If you are just now getting back into practicing guitar after being away from your instrument for a while, you probably noticed one thing: your guitar playing skills have dropped a lot! Don’t worry, I understand exactly how you feel...several years ago I finished a world tour, and decided I wanted to take a break from playing guitar for a little while. Even though I only planned on taking a short break, I didn’t really practice much at all until several months down the road when the time came to record a new album. It goes without saying, I was not at all happy with the way my playing sounded coming through my amp after months of not working on my skills.

If you have ever stopped playing guitar for a long duration of time (or you haven’t held a serious practice session in many months), you will get your skills back again by using these 5 approaches:

1. Rebuild Your Foundation Of Technique First

After spending a lot of time away from guitar, your playing skills deteriorate at varying rates. Your guitar technique is usually the first to go. With this in mind, after a break, you MUST place guitar technique practice above everything else for the first couple of weeks or so. That’s right: you’ll regain your skills faster by focusing the majority of your guitar practice time on technique only for the first couple of weeks.

Notice: I’m not telling you that you should “always” work on technique during your guitar practice. I'm merely saying that the first couple of weeks of practice “after a long break” should be mostly spent on technique. In addition, even when you aren’t physically touching the guitar, you should be practicing away from the guitar so your musical skills do not diminish.

2. Don’t Overcompensate By Practicing Too Much

Tons of guitarists track to make up for a long period of non-practice by practicing way too much hours every day. This almost always achieves the opposite effect they were going for because they end up practicing ineffectively (and in an unorganized manner). Plus, it becomes much easier for them to experience frustration and/or injury their hands/arms. Most guitar players think that practicing more leads to results. WRONG! This is a perfect example of how quantity does not overcome quality. Truth is, you can make infinitely more progress in your guitar playing by practicing in smaller intervals throughout the day. By doing this, your practice is much more focused, keeping your mind from wandering due to playing for many hours at a time. So instead of practicing improving your sweep picking for a few hours, you practice in intervals of fifteen minutes per session. It’s a lot less difficult to practice for 15 minute periods than for many hours.

Use this effective guitar practicing schedule to get your technical skills back in just two weeks.

3. Practice Using Your BRAIN 1st And Your Fingers 2nd

NO mindless guitar practice sessions! Of course, this should be your approach any time you practice – However, this is even more important for practicing guitar after coming back from a long off period. After taking a long break from playing, your chances of regaining bad playing habits are greatly increased. If you practice mindlessly, you might even create new bad habits for yourself! Here is how to stay focused and keep yourself from falling into this trap:

-Follow a very effective guitar practicing schedule that’s created to get your guitar technique back in the fastest time possible.

-Utilize “focus rotation” so that your mind is always switched on during your practice. I go into more detail about this in this guide to building guitar speed.

-Practice techniques that use the most guitar practicing transferability. This will prevent you from becoming bored and help you get your skills back faster.

4. Learn To Walk Before You Start Running

In your initial time back after taking an extended break, you simply will not be able to play at the same level as before. At this point, you have much less control in your hands than you did previously. If you go straight to playing fast or working on intricate guitar licks, it will become sloppy and you might actually injure yourself from using the excessive tension (that comes from inefficient movement). This is like attempting to run a triathlon when you are completely out of shape... Everything that is needed to make your body cross the finish line has been unused for a long time, and thus you are not prepared to complete the motions needed to complete the race. If you try to run under these conditions, you will definitely fail, and possibly even injure yourself in the process.

To guarantee that you return your playing to the level it was at before (without harming yourself or becoming frustrated), focus mostly on perfecting the basics of your technique throughout the first week of practice. While you are practicing, make sure to pay extra close attention to the unneeded tension you are feeling in your body and reduce it as much as possible. Don’t let yourself play very fast or technical guitar licks during this time. By working slowly to regain your coordination in hands, you will grow a solid foundation from which you can play with greater speed and accuracy.

The effective guitar practicing schedule that I recommend to use for getting your guitar skills back was created using this concept.

5. Control Your Frustration And Take Advantage Of Your Mistakes

It’s hard not to get frustrated when you know you used to play guitar at a much higher level than where you are at now. However, don’t allow this frustration to ruin your guitar practicing motivation! If you do, it will be very difficult to get your playing back to where it used to be.

No matter who you are, you will make countless mistakes in order to become a better guitarist. In fact, the overwhelming majority of your practice time will consist of a process of analyzing, identifying and correcting your guitar playing mistakes. So if you really enjoy playing guitar, there’s no point in getting frustrated by mistakes. A better approach is to focus on turning mistakes into tools for improvement. By taking away the negative feelings that are lodged between your mistakes and your ability to correct them, you let yourself to address issues in your guitar playing more directly – making your a better guitarist in less time.

After reading this article, you now know how to quickly regain your guitar skills after not playing for a long while. Now you just need to take action to implement these ideas.

After you’ve returned to your previous level of playing, keep your playing on track using a guitar practicing schedule created based on your musical goals.


Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, recording artist and online guitar teacher who teaches guitarists from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. On his website, tomhess.net, you can get additional free tips about guitar playing, guitar playing resources, mini courses and surveys.