10 Tips for Beginner Guitarists – Do’s & Don’ts

10 Tips for Beginner Guitarists – Do’s & Don’ts

This post comes to us via Raelyn Tran.

If you’ve ever wondered how to improve as a guitarist, this post offers some great tips.

Let’s learn about the wonderful instrument that is the guitar.

Guitar is a complex instrument.

As such, making progress can be a challenge. As a beginner, you don’t know wrong from right. So, even when you think you’re applying yourself to practice, you could be making mistakes that are holding you back.

Here are 10 do’s and don’ts that should help you stay on the right track as you begin to develop your skills.

#1 – Don’t Ignore the Basics

It takes time to master an instrument, and there are few things more important than setting a solid foundation for yourself.

Beginners tend to do one of two things wrong: Either they get too distracted, or they simply don’t practice enough.

For instance, if you sat down to practice for 40 minutes, but you don’t focus on the material you need to work on for 20 minutes, you only practiced for 20 minutes.

And, if you don’t work on the material your teacher assigned you, you’re not practicing the right things.

The first step is to work on the rudiments. Then you can begin exploring other aspects of the instrument.

The basics might seem boring when you’re learning them. But you will benefit from the time spent learning them. Focus on what you’re going to accomplish, not the sacrifice it’s going to take to get there.

Focus on what you’re going to accomplish, not the sacrifice it’s going to take to get there. Share on X

#2 – Don’t Just Learn Bits and Pieces of a Song

What’s the most exciting part about playing guitar? Generally, it’s the riffs and solos. But when you’re learning a new song, you shouldn’t just skip to the best parts and learn those.

Imagine how frustrating it would be to find yourself among other musicians at a jam session and not be able to play a whole song through because you’ve only studied bits and pieces of 50 different songs.

Think of what your friends will say when they ask you to play something for them, and you have to stop every 20 seconds because you don’t know the rest. You can probably imagine their disappointed faces already.

Moreover, learning entire songs helps you gain an understanding of how songs are structured. It will also give you the tools you need to compose your own. Wouldn’t you love to write your own songs?

You don’t need to learn every song under the sun. But knowing a few never hurt anyone.

#3 – Don’t Rush

There’s no way you’re going to play along to every Yngwie Malmsteen song overnight.

Before you can develop the speed to show off at a blistering 200 bmp, you must learn to play with perfect phrasing and tone at 60 bpm.

There’s a nice saying that sums up this idea nicely: “we must learn to walk before we can run”.

#4 – Don’t be Ashamed to Use a Capo

A guitar capo is a clamp-like device that you can use on the neck of the instrument. It holds down all the strings at once and changes their pitch.

By using a capo, you can change the key and pitch of the open strings without having to adjust the strings with the tuning pegs. Moreover, by using a capo, you can avoid having to play those pesky barre chords.

Capos are sometimes regarded as accessories for beginners, but in fact, many experienced guitarists use them for practical reasons. You don’t have to barre everything up to prove you’re a master.

#5 – Don’t Sacrifice Expression for Technique, and Vice-Versa!

The most unexpected (and unpleasant!) remark I’ve heard about my playing came from a friend who is a guitarist I admire. He told me my solo was too mechanical and the notes were “too exact, on time”.

Many guitarists have gone through this, I’m sure: At first, there’s the tendency to play perfectly, like a MIDI instrument that syncs perfectly to the beat every single time.

Who can blame us?

We’ve been taught to do things that way. And there’s no denying that working on your rhythm makes you a better player. But, remember, when it comes to music, don’t be rigid. There are times we just need close our eyes and play.

But don’t ignore techniques either. Accept this from the start: Your music should be a mélange between expression and technique, so seek to maintain the balance between earth-shaking passages and mellow notes that “flow” rather than punch through the mix.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of ignoring musical theory and pretending that “too much guitar technique kills the emotion” – balance is the only key!

#6 – Do Record Yourself

Record yourself and listen back to your playing. This will help you identify what you’re doing wrong, whether your phrasing is off, and if you need to be playing more dynamically.

This is also how you learn to monitor and evaluate your playing in real time, and this method never gets old.

After every three-to-five-minute fragment (not more, because you’ll get too caught up to see the bigger picture afterward), press STOP, listen back, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are these the correct notes? Do they “flow” right?
  • Did I pay attention to the rhythm and tempo?
  • Am I using the right picking techniques?
  • Are there any unwanted noises on my playing, such as buzzing?
  • Am I playing the accents correctly?
  • Am I conveying the message of the song/musical piece?
  • Am I expressing a feeling or just showcasing technique?
  • While I’m listening to my recording, did I recall/visualize the chords and positions I used?

