A quick browse of the web reveals hundreds of thousands of people telling you the best way to practice (this site being one of them), but really the best single piece of advice I ever had was to record yourself playing.

That’s it. If you only ever take one action to improve your practice, this should be it.

Recording myself had such a huge impact, it helped me to improve almost every facet of my playing. From timing to tone, everything improved rapidly. If you’re preparing to go into the studio then pre-recording your parts is a completely invaluable bit of prep.

Be warned though as it can be a pretty painful experience at first as recordings don’t lie. If you’re not quite playing something right, you’ll hear at as clear as day. Even if in your head it sounds amazing!

Here are five reasons why I believe every player should record themselves playing:

  1. You’re not as good as you think you are.

Ok, this sounds pretty brutal but it is true. Have you ever listened back to a recording of your own voice and thought “that doesn’t sound like me”. The exact same thing happens when you record your playing. What you hear in your head vs. what other people hear are sadly often different things.

  1. You need a benchmark

You can’t improve if you don’t know what needs improving. Do you need to work on your timing? Are you bending nots slightly out of tune? Have you developed bad habits that result in weird scratching sounds? The chances are you won’t really know for sure where your weak points are until you record yourself.

  1. It makes you better…fast

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Genuinely – start recording your practice sessions, listen back to the recordings with a critical ear, and just see how fast you improve. When honing in on your new recordings, try to identify one area that needs work at a time. Fix it, record it again, and once you’ve nailed it move onto the next challenge.

  1. You can get some friendly feedback

The great thing about recording your practice is that (assuming you have nice mates), it makes it super easy to see what other players think, and get some friendly and constructive feedback on your playing.

  1. It’s fun!

Honestly, you might hate it at first but messing around with recording can become great fun. The sky really is the limit. If you’re feeling nice and creative then why not program some backing tracks to really test your playing out?

Happy recording, and if you’re not quite sure – give it a try!