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Lessons Learned

I've learned a lot while studying the guitar. I'm writing these lessons learned so I don't forget them later on.

  • I have wide fingertips. My fingers aren't particularly wide, but my fingertips are too big to hit a clean A chord on a standard 1-5/8” neck electric guitar.
  • Tune-up before practicing. Your strings can go out-of-tune overnight.
  • Practice with a purpose. You'll grow faster as a guitarist if you have a plan.
  • Use a metronome or backing tracks. Both will greatly improve your sense of timing. And backing tracks have a reward all their own.
  • Use less muscle strength, not more. In the beginning, my finger muscles worked together as a single unit, so I tended to press down hard with all my fingers, rather than just with one. Some of this is a matter of coordination that is gained over time, but the rest is is conscious thought.
  • Warm-ups really help. Guitar playing is the only endeavor I've seen where warm-ups actually help–especially when its cold outside.
  • A modeling amp is a great investment. Modeling amps give you an inexpensive way to sound like you own a huge collection of guitars and effects. The variety causes me to play longer and try more styles.
  • Invest in a good electronic tuner. Cheap ones will get you “close” to perfect, but you'll still have to do relative tuning by hand. And if you're luck, your tuner will include a metronome.
  • My ear has improved over time. After a year or more, I was able to detect when I'd hit one note in a chord, and when a string was out of tune.
  • Knowing how to intonate a guitar is a good thing. Contrary to popular opinion, its not hard. If you can use a screwdriver, you can intonate a guitar.
  • Knowing how to adjust a truss rod is also a good thing. The same rule applies–you just need to be able to use an allen wrench.
  • Humbucker pickups are amazing. More signal, less noise, higher volumes, more useful volume controls. Everyone should have at least one humbucker.
  • Expensive gear does not make you play better. You can't become Eddie Van Halen overnight just because you bought a $2000 guitar. The only thing you can do is practice more, and with more variety.
/home/cfreyer/public_html/data/pages/music/lessons_learned.txt · Last modified: 2008/01/21 17:40 by Chris Freyer