If you are like me, it may have been years since you picked up your guitar other than to move it across the room. But the music still chimes in our head. I have picked my guitar up several times over the years and played a few notes only to find that my fingers are soft, my strings are rusty and I am sorely lacking in my old skills. Disheartened, I put the guitar down again for a few more years. If you are serious about getting that music out of your head and out into the world, here are some useful tips to consider before you should even try to start composing again.
There are some great software options that you can use to plug your guitar into your laptop or computer. Guitar Rig is my preferred software, but there are a few others as well. They are generally cheap and easy to find online. They can also be found at your local music store. I recommend getting them at the store to ensure you have all the documentation that comes with the package. The software is basically your computer equivalent to a mixer, amp, fader and distortion rig. You have all the options available at your fingertips. Without those instructions, however, it can be somewhat daunting at first.
You already know you should have good strings. But if you can’t afford them, you can also boil your strings. I learned this from my girlfriend Laurie Tysinger, who plays bass guitar. She reports her strings have lasted 15 years. The other given is that your hardware remains in good working order. Ensure your pickups are cleaned of dust and all your connects and contacts are tight.
Now that you have your remedial guitar check off list covered, you should start slow. Don’t expect all those old chops to just start flying from your fingertips like they once did. Your fingers may have gone soft and your calluses gone from your fingertips. There is no special trick to getting those back except practice. However, you should start with slow melodic tunes before attempting to compose your own music. I even recommend using tablature rather than sheet music to start out. It’s not that you are a beginner again as much as you are rehabilitating muscle memory.
Once you are secure in your prowess on the melodic tunes, it is time to ease into your power medleys. Your fingers should be familiar with the chords and changes now as a result of your melody practice. Once you are confident enough with your practice tunes you are ready for the final step which is improvisation. Begin adding your own style into the tunes you know. Completely alter it and add in fills and new solos.