Have a System
Once you learn some chords and can play a few songs you want to develop a system for mastering the fretboard and soloing. For example learn the notes on the fretboard and the 5 CAGED shapes. Then learn arpeggios within each shape and focus on chord tones to make really melodic solos.
Master One Thing at a Time
Guitarists are famous for buying tons of books and never mastering anything. Make sure you master one thing and absorb it into your playing before moving on.
Use a Metronome
Many guitarists never use a metronome, but it’s a great way to monitor your progress especially for building speed. By making sure you play cleanly, you can build speed without getting sloppy. Many solos are too fast to play instantly, so you need to practice slowly and speed it up while remain accurate. Metronomes also help your sense of time especially for when you start playing in a band with a drummer. It’s amazing how you will tend to rush the beat unless you’ve practiced with a metronome consistently.
Find a Teacher
We learn most subjects from a teacher, but many of us think we can learn on our own. Instead we develop lots of bad habits, no practice routine, and struggle to learn things and waste lots of time. There is some great info online but nothing beats the motivation and accountability of a teacher to keep you progressing.
Don’t get bogged down in technical exercises without being practical and learning songs. At the end of the day, that’s what we and people who listen to us want, the ability to play songs!
Master the Fretboard
We learn some chords, some songs and some riffs. We often get stuck in a rut. Make sure you master the fretboard, scales, arpeggios, triads all over the neck. This upfront work will give you years of enjoyment.
Think about Phrasing/Rhythm
When we play guitar we don’t have to breathe. So we can play for many minutes without stopping. Give your listeners a break and get them involved in your solos by leaving space. Think about phrasing, by listening to yourself and practicing this as part of your routine.
Scales and exercises are great, but nothing beats real solos to get some inspiration, and find some melodic ideas to use in your solos. This will also develop your ear to hear melodies.
Train your ear as well, so you can hear chord changes, know how different intervals sound so you can hear what you’re going to play before you play it.
Focused Practice Every Day
Better to practice a little each day than jam in 10 hours in one day with huge gaps in between. Regular practice is much better, and it should also be focused. No watching TV or other things while you practice. At least get in 15-30 minutes of focused practice before you get distracted. Do the ‘boring’ stuff first and usually end with playing songs, having fun.
To help you implement these 10 great tips, I’ve developed (over the 28 years of playing and teaching) a comprehensive system for learning how to solo where you work step by step through a series of 7 video courses and get live video streaming Q&A sessions with me on a monthly basis.