Left Handed Guitar Chords: Learning The Easy Way

- - Lessons & Tips

Left-handed Guitar Chords

A few months ago I began teaching my first left handed guitar student. I’m not sure why it took so long, but probability finally caught up to me. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew nothing about adapting standard guitar lessons to lefties, I had very little experience with playing left handed guitar chords, and I feared I would need to flip my guitar over every time I had to teach a chord. I even — for a bit — considered recommending a left handed guitar teacher.

After some thought, I decided to press on; boy am I glad I did! My student (Amy) is a pleasure to work with and a fantastic student at that — something I imagine stems from the fact that lefties have better command of their right hand than righties do of their left (I could be wrong). Either way, making it through the initial adjustment period left me with 3 tips I think all left handed guitarists should know before taking their first guitar lesson.

Continue Reading

3 Qualities Every Guitar Student Should Avoid

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the three qualities you must adopt if you expect to reach your guitar-playing goals. If you haven’t read that article yet, here it is. Part 2 will lay out the three qualities you should avoid (or rid yourself of on the off chance you already possess them) on your way to said goals. Not only are these three nagging character traits far too common amongst students, they are a fantastic predictor of a student’s potential for achievement throughout the course of his training, however brief. Analyze your habits carefully, and avoid these at all costs.

Continue Reading

3 Qualities Every Guitar Student Needs to Succeed

The three qualities we’ll be discussing in this post are not often found in your average person. These qualities are rarer still amongst guitar students. In fact, in thinking back through my full roster of students I could only come up with one whom I felt truly embodied all three. And while there are many who may check one or two of these boxes, if you truly want to be exceptional, you will need to push yourself until you can confidently check all three boxes. I’m confident a few amongst you will. Here we go …

Continue Reading

Quick Tip: Develop Guitar Speed by Practicing Slowly

- - Shortcuts & Tricks

I think it was Lincoln Brewster that first (indirectly) introduced me to the concept of NOT speeding up a riff in order to master it. At the time it seemed a bit counterintuitive to me — as I’m sure it does to you now — but as the years and practice sessions have progressed, I’ve found myself employing this technique almost daily.

Continue Reading

Quick Tip: Smooth Riffing Through a Turn of the Pick

- - Shortcuts & Tricks

We’ve talked talked many times about using various pick techniques based on goals and style of play. Today I’m going to introduce you to one small modification which can have a drastic effect on both your picking speed and control. The adjustment? Turning your pick (horizontally) 120 degrees so as to pick with the rounded edge.

Continue Reading

How My Worst Guitar Student Turned it All Around

- - Shortcuts & Tricks

I must admit that, despite the click-batey title, the number one student slot in my studio is really up for grabs. Truth is that I have two students fighting for it and neither is giving any ground. In an effort to keep this post to a manageable four or five paragraphs, however, we’ll only be talking about one. [Disclaimer: names have been changed to protect the identities of all involved.]

Continue Reading

Quick Tip: Set Your Metronome to Double-Time

- - Shortcuts & Tricks

One simple trick I use with my beginner students — especially those who have a tough time syncing up with a metronome or hearing rhythm — is to double the tempo setting on the metronome. This is a technique I picked up during my time in LA and it has served quite useful since. You see, when recording session musicians for a project, the producer must do everything in his power to ensure that the first take is the best take [insert "time is money" cliche here : ]. This includes providing the musicians with enough rhythmic information so they easily lock in to the groove.

Continue Reading

Getting Started: How Do I Find a Good Guitar Teacher?

- - Getting Started

I’ve had more than my fair share of guitar teachers through the years. Some were better than others. Some tried harder than others. Overall though, there were many more misses than there were hits, and every time I got reinvigorated by the thought of learning the guitar to the point at which I called for lessons, I’d end up quitting after a few weeks — in large part — due to my poor choice of guitar teacher. Does this sound vaguely familiar? Does the thought of dishing out another $20 bill just so you can spend another week working on material you don’t care about make you nauseous? If so, read on and I’ll show you how you can avoid these all too common pitfalls.

Continue Reading

Quick Tip: Play Better by Emulating Your Heroes

- - Shortcuts & Tricks

It may seem self-evident that trying to play other people’s songs is the most sure-fire way to improve — at least in a manner you know will align with the public’s perception of ‘musicianship’ — but there are still students (and teachers) who try to learn (or teach) the guitar standing solely on the shoulders of technical exercises. And while the ability to play technically and accurately is a must, the quickest way to gain surefire, musical chops is to go where others have been before.

Continue Reading

The Process of Song Mastery: Why You’re Doing it Wrong

- - Shortcuts & Tricks

So you’ve just finished learning that favorite song of yours … After months of practice, sweat, and struggle you’ve finally nailed it start to finish. Congratulations! You’re 30% of the way there! Whaaaat?! you find yourself exclaiming, forcing your left hand into your forehead whilst your right begins directing your cursor towards the “close tab” button. Yes, you heard me correctly, and if you’re still with me, allow me to explain just what I mean …

Continue Reading