Any beginner's guide to learning guitar will have a break-up of proficiency levels into beginner, intermediate, and advanced stages. However, this may be somewhat misleading because getting good at guitar is all about becoming 3 different types of guitar players rolled into one. It's best not to get caught up in labels and, instead, focus on practicing the skills you need to become the kind of player you aspire to be. The best way to become a good guitarist is to work toward becoming a complete guitar player who can perform 3 main real-world actions:

  1. Accompany songs while playing rhythm guitar.
  2. Take a guitar solo while someone else handles the rhythm guitar duties.
  3. Take a guitar solo for themselves, often referred to as playing solo guitar.

In case you are one of those who prefers teaching yourself how to play guitar, having a fundamental idea of what all the different types of guitarists can do can save you a lot of time, heartache, and money. In this post, we will talk about the core skills you need to practice for each level of guitar skills.

New to the world of the guitar? Here is how you can get started on playing the guitar.

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Level 1: Ability to Sing and Play Simultaneously

This stage of guitar skills development is commonly known as learning to play rhythm guitar. Arguably, it is the most learning for guitar players because rhythm is the most commonly used skill set at every level. In fact, The reality is that anything you learn before the skills in this level is largely a distraction.

girl online guitar lesson
Supplement your online guitar lessons with music band gigs on the side to develop your musical acumen. | Image credit: Unsplash

You don't even have to sing if you don't want to, you just have to have the ability to mouth the words correctly over the rhythm so that you can be in the right places at the right times. To achieve this skill of playing guitar, you need to do the following:

  • Know all the basic chords
  • Know how to navigate a song chart
  • Know how to strum
  • Learn how to use a capo

The best thing about this level of advancement is that it helps to develop you into a pretty good guitar player even if you stop here and just get really strong at playing songs. You can also try and play with more advanced players and have a lot of fun along the way.

Level 2: Ability to Take a Guitar Solo

This is the natural next step after you learn how to sing and play songs. Having the ability to take a guitar solo allows you to break up some of the singing with an instrumental break when you are playing with another guitar player.

Alternately, you can trade solos over chord progressions and not sing at all. This way, you're playing together in a complementary way. To play a solo on a song, you basically need to learn to improvise with single notes, usually using the melody as a reference, while someone else plays the chords.

The quickest and easiest way to get started with guitar solos is to learn the first position of the major pentatonic scale. Then, learn how to move it around the neck so you can play solos in every key. Gradually, when you want to improve your guitar soloing skills, you need to learn positions 2-5 of the pentatonic scale.

These five positions are the secret to playing lead guitar. If you learn them well, you won't have to learn any other scale patterns. To do this, you must learn how the scale degrees work in each pentatonic pattern. This will help you manipulate the pentatonic scale so you can add any other scale or arpeggio notes. Fundamentally, the pentatonic scale is basically the major scale minus two notes.

Once you master the scale degrees in each pentatonic pattern, you can easily find the two other major scale notes when you need them, which, in turn, will help you find all kinds of other scale notes and arpeggios by relating them to the pentatonic scale degrees.

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Level 3: Ability to Solo for Yourself

An underrated skill, ignored by most guitar players, the ability to solo for yourself can be a lot of fun. The truth is that while playing songs, instrumental breaks can seem pretty empty when you're just strumming the chords of the break. However, you can't just stop strumming and play a guitar solo because you need some kind of rhythmic structure to prop up the song.

All three guitar levels take a lifetime to really master; even if you get pretty good at them, there's always more to learn within the level.

The Carter Scratch is an old country music technique that allows you to play melody notes on the bass strings of the guitar while you strum 16th notes between the notes. This technique helps you combine scale notes with strumming. Moreover, it works for any style, not just country.

The easiest combination for the Carter Scratch is chords from the key of C along with the fourth position of the C major pentatonic. The next best combination is chords from the key of G with the first position of the G major pentatonic. With those two combinations and the capo, you can transpose them into any other key.

No matter which level of guitar-playing skills you are at, you must have a strong base in music theory.

Basic Assessment Grades for a Guitar Player

While searching for the best guitar classes near me, you must also know which level of guitar playing you are at and which level you want to get at. The best way to find this out is to grade yourself according to these basic assessment levels.

