Mastering Guitar: The Art of Effective Woodshedding


Learning to play the guitar is an exhilarating journey filled with both challenges and rewards. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, mastering the instrument demands dedication and the application of effective practice techniques. One such technique that can significantly accelerate your progress is woodshedding.

Woodshedding On Guitar

Woodshedding, a term commonly used in guitar circles and refers to  focused and repetitive practice of isolated musical sections. This method, akin to a musician isolating themselves in a woodshed to practice intensely, allows for concentrated refinement of specific passages or techniques. It’s a cornerstone of effective practice for guitarists seeking mastery.

Isolating  A Section and Looping

When woodshedding, I personally like to utilise what I call “looping a section.” This approach involves focusing on a short segment of a song, lick, or exercise and repeating it meticulously until you have really have it under your fingers. 

For instance, let’s consider Ry Cooder’s opening introduction on I Think its Going To Work Out Fine.  This opening finger style piece may present a challenge, particularly for players unaccustomed to Open Tunings or Finger Style Guitar.  To overcome this obstacle, I recommend isolating each bar and phrase and playing each slowly and precisely. You might decide to divide the each bar into phrases. Repeat them consistently until ensuring accuracy and control before progressing further. 


In this example I have isolated 2 phrases – Phrase 1 and Phrase 2

These 2 phrases appear throughout, We sometimes call this a motif. Once you get into this habit of spotting phrases in a piece of music it will help you remember entire pieces. 




Breaking down a song into smaller segments is a fundamental aspect of woodshedding. Instead of attempting to play the entire piece from start to finish, concentrate on mastering each section individually. Avoid the common pitfall of glossing over difficult passages with the intention of revisiting them later. By dissecting the song into manageable parts, you provide your brain and fingers with the opportunity to understand and execute the musical elements more effectively. This method not only enhances your learning process but also accelerates your improvement. 



If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the thought of 15 pages of TAB or what seems like endless chords scales and patterns to learn, just take a breath and relax for a moment. Give yourself realistic goals and get into the habit of organising your time. Theres a  sweet spot when it comes to focused practice intervals 

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method based on 25-minute stretches of focused work broken by five-minute breaks. Ive used this to learn scales and patterns and stuff that initially looks boring and laborious

Personally for me theres a time to noodle and get creative  and a time to practice.  The thing about focused practice is that it makes jamming, doing gigs and writing more fun. 

Incorporating woodshedding into your practice routine is essential for continual progress as a guitarist. Allocate dedicated practice time each day and approach each session with focus and determination. With consistent effort, you’ll notice significant advancements in your playing skills



In conclusion, effective woodshedding techniques, such as “looping a section,” are indispensable tools for aspiring guitarists. By breaking down complex material into manageable segments and repeating them diligently, you’ll enhance your understanding and proficiency on the instrument. So, the next time you pick up your guitar, embrace the power of woodshedding and watch your skills soar to new heights. Happy practicing!