As­sess your play­ing skills

You’ll get more out of any prac­tice rou­tine if you know which ar­eas of your play­ing need most at­ten­tion. Get started by tak­ing an hon­est look…

Total Guitar - - COVER FEATURE -

1. Check you are play­ing in time

Choose a sim­ple piece of mu­sic you know well and try play­ing in time with a metronome. Aim to syn­chro­nise on­beat notes with the click. If it doesn’t seem fully aligned, you may need to work on your tim­ing. Slow down a lit­tle and try to feel the rhyth­mic pulse more tightly.

2. How clean are your chords?

Put your fin­gers in the wrong po­si­tion and you’ll end up with an­noy­ing fret buzz, so aim to play most chords us­ing the very tips of your fin­gers as close to each fret as pos­si­ble. Barre chords, of course, need a flat fin­ger. Keep your thumb roughly op­po­site your fin­gers for max­i­mum strength.

3. Are you play­ing too fast?

You don’t have to be a shred­der to want to play fast. We’ve all tried to play a song at full speed be­fore we’ve fully learnt it, usu­ally re­sult­ing in fluffed chord changes and solo lines that don’t quite link to­gether. Play slowly to a metronome or drum beat and try to im­prove your speed by a small amount ev­ery day.

4. Check your Lead tech­niques

There’s al­ways an op­ti­mum po­si­tion for your hands to be in when you’re play­ing lead gui­tar. Make sure you’ve got the essen­tial tech­niques sorted…

String bends

For most first-, sec­ond- and third-fin­ger bends place your thumb on the top side of the neck (some­times called a ‘base­ball bat grip’) for max­i­mum strength. You may need to ad­just po­si­tion for fourth fin­ger bends.

Ham­mer-ons and pull-offs

Can you play a pull-off as you lead out of the ham­mer-on (and vice versa)? If not, ad­just your hand po­si­tion. You’ll need a firm thwack for a ham­mer-on, then a flick of the fin­ger to pull off.

Al­ter­nate pick­ing

The abil­ity to pick in a down-up ‘al­ter­nate’ pat­tern is cru­cial. To prac­tise, choose one note and play it down-up-down-up in time with a metronome. If your tim­ing is choppy or un­even, slow down.

One-fin­ger-per-fret hand po­si­tion

For the mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale, hand po­si­tion isn’t so cru­cial. If you want to play more com­plex tunes and so­los you need all four fin­gers. Ar­range the dig­its next to each other at con­sec­u­tive frets.

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