2018 is a new year, and it’s a chance to be a new you too. Diets? Exercise? Who needs them. Let’s talk about what’s important: playing guitar!

18 New Year Guitar Resolutions

When it comes to playing guitar, it really is possible to promise yourself: I will improve in 2018. But it does take effort and it does need a plan. If you need a plan, here’s 18 ideas to help you in 2018. And if you achieve them all: fantastic – you’re about to have a great guitar new year!

1 – Play. Every. Day.

At this point, don’t even worry about what you play. Just make sure your guitar is there, and that you do play. Every day. Professionals take these things seriously, and that’s why they’re professionals. Joe Satriani says: “I play every day, unless I’m forced not to—like if I’m on a 23-hour flight. Or maybe I’ve done too much playing and I need to take three days off or something like that. But in general, I’m playing every day for at least an hour, and if I’m writing, sometimes I’m playing 8 to 9 hours a day.” OK, Joe’s nuts, but you’ll find the right balance for you. It starts with playing every day…

2 – Keep A Guitar Journal

Any personal trainer/psychologist will tell you that people who record goals and aims are more likely to actually achieve them if they write them down. When it comes to guitar, again, it doesn’t so much matter what you write down, just that you do. It could be: “Monday: learn new 7th chord inversions” or “Thursday: I need new strings.” Make sure you record your achievements, too: it will keep you motivated and give you a good sense of progress.

3 – Write songs

You don’t need to be the new Bob Dylan of lyrics to write a song. Writing a song with your own lyrics and vocal melody will help you learn how your guitar fits into songs. Phrasing, space, when to play rhythm, when to think about any solo, chord changes etc. You don’t have to share it. But do it for yourself. It will help you understand songs and your own guitar playing much better.

4 – Practice Smarter

This interlocks with having a journal, of course. Smarter practice means knowing what you want to achieve and how/when you go about it. Don’t take just our word for it. Listen to these player who say Practice Makes Perfect.

5 Take Care Of Your Guitar

18 New Year Guitar Resolutions

If you’ve resolved to better care for your own body in 2018, do it for your guitar too. Here’s 20 tips just on cleaning your guitar. And to fix any little loose rattles, make sure you grab A Gibson MultiTool – use it on any guitar.

6 Expand your vocabulary

This can apply to chords, voicings, scales... Truth is, it’s all too easy to “stick to what you know” and just repeat. Of all the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of words in English, scholars reckon Shakespeare invented about 1700 himself! No wonder his books have stood the test of time. Learn better guitar vocab, and you’ll write better songs.

7 Swap Your Instruments

18 New Year Guitar Resolutions

Got 5 electrics but no good acoustic? Or vice versa? Or all guitars and no bass? Don’t let it be so! Transferring your skills onto a different member of the guitar family can yield surprising results for both your technique and writing smarts. Ask a twangin’ friend for a temporary trade if you don’t want to commit to a full purchase straight away. (It’s like a free month’s introductory gym membership... with strings attached!)

8 Play Outside of Your Comfort Zone

You may love only one style of music. And that’s fine. But try playing some other styles. Funk maestro Carlos Alomar went through hell on David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album, being asked to play more “grinding” guitar alongside Robert Fripp. “It was very interesting,” says Alomar. “I learned a lot and when I came back to my more natural style, I felt really fresh about it.”

9 Sit Down Stand Up Sit Down Stand Up…

Playing standing up is is good practise for all number of reasons. Practising standing up will help your hand strength, it will stop you always looking at our fretboard (most agree that if you need to do that, it’s bad) and it can also be a bit of confidence booster too. SO make sure you at least alternate sitting and standing positions in your practise regime.

10 Share!

Not sure about you’re playing? Ask a fellow player. Wide-open public sharing on social media usually requires a thick skin due to excessive trolling, but in my experience guitar players are a generous, encouraging breed. There are numerous Facebook, MeetUp and numerous other style-based, artist-related or tuition groups. Get involved.

11 Record Yourself

If you’re not ready to share, at least record yourself. It’s now easier than ever to record your own music. Listening to yourself will help you understand what aspects of your playing you may need or want to work on.

12 – Join a band!

The big one, if you’re the play-at-home kind. But from informal jamming/writing sessions to fully-fledged gigging outfits, nothing will improve your playing more than playing with other musicians. You may suck! But you’ll likely have fun and make new friends. Where’s anything wrong with that, huh?

13 – Play Better Gigs

If you’re already out there gigging, work on your show. Playing “proficiently” is only part of the job or fun. There are many things we can all work on – here are just 15 Gigging Tips. And we know stage fright is frightening! Learn how to conquer Stage Fright.

14 – Teach!

If you’re pretty skilled, why not consider teaching? You don’t have to know music theory, honestly. There are plenty of beginners out there seeking help with the real basics – chords, timing, strumming, picking – and it’s immensely rewarding. You may not even get paid, but even just be volunteering you’ll help others and reignite your own passion for guitar. Fact: it’s also good for your happiness. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,” said Muhammad Ali. Okay, those gloves may have made him a lousy guitar player, but you know he’s right!

15 Stay Fit

18 New Year Guitar Resolutions

Yep, even your guitar playing can benefit from a “gym workout”. Another reminder of how to Stay Fitter and Play Better.

16 – Experiment with The Little Things

18 New Year Guitar Resolutions

Just like with your food diet, changing a small thing can sometimes make a big difference. It may be your pick or string gauge, how high you strap-on your guitar (see 9), your cable, your practice regime (which you’ve now planned, right?)... Being consistent is good, but being too set in your habits isn’t! 

17 – Switch Your Tuning

New tunings can open up a whole new world. Keith Richards only really found his guitar voice when he adopted G tuning for The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” onwards. Sheryl Crow concurs, “When you tune your guitar in a different way, it lends itself to a new way of looking at your songwriting.” Learn more about guitar players who use alt tunings and what they are. 

18 – Above all! Enjoy playing

These are just ideas. A springboard. And I admit, if I follow all of these, I’ll amaze myself! So just take them as a springboard. If you resolve to work towards something, it’s guaranteed you’ll achieve something, And you’ll be seeing-in 2019 as a better guitar player.

 What are your guitar goal resolutions for 2018?