After a while, these recordings will be the undeniable proof of your evolution and constant development of your guitar style. When in doubt, it’ll be enough to play them back and realize you’ve come a long way.

You don’t need a recording studio to record tracks unless you want that. You can record your playing through your smartphone, tape player, or anything that has sound recording capability.

If want to record a better sound using your PC, you can take advantage of a piece of software like Audacity, Tracktion, Adobe Audition, or Guitar Rig.

#7 – Do Meet and Learn from Many Musicians & Sources

You can learn something from every musician. Don’t limit your progress by only utilizing one source.

First, go to guitar forums, find the answers to your beginner dilemmas, make friends that share your musical interests, and discover interesting websites recommended by other members. Forums and social media are excellent for exchanging ideas and asking questions.

Second, find a partner to practice with. Improvise with him/her and talk about your setups, guitar accessories and the technical issues you’ve come across. Learning together is way more fun and effective than learning alone.

Last, meet fellow artists in small live clubs. Create opportunities to get inspired, learn to play, coordinate with others using only your eyes and your guitar; try playing in a band.

#8 – Do Improvise

Take inspiration from other players. Try learning their parts. Then, reinvent them or put your own spin on them.

Study the greats. Observe how they play and learn their licks, riffs, and solos.

But don’t settle there. Once you’ve become familiar with their works, try playing with the structure. Change up the notes. Play with the tempo, phrasing, or key signature. Try playing the piece backwards.

You can download free backing tracks and try your hand at playing scales and short riffs/melodies over them. The best training for a musician is using his/her imagination and listening skills.

#9 – Do Listen to Many Styles of Music

This might seem like trite advice, but the diversity of the songs you’re listening to will influence your and style and creativity.

Don’t just keep listening to the same genres you’ve listen to your whole life. Don’t dismiss any artist or album until you’ve given it a chance. Open your heart to music, and remain open to new experiences.

#10 – Do Attend Live Concerts

A great concert is a strong source of inspiration, and it can teach you a great deal.

A great concert is a strong source of inspiration. Share on X

Sitting in the front row of a live show is an awesome feeling. You can watch as your favorite guitarist play the riffs and solos you’ve come to love so much.

While attending those concerts, I always imagine myself playing just like my heroes, and observe them so I can learn to play just like them.

And you know what?

Even as you pay attention to every move the musicians make onstage, it doesn’t detract from the music. You’ll end up enjoying both aspects of the experience – studying and listening.

Buy your ticket to all the shows you can get to and, most importantly, go to see international artists play when they visit your city.

Concluding Thoughts

Those tips helped me a lot, and still do. I hope they are useful to you like they have been for me. Happy learning and playing!

046 – The Rise of Creative Alchemy Part 2

In the last episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I compared music entrepreneurship to creative alchemy.

But I wanted to go deeper into creative alchemy as a practice, and that’s what I focus on in this episode.

Find out why so many artists and creative entrepreneurs are resonating deeply with this term.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Creative alchemy
  • 00:33 – The resonance of the term “creative alchemy”
  • 01:21 – Creative alchemy describes you as a whole
  • 01:47 – Strengths I’ve developed through the years
  • 02:12 – Jobs I’ve had
  • 02:28 – Leveraging many of your skills at the same time
  • 02:41 – Video shoot example
  • 04:01 – Embracing the skills you’ve developed
  • 04:52 – It’s okay to be multitalented
  • 05:10 – What creative alchemy is
  • 05:23 – Creative alchemy as a vehicle
  • 05:33 – My new course

Transcription:

Welcome back. You could probably tell I’m a little stuffed up right now but I am all right.

In the last episode, I talked about the rise of creative alchemy. I compared and contrasted it with music entrepreneurship. Some of the similarities as well as differences that do exist.

In this episode, I just want to explore what it is and why it’s important. It is a term that I’ve started dropping into more conversations. The interesting part is everywhere I go, people are resonating with the term “creative alchemy”.

I find creative people love it because sometimes they have a hard time putting what they do into a box. I think artists naturally shy away from categorization though this can be to our detriment when we’re trying to sell the things that we create.

