Hey, I thought I’d give a few tips to some of the beginners out there. Here are a couple of things that might make the time that you spend with your loved one (Fender, Gibson, Ibanez) more productive and pleasant for you.
1. Find a place to practice.
It’s a good idea to dedicate a specific area of your home for practicing. Unpacking gear, looking for cables, etc can kill the inspiration to practice.
I used to have this 4-track Portastudio and I kept my drum machine and effects rack hooked up to it 24/7. My guitar, bass and keyboard were all on stands and all I had to do was put on the headphones, power up and I was good to go. This was great because I didn’t have to bother my neighbors with loud playing or subject them to a million opening riffs of Ain’t Talkin “Bout Love”. It was also ideal for those musical inspirations that came to me in the middle of the night because I was virtually silent and could play as loud and as late as I wanted to. More then anything it was nice not having to spend time breaking out and packing up the equipment every time I wanted to practice. And I practiced more because it was in front of my face like a TV.
Set everything up in a corner or even in a closet so that it’s ready to go at a moments notice. Trust meyou’ll become a better player for it. And it’s nice being able to put the headphones on and play whatever pops into your head. No matter how bad it is. ( Nobody’s going to hear it anyway.)
This is my rehersal setup. Check out the killer Incase Slim Bag.
2. Practice in time.
Another must is to use a metronome or a drum machine when you play. Start off with a slow beat and move up to tempo as your playing permits. I’ve played with a lot of guys who couldn’t keep a beat and it’s annoying as all hell to have to slow down and speed up for one guy. It’s one thing to lose track of the beat but you better know how to pick it up if you do. And believe meyou’ll meet a lot of guys that can play some crazy chords and scales but know nothing about keeping the beat. (These are the same guys that will insist that it’s you and not them.) You may be able to learn a song in a day but it takes a lot longer to learn to keep tempo. Start now and save yourself from being one of those guys.
3. Don’t burn yourself out.
I used to try to practice a couple of times a week for about an hour and a half. I figured that that was enough time to learn a song or two. But after about 20 minutes my hand would start to get tired and the piece I was trying to learn would just get harder and harder to play. I’d end up putting the guitar back in the closet just to pull it out a few days later and repeat the process. I must have given up playing guitar on 10 separate occasions because I wasn’t paying attention to my hand fatigue and couldn’t play something that seemed so simple.
An overworked hand makes it difficult to execute notes and the hand position of a ton of chords. (Not to mention that it makes for a very frustrating learning experience.) Back in the day I thought that the longer I practiced then the better I’d get. Makes sense right? But when that didn’t happen I’d get pissed and put the guitar away.
Do yourself a big favor and stop the practice when it stops being fun. You’ll be amazed at what you can play with a fresh set of hands.
4. Schedule your practice.
One day I was thumbing through a guitar magazine and read an article indicating it was better to practice for shorter periods of time and more often than for long periods of time less often. I had heard this when I fist started playing but didn’t do it because I wanted to be the next Edward Van Halen and needed to learn to shred as quickly as possible. But since I was having such a hard time I figured I’d give it a go.
Gonzo Van Halen. The lesser known of the VH gang. (Next to Gary Cherone.)
I scheduled 5 minutes a day to practice. 5 minutes was nothing so I figured that I could set aside that much time no matter how busy I was. I would first start off by running through the notes of a piece of music. The next day I would work on my speed. And the day after that I’d play along with a cassette of the music. (I just heard a thousand kids say, What’s a cassette?) By doing this I was picking up the guitar more often and having more fun doing it.
This did wonders for the learning process and it made the practices way more enjoyable. (Plus, I could stop after 5 minutes and not beat myself up over it.) I know what you’re thinking..5 minutes is not enough time. But 5 minutes turns into 30 minutes really quickly when your having fun. And isn’t that really what playing guitar is all about? (Besides the girls of course.)
5. Mix it up.
Another thing I recommend is not to do the same thing every day. Don’t get so fixated on one exercise week after week after week. Learn a few new chords or some scales. Practice trilling, tapping or whatever. Just keep it fresh. You’ll end up looking forward to your practice as opposed to looking at it as work.
I used to know a guy in high school who touted himself as a pretty good guitar player. A couple of friends and I wanted to form a band so we had him come over to play so we could feel him out. When asked if he could play a certain song he would say, I don’t know that one. But I know Randy Rhoads 20 minute guitar solo! So we said, Ok then. Can you play these chords? And again he’d say No. But I know Randy Rhoads 20 minute guitar solo! Turns out that that was all he ever practiced. And the chords he did know were buzzing more than we were. (Poser!) Mixing it up during practice will make you a well-rounded and more versatile player. And it keeps boredom from rearing its ugly head. If you want the learning process to go smoothly then you want to keep your energy level up. You know what they say, Variety is the spice of life. So keep it Spicy and don’t be a poser.
The bottom line is that it’s all about taking advantage of the time that you put into your instrument.
I hope this helps and I’ll talk to you soon.
Inspired by INCSVSJM (the special edition guitar bag collection we did for John Mayer), we are happy to announce the addition of the iPod Canvas Folio and the nano Canvas Folio to our line of Canvas gear.
You could do 2 Strats
or 2 Teles
or one of each
or 2 Les Pauls
or a Les Paul and a Strat
or a Les Paul and a Tele.
Hell, if you got all 1985 with it, you could even do one of those pointy headstock guitars and a Hohner Tele like the one that somebody stole from my rehearsal space when I was 16.
Maybe a BC Rich Bich and a Kramer Pacer.
A Hamer and a Charvel San Dimas, maybe?
Point is, its all up to you my man (I use “man”, much like “dude”, not meaning to exclude the female shredders, i.e. Jennifer Batten see live version of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”).
But when you really wanna handle some #$^% like I do, when you step up to the plate your Dub Bag will be full with your keyboard controller, Lacie Hard Drive, and the American guitar of your choosing. NOTE: room service menu added for drama and high class flair. That’s just how I do things.
And I hope you’re not in the room next door to me ’cause I will be rocking (like a hurricane)
At last! The Website is up and we are all excited to have a new way of connecting with our customers. Let me take this moment to introduce myself to you. My name is Gonzo and I’m part of the Incase consumer support team. I’m also a musician of sorts and have been playing guitar, bass guitar and a little keyboard for over 27 years. It’s great to work for such a cool company and to be able have my own blog. I’ll be putting my drop in the “blog bucket” along with my crazy Dutch friend Flapple. Hopefully you’ll find my words helpful or at the very least entertaining.
Right off I want to give props to one of our friends who is currently using our Slim Bag. Keaton Simons is a singer/guitar player with a great bluesy feel. He’s loving our line of products and is totally blown away by our guitar bag. Keaton’s played with the likes of Josh Kelly, Tre Hardson, Ben Harper, Kim Hill (of the Black Eyed Peas) and the Mighty Snoop Dogg himself. We are very excited to have Keaton using our products while he builds his reputation as a major player in the music industry.
But before you leave for Keatonsimons.com make sure you check out our new site. (Your already here anyway.) And by all means please LEAVE US YOUR COMMENTS!! It’s the only way we’ll know if we’re doing a good job.
Our buddy, Pino Palladino, was in town this weekend playing at the Hollywood Bowl. He’s currently a member of both The Who and John Mayer Trio and has played with everyone from Clapton to B.B. King. Check the great article in this month’s Bass Player where he’s rocking his Incase Dub Bag for Bass.
Think you know music? Answer 10 questions correctly (fill out your name and address first) and you have the chance to win some awesome prizes, including our Guitar Bag and a ton of other Incase product for your laptop and iPod! Enter now!