Learn How To Make Difficult Guitar Licks Much Easier To Play
Difficult guitar licks are often much easier to master than you think. Many guitarists make several critical mistakes that create extra difficulty in their guitar playing that can be easily avoided. Fixing inefficient movements that cause these mistakes makes any guitar lick much easier to play.
Watch the video below to learn how to turn hard guitar licks into easy ones by making a few adjustments:
Click on the video to begin watching it.
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Musical Skills You Should Be Practicing When You’re Without Your Guitar
It’s not as difficult as you might think to improve your guitar skills even without access to your instrument.
When you do have access to it, this time is best spent working on physical technique. When you are away from the guitar, work on the following skills to get the most benefit from your time:
1. Ear Training/Aural Skills
When you develop your musical ear it becomes easy to hear notes in your head before you even play them on guitar. This makes it much easier to be creative in situations where you need to improvise, play guitar solos or create musical phrases of any kind.
Work on developing your aural skills whenever you don’t have access to guitar by singing arpeggios, scale patterns or musical phrases. You don’t need to be in a specific location to work on this skill, so do so wherever you feel most comfortable.
Try improving your ear by singing along to your favorite songs. Two ways to do this are harmonizing with the singer’s melodies and filling in musical phrases by singing your own notes.
Good songwriting skills make it easier for you to play guitar in a creative, expressive and musical manner. Work on developing your songwriting skills by writing music whenever you have available time.
As soon as a musical idea enters your head, record it by humming/singing it into your phone.
3. Fretboard Visualization
This skill involves improving your ability to quickly find notes, scale patterns and chord patterns on the fretboard. This helps you move up and down the fretboard freely so you don’t get lost while playing a solo or improvising.
Practice your fretboard visualization by quizzing yourself on note names and writing out scale patterns/chord patterns on fretboard diagrams.
4. Understanding How Music Theory Works
When you master music theory, you gain the ability to express yourself clearly on guitar. Work on developing your understanding of music theory by doing the following:
- Learning how to construct chords or intervals and memorizing the notes of keys
- Learning how to harmonize chords and create chord progressions
- Learning how your favorite musical artists use musical elements to make their music
Developing the skills is an excellent way to become a better guitarist whenever you’re away from your guitar or don’t have a lot of available time to practice.
Three Guitar Practice Tips That Help You Master Sweep Picking Faster
Sweep picking with speed and accuracy is all about:
*Training yourself to hear notes while playing fast, in order to instantly spot and correct mistakes.
*Playing with incredibly efficient technique to make sweep picking feel easy.
*Muting sloppy string noise, so that every note you play is heard clearly.
The following advice helps you quickly master sweep picking technique:
Guitar Practice Tip #1: Focus on the fretting hand thumb position as you play arpeggios
Your fretting hand thumb must be positioned behind the fretboard when you sweep pick. Do NOT let it wrap around the guitar neck as you would when bending strings or doing vibrato. Keep the thumb pointing up (towards the ceiling) and aligned with your middle finger.
This makes it easy to stretch your fingers when playing arpeggios without having to move your wrist from side to side.
Guitar Practice Tip #2: Use bursts of speed to clean up sloppy playing
You need to process notes quickly with your mind whenever you sweep pick at fast speeds. A lot of guitarists are unable to process notes as fast as they can play them. This is why so many guitar players struggle to fix the mistakes that cause sloppiness in their playing.
Fix your mistakes by practicing in bursts of speed. Sweep pick a short three to five note arpeggio lick at your max speed. Use staccato on the last note and rest for a few moments.
During this time, observe which notes sounded clean and which were sloppy. This makes it easier to identify mistakes since you only play a few notes at a time.
Fix the issues that were causing sloppiness in your burst of speed and begin again. Keep going through this process until the entire lick is perfectly clean. Then move onto a new one and repeat.
This helps you to better hear notes in your mind while playing at fast speeds.
Guitar Practice Tip #3: Mute with your thumb to clean up your playing
Thumb muting refers to resting your thumb on the lower (in pitch) strings than the ones you are playing. The thumb slides up and down the strings as you ascend and descend through arpeggios. The pick only plays the string you want to hear. All the strings below it are muted.
Thumb muting works equally well for other lead guitar techniques (such as scales, bent notes and vibrato). It is consistent, easy to learn and makes your guitar playing a lot cleaner.
Note: don’t confuse thumb muting with palm muting. Palm muting is the technique used to mute the strings you are playing. Thumb muting is used to mute the strings you are not playing (and don’t want to hear ringing).
How To Clean Up Sloppy Sweep Picking Without Slowing Down Your Practice
Do you begin playing sloppy whenever you sweep pick at fast speeds?
Various mistakes only occur in your playing as you play fast. This makes it very important that you practice effectively without slowing down your playing in the process.
Using the following practice approaches make your sweep picking cleaner as you play at high speeds:
Guitar Practice Approach #1: Using Tremolo Picking Together With Arpeggios
Take any arpeggio and insert tremolo picking on random notes in the beginning, middle or end of the arpeggio. Select any note in the arpeggio to apply tremolo to. Sweep up to that note (as normal), do a tremolo on it and sweep back down the arpeggio.
