Your band finally have a first gig, you have chills down your spine and both excited. Months of practices and those numbing fingering routines will finally paid off, and you have reasons to justify that fender custom shop purchase and a several buys from Reverb.com. You imagine either the booing or cheering when you nailed that riffs you’ve been practicing the last few weeks. Fear not dear friends, these 12 tips are the essential reading for a checklist to prepare a perfect gig with your band.
1. Get a Tuner
Buy a tuner. Before anything else. Yes, really, I mean it. Nobody wants to listen to out-of-tune guitars. It’s also a good simple exercise to train your ears. Whether it’s a pedal tuner or a clip-on, it will force your ear to get used to the tuning intervals. Some people prefer to use tuning fork or pitch pipe for better ear training.
2. Setup your guitar properly
You cannot play good when the guitar is not adjusted for your playing. Take it to a guitar technician and have the tech set the intonation, height, neck strain, action, and everything else. A $300 guitar with good setup will be more comfortable and feels better to play rather than a $1000 without proper adjustment.
3. Listen and learn from players who inspires you
So, who is your favourite player? Whether it’s John Scofield, John 5, John Frusciante, or John Petrucci, go for it. Learn his style. Imitate his technique. Don’t let others tell you what to like and what to learn. There will be people who will force you to listen to their favourite bands or players, but if those musicians doesn’t build your interest, go for the one that does.
4. Play with someone else
Or better, play in a band! Interacting by playing together will train you to listen to other people while still concentrating on your playing. You’ll also learn how other player plays and how other instruments work. You will get a lot more by playing with others.
5. Use a metronome and start slow
This is an absolute exercise for your tempo and precision, and after that the other important thing is: start slow. Most players want to be the fastest man alive (in term of shredding), but remember, you cannot play fast without accurate fingering to hit the right notes. This is where playing slow will teach you.
Quick tip: type “metronome” in Google, set the tempo and enjoy.
Challenge: set the tempo to the first beat of the bpm. So if you want to play 120 bpm, set it to 30. Play along, and see how good (or bad) your brain’s internal timing is.
6. Record yourself and listen to it
No need for fancy recording equipment, you can just record yourself to your laptop or smartphone. Listen and analyze the recording and see what part or technique needs improvement. Compare to previous recordings to see (hear?) how good you’ve improved. You may think and feel you’re playing great, but the recordings will show the truth.
7. Play musically, not only tedious exercises or mindless jamming
8. Make an exercise routine
It’s harder to track your progress if you just learn and play randomly every time you take an exercise. Making a programmed routine will make you more focused on your exercise since you know when to start and stop, and you also know what the next one will be. It’s also easier to maintain your progress and find where your weak point is.
9. Develop your ears
As a musician, your hearing is the most important part of your body. This is needed to identify and feel basic elements of music such as melody, rhythm, notes, pitch, intervals, frequency, etc. Develop your ears by using ear-training exercises, tuning your guitar with pitch pipe or tuning fork, and learn your favourite songs only by ear.
10. Learn music theory
11. Learn something else other than your interest
It’s totally fine if you only listens to one genres of music, or one style of guitar technique. But it’s advisable to learn other styles as well. This will open up your views and knowledge that will yield very interesting result. Play outside your comfort zone.
12. Stop worrying about your gear
Better gears will surely help you to improve/ They might make you sound good but it might not going to make you play good. Only you, and your persistence, will make you a better player.