As a guitar player, do you ever look back to see how much you’ve improved since the first day you made your first strums and chords on your acoustic guitar? It’s actually good for guitarists to do a reality check every now and then and evaluate themselves, not just their gear.
While it’s definitely a plus to have a pro-level guitar to help you become a better player, you also need to assess your skills and see which aspects of guitar playing you still need to work on. This is why we’ve come up with a checklist of skills that every guitar player needs to have. Give this a read and see if you have everything covered – if not, you know what to do: keep on studying and practicing!
Do you know all the notes on the fretboard? Do you know the chromatic scale on all six strings by heart? How about horizontal and vertical scale patterns and scale tones in all of the 15 keys? Can you easily find all the places on the fretboard where you can play a particular pitch? If you have a good understanding of the fretboard, you should be able to play the same chord or scale in another part of it.
Being able to read music is a plus for guitar players who want to have a professional career. You need to be able to read chord charts, tabs and standard notations quickly and competently.
If you can’t keep time properly, or can’t figure out where the beat is, you’ve got a lot of work to do. Poor rhythm is one of the main reasons why many aspiring guitarists often can’t get a riff right.
Not everyone is born with perfect pitch, which is why ear training is important, especially for guitar players who want to have a good career in music. Training your ear allows you to determine whether a string is out of tune, play the sounds and melodies you hear and transcribe music.
Technique is something you develop the more you practice. A good technique will allow you to hit the right notes and get the right sound from your guitar, no matter your playing style.
Using sheet music to learn a song is good, but if you can’t memorize the song even after listening to and playing the same thing over and over again, you need to work on your music memorization skills. There are plenty of exercises that can help you play from memory, so try them out and see which works for you.
Pro guitarists need to expand their repertoire to show their versatility and knowledge of various musical genres. If there are only a few songs you are comfortable playing, consider stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring other genres, songs and playing styles. Building a repertoire also develops the skill of playing from memory, plus you’ll be prepared when someone asks you to play something.
Last but certainly far from being the least is improvisation. To be able to make improvisations well, you need to be good at all of the aforementioned skills. Being able to improvise also improves your other guitar skills, so the more you practice playing guitar solos, the better you become as a musician overall.
So, which of these skills do you feel you need to spend more time improving? If there’s more than one, focus on your major weakness first, and work from there. Take your time to master these guitar skills and you will surely become a more accomplished and competent player.