4 essential and easy guitar tips for beginners

Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball.com
Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball.com

When I started out playing the guitar I didn’t know any theory. My older cousin taught me these 4 tips and they carried me a long way for a long time until I had a chance to study music in college. So here they are! Follow these 4 tips and this will get you rolling on guitar in no time. Have fun!

  1. How to hold a pick

For years I played with incorrect picking technique and it took a long time to retrain and learn proper picking technique. Hopefully the following clips will save you years of unwittingly using improper form. Both focus on alternate picking which is really the test when it comes to proper picking technique. Alternate picking is another technique I wish I had learned about early on. If you’re interested in soloing, it is essential that you possess this skill.

  1. Power Chord

This is the first chord I learned before diving into any music theory. It only requires 3 fingers and it can be played all over the guitar neck so it’s extremely versatile. You’ve heard this chord before in many classic rock and punk music such as Sex Pistols, Nirvana, Ramones, etc.

  1. Pentatonic Scale­

This is the first scale most guitarists learn. This scale is also very movable along the guitar neck and versatile. In many cases this is the only scale learned by guitarists and it carries them along many songs and even genres of music such as Blues, Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz, you name it.

Pretty cool huh­? I will be expounding on these topics in future blogs but for now this is an easy way to get started. Have any questions or topic ideas? Let me know.

Four critical steps to efficient recording

The first thing you want to do to have a smooth recording session is write out a plan for the session. It’s true. 30 minutes or so of planning and prep work can save you hours of wasted time during a recording session. Want to learn how to reduce stress and be more efficient in the studio? Then fallow these four steps and you will be on your way to recording bliss. Here we go!

Step one:

Determine and write down the key and tempo of the song or songs you will be working on beforehand and you will get things started off on the right foot.


Image 1 SOURCE: http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/musicandnightlife/butch-vig-on-producing-foo-fighters-next-album-new-garbage-material-smart-studios-documentary-b99336-273794151.html

Step two:

Confirm the song structure  and write it down to eliminate any potential confusion. Going over parts because of miscommunication can frustrate the artist and suck up valuable energy and time.


Image 2 SOURCE:www.performing-musician.com

Step three:

Write down which microphones you will be using on each instrument and attach a number to it so that you can keep your channel strip organized. If you make any mic selection changes you can modify your notes


Image 3 SOURCE:www.obpmusic.co.uk

Step four:

Write down your plan for the day. You will want your drummer to show up first so that they will have time to set up their drums and you can position the mics. Setting up the drum mikes in just the right positions takes up a chunk of time so the less band members you have waiting for you to mic the drums the better, after that arrange for the rest of the musicians to show up. One everyone is there you want to record a rough draft or “scratch track” with a metronome which will pass as a template to play along to while recording the actual tracks you plan to keep. This prevents unintentional speeding up or slowing down or the missing of musical cues the musicians rely on in order to know when to change parts.

Do you have any questions or other helpful tips to add? I would love to hear them.

Latin Solo Example

Having a passion for music takes many forms. Not only do I love to write, record and perform music but I also enjoy teaching music. Nothing makes me happier than watching a student experience that aha! moment or teaching them a shortcut that will save them years practicing  something incorrectly. So today I would like to share the approach I used to learn how to solo on the guitar, I suppose this approach would work well with any instrument. What I did was learn the basic scales and arpeggios associated with the type of music I was into. This developed the muscle memory and the callouses and the flexibility to go on to the next step which was to learn my favorite parts of my favorite solos (called ”licks”) which inevitably led to the next step  which was to learn my favorite guitar solos in their entirety ( With the help of YouTube and the internet of course).

After getting a hand full of solos under your belt  your will start to notice patterns which are used in general  for that particular style of guitar soloing which naturally find their way into your improvisations. This approach may not work for everybody but it worked really well for me mainly because it was exciting to learn my favorite songs and that always kept me moving forward and evolving as a guitarist. I found some great tips on developing speed as well as the 5 most commonly used guitar scales in rock an roll.

Here is a video demonstrating the use of scales and rock licks in a Latin music context