This is a collection of hints and tips I’ve gathered which I hope you’ll find useful.
You probably know and do a lot of them already, but you might find something new here.
I’m always keen to learn as well so if you have any tips you would like to pass on feel free and if I include it I’ll make sure you get an honourable mention for your contribution. Drop me an email.
Tips For Care And Cleaning Your Guitar
- Keep a cloth in your guitar case or bag to wipe your strings down after playing. It helps them stay fresh a little longer, especially if you’re prone to sweaty hands. Plus washing your hands before playing can also help keep your strings bright.
- Never leave your guitar in direct sunlight, especially acoustic guitars. They just don’t like that amount of heat and bad things will happen sooner or later.
- Use a dry clean cloth or if necessary a slightly damp cloth to clean your guitar. Never use any type of furniture polish on your guitar. It leaves a sticky residue which only attracts more dust and dirt. A small clean paintbrush is great for cleaning in around the strings and other nooks and crannies.
Playing And Practising Tips
- Remember to keep your fingernails short on your fretting hand. They don’t have to grow much before they stop you fretting the strings properly.
- Record yourself when you practice. It will really help you improve your technique. You don’t need anything fancy. Even the little voice recorders built into your mobile phone is good enough.
- Learn to play and sing. The benefits of learning to sing or ‘carry a tune in your head’ extend well beyond the skill of becoming a solo performer. It will also add to your guitar playing skills enormously.
- Always tune up to pitch. Tune your guitar by increasing the tension on the string not by releasing tension as it won’t hold tune properly by slackening.
- Get yourself organised. Start with buying a couple of folders, one for song sheets, the other for tuition materials. A disorganised clutter of pages won’t do much to inspire you to play or practice. Add to these folders and do whatever you need to get and stay organised.
- Remember that it always takes a while for your hands to warm up, so keep this mind as you practice or play. Allow some time for warming up.
- When playing live never assume your guitar is in tune, even though you might have tuned it just a few minutes before. There’s nothing worse than an out of tune guitar. Do a silent tune where possible as a quick check just before you play.
- Try to gauge how much chat is needed in between songs. Less is usually more.
- Try to vary the keys of your songs in your set list. There’s always a chance that the next song played in the same key will sound like the previous song especially if the tempo is similar.
- Here’s some stuff to carry when you’re gigging. A little list of essentials to always have on hand to keep you going.
- Spare strings – firsts and thirds mostly in my case plus a couple of full sets.
- Spare capo and plectrums.
- Extra 9v batteries for any pedals, tuners or guitar pre-amps (or what ever type of batteries you need). Cover the connections of the spare 9V batteries with a piece of tape to stop them from touching anything metal which would cause them to short and run flat.
- Sharpie pen or other permanent marker.
- Masking tape – great for writing on and sticking to your guitar if you have trouble remembering that chord progression, or the first line of a verse or need to label the mixing desk or the floor or… whatever.
- Gaffa tape/Duct tape – do I need to explain why? Hint – if you’re trying to travel light you don’t need to carry full rolls of masking tape or gaffa tape, just get a little bit of plastic pipe or or an old credit card and roll a smaller amount of tape onto it.
- Torch – a small AA or AAA torch is always handy. Get one with an LED bulb and your batteries will last for ever (well it seems like they do).
- Spare leads and cables. Keep your spare leads separately from your normal use leads and cables so you don’t confuse them.
- Spare fuses for your gear
- A simple plugin socket tester. For when the wiring at a venue looks dodgy and even for when it doesn’t.