9 Must-Know Tips For Intermediate Guitar Players (#7 and #8 Can Even Make You Money)

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When you are at the intermediate skill level, it’s kind of like Feudal Age on Age of Empires 2. You just want to get out of it to the next level as fast as possible.

Good news!

I’m about to the reveal 9 best tips that will boost your progress and make you an advanced guitar player in no time.

Let’s go!

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

Playing guitar since 2009. Mainly focused on electric guitars, although plays acoustics too. Started this blog in January 2020.

1.15-Minute Guitar Method

graphic reveals benefits of 15min guitar method
During just 1 week, 15min guitar method gets you to practice consistently.

If you do this, your results will compound and you will make huge progress during the upcoming months and years.

Most of the intermediate players just practice when they feel like it. It’s super inconsistent.

If you do that, it slows you down a lot. You are just not pushing yourself enough.

Inconsistent practice can even make players quit because they don’t see any progress and then get demotivated.

But what we want to do here, is to make sure that we practice every day. Ideally 15minutes or more. Here’s how I have done it:

I inserted a guitar practicing habit into my life.

  1. First I detected an already existing habit, which was brewing coffee in the morning.
  2. Then I connected practicing guitar for 15 minutes to it (plus my Perfect 3 Min Warm-Up, it makes every practice session a lot smoother)

Nowadays, always when I brew my morning coffee, I go and practice guitar right after that. It’s automatic for me. It’s a habit.

And when you have the guitar playing habit in place, even if you hit a plateau and feel unmotivated. You will still practice those 15 minutes per day because it’s automatic for you!

If you like planning and journaling, planning your practice sessions could help you out. When you plan your practice, that’s a commitment itself and you are more likely to go through it. This is a solid basic planner for that purpose(affiliate link).

Bonus: 15 Minute Guitar Method in Steroids

If you are really ambitious, then ramp up your practice time little by little.

Start from 15 min a day. Then make it 16 min a day. Then 17 min, and on and on…

This can make your already fast progress exponentially faster in the long run.

2. Detect Your Weak Spots

photo highlights that intermediate guitar players should Detect their Weak Spots

It’s extremely important that you detect your weak areas of guitar playing.

If you don’t know what they are, you might have something dragging you down for years and years.

But if you spot what is holding you back, and fix those issues, then the real fun begins.

And you know what?

Even a 1% percent improvement in all areas of your playing can make a huge difference. That’s what made England’s biking team rise from the disgrace of the biking world to the #1.

So spot those weak spots and attack them ruthlessly.

For me, there have been 2 things that slowed me down a lot.

  1. My pinky was the weak link… it was weak and slow. I started to focus on strengthening it in my practice and that was one of the smartest decisions I have made!
  2. I didn’t have the correct thumb placement. It was never at the middle of the neck facing my middle finger (where it should be 80% of the time). That made my reach and speed suffer. When I fixed that, it changed my playing completely!
image reveals 2 common weak spots an intermediate guitar player could have
2 things that slowed me down for long time.

So be honest to yourself and detect what is slowing your down.

3. Learn Riffs, Solos, and Songs That Are Too Hard for You.

Now, you have to push yourself. If you want to be great, you have to start climbing those mountains that seem too high.

I took Another Day solo by Dream Theather for example. It’s a quite short solo, but oh boy you have to alternative pick fast for a while.

David Escobar performing Another Day solo:

YouTube video

It seemed way too fast for me.

And for the first couple of weeks, I had no chance of playing it with accuracy and correct speed.

But after weeks of consistent practice, I was able to nail it!

That’s the secret. Weeks of consistent practice.

Choose something you have no chance of playing correctly right from to get-go.

You have to practice it for weeks, not days. But that’s how you will make real progress.

Bonus: At first do just like I did. Choose an awesome lick, song, solo, or riff, that has a tricky part, but it’s not too long. That way you don’t overwhelm yourself.

4. Warm-Up Before Every Practice and Playing Session

 

Have you ever felt like you are just not feeling it when you grab your guitar? Playing is really sloppy and your full speed and strength are just not there.

There’s a high chance that you didn’t warm-up.

This is a must. Your hands have over 30 muscles in them. And muscles need warming up.

When you warm-up your fingers before every practice and playing session, you will feel the difference quickly. It makes everything a lot smoother and it unlocks the full speed of your hands.

Develop your own warm-up routine that is powerful, short, and includes exercise in the correct order. That will transform your daily practice from sloppy to smooth.

