I have been playing guitar for a year or so. I know basic music theory about scales, chord progression etc. I would rate myself as a person who is better than beginner but below the intermediate player.

I feel like my learning has been stopped and I am not progressing anymore rather than just learning new songs. I would like to know should I proceed further to improve my skills to intermediate player.

It would be great if I somebody can give a checklist that can help me progress from my current situation to intermediate player.

  • 2
    Each person's check list will be different, personal, thus subjective. And we don't know whether you are aiming at being a shredder, rock or jazz guitarist, to name but three! You would do worse than look at the syllabi of guitar exams, which are obviously laid out in a progressive manner. LCM RGT is one such that I used for well over a hundred exams - if it wasn't that good, it wouldn't be used! Rockschool is another. Oh, and find a teacher...
    – Tim
    Jun 21, 2017 at 10:25
  • 1
    I learned guitar by just learning more new songs all the time. And then trying to form bands. And then forming bands and gigging. And then teaching guitar. And that brings us up to today. I don't know how detailed a plan is necessary. Just have more fun with it every day. Jun 21, 2017 at 13:26
  • @ToddWilcox , I am trying to practice every day with some key. So far I am good with C, D, E, F and G Keys. I will practice more songs.
    – Sivasankar
    Jun 22, 2017 at 5:17
  • What kind of guitar? There is classical guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, etc.
    – HarryH
    Jun 12, 2023 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


Here's one checklist. It's not the only way, and it doesn't need to go in this exact order, but it should cover the basics. And maybe this starts off too simple for you but it's hard to know just how much of a beginner you are.

  1. Learn basic chords, in open position. Em, E, G, C, D, Am, etc.
  2. Learn some simple songs that allow you to practice switching among these chords. There are many lists of "beginner guitar songs" online.
  3. Practice switching the chords SLOWLY and ACCURATELY. If you're sloppy fingering a chord and you keep practicing it that way, you'll just learn to be sloppy.
  4. Work on gradually increasing the speed when you switch between the chords so that ultimately you can play the song(s) at tempo. Using a metronome is the best choice because it will show you exactly how you are or are not progressing. When you're solid at a particular tempo, increase the speed on the metronome and try to get solid at that tempo. Repeat. Don't rush or sacrifice accuracy for speed. As Steve Vai said (or maybe it was someone else), "slow is fast". Also, it's not going to happen in one day. You need to practice regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes. A lot of the magic happens in your central nervous system between practice sessions.
  5. Learn the basic scales: pentatonic minor, blues, major, pentatonic major, natural minor, chromatic. You don't need to get more fancy than that in the beginning. There are a million ways to practice scales--look online. This helps with technique, knowing the notes on the fretboard, theory, and improvising.
  6. Learn the 12-bar blues progression (I - IV - V). Practice soloing over it using the pentatonic minor scale and blues scale. Get a friend to play the chords while you solo and then switch off. Do this about a thousand times and continue throughout your guitar-playing career.
  7. Learn about triads (major, minor, diminished) and four-note chords. Read about how triads are built off of scales (root, 3rd, 5th) and how the scale determines what chords will work with it, and vice versa.
  8. Add barre chords to your bag of tricks. There are basically 4 basic barre chords shapes that will allow you to play any major or minor chord anywhere on the fretboard. It's hard on your hand in the beginning, but the strength will build up quickly if you practice a few minutes every day.
  9. Learn the seven modes of the major scale: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc. These are all just the major scale but starting on different notes of the scale. Read up on how each scale works with a different type of chord (Dorian over minor 7th chord, Lydian over major 7th, etc. This dovetails with the triads and four-note chords stuff mentioned earlier.
  10. Throughout this whole time, keep learning songs that you like. This will keep you motivated to get to that next plateau. Ideally, pick songs that are just a little bit out of reach so that you have to get better to play them.
  11. Learn about other chords like dominant 7th, 6th chords, etc. If you don't play jazz, you won't use a lot of the "fancier" ones like 11ths and so on, but it helps round out your knowledge anyway.
  12. Expand the range of scales you know. Harmonic and melodic minor, diminished, etc. There are lots of exotic scales that you will probably never use, like Hungarian Minor and Phrygian Dominant. You don't need to worry about those at this point.

Beyond this point, I'd say you're moving past the intermediate stage. Also, I left out a lot but this is just meant to be a quick checklist.

  • I am good at the points 1, 2, 3, 7, 8. There are many points which I don't know. I will check those. Thanks for the checklist
    – Sivasankar
    Jun 22, 2017 at 5:25
  • No problem. Consider marking this as the answer if you feel it answered your question.
    – jevron1984
    Jun 27, 2017 at 1:41
  • I wouldn't say that leaning that much theory is good in the beginning... scales, sevenths and modes. Learn coordination and improve the ear, later the scales will simply make sense. This is a checklist worth checking out though, it has much good advice on the order of learning.
    – user30646
    Oct 30, 2017 at 4:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.