Your goal is to make the note you are sweeping up to sound articulate and clean.
Focusing on one note at a time makes it easy to clean up your playing at fast speeds without slowing down.
Don’t worry about how many times you should tremolo pick the note (determine this by feel).
Use this approach at speeds very close to your maximum (80-90% of your top speed).
Guitar Practice Approach #2: Rotate Focus From Note To Note
Select an arpeggio and repeat it continuously for 5-10 repetitions. Choose a specific note in this arpeggio and pay close attention to it. As you continue to repeat the arpeggio, focus on maintaining the quality of that note.
Make sure you articulate it and play it clearly, so that it is not blending with another note and there is no excess noise surrounding it. Work on fixing any mistakes without slowing down the speed you are playing at.
Next, begin focusing on another note within the arpeggio you selected (after the first note is perfectly clean). Keep going through this same process over and over until the arpeggio is completely clean.
Find the fastest tempo at which your brain can go through this process in real-time. After you refine every note of the arpeggio, increase the metronome tempo slightly and repeat the process.
“I just love guitar lessons with Tom, he literally takes the time to make a specific lesson plan and sends you lessons as you need it.”
My last lesson I took with a local guitar teacher before joining Tom, I was struggling with a sweep picking pattern, which was the 5 string root major, I was really struggling to get the rolling technique down. I took it to my guitar teacher and I was like “Help me with this, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” This is his exact phrase: “At high speeds, it doesn’t really matter if you can play it clean or not, no one can hear it anyway.” At that point, I was just like, “Ah man.” But thankfully, in that same message, he mentioned Tom’s name. Then the doors opened. That very night, I went home and looked at every single lesson Tom had, had my guitar in hand, every YouTube lesson on you know “correct motions”, “play this over chords”... just applied it instantly, and it was instant results within an hour... just from his free stuff. I was like, oh man, I’ve got to do lessons with this guy.
I remember when I first started out with lessons, I instantly jumped on the forum to greet myself, and it’s amazing how there’s like 30 responses. Just like, “Hi welcome.” and stuff... “Hi Dan, great musical tastes”. That made me feel really at home and welcomed into Tom’s forum and community. Every time I’ve had an issue when I was first starting out be it like theory or technique, there’s always been someone there who’s helped. Otherwise it could’ve been this potentially awkward process where I’d have to wait a whole week to get an answer from my teacher, who even then may not have answered it correctly and may have never solved it. Whereas there are guys on there who have been with Tom and have been through exactly what I’ve been through. They know exactly how to help, in what order, what information you need... it’s just a friendly atmosphere really.
Dan Mayhew, Stowmarket, UK
“July of 2012, I had been managing in a retail store and was kind of reaching this point where I was really getting frustrated because I had been struggling to progress in my guitar playing. I had this mindset that I had to teach myself everything... you know and the best players are all self taught and stuff like that...”
...and I remembered Tom Hess from that book, and I said “You know, it’s time to look this guy up and see what he’s all about.” And it didn’t take me very long to figure out that this is the kind of person that I needed to get on board with.
My playing has definitely improved technique-wise, but probably the most important change I have experienced is just in my overall mindset as a player and as a practicing musician. I just feel like I have a much better frame of mind and a much better idea of where I am going and where my guitar practicing is taking me. Whereas before I just felt like I had to practice everything and I had a whole bunch of stuff going on. It’s a lot more focused now.
Being in the environment that Tom has created with his other students is incredibly motivating. I had always been in my own little shell, kind of just stayed on my own. Coming out here... like when I came out here last year was a big step out of my comfort zone. Getting around all these other musicians... it’s unbelievable how great some of these guys are, not just as players, but as people.
Andrew Tintle, Richmond, California USA
“I had problems with physical playing. I couldn’t hold the pick, I was struggling a lot, there was frustration for like years. I started out looking for a YouTube solution, maybe someone knows how to angle the pick or build up speed and accidentally ran into Tom.”
The video wasn’t about playing, he only had a conversation. I listened up to him. I saw that Tom made a lot of sense in his speech, and I got interested. I went to his site, started looking at what he offered, got very interested, filled out the form, got my first lesson, started building up myself and started getting more results than I was getting before when I was self taught. It was an amazing experience that opened up so many doors, and still there are so many doors to open.
The material is specifically done for your individual needs, to reach your goals. You can always put up new goals. You can have feedback on your playing, see your weak areas and strong areas. Tom cares a lot about his students. He always reviews and watches how I am progressing so we can review material, step by step. Not skipping the steps. He is paying attention to it, and that’s what I like about it. I last felt this kind of motivation when I was 13 and starting out with a band, now I’m feeling the same fire and passion. There are students who are more advanced, more knowledgeable and have more experience. Instead of feeling jealous, I feel much more motivated to push myself further.
Freddy Kuiva, Estonia
There are many more ways to play guitar cleaner, faster and more creatively than what you saw in this video. Learn them by taking online guitar lessons.