How do you practice?

I've hit a wall, I believe, in my guitar playing, and I think a lot of it has to do with the way I've been practicing. That is sporadically, and often on random things that I've picked up through lessons, or trying to pick out some random tab from a song that I've heard on the radio. What do you guys do? Do you practice daily? For how long? Do you have a set schedule?

I used to just screw around and hope for the best, and hit a lot of the plateaus you are talking about.

Now I try to break it down in roughly these ratios:

50% just balls out playing doing whatever I want.
25% dedication to playing new material from tab or sheet music.
25% theory.

I honestly believe it has been the 25% theory that has helped me the most in the last couple years.

Rookie here, been practicing about a couple months. I don't have a set schedule but I usually practice 2+ hours each night before I go to bed. Sometimes it's in front of a movie, sometimes I'll use computer to play songs off song library or youtube. I feel like I improve daily so that is my main motivation.

I warm up with a minor pentatonic scale, then the Sweet Child O' Mine riff, then I'll take a tab and work on a particular song or songs. Once I can do them without the tab, I may continually play it over and over while watching a flick. Sometimes I'll try to do my own stuff, then write down as a tab.

Join a band, play with some other musicians, work on improvisational techniques.

Thanks Axl, I do have a small 'band' that I play with.

What's your practicing like? Care to share some of your improv techs?

A guy I was taking lessons from had some great lines:

"If it feels like practice, stop and put down your instrument."


"If you try and play somebody elses music exactly how they played it, the best you can hope for is to become a bad copy of the original because it can't be played exactly the way they played it."

Its good advice, maybe not for an absolute beginner, but think about it - if you spend two years trying to learn Eruption note for note, you're goig to able to play the notes but the magic of the song, the thing you heard that attracted you to that particular piece, is probably going to be lost. I can attest to that! (not eruption in my case). Its much more interesting to know how and why they played it IMO.

That said, I do practice but I try to pretend I'm not. I pretty much do exactly what Extendo does. 50% of the time playing, and the rest trying to learn something, scales, fingerpatterns, songs, licks. Just try to find something new and challenging, or old and not challenging, but something.

I"m not goign to reread what I just wrote because it probably sounds ridiculous.

There is soooo much to learn about the guitar that you should be able to get right out of your rut. If I am in a rut I start looking into other styles to gain inspiration and broaden my knowledge. As was already stated, look into theory further. I picked up a couple good theory books to refresh my knowledge and man, that opened things right up. I also picked up a book about reading rhythms, another huge eye opener.

I personally do not have a set practice routine. But within the week I try to play along with the metronome for at least an hour. I try to learn a new technique, arpeggio, scale, chord, lick, whatever.

I also started to take online lessons with Dave Weiner, he is the rhythm guitarist for Steve Vai. I did about four lessons and learned a ton. Having someone who is in the business and who has a keen ear can do wonders. I look forward to taking more lessons with him but need to work on the stuff we have already gone over.

Sorry for the novel I just wrote. I have been in your shoes and it was frustrating. Hopefully you bust out soon!


Cool Joe, how do online lessons work?

Hey Sean just saw this. Lessons with Dave are done using a webcam through Skype. I think they are $55 an hour. If anyone is interested you can contact him at: He has a cool teaching style, and being someone I respect, I found the lessons very beneficial. I have not had a lesson in a while but I definitely look forward to learning more from him. I will probably have to wait till he gets off tour with Vai.

I practice twice a week (4-5 hour session) with my band on Tues and Thurs.

We run thru the set and sometimes work on improvising.

We gig out about one night a week, but right now we are finishing our first record, so we are taking some time off.

I try to play 2 or 3 hours a day when we aren't gigging.

Mostly go over the songs in the set, work on getting my tone down and like Armbreaker says just have fun. I like "discovering" scales rather than following someone else's routine or practice style.

Thanks Joe, thats really cool. Can you record your lessons? How did you
find out about it? Do you know of anybody else who does lessons that

Sorry for the slow response.

I cannot record the lesson. Well, I guess i could but out of respect for Dave I do not.

Dave sent a bulletin through MySpace saying that he had spots available. I contacted him through there, set up a time and payment, explained what I was looking for in lessons, and that was about it.

I do not know of anyone else that does this, but it is a great option. I know there are probably teachers right in my backyard that could help me the same way. But knowing that Dave has "made it" and is respected by my favorite guitarist, that carried a little more weight for me.