The Woodshed

What you practice, the “physicality” of practice, which guitar?


OK, let me define first:

1) What you practice: I lump practice into categories: a) a new song, b) expansion of a style you play but includes new riffs, expanding your style via another guitarist's playing, and c) practice sessions of songs and music you already know but play to "keep sharp"

2) "Physicality": Does standing, sitting, posture, position of guitar influence #1: What you practice

3) Does a certain guitar, type of guitar, shape and or weight of a guitar influence what you are doing in above 1 & 2?

I play a blues. Yes I categorize this broadly but there is so much difference in what I play, want to play, and yet to learn. I'm currently trying to play more swing and have decided to concentrate on T-Bone Walker, the theory and style....this falls into both learning a new song and new riffs. I want to know and execute his style as flawlessly as possible with the result of soloing that combines technique, set riffs, and improvisation which shapes the practice session.

To do this, I need to sit down and be comfortable with the body and neck close to me. The reason for this is I need to remain focused and committed without the wanting to "rock out" and start noodling because I just want to flow and fall back into a comfort zone. This is the physicality and for this, I play only my Gretsches and maybe my acoustic. The tone may be different than T-Bone's but it's the genre of blues/swing and the guitar shape, big hollow body on my knee while slightly hunched over commits me to the practice session........hearing the recording, understanding what the guitarist did, start practicing/duplicating/understanding the "how" it was accomplished so I can get it and remember it............there is a ton of learning, screwing up, going back and listening, playing with it, screwing up again but less, and repeat till I know it. Once I know it, keep the session going till it becomes memorized and ingrained in the my own lexicon of riffs.

I don't read music and do not like memorizing solos but prefer creating solos combining my style, memorized riffs, incorporation of theory and the right amount of improvisation until I produce and say "I really like that!"

Another type of practice I do is trying to expand and sharpen my playing of songs that I know. Tone factors more into the equation and my energy needs to be up a little more. For this, I stand. The guitar depends on what tone I want (yes, there is some wanting to emulate the recording artist) and this has to combine well with the comfort of flat picking attack.

The majority of these sessions is a solid body guitar with 80% of the time being played on my SRV Strat or '14 Les Paul Traditional w/ '59 reissue pups......both guitars deliver the feel and tone depending on the song. Switch to playing some Rockabilly that I know? Black Phoenix, 5126, or if I'm in a solid body mood? Then my Gibson Firebird in the middle position or only bridge.

I could expand but interested in how others practice expanding on the ingredients mentioned in the thread title. How does the "physicality" influence what you are playing or vise-versa? What are you playing and are you sitting? Why? If standing, then where is the guitar placed? .....Jimmy Page-low or at the stomach high? What are you practicing in those positions......learning new stuff (either new song or even type of music)?

I'd like to hear how others practice and provide the detail and the reasons of #s 1, 2, and 3 as I mentioned. Thanks!


Wayulp, personally, I get my practice by trying to play stuff that I wrote but can't actually play. Lol In order to be functional on guitar, I need lots of repetition going through the changes of this stuff. (As always, the goal is to NOT sound like a drummer with a guitar hangin' off his neck.)

I also catch myself starting off with some of Todd Rundgren's more difficult (for me) songs that are difficult to voice correctly on guitar, especially considering that the recorded parts were keyboards so you hafta get a bit unorthodox to get similar inversions on guitar. Stuff like "Real Man", "Don't You Ever Learn", etc. Lately, I've started warming up using this Dano 12-string, which is extra difficult for me to play cleanly. But it makes any 6-string feel effortless once you've played the 12 long enough to get accustomed to it, which is about 20 minutes give or take.

Regarding #2: Lately, I've had to remind myself to play standing up for a few different reasons. Oddly enough, some things come out cleaner while standing but quite the opposite on others.

About #3.) One tricky thing I've noticed is adding the extra factor of a rather neck-heavy guitar after wearing an LP or Telly, for instance. I've not played long enough to where managing that is COMPLETELY second-nature, but it's coming along.

I NEVER practice lead lines. I'm not a guitar solo kinda guy. Chords never cease to fascinate me. Sometimes as a test, I'll try to play a song cold that I've never played before, just to test the combination of my ear and voicing chops. Usually a Steely Dan song or XTC or somesuch.

And with my T-Rex arms, they usually hafta ride a little higher than what prob'ly "looks cool", so I'm sure I look a bit dorky, but then again, "Dork. The other white meat."

And Bob, upon your recommendation, I've been practicing playing G-flat. In fact, I've been practicing G-flat6 because I intend to be a pioneer in "progressive folk."


Primarily I carry an acoustic of some sort with me wherever I go, weather permitting. To the grocery store, bank, costco, coffee shop, on walks etc. and play as I walk or in lineups or as I walk through the stores. 99% of the time people are enchanted and very thankful. That aspect is really quite rewarding.

