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The 8 Hour Guitar Workout

Oh my god! It’s my 8 hour super guitar workout of extreme punishment, death, mutilation, destruction, and annihilation!!! Do you think you have what it takes? Do you actually think a simple mortal guitarist like yourself can handle it?!!! Well! DO YOU??!! (Drum roll) Well, actually….. psych. I’m just kidding. But, I bet I got your attention! *laughs* Mind the sarcastic humor, I was just fooling around and getting you psyched up! On a more serious note, I am here to talk to you about practice routines today. If there is one question that I get asked over and over again, it’s “what’s your practice routine and how many hours a day do you play?” That’s a hard question to answer, because personally, it varies daily for me. BUT, my friends, I have decided to create a guitar work out for you all to enjoy. But, there are a few rules of thumb here:

1) There are no rules, just guidelines. I can not tell you what is best for your personal development, but I can help you find your path to better playing.

2) You don’t have to play 8 hours a day to get good. This is just a sample routine that is worth a look over. Besides, it’s not how long you practice, it’s the quality of practice and consistency of practice from day to day.

3) I bet your accusing me now of ripping off Steve Vai’s 10 hour guitar workout? Well maybe I should change this to the “11 hour guitar workout” then huh? (Yea, my amp goes to 12 too…take that Spinal Tap!) Maybe the 18,174.921 hour workout! Oh yea, what’s up now?? Well, actually, nah…. *laughs* I’M JUST KIDDING! I figure 8 hours not only sounds COOL and looks cool, but for those people who have no social life, job, girlfriend, no internet at home to surf porn, ect…. here’s something to entertain yourself with. Now, I saw Vai’s 10 hour workout many years ago and I’m sure that mine will be very similar to his. LIKE I SAID, I’m just giving you some guidelines to help you find your own perfect practice routine that works for you. So instead of getting on my case, hate mailing me ect…, maybe you should just sit back an read the rest of this column and try to enjoy it. ;0) I should of changed the title to “The 8 hour sample guitar work out.”

4) NOW, MOST IMPORTANTLY!!! Let’s remember to have some fun. Isn’t that the reason we all started to play guitar anyways? I’m going to try and make this column as funny as possible (as you’ve probably noticed, I’m full of smart ass remarks and we haven’t even started), as well as instructional…. so sit back and try to enjoy it. Have a little fun and DON’T email me commenting on my writing because you’ve got a stick to far up your butt to realize that I’m trying to be funny! What!???… you don’t like my sense of humor, too bad, you’ll get over it. So everyone, on the count of 3, smile ;0) 1..2..3… ok, from now on, were gonna have some fun.

How not to practice!!!

Don’t you even dare sit in your room for 8 hours practicing your favorite E minor pentatonic wank fest licks. The only way to get better is to force yourself to try new things and discipline yourself. So…. here’s what we are going to do. Let’s set up a practice routine!

Setting up a routine that works for you

Face it, we are all really busy people…. well… most of us. Surfing the net for fat chick porn, sleeping, picking your nose, practicing kung fu moves on your younger siblings, and playing Nintendo all day doesn’t count as being busy around here! Let’s face it though… we all practice when we can and we all wish we could practice more! So, how do you optimize your practice time? Simple. Analyze your playing. What are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses? You should spend the most time a day working on what you lack the most. For example, say you can alternate pick 500,000 notes per quarter of a half of a third of a millisecond, but, can you read music on paper? Can you tear it up in mixolydian over a C7-F7-G7 progression? Can yo punk ass rap like da Icy Hot Stunnaz foo? Well…maybe not the rapping thing, but ya see where I’m going. Find the thing you lack in, work on it the most.

Now, the next part of setting up your own routine is to allocate your time to practice everyday. Find a time that you can sit down everyday, in a quiet room and free of distraction. If you have to, go and round up a militia to clear the area of any noise violators. Now, once you’ve secured a room with your commando tactics, you can finally practice in peace.

The last step is to write out and allocate a certain amount of time to practice each thing that you intend to practice that day.

My 8 Hour Sample Practice Routine

Here is a practice routine that I wish I had the time to adhere to everyday. This should give you guys some ideas for setting up your own practice routines.

10 minutes – Stretching and massaging your arms/elbows/hands. Playing guitar for hours can HURT you badly if your not careful.

30 minutes – Practice your Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented triads w/ Inversions on EVERY string set.

20 Minutes – Talking trash online to other guitar players. haha, NOT. Shame on you for actually considering this. How dare you! Actually, instead, spend these 20 minutes trying to come up with new chords and naming them. Let’s be productive, I don’t want to have to whip out my guitar player etiquette column on your trash talkin’ ass now!