This video has some of the best warm-up exercises I have found from Youtube:

YouTube video

But I wanted something simpler and more powerful…

I came up with my own little method that I call Perfect 3 Min Warm-Up which takes me exactly 3 minutes (no one wants to do a boring and repetitive 10-minute exercise to just warm-up).

That has helped me to activate my muscles, unleash my speed and get the most out of every practice and playing session!

Your hands will start loving you for it. You can check it out here: (link coming soon)

5. Improvise

Here’s an example of amazing improvisation:

YouTube video

Improvisation is on of the keys to mastering the guitar. Because playing those 5 famous riffs all the time can start feeling boring.

I know that improvising it’s not easy at first. It took me years to be able to improvise anything that sounded like music for more than 3 seconds.

But now I know how to start improvising as fast and easily as possible.

Ready?

1. Start with just one string. You can mix open string and different notes there. You can even try tapping. Get to know the different sounds you can get from that 1 string. (I would suggest that you would do this for 1 week, 5 minutes per day at first).

2. Then add a 2-second string to the mix. Try mixing different notes from those 2 strings. Be patient. Do this for 1 week, 5 minutes per day.

3. Then build up from there. Add more strings. Add tapping. Improvise longer. But don’t give up if you haven’t been able to improvise something amazing after a couple of weeks. This takes time. But if you do these small things consistently, you will develop serious skills.

6. Do Guitar Playing Challenges With Your Friends (or By Yourself)

 

A little competition or challenge can make wonders. Trust me.

For example, choose a riff or solo with your friends and whoever videos them playing it correctly and sends it to friends wins. And make the reward something really desirable.

Losers have to buy the winner something for example.

This kind of challenge will make your practice more and show real effort. Because there are stakes. The winner takes it all and losers…well they lose.

Even if you don’t have friends who play guitar, you can make yourself accountable for them. You have to play ”X” after 2 weeks, and if you are not able to do that, you have to do something you don’t want to do.

Sounds too serious?

If you want to master the guitar, you have to be a little bit serious too when it comes to practice (these kinds of challenges are really fun in reality tho).

7. Start Uploading Guitar Playing Videos to Instagram or Youtube

First, just videoing yourself is really useful. You will be able to spot some mistakes and things that you need to focus on in your practice.

But if you for example commit yourself to shooting 30 videos (covers do a lot better than just random playing) and uploading them to social media, you will gather little traction. Some nice comments here and there. Some followers.

And oh boy that feels nice.

You will want to upload more and impress others with your killer playing. And that will make you beast at guitar players.

There are 1000’s of people who have done this. They started with just dozens of simple covers and dozens of people watching them, but now they have 1000’s of people watching their every single video.

The key thing is to just start, it doesn’t have to be perfect right from the start. Just start and improve the end results little by little. Video by video.

Bonus: be brave and tell some of your friends about your video commitment. Let them be your first followers and commenters. Others will follow.

8. Perform

Me if someone asks to perform:

 

But in reality, performing will push you forward like nothing else. Because you don’t want to embarrass yourself…

That’s why you will practice like crazy. Not to just be able to play something…you will practice so much that failing is actually hard for you.

At first, you don’t need to think about performing in front of 10000 people with 100 cameras on you. Think about playing in front of your friends or family.

Just go and play what you love. It can feel scary at first, but once you start going out of your comfort zone, you will supercharge the learning progress!

Bonus tip: One word: Busking (follow local legal guidelines of course).

9. Learn Different Songs From Different Genres

We usually have that #1 genre or style that we just love over nothing else. We learn over 80% of our stuff from that #1 genre.

And it’s a great way to get started for sure…

But our playing can start to be really repetitive and a bit boring too if we just stick inside one style.

We might completely suck at fingerpicking for example, if we just play metal riffs and solos.

Note: Classical music has soo much in it. Many metal bands for example take inspiration from classical music! Learning a couple of classical pieces could add a ton of new stuff into your arsenal.

So explore. Listen to different music. If something sounds awesome…learn it!

image reveals Great Genres intermediate guitar players Could Get Familiar With

Conclusion

Hopefully, these tips really struck the point home! This is basically the roadmap that will take you from intermediate to advanced guitar playing.

The last tip I want to leave you with: Don’t try to implement all the tips at once. That’s a guaranteed way to fail. Bookmark this page, take just 1 at first, try it, and see how well it works for you(it will work). And after you have implemented that 1 thing, come back and try out another tip.

Also, these articles about guitars for intermediate guitar players will help you out a ton!

I wish you all the best and keep playing my friend!

Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

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 is 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 is 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.