Do you ever feel like you’ve mastered the basics of chords on guitar? That maybe you are comfortable playing a few simple songs around a campfire? That perhaps it’s time to move on to more challenging material.
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What to Learn After Basic Chords on Guitar?
If you really like playing chords you can get started with learning different strumming patterns or learning barre chords. But if you want to move onto something different you can start learning fingerpicking or solos.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the things that you can learn after chords. These things will help you find new ways to play the guitar and develop your skills. I advice you to just pick one at first and get practicing!
Start Learning Barre Chords
After you’ve mastered the basics of chords on the guitar, your next step can be to learn barre chords.
Barre chords are a little more challenging than open-position or moveable chord shapes because they require you to hold down multiple strings with one finger.
These chords will allow you to play in a variety of keys and add some extra punch to your rhythm playing. They’re also a good building block for learning more complicated chords.
Start Learning Finger Picking
Fingerpicking is a great way to add some variety and interest to your playing. It’s also one of the most popular ways that people play guitar, as it has been used in genres such as folk music for decades.
Fingerpicking requires you to develop new picking techniques and use the “sweet spot” on each string so that all notes come through clearly with no buzzing or muted strings. You can start fingerpicking by practicing simple folk songs. Or you could head over to Ultimate-guitar and start with learning a few simple tabs. If you don’t know how to read tabs, make sure to check out this article: How to read guitar tabs.
Train Your Finger Strength for Playing Guitar
But in order to play barre chords and start fingerpicking, you probably need some more finger strength, as these techniques require more strength than basic chords. With stronger fingers, you’re more likely to produce good-sounding chords and notes without that buzzing sound or accidentally mute strings that shouldn’t be muted.
Improving your finger strength will also reduce pain and discomfort during long practice sessions and allow you to play faster with more precision. The best way to do this is to practice a lot of guitar! Every time you pick up your instrument, spend some extra time playing chords or scales.
You could also try practicing barre chords and fingerpicking every day for at least 15 minutes so that those techniques become second nature plus you’ll train your fingers.
In addition, you can keep working on strengthening your left hand by squeezing a rubber ball during the day. Or you could also try a finger exerciser like this one:
Start Learning Strumming Patterns
As you learn more and more chords, your next step might be to work on strumming patterns. These are the rhythms that give a song life and make it sound like music as opposed to just someone plucking at strings randomly.
There is an infinite number of possible strumming patterns; however, most beginner guitarists start with three or four simple ones such as down-down-up (DDU) or up-down-up (UDU). Once you get good at these basic patterns, try mixing them together in different ways for some interesting results!
Or head over to Ultimate Guitar again where they have lessons about how to play strums.
Learn Playing Solos on Guitar
After you’ve mastered the basics of chords and strumming, your next step might be to learn how to play guitar solos. Guitar solos will allow you to take a break from rhythm playing and show off some chops. They can also help you develop improvisational skills which are great for jam sessions or performing live on stage with other musicians who may not stick closely to the sheet music.
If you want to learn how to play solos it’s best to start with learning some scales on the guitar. Here is a video of something you could start with:
Once you’ve mastered some scales and want to start playing solos, it’s a good idea to learn about bending strings. This is an important technique for creating more interesting sounds when soloing on guitar as it gives the notes extra expression which will make them come alive. Check out this article I wrote on Guitar string bending techniques.
Join a Band as a Guitarist
At this point you might be thinking “okay so now I know everything about chords, strumming patterns, fingerpicking, and even basic soloing… what do I do next?”
Well if that’s the case then congratulations! You’re well on your way to being a great guitarist with just these few simple techniques under your belt. Now you are probably ready to join a band!
If you don’t have a band already, then now is the time to start looking for one. You can either check out local music stores or post an ad on Craigslist.
In my experience, If you start a new band. Most of the time it starts out like more of a practicing group. Where you first get to know each other at practice once or twice a week and figure out how to properly play together. Once you are at the level that you can play ten plus songs with your band you can go out looking for gigs.
Learn Singing Yourself When Playing Guitar
If joining a band isn’t an option for you yet, there are still many things that you can do to keep learning and developing as a musician including writing songs of your own. When you write your own songs, it’s good to learn how to sing at the same time. Now, this might sound daunting if you’ve never sung before or don’t feel comfortable doing so but I assure you that anyone can do it! All it takes is a little bit of practice and patience plus plenty of vocal warm-ups. And remember that everyone who plays guitar also had to start somewhere too when they were learning!
Just like guitar playing singing is also a skill that you can learn. So it might not be a bad idea to look into taking some singing lessons if you really want to impress your friends at the next campfire.
Get a Capo to Play Different Keys
As you probably already know, the main reason why guitarists use capos is to change up their key without having to re-tune. It’s also a way of making songs easier to play if they are too low or high for your vocal range.
Capos are cheap and easy to find so there isn’t really any excuse not to have one lying around somewhere in your house. Try it out with some different keys next time you want to learn a new song!
If you want to know more about using a capo, you can check out this article: How to use a capo on the guitar (Explained!).
Learn How to Play Slide Guitar
Slide guitar is a technique where you place metal or glass tube on the strings of your guitar to create different sounds and tones. It can be used for both lead playing as well as rhythm parts because it has such a unique sound that resembles other instruments like the human voice, flute, and mandolin, etc…
Slide guitar is often played in genres like blues, country music, and many more!
There are many different types of slides you can use from a glass tube to metal thimbles that go on your finger. You will have to try out what type works best for you and sounds the most interesting!
Playing slide guitar is actually very easy once you understand how it’s done, so there isn’t much learning curve here other than getting used to playing with a new technique. If this sounds like something that interests you then I highly recommend you check out the article I wrote on how to play slide guitar.
Try a Different Kind of Guitar
Now that you have been playing guitar for a while and maybe have tried some other things on this list, why not try something else?
If you play acoustic or electric then I suggest getting yourself an instrument from the opposite family. For example, if you usually play electric go to your local music store and get an acoustic one day just to see how it feels.
You don’t have to buy a new guitar if you can’t afford that just yet. You could borrow one from your friend or someone else who has the same instrument as you, but maybe has nylon strings instead of steel strings or it’s a Stratocaster instead of a Telecaster. Switching guitar every now and then could keep things a lot more fun and interesting.
Pick Up a Ukulele or Banjo
If you normally play acoustic maybe invest in some kind of baritone ukulele that has a much lower pitch than normal ones so it’s easier on your fingers! Or even better yet pick up a banjo because they are really fun instruments with lots of potential when it comes to jamming out solos and learning new songs! I even wrote an article on learning banjo after you already play some guitar.
Banjos and ukuleles are also fairly cheap so you don’t have to get something too expensive if you’re just starting out. There is a whole world of bluegrass, country, and folk music that you can explore with these types of instruments which makes the learning process all the more exciting. Keep practicing every day and before long everything will feel much easier for sure!
If you would like to start out playing ukulele or banjo I would recommend you go with one of the instruments below as these are of good quality and don’t break the bank when you’re just starting out.
I hope these ideas have given you some food for thought when it comes down to deciding what steps to take after learning chords on the guitar. As you can see there are plenty of options. Thanks again for stopping by and happy picking 🙂