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The TRUTH about Learning Guitar
Improve Your Skills > For All Styles > Guitar Development: Stage 2
Guitar Development: Stage 2

Guitar Development Stage 2 - What You Need To Know


In my essay “Guitar Development Stage 1”, I outlined the goals that a person pursuing development in what I call “General Guitar” should be aiming for. These are the abilities that every guitarist should have, regardless of what style they may specialize in, or plan to specialize in. If you know you want to be a rock guitarist, there are still certain things you should know and be able to do that don’t necessarily have to do with rock guitar. The same is true if you plan on being a classical guitarist or any specialist in any other style.

So, this means that there are certain common denominators in the learning process for the first few years of guitar study. There are certain elements that should be there that are common no matter if you walk in for your first lesson and say “ I want to be a rock guitarist”, or “I want to be a jazz guitarist”, or “I want to be a classical guitarist”. However, it does get a little more nuanced than that, because depending on the style and individual involved, there may be more or less of something, and things may be taken in a different order from one student to another.

In the above mentioned essay (which you should read after you are done here) I summarized the goals that should be common for ALL developing guitarists, regardless of style, they are:

1) Ability to Practice Correctly - this means that you are seeing yourself get better and better as a player each time you practice. If you feel like you are struggling to play no matter how much you practice, you do not know how to practice correctly! This training is found in "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar".

2) Beginning to Build the Correct Foundation (and the discovery of the proper physical sensations) with the Foundation Exercises.

This means that the left hand is being trained so that the fingers operate with relaxation, curvature, and independence. Without this, all future work on guitar will be difficult or impossible. I am constantly bringing long time players back to this point so they can get off the plateau they have been stuck on for years. 

For the right hand, it means the ability to use the pick from the elbow, not just the wrist. It also means the ability to place great force on the strings with the pick without maintaining tension in the arm. Lack of this skill is what makes fast picking impossible.

This training is found in "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar".

3) Applying the developing abilities to music with simple chord changes and songs, until a few songs are well on the way to being mastered, and the student is not developing habits of tension in their playing. This training is found in "First Chords & Songs".

The attainment of these goals is begun immediately, from the first lesson, and will be well underway within 2 months, and accomplished in anywhere from 3 to 6 months. At this point, we begin to set about accomplishing other goals common for all players, regardless of style. These goals are:

3) Continuing the technical development of the left hand:

     This will include:

* Going  beyond the Walking Exercises in "The Principles":
The walking exercises, and all the preparatory exercises that lead up to them give us the essential skill that must be there before the study of scales is of any use to us. I frequently get students who have played for decades without getting any better. I bring them back to these exercises, found in Chapter 4 of "The Principles".

After these exercises are mastered, the student should go on to
"How To Master A Scale", which continues the left hand development and brings us to study our first scale, and learn to play it smoothly and easily. From there, we learn the rest of the essential scales with "The 6 Essential Scales".

* Beginning the study of
bar chords, and other movable chord forms. Bar chords are used in every style of music, and must be learned (correctly) in order to play music beyond the beginner level. Our "Bar Chord Mastery"  course develops the left hand in the very careful way it must be trained to do these difficult chords easily.

* The study of more advanced left hand techniques, such as
hammers and pulls.
Hammers & Pulls are used in every style of music, and must be learned (correctly) in order to play music beyond the beginner level. Our "Essential Training For Hammers & Pulls" gives you the vital info and training you need to master these techniques.

All of the above areas of study are necessary for every guitar player who wants to play competently in any style. If it seems like a lot, don't worry, it doesn't have to happen all at once! Just remember that the beginning stages are critical, none of the later stages can go well if the foundation is missing.

When the above areas of development are well under way, a student should start to think about what style they are most interested in pursuing.

Rock & Blues: If it is rock & blues guitar, then learning to read music is not yet a priority. Mastery of the 5 Pentatonic Scales, all their licks, correct bending technique and vibrato are the most important things to learn. All of this is covered in great detail in our
"Rock & Blues Foundation Course".

Fingerstyle or Classical: First, we must understand that training the right hand fingers for powerful action on the guitar is a more complex process than training for pick action. There is a lot more that can go wrong here! Very often, students take a random approach, merely working on fingersyle pieces, and find they have lots of problems and can't get any better.

For students wishing to play one of the styles that use the right hand fingers instead of a pick ,such as classical, folk, flamenco, or acousic blues, the course of study should proceed this way:

 * Study the foundation exercises for use of the right hand fingers found in Chapter 3 of "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar".

* Study our "Classical/Fingerstyle Course" to learn the powerful information and methods you must know and use in order to play any fingerstyle music on guitar easily. As with all Guitar Principles courses, the material in this course will not be found in any other method. Anyone who studies this course will gain real right hand ability, and know how to continue to develop it into the higher levels of playing if desired. You will also learn to read music notation with this course, which is certainly recommended for fingerstyle players, and essential for classical players.

