Great Beginner Guitar Practice Routine


If you are learning to play guitar it helps to find the right practice routine for your needs. Luckily there are certain rules and tips that can help a student find the perfect guitar lesson that will guide them into a higher level of playing. The main rule is to focus on regular and proper skills that are both engaging and advancing. Here are some pointers for great beginner guitar practice routines.

How Often Should You Practice?

If you want to get good at playing guitar you need to practice as much as possible, if you can do it daily, that is fine. Otherwise skip a day if you have too much pain, while you may want to work through it, it’s important not to hurt yourself. Some pain and bodily wear are necessary though, calluses and sore hands will be a normal thing. Eventually after playing guitar for a few months to years there will be a general lack of feeling in your fingertips along with the calluses.

Regular Guitar Rituals

Whether you play scales, chords, songs, or solos every single practice needs to have certain features to make sure it is successful. These are aspects of every single practice routine with guitar or any instrument.

  • Sit or Stand appropriately with proper posture, arm, and hand placement. This seems like simple, repetitive, and boring advice yet so many students get into bad habits of holding and playing the guitar. Once you start a bad habit it is hard to stop!
  • Tune the guitar right before every practice, be sure to use both a machine and practice the old-fashioned way by ear and with the guitar itself. If you want to play other tunings that is fine if they are correct. It also helps to use a tuner throughout practice so you can always check a note on the fretboard.
  • Maintain the guitar and keep it clean so it always plays the best! Also use new strings as they are an integral part to proper guitar sound. Even if you want to play thrash and hardcore punk you need a decent guitar that is intonated correctly.
  • Listen to music during non-practice times and keep notes for future use. You may hear a song you want to play or maybe want to find what pedal or effect is used for a guitar solo. This inquisitive approach engages the brain more and leads to better practice.
  • Every guitar practice needs a mix of old and new! Play old riffs to sink them into your muscle memory and try new ideas or tunes to stimulate the brain.

Guitar Practice Routines

The guitar practice ideas below can be done daily or mixed up depending on how far along you are as a beginner. If you’re just starting with beginner guitar lessons, a couple chords may take a few days and require some rest, or if you are further along you can jump into multiple ideas per routine.

Learn a Song

In the old days there were no blogs and very few books or guides to learn music with. When someone wanted to learn a song they played it and started dissecting the rhythm and notes. This may seem very difficult and time consuming, and it is, but it also is the way to leave the beginner stages fast. These days we have tabs to help, either way learning easy guitar songs that you like is a great practice routine a few times a week.

Learn A Chord Progression

Pick a common chord progression and play each chord for a measure before moving to the next, finally ending on the same chord you started with. The guitar is a chord-oriented instrument, so even if you want to shred and play solos you still need to have a mastery over the chord shapes. So pick chord sequences in common keys and learn to play them as a group.

  • GC-D
  • C-G-F
  • E-A-B7
  • A-D-E
  • G-Em-C-D
  • C-G-Am-F

Remember to play these chord progressions with open and barre chords, play them up and down the fretboard in different positions.

Play Along with a Metronome or Backing Track

Now that you have a few chord progressions down you need a metronome or a backing drum track or machine. Drum rhythms are obviously more fun than a metronome but both are essential to learn timing and to keep the chords moving. Start on very slow speeds at first and make clean chord changes before you move up in speed. Try different backing tracks in various genres like pop, rock, jazz, metal, funk, and more.

Try Different Picking Strums and Fingerstyle

As you begin finding rhythm and getting your chord changes down, start adding in different picking patterns. The old-fashioned “bum ditty” is a common one where you hit a bass string and then play the full chord. Next start alternating your strum down and up and pick individual notes of the chord as an arpeggio. Make sure your picking changes are clean and smooth along the chords with no dead or ringing sounds. Also try putting down the pick and playing with fingerstyle on your chord changes! Get used to picking and plucking the strings in a variety of ways.

Add in Melody and Scales

If you are playing a G-C-D progression then begin to add in single notes from the G major scale. You have already been playing single notes with arpeggios but now it helps to add in notes that are beyond the chord, but still in the scale. As you begin to improvise use more chromatic note movements outside the scale to give the progression a rock or blues vibe. Listen to how the notes sound and determine whether they might fit, after all ear training is one of the most important skills to study!

Put All the Guitar Practice Routines Together

All these steps are essential for getting the basics of guitar playing down, chords, scales, rhythms, and strums. After you have mastered some basic chord progressions and up and down strums you can start moving into adding songs you know to your practice time. Stick to easy tunes at first and when you find one that works bookmark it for future playing.

The best way to succeed at guitar is to accomplish small goals during your practice routine. Look up new chords, strums, and songs and work on what is most accessible for your level. Challenge your muscles and memory but without jumping ahead of what you can do as a beginner. If you practice on a regular basis and always follow the basic rules you will find yourself in the intermediate and advanced guitar stage soon enough!

By Shawn Leonhardt for Guitar Tricks and 30 Day Singer