band. Playing in a band made me listen and change. Every time I get stuck in a rut now, I just jam with somebody new


Singing and counting


Really understanding CAGED helped me totally unlock the entire fretboard playing in any key. Cant recommend it enough!


The biggest change in my studies happened when I changed what music I was listening to. Going from Hendrix and John Mayer to Chon and Animals as Leaders just opened my mind to a lot of new techniques and sounds. I still sound like me, but now instead of writing with the minor pentatonic on a Stratocaster, I'm writing with the full range of an Ibanez RGMS8 and a ton of new techniques I didn't know existed.


When I had learned what tablature was I felt I didn’t need theory as long as I had this I could figure it out. I would tell my younger self “don’t skip the theory!” I often wonder how much better I would be if I had dedicated more time in the beginning to theory instead of trying to play like Hendrix or whatever.


Learn to play drums. Even if you develop ultra shitty level drumming skills it's going to help your guitar playing immensely. Once you can separate your limbs on even the shittiest 1 4 beat you'll have that in your body and just feel it when playing guitar. It's such a big deal.


Understanding the major scale and triads. Building chords and why they fit together. It made me explore and see patterns that were easy to memorize. It also unlocks the neck a good bit.


I asked my guitar teacher in high school who his most improved student ever was. He said there was one kid who took the Guitar I class and he was average. The kid asked him what to do over summer to improve for the class next year. He told the kid to learn to play with a metronome and work on alternate picking. He said when the kid showed up for Guitar II he was lightyears ahead of where he was in just three months. Said it was almost a went to the crossroads type moment.


This is sort of a loaded question, and I know because I've been in your situation before. It really depends on your styles and goals. If you want to play lead rock and metal guitar you'd need to learn picking techniques. If you want to be an acoustic guitar player you'd need to learn chords and fingerstyle playing, if that's your thing. These are very broad examples. Again, I've been in your shoes before, feel free to respond here or even DM me and I'll do my best to help.


Thanks man. I think my main thing is I want to get theory down as it was the big thing I neglected growing up


You don't necessarily need a ton of theory. I'd suggest you learn major and minor scales, then look into intervals. It sounds like a big topic but it really isn't. This is being said, of course, assuming you haven't done any theory at all. If you know where your notes are on the fretboard already that's a huge bonus, but even if you don't there are little tricks and tips on how to remember them all. Another cool trick I want to look into myself is something I call "every note exists in every position", since it doesn't really have an official name. The idea is that if you put your fingers on 4 frets chromatically (say 5th to 8th fret) you can find every note on the six strings that are in that box. With that being said you can form pretty much any chord you want anywhere on the fretboard, not taking chord extensions and add chords into account. If that sounds like nonsense then lemme know, I'll break it down further for you.


No that makes perfect sense dude I going to try it!


Go for it! Just remember you need to know where your notes are on the fretboard. It'll make everything much easier.


For me it was playing with other people and memorizing a set of songs. If you have three songs, you can do open-mikes.


Learn music theory keys scales etc your playing will go to another level


Stop thinking so much and just keep cranking out songs. By learning songs that you like, and writing your own. Trust me. Everything will click if you just keep doing these two things to completion. Dont learn bits and pieces to stuff and dont write half a song. Preferably learn new stuff by ear but its 80% as good learning by a book so get put off if you dont have the best ear for transcribing yet. Just by learning a bunch of songs really well with the sheet/tabs youll get better at learning by ear naturally! Seriously thats all it takes. Its also the most fun to learn in this way. And its what most of the successful musicians do/did also. Once youve learned like 50-100 songs really well youll really know what exactly you need to focus on.


Thanks dude solid advice there


Changing genres did it for me! I had always been a Blues guy, that’s mostly what I played for the first several years. I joined a heavy metal band and I had to think about things completely differently and practice new techniques that I hadn’t focused on before.


For composition, I’ve been improvising along with backing drum tracks from YouTube. It’s been helping with my rhythm playing and writing. And more fun than a metronome.


Simple. Desire to improve and a refusal to give up.


Learn the fretboard


When I started really digging deep into U2s catalog