23 September 2009

8 Reasons to Record Your Guitar Practice

Do you record yourself as you practice or play guitar? If not you could be missing a valuable opportunity to gain new insights into your problems and find ways to improve your playing. Review these eight reasons to record yourself as you practice guitar and see how useful they could be to you.

1. Listener's Perspective

It's hard to judge what your guitar playing sounds like while you are busy playing. You might think you are doing fine, but a recording is likely to show up all kinds of things you could improve. You might also be surprised that your playing sounds better than you thought which can be a nice boost for your confidence.

2. Check Accuracy

As you listen to a recording playing mistakes will stand out so you can see what to work on - false notes, inaccurate bends, hitting adjacent strings, buzzes, finger noise... You can spot all those little details you need to give your playing that extra polish.

3. Timing

Almost every guitar player you ask thinks they play in time, but it is almost impossible to have an objecive feel of how good your timing is while you play. Use a metronome as you practice and record yourself playing over it. What seemed fine as you were playing might reveal a whole different story when you listen to the recording.

4. Keep Track

Recordings of your past practice and playing help you keep track of your guitar learning. You can review them from time to time to remind yourself how much you've learned and how you've progressed. This can be a great motivation booster when you get those stuck in a rut not making any progress blues.

5. Reinforce Song Memory

Record what you play and listen to it regularly and you will reinforce your learning. Picture yourself playing in your mind as you listen to improve your memory of songs and passages you play.

6. Train Ears

As you listen back to the sound of the chord changes, scales, licks and notes you play your ears will learn to recognize them. This is different from listening to someone else's music on the radio because you know exactly what chord or note you played.

7. Improve Practice Effectiveness

Leave your recorder running all through your practice sessions and you might be surprised to discover how much time you waste. The recording will reveal just how much time you spend not playing, drifting off plan, or simply doodling.

8. How Well Do You Really Improvise?

One area where the listener's perspective you get from a recording is valuable is to evaluate your solos and improvisations. Listen to your recordings and ask yourself honestly how interesting your solo is. Is it engaging, interesting, not too long?

Here's a challenge if you are serious about improving your guitar playing. Grab yourself a recorder of some sorts and record and listen to your practice sessions for one whole week. Let us know with a comment what you learned from the experience.

Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original guitar content for your web sites. Discover guitar writing services for guitar web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.

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Unknown said...

Does anyone have any experience with the Samson "Go Mic" or the H2 Zoom? I have been recording myself with a USB headset, but it has to be so close to the guitar (classical) that it is uncomfortable. I'm just looking for a better USB alternative on a budget (I want it to sound true, but not necessarily production quality). Thanks in advance for any advice or help.

Gary Fletcher said...

Brandon, I haven't tried either of those yet myself. For practice recording I mostly use a mini mp3 player bought in a supermarket for €24 - Proline is the brand. It has a voice recorder function that works fine at up to about 1m (about 3 feet).

I've been looking at a few options - including the H2 - and will be posting more soon.

Unknown said...

You know, I have an mp3 player with an internal mic...I've never tried recording with that. I had an Olympus digital voice recorder that I tried using, but it had such a bad hiss that I never wanted to listen after I finished recording. Thanks for the info, let me know if you try the H2.

Sarge said...

sometimes it's easier to just keep it simple for practice. I usually use a small digital recorder.

Anonymous said...

Brandon, Gary -

The H2 Zoom recorder is good stuff. Got one last year and haven't looked back. Amazing quality, easy to use and lots of options. I record lessons, jam sessions, practice sessions. Keep files of everything in iTunes. Now have a serious history of recordings at my fingertips to review progress. Not cheap. But the one time pay out will pay back endlessly!

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