Guitar Tip of the Day

This is a list of all the guitar tips I have been tweeting on my Twitter account; in 140 characters or less. #GuiTOD
*In chronological order by tweet date.

  1. Make best friends with your metronome, but know when to take a break from it, to avoid sounding like a machine yourself.
  2. Play & sing the different voices and do it often. When you know what they are, you’ll want to always hear them.
  3. Strive for quality and beauty not quantity and speed
  4. Change your strings regularly. It’s good for the sound, the fingers, the guitar, and the soul!
  5. Once you settle on what works best, always write down your left AND right hand fingerings.
  6. Always choose fingering that’s not only easy to play, but agrees with the phrasing and the rhythmic pattern of the musical passage.
  7. Listen to your hands/body, if you feel any fatigue/pain, stop and let your hands rest. The “no pain, no gain” motto doesn’t work.
  8. Don’t limit yourself to either rest stroke or free stroke. Learn to do both equally well to use interchangeably and unnoticably.
  9. After tuning to a digital tuner, check the relative tuning b/w strings to ensure the strings are also in tune with each other.
  10. Listen to different instrumentalists, not only guitarists. Especially to the original recordings of transcriptions you are learning.
  11. Think linearly, not just vertically. Even a succession of blocked chords can sound linear if the right line is brought out.
  12. Whenever possible try to think ahead and prepare your fingers in advance to achieve smoother transitions.
  13. I never cut/clip my right hand nails. Always use a file to shorten them, to avoid any microscopic fractures from clipping/cutting
  14. Practice in front of a mirror to get feedback on your technique/posture in ways you can’t feel/see without the frontal reflection.
  15. When practicing don’t mindlessly repeat, slow down and figure out why something isn’t working and use logic to fix it.
  16. Clean your fretboard frequently! It will prolong the life of your strings by eliminating the oils and dust that accumulate.
  17. When playing artificial harmonics on wound bass strings, use “p” to pluck the strings instead of the “a” to avoid the scratchy sound.
  18. Keep your LH fingernails short, to avoid practicing with bad technique when trying to keep the nails from digging into the fretboard.
  19. Learn to speak to your audiences. Depending on the venue, it adds a more personal quality to the concert.
  20. Every classical guitarist should learn at least the basic flamenco techniques and forms, but the more you learn, the better.
  21. When playing glissandi, make sure to apply enough pressure to hear the arrival note, but not too much in order to avoid fret noise.
  22. Practice maintaining the vibrato even when changing pitches in the LH. It’s easier said than done, but makes a big difference.
  23. Work on the quality of your tone, that’s the number one thing people hear about your playing and first impressions matter!
  24. When traveling loosen the strings on your guitar,in case it has to be checked. Protect the instrument in what little way you can.
  25. Develop your “a” finger to be as strong/independent as the others. The equality will give you more fingering/phrasing choices
  26. To avoid squeaks on the bass strings while shifting, sometimes it helps to temporarily tilt the LH finger off the callous.
  27. Use your muscles/energy more efficiently by training your LH finger to be selective with the strings it presses when playing bars.
  28. When learning a new piece avoid needing to unlearn sloppy placements by aiming for accuracy from the very beginning.
  29. For accuracy in long distance shifts, make sure your eyes arrive at the destination a few notes before the left hand travels there.
  30. Pay attention to the evenness of the slurs. Weak slurs often make us rush by pulling off or hammering on too quickly.
  31. Don’t swallow the last note before a difficult shift. We don’t notice that we skip those notes, until we pay attention to them.
  32. When playing a combination of chords & single notes, make sure to balance the volume. Chords can sound louder than single notes.
  33. For most legato playing allow each note to ring fully, by making the shifts quick, even when playing at a very slow tempo.
  34. When tuning the 6th/5th down to D/G, go below the intended pitch, then tune up to allow the string to adjust & stay in tune better.
  35. It’s better to practice 1 hour each day, than 8 hours over the weekend! Strive for consistency, not cramming to avoid injuries.
  36. When playing chords, ensure that you hear each note within the chord and listen to the harmony in context, the tension/resolution.