1 Hour – Practice playing cords, inversions, alternate fingerings for cords, substitutions ect…. Work on progressions and getting them fluid. Practice learning some scales too!

1 Hour – Rhythm guitar practice. Lead guitarists who can shred are notorious for sucking at playing rhythm guitar! Make me proud and spend time working on playing rhythm to a metronome or click track. I’ll personally scold you and make you sit in the corner with a dunce hat if you don’t!! I suggest dividing your time up by working on, funk vamps, walking bass lines, thrash metal rhythms, and cord strumming rhythms. It’s good to be well versed.

15 minutes – Take a break man! Go take a piss (or what ever you do in the bathroom, just don’t tell me about it you sick pervert!) and eat/drink some food. Make a few prank phone calls, just relax, take your mind off guitar. Remember, your human, not a machine. You do need a rest. We still got over 4 hours left!!

30 minutes – Spend some time reading up on some music theory, counterpoint, composition, orchestration, ect…. We will come back to more of this later, but for now, just dabble in a few things.

5 minutes – Stretch out again, we are going to be getting physical.

10 minutes- Spend some time working on what you just read about. Or, you can spend 10 minutes just futzing around. The point is to make you think and warm you up for the pain that is about to engulf your hands.

2 Hours – Hardcore painful technical shred fest practice. Work on your technique. HARD. Push yourself, but DO NOT hurt yourself. I can’t afford a lawsuit because you gave yourself tendinitis because I told you to spend 2 intense hours working on every technique. Oh, by the way, if you do hurt yourself… I’m not responsible. Blame the voices inside your head! Those bastards, how dare they do such a thing! Spend this time like your working out. Work on every technique and push yourself to try new things daily. Ya don’t want to get into a playing rut do you? 😉

1 Hour – Spend 5 minutes doing some cool down stretches. Then go spend the rest of the time looking at dirty magazines. Ya know, the ones your dad has hidden under his bed. Yep, you’re a naughty guitar player aren’t you??? Well, ok, I can’t back that…. INSTEAD, spend this time reading up on music theory, counterpoint, composition, orchestration, ect…. Now that you’ve already dabbled in it earlier, you shouldn’t get bored reading. It will give your hands a chance to relax and your ego a chance to deflate after you just played 500 notes per millisecond for 2 hours straight with out stopping. Damn your fast, since speed is everything… KIDDING 😉 !! By the time your done reading, not only will you have learned something, but you should be back in the mood to play again.

1 Hour – Oh yea, I see the home stretch ahead. We’ve almost made it!!! I suggest spend some time learning some of your favorite songs, or practicing your own for them evil recording sessions. Spend some time improvising over cord progressions. Maybe transcribe some stuff, work on some ear training. Just play and have a good time. Playing guitar is supposed to be fun isn’t it?

Congratulations! You’ve just spend 8 hours practicing. Don’t you feel good now? Go relax. Have a beer (unless your underage. If you are, just don’t get caught, and remember you don’t know me if you get caught! It wasn’t me encouraging you to drink, it was them damn voices in your head again!)

A Different Approach to Practicing???

Before I shut my loud mouth (cuz i know by now I’ve annoyed you all..hahah), I’ll leave you all with one more thought….I’ll let ya guys in on a little secret that I like to employ a lot. It’s called mental practicing. Sometimes before I go to bed at night I’ll sit in my bed with my eyes closed and envision my guitar in my hands. I’ll envision myself playing those super hard licks that are nearly unplayable. In the mind, you have to practice it perfect every time. You have to trick your mind into thinking your really practicing. Soon you’ll be able to feel a guitar in your hands even know that physically there isn’t one. You will begin to think your actually playing. If you focus hard enough, you’ll feel the strain in your arms and hands. Once you’ve totally convinced your mind that your practicing, you can now practice those super hard licks that at the current point in time you can’t physically play. Play it over and over in your head, perfectly every time. That lick isn’t so hard anymore is it. Damn right it’s not! Now envision yourself tearing it up. Feel it. Experience it. At this point your so mentally consumed that you feel like you are playing your ass off. That’s where you want to be. I swear to you, if you practice this technique of mentally practicing, it will help you out. It’s worked for me. There have been days where a certain lick would just dominate me, and I’d mentally practice it that night. And…The next day that same lick was being cranked out of my amp with ease like I’d been playing it for months. This is just a technique for you all to consider and try. Let me know if anyone of you all have any luck with it???? Have fun and experiment. With that said, moving on….

Well, hopefully this sample routine will give you some guidelines for your own practice routine. Again, only YOU know what is best for YOU! So my friends, hopefully you’ve all learned something. Until next time…. take care and good luck practicing. Hopefully we’ve all had some good laughs today too.

Questions? Comments?

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