People latch onto what they can relate to. Think about the way people describe things when they are trying to make a comparison. They might say something like, “It’s like riding a rollercoaster, only in space.” Maybe you haven’t experienced it before but you can kind of imagine what that would be like. That’s a little formula that can work in a variety of situations. “It’s like blank except in blank”.

Sales is another topic for another time but creative alchemy describes you as a whole as opposed to the parts that make up the whole. Every experience you’ve had. Every skill you’ve mastered. Every talent you’ve developed. Although it can be hard to know how these things can come together.

My former roommate was a believer that the job that was meant for you was one where you got to leverage everything you’d ever experienced. I rather like that philosophy myself.

The job that's meant for you is one where you get to leverage everything you've ever experienced. Share on X

So, here are some of the strengths I’ve developed through the years just to give you an example: Drawing, painting, graphic design, web design, video and multimedia design, blogging, writing, songwriting, producing music, mixing and mastering music, playing guitar and bass, teaching, reviewing movies, video games, TV shows, music, and various other products, marketing, social media, and many others.

I’ve worked in a variety of jobs such as retail, sales, music instruction, audiovisual, ghostwriting, freelance writing among other areas.

Some of you out there have way more talent, skills, and experiences than I have. Especially in the job world because I’ve been self-employed for most of my adult life. No, I don’t necessarily get to use these skills all at once, and yet I frequently find myself in situations where I get to leverage many of them at the same time. I think that is the practice of creative alchemy.

Recently, I was helping organize a video shoot for a client. This isn’t something I’ve done before but everything about it was strangely familiar.

I wasn’t the primary videographer but I manned the second camera and I was completely comfortable doing that. I came prepared with scripts in hand so we could maximize the time we had and get the footage we needed efficiently. Part of that process was guiding everyone along and asking them questions or giving them prompts so they knew what to share and to talk about in the videos we were filming. I brought extra gear with me in case we needed it.

Interestingly enough, I did end up using the headphones I brought with me. I played a directorial role in the video editing process as well. Most of that shouldn’t seem familiar to me and yet it was because I’ve made plenty of videos. I’ve done plenty of editing. I’ve had to write scripts or bullet points for shows just like I sometimes do for this podcast.

I’ve spent about four and a half years as a theater technician. Although it was a casual role, I did gain quite a bit of experience. There are a lot of similarities between that job description and everything I did at the video shoot. Conducting yourself as a professional, staying out of the way, moving chairs, all that kind of stuff tends to fall under the description of a theater tech.

What’s the point? Well, the point is let’s embrace the skills we’ve developed. We shouldn’t be down on ourselves for having many different skills and talents and experiences. We should be looking at ways of combining them because that’s part of our story. It’s part of who we are. It’s part of our why. It’s the reason people are going to be attracted to us and what we do.

Now you might have heard some big artists say things like “Only those who can’t see themselves doing anything else, actually make it in music.” And I’ve certainly heard some major artists say things like that.

Now, I don’t mean to discourage anyone from going for their dream in music but that is a point worth considering. If you have other talents and skills you can leverage, maybe music will be a part of what you are meant to do but it might be a smaller puzzle piece of the bigger picture.

Being a multi-talented person myself, and I say that in the humblest way possible, I know many multi-talented people just like me. I think it’s okay for us to embrace the fact that we have potential in many areas.

Again, I’ve said this multiple times but it bears repeating – Creative Alchemy is the process and practice of combining your skills in interesting ways to create something unique and different. I think that’s what people are going to be drawn to in many cases.

Creative alchemy is the practice of combining your skills in noteworthy ways. Share on X

If you don’t feel like you’re capturing the attention of a loyal and adoring audience right now, perhaps creative alchemy is the vehicle you’ve been waiting for to get there.

Did you enjoy this episode? Great. I want to encourage you to go to davidandrewwiebe.com/formula to learn about the new course I’ve been developing.

What’s going to be in this course? Everything that you’ve told me is a struggle or a difficulty or a challenge in your music career. I’ve collected a lot of responses over time. I’m excited about getting this out there. So, have a look and let me know your thoughts. And if you’re ready, go ahead and pre-order.

Upgrade to Members Only Audios for more exciting, exclusive training.

10 Things You Ought to Know About Recording & Releasing Your Debut Album

How’s it going?

We’ve got another great guest post. This one comes to us via Faisal.

Have a read, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

And if you think you’re The Music Entrepreneur HQ material, then you might want to share your wisdom on our site too.

Alright, are you ready? Let’s go.

An album is a musician’s most important undertaking. It shows you’ve put thought and time into your music.

