How To Make Your Guitar Playing Feel Effortless

By Mike Philippov


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Watch any of your favorite guitar players play and you will notice 1 thing in common: they all make their guitar playing look very easy. Truth is, their guitar playing is easy...for them.

You too can make your guitar playing feel effortless when you practice guitar the right way.

Managing excess tension in your body helps your guitar playing feel incredibly easy.

This video shows how to manage excessive muscle tension in your guitar playing:

Beware of these common myths about tension in guitar playing:

Myth #1: You must play guitar with no tension.

Reality: It’s physically impossible to play guitar with no tension. Some physical effort (tension) is required to fret notes and to pick the strings. The key is to manage unwanted (excessive) tension that makes guitar playing feel much harder than it should feel.

Myth #2: You must play guitar with the least amount of tension/effort possible.

Reality: Different guitar techniques require different amounts of tension. Your picking and fretting hand also require different levels of tension for different guitar techniques. Sometimes you must use a lot of power and effort (tension) to produce the right sound in your guitar playing.

For example:

  • Playing scales requires a moderate amount of tension in your picking hand and very little tension in your fretting hand.
  • Playing bent note vibrato requires a moderate amount of tension from your picking hand but A LOT of tension in your fretting hand. This video shows how to practice bending strings on guitar correctly.
  • Playing aggressive rhythm guitar requires a lot of power (tension) from your picking hand, but very little effort from your fretting hand.

Lesson for you: determine how much tension is needed in each hand to play what you want to play on guitar. Then train yourself to apply the right amount of tension in each hand during your guitar practice. This helps your guitar technique become more efficient and your playing starts to feel easier.

Myth #3: Tension control can only be trained during super slow practice.

Reality: You can (and must) train yourself to be relaxed at very slow speeds, medium speeds and very fast speeds. Slow practice is necessary for training new guitar technique habits into your muscle memory. However, you also need specific tension management strategies for faster playing.

Tip for tension control at faster speeds: practice in bursts. Play 3-4 notes at a fast tempo and stop. Observe your body for tension and relax it. Repeat the burst several times until you learn to be relaxed every time. Then extend the burst and play more notes (at the same tempo). This helps your brain and hands get used to playing at faster tempos without tensing up.

Implement these tips to make your guitar playing feel much easier than before.


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