5 Tips For Learning Guitar As An Adult
Everybody’s got to face it: we’re all getting older. And with age comes wisdom, sure, but age also comes with a lot of other things that aren’t so great. Like muscle and joint pain. Or stiff fingers. Or a sore back. Getting older can literally be painful. But here’s the good news: getting older doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals on guitar. There are things you can do every day to make solid progress, avoid injury, and sound amazing when you play your favorite songs. And listen up: these tips are guaranteed to help any guitarist, no matter their age or skill level. So while this article is technically “for older guitarists,” these tips will help younger guitarists, too.
1. Take Care Of YourselfI really can’t stress this enough: whether we’re talking about aches and pains or just your state of mind, the better you feel, the better you’re going to play. Now listen: I’m not your dad, and I’m not here to make sure you eat all your vegetables and go to bed at a decent hour. If you want to live off of fast food and stay up until 3 am every night, you have every right to do that. But I will tell you this: eating right and getting enough sleep are going to make you feel better, as well as play better. And any sort of moderate exercise is also going to help. Just be sure to warm up and stretch before you exercise… and before you play guitar. Here’s a video with some easy stretches that will help you loosen up before you play:
2. Always Have Something FUN To PlayThis one’s important. You have to find songs you like that are fun for you to play, because if you like what you’re playing, you’re having fun… And if you’re having fun, you look forward to practice — it doesn’t even feel like “practice” when you’re having fun — and you practice more often. And when you practice more often, you make more progress… and your hands and fingers get stronger. Just be careful not to overdo it. :-)
3. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself With Huge PracticesYou should definitely set aside some guitar playing time every day, if possible. But here’s a tip: don’t try to play for an hour every day, or even a half-hour every day. Instead, make a commitment to yourself to pick up your guitar and play it for at least 5 minutes every day. Just long enough to play one of your favorite songs or work on a lick or riff you’ve been trying to nail down.Here’s why: When you tell yourself you have to practice an hour every day, eventually there’s going to be a day when you’re too busy to practice for the whole hour. And then you tell yourself you’ll make it up tomorrow… and then you get swamped at work, or you’ve got family coming into town, or whatever… and you don’t make it up. And what happens is, you start feeling like you let yourself down. And that ruins your attitude. And playing stops being fun. So instead of setting yourself up for disappointment, just commit to 5 minutes every day. And that 5 minutes could easily turn into 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or even an hour. And if you’re having fun, you might even start having short practices 2 or 3 times a day.
4. Keep A Guitar Handy Whenever PossibleWhether you play in your living room, your bedroom, or your man-cave (or she-shed), always keep a guitar in easy reach. A guitar sitting on a guitar stand or hanging on a wall rack is easier to get to than a guitar in a case… And the easier it is to get to, the more likely you are to pick it up and play it. And (if possible), keep a guitar at the office, so you can play through a song or two during down time. Playing regularly - without overdoing it - will build hand and finger strength, and when your hands and fingers are strong, guess what? You’ll be comfortable when you play… and you’ll sound great.
5. Play “Ego” Songs Every DayWith guitar playing, there are 2 types of songs: “Ego” songs and “Project” songs. Ego songs are easy and fun to play, and it makes you feel good to play them. (You can watch a video about Ego and Project songs here.) Ideally, try to have at least 3 or 4 Ego songs ready to play. That way, when you grab your guitar for a quick practice, you can jump right into it and start having fun. And when you practice a song every day, you’ll sound great. After you’ve played through a couple Ego songs, take a shot at that Project song you’ve been working on. Or maybe try out a cool new riff or guitar solo. *** The main thing to remember is to have fun. And older guitarists who follow these tips will have fun, avoid injury, and make progress every day. One more thing: if you’re looking for songs to play, go here to see if Play Songs With Steve Stine is right for you. When you sign up, you’ll get instant access to hundreds of step-by-step song lessons (with tab) so you can sound authentic and play with confidence.
Having questions? Let me know in the comments section below!
Yes .... so many questions ... I've watched hundreds of videos over the past 2.5 years, practiced until the wee hours of the night ... and I'm still terrible. But, here is my question: I memorized the 5 pentatonic scale positions, how do I know when to use what shape??? I hear "you only need to know one scale, and the shape never changes" then i watch a different video and they call a different shape a different position, a different note, a different chord, etc. ... it all changes!!! Very confusing. What am I missing? Is it the root chord that determines the shape? Is it just what sounds good? Is there a right/wrong answer?
Excellent suggestions! Thanks for the tips for us older ones. Pushing 61 and really just started to play but having all sorts of fun.
I'm 72 years young, picking up the acoustic guitar for the first time in many many years. I see adds for Zager guitars that promote their ease of play. I didn't to 72 without understanding that ads are ads. Any thoughts about the best guitar to get for my re-introduction to the guitar? Thanks in advance! David S. Herring, DVM, DACVR
Such a GREAT site! As a teen in the '70s, I was in a "garage band" and we played cover songs that we would learn during several hours of practice each week. Then LIFE happened. College, career, marriage, kids, overseas moves........other interests. Now at 62, drudging through COVID-19 Quarantine......I found my "old" equipment...Les Paul Custom and a Hot Rod Deluxe. So here I am! Back in the game, learning the RIGHT way! The flood gates have opened and I can't get enough. Thank you for all you do! My fingers are "bleeding" again....can't wait for the callouses.
I have the very same question!!
Hi there, i'm 72 yrs young too, and was looking for the right tutor, guitar and amp. Not sure how i was going to get along with it and took the plunge, so 3 yrs ago bought a Fender Squier Telecaster and a Vox modelling amp. Can't get enough of it now, learned from books then utube, and followed Steve Stein on utube. Seeing that he was probably the best at what he does there i finally booked in on one of his courses. Impressive indeed, not just the playing but the way he puts it over which is important to me. It is all about practice and having fun. Thank you Steve.
The name of the scale depends on the root note of the scale. For example, if you play A minor pentatonic in the first position (starting on the A note on the 6th string), then move the whole shape down 2 frets, you'd be playing G minor pentatonic. Because all those notes are moving down 2 frets, because you're still playing the same shape. With different positions, you're playing the same notes as the first position, but the pattern doesn't start on the 6th string with the root note, it starts with another note in the scale. So, the second position of A minor pentatonic starts with C on the 6th string. The third position starts with D on the 6th string, the fourth position starts with E on the 6th string, and the fifth position starts with G. Through all these positions, you'll still be playing the A minor pentatonic scale (A, C, D, E, and G), the starting point on the 6th string With pentatonic scales there are 5 positions because there are 5 notes in the pentatonic scale. With a diatonic 7-note scale, there are 7 positions. Here's a video that will hopefully help explain a little better than I can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3_-iggVk34 Hope this helps! -- GuitarZoom Staff