Seven Ways Guitarists Can Improve Their Ears

(Image credit: Matt Cowan/Getty Images)

Steve "Samurai Guitarist" Onotera has posted another helpful video, and you might want to check it out.

This time around, Steve offers some pointers—seven, to be exact—on how guitarists can improve their ears.

"Like so many others, I grew in a world where the tab to any song was available at the click of a mouse," he says in the clip, which you can check out below. "I never had to rely on my ear to learn my favorite songs and realized when I started to take music seriously, my ears were underdeveloped. This video is designed to help out guitarists like myself. The talking points are as followed but please watch the full video to get all the details."

Here are a few of the key points. Be sure to watch the video for all seven.

Singing: "The voice is the closest connection we have to the 'inner ear,' or those sounds floating around inside our brain. If we can sing the things we hear in our head, we can find those notes on guitar."

Learn Theory: "We can use theory to help us with our ear training. By understanding the theory behind music, it can help us put labels on sounds, which we can later use to identify those sounds when we hear them in different contexts."

Practice Identifying Intervals: "Intervals are the spaces between notes. If we can hear the difference between those spaces, music will sound clearer."

Practice Identifying Chords: "If we can hear the underlying harmony of songs as clear as we see the colors of a picture, music becomes much easier. Theory helps here as well as using training software."

Listen to the Bass: "There is so much information we can derive from the bass part. It's also usually pretty easy to figure out because there are monophonic notes (one at a time) and the part is simple (not always don’t crucify me bassists)."

For more great videos by Steve, subscribe to his channel on YouTube.

P.S.: If you want to read more about training your ear, be sure to read "Steve Vai's Course in Ear Training, Part 1." You will not be sorry!

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.