I like playing different guitars because I find their different aspects can be inspiring

I don't really play any blues, except how it has been incorporated in other music (like swing and a little rockabilly and some folk stuff) The 3 chord progressions commonly found in blues are also prevalent in centuries old folk music, classical music etc.

I 'practice' when I need, as the previous poster said , to physically learn parts I've made up that I've created to push myself Then practice songs I've written for playing live. Often I've written them as I record them so afterwards I have to pick the most necessary bits out of layered parts to make a cohesive single part that will hold the song together without getting in the way. With new songs this is incorporating all the parts, vocals, changes, changes in sounds, pickups, etc. into a seamless flow.

Practicing already known original material, I work through albums and or set lists (as I often play 2-3 song nights), just to make sure I have everything freshened in my memory. I often do this with a microphone and my normal pedal setup along with my bands albums so I can play all the different aspect in their entirety, This is done standing up as I would live. Otherwise I play sitting or standing depending upon how I feel, I tend to wear my guitars pretty high as is practical rather than low slung with is often cooler looking.

When practicing with my lead singer, to learn new material, go over old stuff and work on our duet harmonies, I typically will just use an acoustic and we will sing acoustically as it sounds best.

Al my songs are tightly arranged. Guitar solos are incorporated purely as a variation in the arrangement of the songs. I try to write nice and interesting and brief ones that add to the song rather than any need to push my personal agenda as a guitar player or show off flashy licks. I have a strong aversion to long self-indulgent guitar solos and the concept of the guitar hero. My solos are all 'written' out ahead of time, like in most pop music. (Though I'm self taught and I don't really write anything out.) I like parts and hooks. To me the song is everything, the individual players are secondary with each being highlighted maybe once or twice in an entire evening as part of the show. For finger picking I typically play acoustic, and mostly acoustic around the apartment. Sometimes quite electric or out of a line out into my board and headphones

To make up stuff I goof around till I hit something I think I can build on..or not. On acoustic I like to use a lot of different tunings, on electric not so much as they all have bigsbys! Otherwise I just play for fun and when I feel like it.


1---I don't practice, per se. I've been playing music, by ear, badly, for over 60 years. I'm not gigging anymore, and I don't play as much as I used to. Mostly, I'll put on a CD, or find a tune on YouTube, and jam along till I'm happy with my take on it. I'll pick up an acoustic most often and always have a beater on hand. The good guitars are in their cases out of the reach of grandkid's sticky little fingers and the big dog's nose.

2---I mostly play sitting down---old man, bad back. Both of my Gretsches are 10 pounds. I have a Martin Backpacker that can be played in a recliner, if needs be. As I'm primarily a keyboard player, when playing keys, seated is normal.

3---Doesn't matter. Music is music. I've played blues on a calliope and a harpsichord. Anything's possible.


I'm always looking to get better, but these days, it's mostly through what amount to finger exercises. Although I still play out, these days, it's mostly keyboards and not guitar. I really don't "practice" much guitar any more, and it dawns on me that I have not actually worked up an all-new song in several years. What I mostly find myself noodling on the couch at night would best be described as finger exercises. Scales, hammer-ons, my weird hybrid flat-picking style that still is not a smooth as I'd like it to be, etc.

I can say that when I manage to get serious about it, I work on songs that are already in my repertoire to one degree or another. Lately, I've been on a bit of a Glen Campbell kick, trying to clean up songs like the William Tell Overture and Classical Gas, but these are songs I've played in the past and not "new-to-me" tunes. Before Glen, I was messing around with some Jimmy Buffet that I've been doing at least once a year for about 15 years or so. Before THAT, I spent some months with a muttly collection of songs ranging from "Fly Me To the Moon" to "House of Blue Lights" (the Asleep at the Wheel version), which I have written and recorded arrangements for. Plug the axe into one jack on the JS-8, plug the memory stick in the USB port, add headphones and hit "play". Presto, instant band! At least it helps me stay in tempo.

Kinda eclectic, all that....

No special guitar. The new one (the Taylor T5z) gets most of the lap time on the couch, but I'll pull out whichever axe fits the song du jour as needed- to a point.

The jumbo and dread acoustics generally don't make good couch axes, so they've been somewhat ignored for a while, now. Best not to talk about them, they'll start to whine.


Great input so thank you guys for the input so far. I'm not gigging any more but practice like I would. To Wabash's point, I also have sessions where I will play along with a song and jamming with the music coming out of my iPod hooked into the Bose speaker station.

I don't write my own stuff and the closest I get to it is reworking songs into fun acoustic tunes. Sometimes I get creative playing the song in a different key but I practice this stuff in the event I can sit down and knock out 10 or more songs on acoustic while singing. An example is when I brought my acoustic to a friend's birthday party. Most knew I played and encouraged me and playing & singing solo acoustic version of Loggins' "Footloose" was really fun. I always practice my acoustic material sitting down.

For when I stand up, I find that in the middle is just right......many songs I play for example standing up is SRV's version of "Little Wing". It's just one song out of many that I would not be able to play well with the guitar low and don't know how Billy Gibbons does it.

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