* Pick Style-General Guitar Knowledge - for those who want a basic knowledge of the music and guitar, the Mel Bay Method is recommended. This book follows the approach of traditional piano instruction, giving you material that progresses through the keys, and teaches you music theory as it relates to guitar.

Like all such methods, it is completely deficient in teaching you how to actually learn to play the music it gives you. For that, you must study "The Principles" first, and then I highly recommend the companion course I created for those studying the Mel Bay Method, our
"Mel Bay Vol 1: Note by Note Guide".

Finally, there is a very powerful group of practice methods that I use and teach to all my students. These methods have been used by professional musicians for centuries. These methods must be used in order to achieve higher levels of development on guitar, which is why I put them in a collection called "Advanced Strategies For Higher Levels of Development on Guitar".  

These methods should  be learned and used by players of all styles after the methods in "The Principles" have been learned. They turn stumbling and slow fingers into fast and secure guitar fingers!


If you are serious about guitar, and plan to be a lifelong player, use all of this as your roadmap. Understand that there are literally millions of guitar books, methods and lessons out there, but your ability to play any of it competently comes down to your fingers and the mind that trains them in practice. Guitar Principles is where you find the knowledge and training that enables you to play all of the music you find everywhere else!

  The Perfect Learning Path for Perfect Guitar Playing!

The Guitar Principles System for learning guitar is a collection of powerful courses designed to take you from beginner to professional level player!

If you've ever wondered why you still struggle with guitar even after spending thousands of hours in practice, and thousands of dollars on that mountain of guitar will find out as you study the Guitar Principles System. You will find yourself saying, over and over..."Why didn't anybody ever tell me that before!!

The Beginning.

"The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar"....The Book... -what every guitar player must know and do in the beginning. The perfect training for new guitar fingers that insures continuous growth throughout your guitar playing life. Long time players can fix their problems and move forward!
"The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar"....The DVD
Jamie demonstrates all exercises and methods in "The Principles"

First Chords & Songs 

Learn your first chords easily with effective methods you will use for learning all chords.

 Continue Your Development
How To Master A Scale
If you learn one scale perfectly, you will know how to learn them all! Practicing scales without this knowledge is a waste of time!

The 6 Essential Scales with Modes & Arpeggios
After your fingers can play one scale perfectly, you are ready to learn the 6 Essential Scales, which will increase your finger ability and enable you to play throughout the neck in any key. Essential for improvisers!

Bar Chord Mastery
Bar chords are a real stumbling block for guitar students! This step by step method contains 20 Exercises that will give you the ability to play all bar chord types easily. Bar chords are essential in all types of guitar.
Hammers & Pulls Essential Training

Hammers & Pulls are also used in every style of music, and are also a stumbling block for guitar students. Here you will learn what you were never told about how to teach your fingers to do these vital techniques easily. The correct practice of Hammers & Pulls gives great strength to the fingers. 
Choose Your Style!

Rock & Blues Foundation Course
Electric guitar technique is quite different from acoustic. In this course you get  all the scales, licks and techniques you need to play your favorite rock/blues solos! You get the usual in-depth details you expect from Guitar Principles. 

  Classical/Fingersyle Foundation Course
Knowing how to use the right hand fingers instead of a pick opens up a world of musical possibilities on guitar, from folk to blues to jazz to classical. This one-of-a-kind course gives you the secrets and training methods you need for powerful use of the right hand on guitar.

  Training Methods For Advanced Playing in Any Style
There are specific practice approaches that must be used to give our fingers the ability to handle advanced speeds on the guitar. Just trying to play faster and faster won't do it, as you probably noticed! The collection of time-tested methods found in "Beyond The Basic Practice Approach: Advanced Strategies For Higher Levels of Achievement on Guitar" will give you the edge you need in your guitar development!


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Guitar students often practice music without really knowing what fingers they should use, or are using. This is a quick route to frustrating practice and bad playing!
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Guitar students are notoriously uncertain and confused about what they should be practicing. Here, I am going to tell what the top priorities are for any beginning guitarist.
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Strengthen That Bar!
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"Relaxation" on guitar is not what you think. It is not a state of the body, it is an action. It results in the state called "poise" which means a balance of forces being used to play.
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Slanting the pick is common practice for most guitar players. It has many advantages, such as better tone and more speed. Here is how to do it....
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Master Bar Chords Now!
Bar chords are a problem for all guitar students! Now, there is a step by step method for mastering ALL types of bar chords. Check this out!
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Learning scales, the how, what, and why, is a very confusing topic for guitar students. Let's clear that up! Read this.....
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Most guitar students have excessive muscle tension when playing, and this is at the root of their playing problems. Discover yours!
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Finger Rise is one of the most common "diseases" that afflict a guitar player's hands. It causes countless playing problems for players of all styles.
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Knowing how to use a metronome in guitar practice WILL make you a better player!
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Correct Thumb Placement For Guitar Scales
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Pivot Fingers
Left hand finger movements on guitar are made much easier when we use "pivot fingers".
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