A guitar class
Group learning will help you practice better along with others. | Image credit: Justdial

Grade 1

Guitar players should sit and hold the guitar correctly with a good posture. They should be able to play a short tune, on 2 strings with some musicality and good tone production using their fingers. They should be able to play 3, three-string chords and have a basic understanding of notation and/or TAB.

Grade 2

Guitar players should sit and hold the guitar correctly with good posture. They should be able to play a more complex tune on 4 strings with musicality and good tone production, using their fingers. They should be able to play 4, six-string chords and have a wider understanding of notation and/or TAB.

Grade 3

Guitar players should sit and hold the guitar correctly with good posture. They should be able to play up to 20 bars of music in 4/4 time, using simple 1st position melodies composed of whole, half, and quarter notes and their associated rests as well as a range of basic 1st position chords.

Guitar players at this level should also be able to play the scales and technical exercises, sight-reading, improvisation, and aural exercises. They should be comfortable using a pick as well as fingers and be confident reading notation and/or TAB.

Grade 4

Guitar players should hold the guitar correctly with good posture. They should be able to play up to 32 bars of music using 1st position chords and melodies composed of whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes and their associated rests, tied notes, and dotted half and quarter notes.

Guitar players should also be able to include simple legato and staccato styles where appropriate. They should be able to play the scales and technical exercises, sight-reading, improvisation, and aural exercises. They should be comfortable using a pick as well as fingers and be confident reading notation and/or TAB.

Grade 5

Guitar players should hold their guitar correctly with good posture. They should be acquiring a range of physical and expressive techniques including palm muting and the use of double stops on adjacent strings, simple legato, staccato, and slides as well as simple dynamics. They should be comfortable using a pick and fingers and be confident reading notation and/or TAB.

Check out these easy tips to improve your guitar skills.

Grade 6

Guitar players should hold the guitar correctly with good posture. They are continuing the foundation work from grade 5. They will encounter syncopated eighth and sixteenth notes, strumming as well as developing techniques including fretting hand and whammy bar vibrato, hammer-ons and pull-offs, slides, and simple bends.

Pieces are now much longer and guitar players should be developing their own stylistic awareness, including amp settings for each song. They should be comfortable using a pick and fingers and be confident reading notation and/or TAB.

Grade 7

Guitar players should be acquiring a greater range of physical and expressive techniques including damping, double-stopping, legato and staccato, fretting and whammy bar vibrato, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, as well as accents. They will be experimenting with a greater range of dynamics and continue to develop the ability to play with stylistic authority. They should be comfortable using a pick and fingers and be confident reading notation and/or TAB.

Grade 8

Guitar players should be confident in a range of physical and expressive techniques. They should be able to demonstrate their abilities across a number of styles and have control over tone and sound adjustments to suit the playing style of their choice. They should be comfortable using a pick and fingers and be confident reading notation and/or TAB.

Find good guitar lessons here on Superprof.

Guitar practice
Mastering the guitar takes a lot of practice and hard work. | Image credit: Pixabay

Practice is Key

Check the list of the best online guitar lessons 2021 before you sign up with the right guitar teacher or go searching for the right resources to teach yourself guitar. But, remember, no matter which mode of learning you choose - online lessons under the guidance of an expert guitar player or self-study mode, it all comes down to how much you practice. Even the best guitar classes and guitar teachers can only do so much if you lack intentional, meaningful practice.

Seldom do beginner guitar players know the best ways to practice. First, set aside a reasonable amount of time for everyday guitar practice, even if it is for 10 minutes a day. Practice is more about consistency than the amount of time you spend. Gradually, increase your practice time so that even if you miss a day or even more, just get back on track when you can, without thinking of quitting.

It's pretty easy to get started, and the best guitar guides can get you playing real songs in as little as 30 minutes.

Divide your daily practice routine into smaller slots. For example, spend a little time warming up, which you can do simply by playing. Then, devote a little time working specifically on the skills that are difficult for you. At the beginner stage, students tend to stay away from the things that are hard for them, rather than working on them. But, ideally, you should spend a little time every day working on it. With consistency and patience, even the most insurmountable challenge can be overcome!

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Set aside a slot to simply play the guitar and work on the things you actually want to do. Even then, always push yourself to improve because that's really how you can graduate to the next level of guitar skills. As you reach the next stage of development, spend time gaining experience using your skills while continuing to learn the intricacies of each level. The ability to play the guitar may take a lot of work, but it's what it takes to become the kind of guitarist you ultimately want to become.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.