Over the years, I have picked up a lot of key tips that have turned out to be game changers in my playing. I am giving you seven of the most effective tips in this list. Some of them may not seem like the most glamorous tricks, but try them on and reap the rewards in your playing immediately.
1. Adjust the Way You Hold Your Pick
You may be surprised to hear that only millimeters on the tip of the pick should be used to pluck the strings. This, of course, varies with playing style.
If you are strumming an acoustic guitar, use a little more pick on the strings. While playing lightning fast runs, hold the pick so that a sliver of the end is plucking the strings. The fingers that are holding the pick should be just about to brush the string as your pick glides across it.
2. Use Your Fingertips
Use the bony tips of your fingers instead of the softer pads on the faces of your fingers. It takes less energy to fret a solid note with each finger when using the tips.
Less energy means more relaxation. More relaxation means more speed when you need it. This also has the effect of keeping more of your finger out of the way of other strings. Pull-offs and hammer-ons become way easier using the bony tips.
There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. Apply it and note the difference immediately.
3. Reposition the Way You Hold the Guitar
This is another tip that may seem a bit basic. Look for the hidden nugget here.
Having your guitar positioned comfortably can really effect how well you can play with ease. If you are seated with your guitar on your knee, experiment with which knee you use to support the guitar.
If you have your electric guitar slung so low on its strap that your shoelaces are getting tangled in your high E string, you may need to adjust. Bring the guitar up until it feels comfortable to your hands and wrists.
Having the guitar hanging around your waist is about right. I like it a bit higher. If you are worried about looking cool, you should know there is nothing cooler than being amazing on your guitar. Playing it at the right height will help you play your best.
4. Angle Your Pick
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your pick must catch and pluck flat-on to the string. Using the joints of your thumb and fingers, rotate the angle of the pick clockwise so that it attacks the string a little bit off axis. This makes one edge of the pick glide over the string before the other.
Once you get the hang of how to adjust the angle of attack on the string, you will immediately feel a significant difference in the ease in your picking. Experiment with subtle changes in the angle of the pick against the string. You will find that the difference is huge.
5. Have Fun
Are you thinking that this is a no-brainer tip? It is. Then again, you might be surprised at how often people practice so hard that it's no longer fun. When you enjoy something, you are likely to do it well. This makes all the difference in the world.
Don’t take it so seriously that you stop having fun. In fact, this is good advice about most things in life. Make your practice fun by challenging yourself to get one thing done each session. That could mean you are going to master just the first four bars in the piece you are working on today. Tomorrow, you can attack the second four bars and so on.
There are two different modes your muscles can work in. One of those is power mode, the other is lightning fast mode.
Your muscles can not move your fingers quick and agile as a hummingbird hopped up on sugar if you are trying to crush the strings through the fret board. As your fingers become familiar with the passages and chords you are practicing, try to relax more and more.
FYI, the stronger your hands get through lots of practice, the less strength it will take to play and you will naturally be more relaxed.
7. Silence Your Strings
It is really cheesy sounding to have strings you don’t intend to play ringing out as you play.
How do you keep those other strings quiet?
Use the soft edge of your picking hand to silence strings that you aren't using. Picture the edge of your picking hand that you would karate chop with. Use that soft part just up hand from your pinky as a silencer for unused strings.
This will feel a bit tricky at first but it is a habit that is well worth developing. It can really clean up your playing and make it sound more professional.
There they are! Seven tips that will improve your guitar playing right now.
Make them yours by applying them with daily practice. Remember that all the licks and tricks in the world won't help one bit if you don't apply them to your playing.
Here is a bonus tip for improving your guitar playing right now and here it is!
Take Some Lessons From a Pro
All of the great guitarist throughout history learned from someone who could play well. You may be cruising down the fast lane on your quest to play your instrument, but learning from a professional music teacher with put you on the Autobahn and you will grow faster than you could possibly imagine.
A professional teacher will have a guaranteed curriculum that works every time in enabling musicians like yourself. You will skip over hurdles and perfect your technique. You will also learn music theory so you will understand what and why to play the chords, licks and melody lines needed in a piece of music to play your best and wow your friends and other musicians!