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I've been playing the guitar for 7 years, but i realize that my playing has not been improving by leaps and bounds; (I am under the impression that guitar playing is linear; if you would plot a graph of skill against time, the longer you play, the better you are bound to get good at it). Are there any ways to improve guitar playing?

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  • I was where you are earlier this year. Then I started picking up my guitar every day no matter what. Learn theory and practice every day. I haven't noticed as quick/dramatic a change as I would have liked, but my friends says there is a noticeable difference.
    – charlie
    Sep 11, 2014 at 18:25
  • @charles that's the thing I was worried about- as in I know people can tell that if you improve/deprove, but like what's the best and surest way to know that you yourself have improved? It doesn't feel like I am; that is.
    – Nick
    Sep 12, 2014 at 2:37
  • For me it was learning Little Wing. For some reason I always had that song up on a pedestal in my mind, and after a few months of serious practice I just sat down and learned it. It only took a couple days, while I was expecting weeks of hard work to get it down. Learning challenging songs is the best thing I can recommend outside of daily practice.
    – charlie
    Sep 12, 2014 at 4:09
  • @Charles but a challenging song is subjective; some would say fingerstyle playing of any song would be challenging because it involves the use of both hands at different times; but some would also say 'oh the solo for that song is pretty challenging because of all the technical touches you need to put into it' I'm not sure if you get what I mean but yeah like is there something substantial/benchmark to say 'oh I've improved' like perhaps playing bohemian rhapsody in fingerstyle-
    – Nick
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:10
  • I mean specifically challenging for you. Something to challenge yourself. Speaking of fingerstyle, I recently re-learned how to do it properly from scratch so I could learn some new tunes that required proper use of three fingers + thumb, so along with learning some new songs I learned how to fingerpick the right way and improved my playing a lot during the process. Working on tunes that really challenge you at first is a great way to measure your progress in a tangible way, i.e. you couldn't play song X before, but now you can and that's pretty satisfying.
    – charlie
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:45

2 Answers 2

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There are a lot of ways:

  • Get a teacher. Someone who knows more stuff than you on guitar, is bound to help you improve in a way that'd be harder to do on your own.
  • Find songs that are more advanced. Like for instance, if you listen to heavy metal and you find heavy metal songs easy to play and that they don't help you improve, find a different genre of metal, like progressive. You'll be able to find songs that are more technical and they will help you improve.
  • Find a completely different genre of music. Learn how to play the blues,jazz,rock,country etc. In my book, when a musician can play (good) more than one genres, he is a good musician.
  • Find books that will help you. There are billions of books for guitar that go from total beginner to expert -- there's got to be one that will help you advance further.
  • Learn theory and harmony. You might already do, but there are a whole lot of stuff to learn from theory and harmony that will help you be a better guitarist.
  • Practice more. If you practice a couple of hours a week, it's only logical not improve by leaps and bounds.
  • Find a group of musicians to play with; usually there is someone that is better than you and will help you improve.
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  • I agree wholeheartedly with 'get a teacher', but just 'cos someone knows more than you do doesn't make them a teacher. I know loads of people who are better than I am, at loads of things, but a small handful of them would be considered if I needed teachers, of whatever. Often, people who find it easy to play, etc., don't understand or appreciate why you can't 'just do what I do'.
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2014 at 15:18
  • One more thing to add to this excellent list: determine a weakness of yours and work on it until it's no longer a weakness. Then move on to the next.
    – scott
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:11
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Anything BUT linear !! Troughs and peaks, more like. One can practise and play loads, and the resulting improvement may be perceived as minimal. There are times when, for whatever reason, one doesn't play for two or three weeks, yet on picking up again, one's doing things easily that a few weeks ago were difficult. There's the physical and the mental sides to learning. With the physical, it's mostly, it seems, 'muscle memory' - whatever that is. But muscle memory needs time to nurture itself - it's not always I've practised for two hours, so now I can do it. The mental side is similar, in that one's brain needs to digest everything, and when it's ready, it'll deliver. Otherwise, why would we wake up in the middle of the night with an answer to a problem we're not even (ostensibly) dreaming about?

All of Shev's solutions are great, especially GET A TEACHER, as oft quoted here. Don't expect 2 hrs practice one day to give the same results as another two hours at another time. Check out other questions on this site about practice/learning,- perhaps someone could refer those, please, and just keep plodding along. Try to enjoy it, as well. We are allowed to, from time to time !

Edit - you ask how you can tell if you're improving. Record yourself ! Every time you play, you listen, and the improvement is so small it's hardly noticeable. From time to time - every couple of months, say, get the phone/ipad/cassette/etc out. If you've heard a recording of yourself from say, a few years ago, you probably noticed a difference. It's that concept on a shorter time span.

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