Tedious While Necessary

After years of playing the guitar, I have decided to devote some of my practice time with exercises. I have a book I dusted off, the Guitar Grimoire of Scales and Exercises (I think that is the title, after all, I just dusted this off). I’m going from the very beginning of page 1 and slowly going through the multitude of exercises and scale patterns. After playing the same scale with the suggested picking pattern over and over, I’m wondering if I’ll be considered a legitimate shredder.

Playing songs is fine and dandy, but learning to actually play the guitar with proficiency is more important. I have some technique due in large part to my 1 year of guitar lessons. Seeing more experienced (and better) players with their bad habits has been a real eye opener for me. It is so common to see over playing. Some common mistakes my humble experience has given notice to:

1. Elbow Hinge: A player uses his elbow to strum the guitar, without any wrist action whatsoever. The average guitar neck is maybe 4 to 6 inches (guess) wide. Using the elbow to do the work of the wrist is tiring and can hamper the guitar player’s ability.

2. Down Stroke Picking Pattern: While this can be necessary, some are actually limited to only down strokes when picking a tune. I have made it a point to practice various picking patterns (see above), and the most basic which should be used is alternate picking.

3. Great Sound, Lousy Chops: I’ve been to plenty of shows where the guitar’s performance was based solely on the amount of foot pedals and distortion in use. Great sound is an acquired talent, but if the chops are lacking, I quickly become bored. The person took time to work hard so that he could buy the best gear. Perhaps some of that time and money would be best used to actually learn how to play the guitar.

4. 1st Position G Chord: Some have the habit of playing this most simple of chords with their ring, middle, and pinky finger. Try using the middle finger in place of the ring, the index in place of the middle, and the ring in place of the pinky. Then you can use the pinky to add sus’, etc.

5. Intonation: If your intonation is off, take it to shop and have your guitar set up. Please, you sound terrible when you reach beyond the 12th fret.

6. Old strings. Now that is just being lazy. And make sure you tune them properly, if not, they’ll never stay in tune.

That is all for now. I won’t pretend to be even a good guitar player, but mastering some of the basics will take you pretty far.

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