The Ultimate Method to Learn Songs on Guitar

On this week's "Guitar Blog Insider," we're going to discuss the idea of how to develop a method that you can use to zero in on a piece of music (and over a short period of time) learn every section and segment of the piece so that your working knowledge of the song is up to a high level of awareness...


If you're learning how to play guitar (either going at it self-taught online or perhaps with a private teacher), you probably already realize that aside from an excellent guitar curriculum, the other thing you need, (the other thing that's really important), is learning how to play songs. And, this stands true for learning rhythm guitar, for learning riffs and especially for learning guitar solos.


Once you've selected a song that you're going to make a study of, take a few minutes and check online to find out if there's a chart, a TAB or perhaps a lyric and chord-sheet that somebody has already created. This will help with the songs general layout, and it'll be really good for getting you started.

For our example, we're going to use the song, "Historia de Amor," by Luis Miguel. And, to get started, I've located a chart (off of Ultimate Guitar) of the lyrics and chords. Now, what you'll find with a lot of lyric and chord charts and even some basic TAB charts - is that they won't start where the recording starts. So, you're stuck trying to comprehend exactly where the piece begins on the cart in relation to the recording.

It is very important to start logging the time-frames of the piece, which also means that it's really helpful to have downloaded the MP3 and have it brought into your favorite DAW, "Digital Audio Workstation."

I would not suggest using stock players like, iTunes, or Windows Media player. Instead use something that shows the songs wave-form and the songs time code, like; Garage Band, Audacity, LMMS, Riff-Station, Mixcraft, Stagelight, Reaper. I'm going to be using; Adobe Audition.

The next thing I'd suggest doing is setting out on working on counting through the beats of the song and establishing the amount of measures, as well as how long each chord will last. This will give you the songs layout. The main idea here is to form a concept of the length for the; verse, bridge and chorus.

Once each sections length has been established, you'll next want to map everything out on your own sheet of paper and format a lead sheet of those chord changes. Aprogram like Finale can be excellent for doing this work.

At this point you can relate the time-codes for where each section comes in, (related to the MP3 audio track you have in your DAW). With this information, you can begin working on developing your skills for making effective chord changes in time with the song.

If you find that your skills are a little weak for making the switch from one chord to the next slow down the song in your DAW, (Riff-Station is perfect for this). Almost every audio workstation will slow down audio tracks, but over the years I've found that the software made by "Riff-Station" works the best for slowing a track down and still maintaining really high quality audio on the songs playback.

After learning the chord changes, and how long they last, the next idea is to establish a decent feel for rhythm guitar. Most folk and country songs, as well as, pop songs will have a really consistent rhythm. Other music styles will branch out to more complex rhythms. This is another reason why it is so valuable to time-code the song you're studying.

Be sure to work on establishing a set strum pattern (or patterns) that fit well across the piece. If you can, notate the strumming pattern you choose so that you don't forget what it is. If you're working in a program like Finale, add the strum-pattern to your chart.

The final piece to this puzzle is organizing any lead guitar parts. Not all songs will have a lead, and some leads will be more challenging than others but learning to play a solo is very good, (and it works to complete the piece).

In some songs like, "Into the Great Wide Open," by Tom Petty, or in the song, "Day Tripper" by the Beatles, those solo sections are very short, only around four measures. However, in other songs, like maybe most of the AC/DC tunes, Angus Young is ripping out some pretty long solos.

Regardless of how long or how complex a solo is, make sure that you mark a time stamp of exactly "where in the piece" that the solo enters. That way, each day you come along to carry on the work of that solo, you'll quickly find that specific section, and you'll be able to get right down to work on the solo quickly and easily.

To re-cap this method, the whole process boils down to...

#1). Select your song, and get a copy of it on audio
#2). Bring it into your favorite audio workstation
#3). Find a copy of a lyric-sheet, or TAB
#4). Understand where in the song the chart begins
#5). Mark down the time of the first chords entry
#6). Map out the measures and create a lead-sheet
#7). Organize the chords and their length of time
#8). Mark in the time stamp of each section
#9). Learn the strum pattern
#10). Play through the rhythm guitar part
#11). If the song has a solo, note the time of entry
#12). Work on the solo until completed
#13). Try and perform the entire piece up to tempo

I'd like to end by just saying, thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

Also... I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



Join Now


Post a Comment