Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Practicing - Setting Up Your Practice Space

Batman had the Bat Cave, even Superman had The Fortress of Solitude, and one of the things that every veteran guitarist has in common is their own private practice space. It’s your own little spot that is already setup with everything you need to practice playing your guitar. It’s important to have a spot like this setup somewhere at your home. It makes practicing easier and much more efficient. Plus, they look cool.
(Que church bells with man screaming “Sanctuary!”)

Now, when I say practice space, I’m not necessarily talking about the warehouse unit at the rental storage place that your band jams in. I’m actually talking about that little spot that is set aside somewhere in your home where you can go to get away from everybody and practice your guitar. I have seen them setup in many spots, however the most common locations seem to be in the corner of a bedroom or living room, or even a finished basement or attic. The location isn’t all that important as long as you have enough room for your stuff and it’s private. You should be able to get to your practice space at a moments notice and not have to set anything up. Everything you need to play and practice should be at your fingertips.

Every guitarist sets up their practice space differently; however they all seem to have a few things in common.

Guitar and Stand – What good would a practice space be without your favorite ax? I also recommend that you have a guitar stand near by for when you need to set it down. They are worth the money. If you practice both electric and acoustic, like I do, you will want a double guitar stand. They are about $25. Your guitar should always be in your practice area, ready to play at a moments notice.

Your Amp – If you’re playing electric guitar, you will want your amp already setup here. You can always tear it down when it’s time to go jam with your buddy’s. Some guitarists might tell you that you can use a small practice amp and that might be a good idea if you live in an apartment or have other family members around at practice time. I believe that you should practice through the amp you plan on using for live performances.

Stool - You will need a small chair without arms or short stool that you can sit on while playing your guitar. I use a small wooden stool that I bought from Ikea for $15; its height is adjustable and swivels nicely.

Media Player - It’s great to have a computer in this area, especially if it has speakers and an Internet connection. A computer with Internet access will allow you to download tabs and instructional material, play to CD’s, or even watch instructional DVD’s. If your family has dibs on the computer setup, forget it, you don’t want to be constantly hassled by your little sister wanting to play Neo Pets. You can always use a boom box or stereo, just as long as it can play CD’s through speakers and not headphones.

Music Stand – A music stand is more important than you might think. Being able to read your tabs and instructional books while playing is essential to the learning process. You should be able to see your reading material at eye level. Spend the $10 big shot.

Guitar Accessories – You will always want to keep some of your guitar picks and strings handy. I also keep a nice clean rag for whipping down my neck and strings, as well as some Fast Fret, string winder, wire cutter, and guitar polish.

Guitar Tuner - Every guitarist should have a nice tuner, it helps you set the pitch of your instrument properly. Invest in a good tuner that you plan on keeping. I use a Korg rack mounted tuner for live and my POD Pro has one built in that works great in my practice space.

The brain is an amazing thing. It is truly a creature of habit. It learns by repetition. If you always go to your practice space, your brain will know that when you are there that it is time for practicing. It will get itself into practice mode automatically, and perform better. It sounds like some Jedi B.S., but it’s not.
(Que Darth Vader Breathing)

The practice space is a place that you should be able to go to and feel comfortable learning. You should be able to make mistakes here and not worry if other people can hear it. Trust me, they don’t want to hear you work on your scales all afternoon anyways. Having everything setup and ready to go will allow you to streamline your learning process and easily continue where you left off the last time.

I love to look at other guitarist’s practice spaces. Each one is always unique to the guitarist, decorated in the most unusual ways. I think you can tell a lot from a guitarists Practice Space, especially if they don’t have one. Decorate yours to suit your tastes, but make it functional and private, that is the most important part.

Now go practice!

Hey Bob! What if I live in an apartment or with other people?
You should be able to play your guitar at a normal level without interfering with the rest of the people you live with or near. This is important because I believe you should not be worried if people can hear you make mistakes. You might not feel as comfortable learning if you know somebody can hear you. If you live in a situation that requires you to be very quit, there is a solution. I call it The Expert Setup.

Written by Bob Narley