Practice Without A Guitar | Hub Guitar

Practice Without A Guitar

Matej Kastelic/

Stuck somewhere without a guitar? Try these tricks to keep your musical skills sharpened.

Phantom Reading

You can read music or tab without a guitar by looking at the music and visualizing your left hand playing the notes. If done slowly this will help you to plan fingerings through reading a piece of music and will make it easier when you really do play it. It will also help you improve recognition of the notes and patterns on the music, because you won’t be constantly interrupted by actually trying to play. At advanced levels you may begin to hear the notes in your head as you look at the music.

Guitar Hero

Listen to your favorite player, playing something that really blows your mind. Close your eyes and imagine that you’re the one playing it. Over time this will build your motivation and help you internalize a self-image of capability. The more you do this, the more you’ll start to believe you really could play that. And as you memorize each note you’ll find this exercise gets clearer and clearer. This may be useful later if you try to actually transcribeTranscribing is the process of listening to music and writing down the chords, rhythms and melodies, note-for-note, on paper. It also refers to the process of simply figuring out how to play the music on an instrument, as this is a pre-requisite for writing the notes down. the piece.

Study music theory

One important skill is the ability to quickly spellChord spelling is the ability to look at any chord symbol and know immediately what notes are inside of it. chords and scales.

Get a piece of paper, preferably music notation paper, and run through some exercises.

Practice Spelling Chords

  • On one side: draw the 13 chromatic notes (three rows of four)
  • On the other side: draw the name of every chord you know (major, minor, etc)
  • Choose a random root from one side and a random chord from the other. Write out about 20 combinations.
  • Now, for each chord, spell it: write down all of the notes in that chord.
  • You can repeat this for exercise using scales.

Practice ear training

Get some ear training practice apps for your smart phone and practice on the go.

Improve your conditioning

Use finger exercise tools such as Zenstrength Hand Trainer[?]Affiliate Link or grip exercise tools such as the Captains of Crush Hand Trainer[?]Affiliate Link to condition and build the muscles in your hands, making it easier to play the guitar when you do get your hands on one.

Work on your technique

Buy a Shredneck Dreadneck[?]Affiliate Link guitar neck practice tool and work on your technique without having to carry a real guitar around. The ShredNeck is like a pocket guitar, with 7 normal-size frets and no body.


Even if you’re without a guitar, you don’t have to compromise your musical practice. In fact, some of the most important musical training you can do requires no instrument.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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