Your first album is arguably your most important one. Great debut albums have been known to launch artists to stardom, and bad first albums have sometimes signified the end of the road for other artists.

The quality of your debut album can make or break your music career.

So, what should you look out for when you’re putting together your debut album? What are some guidelines you can follow? What are some common mistakes to be avoided?

Let’s explore 10 things you ought to know about recording and releasing your debut album.

1. Pick Your Best Songs

This is the most important part of making a debut album. You have to be sure you are ready to publish. There is no room for doubts here.

You have a lifetime to create a first album, so you need not dive right into it. Your album should only include your best songs.

It’s better to spend years writing and rewriting songs than to churn out an album full of mediocre songs, as you might never recover from the aftermath of a bad first album.

So, take your time and ensure you are at your creative peak. Never forget – there is no need to rush, the world is waiting.

2. Record in a Professional Studio

Bad studios can affect the sound of your music, so choosing the right one is essential when creating your debut album.

You should be on the lookout for studios with good acoustics. The right studio has to be comfortable, and should be able to provide you with inspiration.

Remember that the studio might practically be your home during the duration of recording your album, so you have to be certain that it gives off a good vibe and you are very comfortable recording there.

There should be high quality professional recording equipment, so as to ensure your music sounds solid. Also, cost is another factor that is very important. You should select a studio whose rates are reasonable.

3. Work with a Qualified Producer

The producer is a crucial part of any album. You should select a producer you are comfortable working with, as the person will be with you every step of the way.

Your producer needs to thoroughly understand what you want and where you are going with your music.

Hire a producer that possesses the right energy to spark inspiration from within you. Other than you, no one gets closer to your music than your producer, so it is a critical role that needs to be properly filled.

4. Practice & Prepare

Studios time is expensive, and you do not want to go in wasting time and accumulating cost. There is nothing worse than showing up in the studio with a half-written song.

You should have completed your songs and practiced them to the point where everyone knows what is expected of him, as this will save you and your producer time.  Rehearsing your songs in the studio is a very expensive form of practice.

5. Hire Excellent Mixing & Mastering Engineers

Mixing involves the combining of several recorded tracks into one single stereo track, and mastering involves polishing tracks and ensuring cohesion among them.

This involves making adjustments to the EQ, stereo enhancements, limiting and compression. You mixing and mastering engineers should understand your style and tailor their work to your exact needs.

6. Cover Your Butt

Every writer and publisher involved in the creation of your album should fill out the songwriter-publisher letter of agreement, indicating their writer and publisher shares. Any money made from the records will be shared according to this agreement.

7. Register an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)

Register for an International Standard Recording Code for your songs. The ISRC is an international identifier that is unique to every song or track and serves as a digital fingerprint for each track.

The ISRC is tied to the track and not the carrier of the track, and is usually inserted onto the CD master during the mastering session.

8. Register With a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)

In order to get paid for performances of your songs on radio, in nightclubs, airlines, TV, elevators, etc., you need to join a Performing Rights Organization. There are several Performing Rights Organizations available, a simple Google Search will direct you to the best ones.

In the States, there’s BMI and ASCAP. In Canada, SOCAN is the primary option.

9. Get a License for Any Songs You Cover

You should get a license for songs you intend to cover on your album. You will need to pay the publishers for such songs, and you can go directly through Harry Fox Agency, by using their SongFile service.

Another alternative is to go through CD Baby’s new cover song licensing partner – Loudr. Whatever method you use, ensure you get the license to cover these songs, as you do not want a lawsuit slammed on your first album.

10. Create a Marketing Plan for Your Album

You need to know how you’re going to be promoting your album. If you are signed to a record label, you may not have much to worry about.

But if you are an independent artist, you will need to develop a plan and consider what costs might be involved.

You can hire a marketing company to help you, or you can do it all yourself. Regardless of what you choose, you need to find a way to get your music in front of as many people as possible.

Conclusion

As you can see, putting together debut album is no small feat. Never forget that you have a lifetime to create your first album, so you should not rush into it. Your debut album leaves an indelible mark on your music career, so you may as well make it something worth remembering.

Are You Planning to Record & Publish an Album? You’ll Love This eBook…

Recording and promoting a release of any size can be a massive undertaking. That’s why I put together a new eBook titled: How to Record, Promote & Sell Your New Music Release – Single, EP, or Album. This resource is packed with information detailing each step of the recording process, and even covers how to promote and sell your new release. Click HERE to find out more.