by Michael Korte
In this article I want to show you what you can do to instantly accelerate your progress and make yourself a better guitarist by purchasing some essential pieces of gear that help you to get more awareness about your playing or simply enable you get more practice time. These are items that I myself have in my personal possession and I cannot imagine being without them anymore, since I rely on using them for practice and for all kinds of other projects.
To save you some time, I will give you the most important thing FIRST: .
A lot of mistakes in your playing will be revealed only when you are listening to them without being busy playing at the same time! Recording myself playing certain exercises or song parts was the most crucial part for me and the biggest revelation in terms of catching mistakes that I was not aware of. You can practically use anything that records and plays back audio like your phone, a Dictaphone (I always carry one with me, but for other reasons, which I will reveal further down). When you've recorded yourself, listen back carefully and analyze what you are hearing and ask yourself: Does this sound exactly like something that I would want to hear? Are there irregularities or inconsistencies? Check the pitches, the rhythm, etc. and do that all separately in different sittings, not all during one listening.
Let us take this one step further!
If you want to improve creative skills, such as improvising or song writing, this is a piece that you'd never want to miss! For me it made everything a lot easier: I could try out melodies over a chord progression, I could loop a chord progression and improvise and try different scales etc., and the preparation only took a few seconds. Plugin, hit record, hit play, start playing!
There is of course also some software that you can use to become even better with song writing and improvising or simply practicing riffs and checking for tightness of your playing.
You can go a long way with cheap items, such as a Digital Audio Interface, other free recording software (check the internet for freeware) and your stereo boxes. Connect the Digital Audio Interface via USB to your computer, plug your guitar in and you are ready to go, of course AFTER you installed everything properly. I recommend LOTS of storage space, at least 500 GB (those .wav-files are huge) and a very fast Hard Drive, potentially an SSD hard drive. If you do not have an amplifier or amp modeler that has a line out, you can plug your guitar directly into the Digital Audio Interface and use freeware plugins, that model your guitar sound with a computer program. If you want to know more about low budget recording I recommend this: https://www.youtube.com/user/SpectreSoundStudios
Using a recording software and audio interface helped me a lot in improving my arrangement skills, applying and broadening my music theory knowledge and even my playing skills in general, especially when I listened back to my playing through headphones! Here is one little hint if something is not working: Check every piece of the signal chain to determine where something is breaking down. Does your Digital Audio Interface get a signal from the guitar? Does your computer get a signal from the Digital Audio Interface? Does the recording software get the right signal source from your computer? Are you using the correct audio driver? Hope this gets you at least a little bit further. If not... there is still tech-support!
There are all kinds of exercises you can improve your playing with that do not even require a guitar. Write out chord notes, arpeggio patterns, scales, chord progressions, anything you can come up with while you are bored. Or you can have a cardboard guitar neck with you, to practice memorizing scales and arpeggios and whatever you can come up with. It is just a matter of putting the work in so... Be the nerd! Someday people will admire you for your playing and nobody will ever say “Hey aren’t you that guy, that sits on the bus, writing out weird stuff on paper?” So, nothing left to hold yourself back, nothing left standing in your way! Start now, become great faster!
About the author: Michael Korte is a professional musician who is dedicated to teach his students how to become deeply creative with their guitars and how to discover their biggest technical and musical potential. Click here for more about Michael Korte's guitar lessons.