1) Draw neck diagrams and label the note names on the strings. This will improve your knowledge of the instrument, and solidify your ability to quickly jump to any note (like when a fellow musician tells you it's an A chord). Start with just one string, such as the low E string, and label every note: E, F, F#, G, G#, etc. Do this a few times for each string and you'll soon know your way around the guitar sooo much better than you do now! 2) Draw more neck diagrams and fill in scale patterns. You know that old joke about the school teacher making you write something stupid (I will not chew gum in class.) 100 times on the chalkboard? That teaching method may not have successfully kept you from chewing gum, but it will successfully help you memorize scale patterns.
Draw neck diagrams and put dots on the diagram in the shape of your five pentatonic patterns and seven diatonic patterns. Do this repeatedly, until you drill those patterns into your brain. Even without your guitar in hand, this exercise will improve your ability to memorize the 12 basic scale patterns you must know to play pro-level lead guitar. 3) Give your fingers a workout with a stress ball.
A tennis ball, or any other squishy ball will work too. A big part of playing guitar satisfactorily lies in the development of the muscles in your fret hand and wrist. You'll recognize this fact real quick if you pick up an acoustic guitar and try to play lead guitar. You can do this at work, at school, or anytime actual playing is not an option - and it will improve your playing abilities! 4) Analyze the tablature in your favorite artists' songbook.
Learning to read the most advanced tablature notation is not much easier than learning to read the actual sheet music - and it takes practice. Don't forget that there is usually a key to all the weird symbols - all those arrows and squiggly lines - in the back of many, if not most, song or method books. Study that key until you know what is meant by all those symbols, and then actually read through a few songs - all the way through. Your tab reading will become a whole lot easier after you've done this a few times. 5) Better yet, work on reading sheet music instead. It's not really as hard as it seems, but it absolutely takes practice.
And sheet music has one huge advantage over tablature - it can tell you the actual rhythm of the music, which most tab does not. Start with easy stuff, such as a Guitar Method 1 type book where all you're expected to read is quarter notes and half notes, and only the notes as they fall on the low end of the neck in the key of C major (no sharps or flats to worry about!). Then work your way up from there.
Learning to read sheet music is a skill that can be built one step at a time, one new concept at a time. And you can practice reading without a guitar in hand, by simply picking up any piece of sheet music and literally reading it as if the notes were printed alphabet letters put into phrases and sentences, just like the ones you're reading right now! Understand that becoming really adept at sight-reading may actually take months or years, so be patient with yourself. But you're planning on playing your guitar for decades, right? The extra effort will pay off a thousand-fold!.
E Walker is the founder of Planet of Rock Music Studios. Listen to samples of Free Guitar Backing Tracks. Find out how these Guitar Backing Tracks will bring your skills to the next level. You are just One Click Away!