  37. When preparing for a concert/auditions, make sure to practice running the program in the same order it will be performed.
  38. When playing the same program for a while, take out different pieces to work on to keep things fresh & challenging for your mind.
  39. Choose pieces that are hard enough to challenge you to grow, but not so difficult that all you worry about is getting through them.
  40. Play for people as much as possible! Performing requires practice, too! Only practicing at home won’t make a good public performer.
  41. Don’t let technical difficulties dictate musical interpretation. Music comes first & technique should be devolved catch up with it.
  42. When practicing a one directional scale in a piece, take it out of context & practice it in both directions, in a loop back & forth.
  43. Visualise your pieces so your brain knows the information, not just your fingers. Muscle memory isn’t as reliable under pressure.
  44. When playing fast pieces/passages remember to breath and to keep phrasing. It actually makes it seem easier and sounds less rushed!
  45. Don’t always play at the top limit of your speed, keep some reserve to have flexibility in performance & for shaping/phrasing.
  46. When working with complicated passages/fingerings separate the hands & work on each hand on its own, before putting them together.
  47. To have a more productive practice session make a plan or list of what you want to accomplish before sitting down to practice.
  48. Use smaller increments when working on speed w/the metronome. Jumping big leaps in speed settings, leaves large unpracticed gaps.
  49. Make audio/video recording of yourself a regular tool in your practice. You will learn so much from hearing/watching yourself back.
  50. When playing scales rest or free stroke, make sure to never repeat RH fingers. Always alternate i & m; think walking, not skipping.
  51. Practice basic rasgueados on regular bases to develop the extensor muscles. You can only flex as fast as you can extend.
  52. I can’t believe it took me almost 3 decades of playing to realize how awesome it is to practice technique outside of my repertoire!
  53. Don’t have dots & find yourself missing shifts? Put a dot on the 7th fret. It isn’t cheating! You’ll shift more accurately/securely.
  54. When first learning scales play each note 4 times to learn to always alternate RH fingers, then reduce to 3, then 2, then to 1.
  55. File/buff your nails on the daily bases. If you always keep them smooth there is less chance they will catch on things and break.
  56. When crossing treble to bass while playing scales, the hand has to move back from the elbow to keep proper wrist position.
  57. When playing vibrato the left hand should be relaxed w/the tip of the finger in firm contact with the string to move it back/forth.
  58. Keeping hands/nails moisturized helps to prevent nail breakage and chipping by maintaining the elasticity of the nails.
  59. When learning a piece w/ornaments, first learn the notes without the ornaments, to get the correct skeleton, then add them back in.
  60. When tuning play the source pitch first then the string you are trying to tune. This makes it easier to compare & tune the guitar.
  61. In order to see results in your practice you have to always be consistent.
  62. To help with sight reading in higher positions, memorize frets 7 & 10 like the back of your hand! 12th fret should be easy…
  63. When first learning to play don’t get stuck on 1 piece until it’s perfect. Learn a few pieces/work on them parallel to each other.
  64. When practicing segments/passages always go to the next downbeat to maintain the forward motion/have the complete feeling of pulse.
  65. The slow legato passages are often more difficult than the fast ones.
  66. When memorizing a piece, run through it for a friend/recording device, it will reveal all the shaky spots you thought you knew.
  67. How I tie the strings to the headstock. I use the same method for all 6 strings, no ties, no knots. Easy to put on/fast to take off. Watch video here.
  68. How I tie the treble strings to a 6-hole bridge. Watch video here.
  69. How I tie the bass strings to a 6-hole bridge. Watch video here.
  70. If you’ve been practicing the same piece for months, taking a short break from it will make it sound better when you return to it.
  71. Learn to be able to start from any given measure or section in the piece. You shouldn’t have to go to the beginning of the piece.
  72. Playing music is a lot of mental discipline and concentration! Don’t just let your fingers do what they want! You’re in control.
  73. If you can’t play a passage perfectly at least 5 times in a row, then you’re not in control of it.
  74. How I tie the treble strings to a 12-hole bridge. Watch video here.
  75. How I tie the bass strings to a 12-hole bridge. Watch video here.