Hands up if when you go to practice guitar you sit there wondering what to play then proceed to skim over random things until you get bored?
You're going to get nowhere fast with this approach.
That's why we've created the ultimate 25 minute practice routine perfect for beginners and intermediate players. There's even two different routine variations for you. Your solution to banish feeble guitar practice sessions is here.
Your guitar practice should always be goal based to help you achieve your objectives quicker. Here are 5 other essential tips to follow everytime you practice:
You need to check your tuning every time you play. If you haven't got one already, buy a digital guitar tuner. They're inexpensive and very easy to use once you get the hang of it. An out of tune guitar isn't pleasant on the ears - don't swerve this step.
Never practice just for the sake of practice regardless of how accurate or clean your playing sounds. Everything you practice should be geared towards improving your feel, control, accuracy, and a whole lot more besides.
Always ask yourself:
The ability to play in time is a crucial skill great guitarists share. Before you learn to play guitar you should know how important good timing is. You can perfect your timing by using a metronome. Scale practice in particular is pretty pointless if you're not using one as you'll always be speeding up and slowing down and likely not know it.
Making mistakes is how you learn and develop new skills, so don't let any frustration hold you back. Lack of self-belief will suffocate your playing potential - work on being confident and determined to succeed whatever your playing goals are.
The 25 minute practice routines we've made for you below are examples of how to plan out what you're going to practice. Get into the habit, from today, of always pre-planning your practice sessions.
Practice tools are items designed to make your practice session more effective and productive. Have the following tools to hand in your music / practice room:
TECHNIQUE CHECKLIST: Don't make the common mistake many beginner players make of being impatient and looking for 'quick fixes'...
Work on developing good technique and learning how to properly play the guitar, as opposed to thinking you can start playing songs and solos straight away without putting the leg work in. Here are the top 3 proper playing techniques you should use when playing scales and chromatics:
1) Keep your fingers pressing on the string when you add the next one (when playing forwards). Lifting them off is poor technique which prevents you building up finger strength, control and speed.
2) Spread your fingers out across the fretboard and don't bunch them up. This helps you achieve economy of movement and speed as your fingers are closer to the next note. This gets easier the stronger your fingers get.
3) Keep your thumb low down in the middle of the back of the neck. Your thumb position should roughly mirror where your 2nd finger is, like they're connected by a magnet. This helps with finger spread thus control and speed.
1. Economy Picking- playing two notes in a row using the same stroke direction; Down/Down or Up/Up. This picking technique keeps your pick moving in the direction of the next note which is useful in certain situations.
2. Alternate Picking - playing alternating down and up picks; Down/Up. This efficient picking technique helps you to build 'second-nature' mechanical picking muscle memory, accuracy and speed.
1) Minor pentatonic scale box position 1 (CAGED shape 'E') - play ascending and descending using 1/4 note (quaver) timing in the keys of = B x 2 reps - A x 2 reps - G x 2 reps - F x 2
Tips - Use alternate picking when repeating a single key. When moving between keys use alternate picking plus economy picking: play 2 down strokes when you move between keys. This will turbo boost your efficiency and speed.
Notes: Use a timer and a metronome. Play slowly to start with and gradually increase the speed over the coming weeks. If you do this you'll be shocked by how much your picking and overall playing improves.
Total beginners: Stay in the key of A for the whole 5 minutes ascending, and/or leave a gap of two beats on the metronome between each key change.
Fig 1.0 - A minor pentatonic box position 1 - 'E' CAGED shape showing fingerings. Start on the red root note 5th fret of on the low E string.
Choose 2-4 chords and play alternate picking reps to work on your timing and clean note consistency. Play 1-2 minute reps per chord depending on how many you're working on.
Notes: Use a timer and a metronome. You'll be speeding up and slowing down if you fail to use a metronome. Jot down your current comfortable speed in your notepad.
Total beginners: Only know a few chords? Repeat the exercise using a few basic open chords such as E minor and E major. Practice alternate picking x 4, x 2 and x 1 per string. (See the tab in fig 1.2 below).
Fig 1.1 - E major and E minor open chord shapes
Fig 1.2 - E major chord exercise 1 = 4 picks per string | exercise 2 = 1 pick per string
It's time to concentrate on a current piece of music you're working on. your goal is to get it performance perfect to add to your repertoire you can dazzle yourself, your friends and family with. This could be a song, riff, or solo.
Remember to follow the proper practice methods, such as separating the piece into sections and playing along with the song recording.
Recap over music theory you've learned so far or add on new basic music theory concepts. These should include be:
5 minute warm up - Minor pentatonic scale.
5 minute chord and alternate picking work.
10 minutes on project such as a song or riff.
5 minutes music theory.
Pro Tip: To improve faster, make sure at least one of your practice sessions per week is dedicated to a scale and chromatic workout.
Practice Tools: Metronome, timer, phone or tablet to record progress clips, notepad for practice notes
1) Major scale over two octaves - play ascending and descending using 1/4 note (quaver) timing in the keys of = (6th string root) Set 1: E x 1 rep D x 1 rep C x 1 rep to Set 2: E x 2 reps D x 2 reps C x 2 X reps to Set 3: E x 4 reps D x 4 reps C x 4 X reps
Notes: Play each set continuously with no gaps for 2 minutes, rest your hand for 2 bars, then carry on.
Total beginners: Leave a gap of two to four beats on the metronome between each key change. Play in bursts and rest your hand for one bar between each set.
Fig 2.0 - G major scale over 2 octaves - 'E' CAGED shape showing fingerings. Start on the root note in red on the 6th string with your second finger.
Fig 2.0 - G major scale over 2 octaves
Here we have the 'Semitone Climb' chromatic. The tablature below shows you how to play this great exercise which is the staple of beginner to advanced guitar player's practice routine. Keep the sequence moving as far up the fretboard as you dare before you repeat.
Notes: Change one or more KPV's such as tempo. Example: Play using 1/4 notes (quavers) for 60 seconds at 80bpm - rest for 15 seconds - play for 60 seconds at 90bpm - rest for 15 seconds - play at 110bpm. Tweak the tempo according to you ability level.
Total Beginners: Break the exercise down - start off repeated the 1st string only across frets 1-2-3-4. Gradually add on more strings as your technique and strength improves.
Fig 2.1 - 1-2-3-4 'Semitone Climb' chromatic
Pro Tip: Practice alternate picking on scales and chromatics. This is one of the most economical ways of moving between notes.
To boss at playing guitar you need to be able to confidently and fluently navigate around the fretboard. This final exercise called "Octave Root Note Map" will help you pinpoint the same note across the entire fretboard and develop impressive spatial awareness.
Tips - Play one octave shape at a time by picking the two notes together and consecutively. Use your 1st finger to 4th little finger where you can as this develops strength.
Don't try to play all the octave shapes at once, add one at a time. You'll memorise the patterns much quicker when you divide and conquer.
Notes: Once you are used to playing the octave shape notes in order, experiment with jumping between notes at random. This will test your muscle memory whilst challenging your finger dexterity and speed.
Total Beginners: Dive right in and practice the exercise as is.
Fig 2.2 - Octave Root Note Map. This pattern is movable and can be applied to any note on the fretboard.
10 minute warm up - Major scale
10 minutes chromatics
5 minutes fretboard memorisation
Now we've taken the hard work out of figuring out what to practice for you, make sure you commit to regular practice. Make these guitar practice routines a regular part of your weekly schedule and you'll be amazed at how quickly your new habit sticks.
Feel free to tweak and change parts of the practice routines to create further variations.
Happy strumming and picking superstar!