Little Things to Get Big Results
What we are going to talk about today is how you can make little changes to get some big results in your guitar playing. So, what I did was compile some suggestions that you can implement to help you out. So, with out further delay, lets get started.
1. How is your guitar set up? I’ve been playing guitar for a long time. Never would I of ever thought after years of learning to shred, that I would do things like relearn my picking grip, neither less take my whole damn guitar apart and reset it up in ways that I never thought possible. Recently, I had been experimenting with different guitar setups. For many years, I had just messed around with my action as the only modification of my guitars. When I opened the back and started playing around with different settings on the springs that attach to the tremolo, I found a gold mine of ways to make the instrument more playable. Try messing around with different configurations of the springs in back of your guitar. One thing I’ve learned is that the less tension you have on your strings, the easier it is to play. This is a reason why some people tune down (What you thought people just did it to be heavier? Not always.). The fact is that when you have less resistance on the string, you can pick a hell of a lot faster, bend wider, increase your vibrato depth, and the list goes on. That is, of course, if you aren’t using super heavy strings. The only down fall is that less tension makes it harder to sweep pick in my opinion. If you lessen the tension on your bridge, and flatten the angle of it so that it is parallel to your body (at what ever high you prefer your action), you’ll find the strings to be looser, yet at the same pitch after you get it in tune. This makes it much easier to play. As an experiment, you can mess with your bridge so that it is at a 45 degree angle and is pulling incredibly hard on your springs in back. Set the action there and try playing. A lot harder isn’t it? (Makes it a lot better for a whammy bar though) This is something you can experiment with. Once you get a general feel for how it works and what effect that the different configurations of springs have on your playing, you’ll find what works best for the instrument and you. The best scenario is to have a fixed bridge. You’ll be doing bends 15 1/2 steps on that kind of bridge if your used to the feeling of a floating bridge trem system. So, I encourage you to start taking things apart, find out how you can make your guitar more playable. Another thing you can do is take a spring out of the back, or get thinner ones. This will also have an effect on your string tension.
Another thing that can make a big difference in your playing is try different gauges of strings and sizes of picks. We tend to get used to a certain type of pick and string set and never question if there is anything better out there. Try some different picks or strings and play on them for a couple hours. Has it improved your playing or hindered it? I guess the whole point here is to start analyzing your setup and look for ways to make your geeeeetar more playable.
2. Spend less time talking trash/aruging on message boards and youtube and spend more time being productive. This is something I love to hammer on. I’ve written an article on guitar player etiquette before, yet I still see countless people talking trash, insulting players, and just being lame in message boards and guest books. The day I stopped arguing with people on message boards, years ago, about who’s better, faster, ect… and started practicing more… well you know what I’m getting at. So, those of you who haven’t yet, get over to the master class section and take a behavioral lesson. Spend your time contributing music to the guitar community instead of creating flames. You can either be part of the problem, or rise above it. The choice is yours. I also recommend sending those people who do talk endless trash a link to the guitar player etiquette column. I need more hate mail in my email box anyways! (haha, just kidding )
3. Help a fellow guitar player in need. You guys know exactly what I’m talking about on this one. Picture the scenario: You walk into the guitar store after you just spent 3 hours practicing the most insane licks you can think of. You see a room full of newbie guitar players. You decided that you need to slaughter, rape, pillage, and crush the kids in the room who sit there wanking out Nirvana riffs. You grab a mean axe. Find a large amp. Turn up slightly louder than everyone else…. and then proceed to unleash pure carnage, pwn4g3, and domination that has never been paralleled before to the unsuspecting people in that room. Now, instead of killing everyone all the time, how about helping them get on the right track. Go sit down next to someone who obviously needs some work in there playing and start talking to them. Proceed to jam with them and teach them a few things. You’ll find that you’ll learn a ton more from teaching, than the person that is getting taught. It will open you up to new perspectives and ideas that you never thought of. Not only that, you’ll be helping some kid learn what real guitar playing is. You usually end up learning something from the other person too. This is usually a fun and exciting activity that will help some of you people who never leave your bedrooms and practice all day get that much needed social time ;0) .
4. Go jam with some people, its fun and beneficial to your own playing! If you want to really learn something, go to the store and jam with someone who plays a completely different style than you. This is always fun and always exciting. If your not a social person, the easiest way to get a person to open up to you is to walk up to them and complement their playing. Then ask if you can jam with them. Always analyze your technique Is your picking grip the most efficient it could be (Have you even experimented with different ones)? How economy are your pick strokes? How can you make your fingers play more efficiently.
5. Have you ever video taped yourself and watched your technique? Ask yourself these questions and always seek improvement. Set a goals and be consistent What do you want to achieve in your playing? How are you going to get there. What are you not doing today that would make a tremendous effect in your progress? Ask yourself these questions. Analyze what your goals are. Define how you are going to get there. Most importantly, be consistent every day in trying to reach those goals. Record yourself frequently So exactly how much has your playing improved? Record a piece of music you find challenging every week. Do this every Saturday for a month. Then compare tapes from weeks 1 and 4. If your not hearing a big difference in your playing, then you need to change something in your practice routine.
6. Do at LEAST 20 minutes of positive reading before you go to bed. The goal here is to be proactive. You want to read self motivation books with a positive message every night before you sleep. Sounds lame? Well, it works. When you read positive material before you go off to bed every night, it will be the last thing on your mind. Before you doze off, think about how you can apply what you learned about to your life, especially in your guitar playing. You’ll wake up the next day motivated and ready to conquer the world. Here are some suggested readings:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
The Power of Focus – Jack Canfield
Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki
…and many more great books are available if you go out and start looking for them… All of these things are simple little changes that you can try adding to your lives that will have a dramatic effect on your playing in the long run. Experiment and have fun as always. If any of this stuff works for you guys, email me and let me know. I’d love to hear some of your personal victory stories.
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