Intermediate Guitar Practice Routine That Will Level Up Your Skills

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If you want to level up your skills you are in a right place right now…

And it doesn’t matter if you have only 15 minutes or over 1 hour of time per day, I got you covered.

But remember, more you put in, more you get out.

I’m first gonna lay out the structure of this routine for you and then we will look closer at what you should actually do.

Let’s go!

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).


Intermediate Guitar Practice Routine

Structure

image reveals structure of Intermediate Guitar Practice Routine
If you do all this every day (takes about 1 hour) and pair it with learning theory for 15min/day, it’s perfect. You will make progress REALLY FAST.

You can see the overall structure above. Let’s go through each one of these (plus some bonus stuff). I also give recommendations of specific drills and exercises you can insert into your practice routine!

Intermediate Guitar Practice Routine – What to Do?

Warm-Up

When I started to warm-up before every practice session, playing started to feel really smooth. I filmed myself playing without and with warm-up, and the difference is huge!

Muscles need warming up before you use them if you want to make playing smooth.

I have developed my own perfect 15-Min warm-up routine and I’m soon ready to share it with you guys. But you can also build something by yourself. Here’s how to do it:

  • Ideal length 3-5 min. Less than that doesn’t get your muscles warmed up and more is just boring.
  • Find 2 exercises that warm-up your hand (this video has some)
  • Find 2 stretches that you can do to your hands (this video has some)
  • Find 2 exercies that require accuracy and streching you fingers

Boom! Do each of those for 30 seconds and that’s 3 minutes of awesome warming-up. Also, this is not only for warming up, it also improves your playing every time you do it!

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Learn Improvising

The ability to play good-sounding licks and chord sequences on the fly is awesome! And that’s why improvising is a skill that can really lift you from the intermediate skill level to advanced.

If you have never really paid attention to improvising. Start off slow. You can simply just play around with one string and try to figure out a short, good-sounding lick.

Also, learning scales help. A lot. But just playing the scales up and down doesn’t really sound great. How to make great-sounding licks out of scales? This video explains it perfectly:

YouTube video

That video is literally pure gold when it comes to learning improvisation. And now…you just need to take action.

One other thing that can unlock the world of improvising to you, is to get to know your fretboard. This video will get you started with that…fast:

YouTube video

Practice Something Hard

image reveals Guitarist Comfort Zones

If you want to make progress fast, you have to expose yourself to the hard stuff. Every day.

You know…that stuff that just feels impossible to you. You have to pound the pavement. But you know what?

”Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

Jacob Riis

Consistent repetition of hard stuff eventually makes you…well, amazing. So, attack hard feeling stuff. Every day.

Fingerpicking

With fingerpicking, you can make your guitar sing like nothing else. Possibilities are unlimited, check this amazing piece from Jon Gomm for example:

YouTube video

I bet Jon went out of his comfort zone a couple of times when practicing…

But back to us. We normal mortals should start practicing fingerpicking every day. And here’s a video that gives you really powerful exercises that you can include to your practice today/the thumb exercise is my favorite)!

YouTube video

Left & Right-Hand Sync

No matter if you are fingerpicking or using a pick, the goal is to play notes as clean as possible. That’s one key thing that makes you sound good. Really good.

The simplest way to hone your hand sync, is to start including open strings to your scales and licks. That way you detect mistakes easily and have to force yourself to play cleanly.

This video walks you through this exact progress:

YouTube video

And yes, if you are fingerpicking, you can follow this same progress. Just add open strings to your licks and melodies.

Learn New Songs, Riffs, Licks

This part is the easiest in my opinion. Just learn some new stuff.

  • Complete songs
  • Riffs
  • Licks

But you can be strategic here to make sure that you make progress fast as possible…

You should on purpose learn pieces that get you out of your comfort zone. This ensures that yes, you increase your repertoire as a player, but you also increase your skill level.

Because here most players make their progress really slow. For example, they like Metallica-style metal riffs. So they only learn Metallica-style metal riffs. And by doing this, they limit their growth and end up being kind of a one-trick ponies(done that).

So learn new pieces, but go out of your comfort zone and learn something different. You will at least 2x your learning speed.

Bonus: Theory

I didn’t include this in the routine itself, but it doesn’t mean that theory is not important.

Music theory can work as a roadmap for you as you practice.

  • It can guide you and make things easier/clearer
  • It can improve you improvisation skills
  • It can enable you to play smoothly with other musicians
  • It can enable you to create your own music
  • It helps you to really understand music

That’s why I would recommend that you spend 15 minutes per day learning music theory.

If you are a newbie with music theory, starting learning can feel intimidating… But this video, it’s awesome. Watching it is the best way to get your feet wet with music theory:

YouTube video

You Have The Power

You have an amazing structure for your practice. With this, you can gain serious skills.

Great thing is that nothing in this is set in stone. You can change few things if you want. You don’t have to follow the exact exercise I recommended. You know you better than me, so you should decide exactly what you include to your practice. But the danger lurks here…

You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

You have to be honest and a bit ruthless here. Don’t overestimate yourself and detect the weak spots.

But the great thing is that this is simple. You suck at fingerpicking, do that more. You suck at theory, do that more. Getting great at something is simple, but it’s not easy.

How and Why This Works?

If you go through this article and do this routine once, and then repeat it after couple of weeks…you might make some progress, but it will be super slow.

The trick here is to follow this routine consistently every day. For years. Make it part of your day. So that this routine becomes automatic for you. You just do it.

If you do this for a year or two and look at the results, you will be shocked by how much progress you have made. Results will compound and you will be a beast at guitar playing.

Great things consist of several small things. Small things are the every practice you perform. And as a result, you will gain a skill set that makes people call you a great guitar player.

Too Busy?

This is not a problem. First…

No one has time for everything, ut everyone has time for most important things.

So prioritizing might help. Take some time from watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling on your phone.

If you are really short on time, do this:

  • decrease the practice time to 15-30 minutes
  • detect the things you need to work on the most and practice those
  • practice diffrerent sections of this practice routine in different days
  • take advantage of lunch and coffee breaks

There is always time for little practice, you just need to prioritize and plan things. As a results, you can learn guitar even if you are a busy person like most of us!

Conclusion

To be honest, this routine is pretty awesome. Most people would probably charge money for this…

But it’s worthless to you if you don’t use it. So plan a little and start implementing this routine every day. That will make you a great guitar player!

I hope that this article helped you, if you have any questions you can go to my Youtube channel and ask in the comments.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!


Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Electric guitars:

For beginners and tight-budget guitarists, Ibanez GRX70QA was the winner after hours of testing. If you are a metalhead, Jackson JS22 Dinky is our favorite.

If you have more room on your budget, Yamaha Pacifica 112V gives you a great bang for your buck, and Fender Player Telecaster HH will serve intermediate Players well.

Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.

Acoustic guitars:

For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.

For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.

Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.

Our Favorite Amps:

For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.

For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.

If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).

When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.

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