How to sing and play guitar at the same time

Wondering how to sing and play guitar at the same time? Here’s our best 14 tips!

how to sing and play guitar at the same time

Why learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time?

Singing while playing your guitar connects you to the song in a deeper way. This is one of my favourite things about playing music.

So, welcome! You are among kindred spirits here and it’s very cool that you want to know how to sing and play guitar at the same time. Let’s dive in.

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It’s very difficult to sing and play guitar at the same time if you’re playing riffs and solos. Start with CHORDS.

It’s almost impossible to sing a vocal melody while playing a complicated guitar solo, or anything other than simple lead riffs.

So if you want to know how to sing and play guitar at the same time, make it easy on yourself and choose songs that you can play with chords.

 

how to sing and play guitar at the same time

To learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time you need to be at least ‘ok’ at changing basic chords

Don’t run before you can walk.

To learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time you’re going to need to play the guitar on ‘autopilot’ (just a little), so you can concentrate on delivering the vocal melody.

If you can’t change chords cleanly, for basic open chords, then it’s probably too soon for you to add the extra variable of singing.

By all means, give it a try and have fun, but bear in mind that you’re still very early on in your guitar journey, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t sing and play perfectly from the get-go.

Start with a song you know well

If you sing a song that you know and love you’ll find everything flows along much easier.

  • I think this is because you don’t have to remember the lyrics or melody; your brain already knows the song! That frees up mental resources and it makes a big difference.
  • It allows you to get into a state of flow and get lost in the music. So if you’re just getting starting learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time, pick songs you already know and love.

Check out this article of ours for some easy beginner songs.

 

How to sing and play guitar at the same time

Want to learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time? Pick a song that has EASY chords.

If you have to conquer tricky chord changes in a song it makes everything harder, because you have to concentrate on chords too much.

  • If you want to know how to sing and play guitar at the same time, we want you to reach a point where you aren’t even thinking about the chords.
  • That way, you can focus totally on the vocal melody.

So pick easy chords. If the chords are tough consider a different song or use my famous stepping-stone chords to make things easier!

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

 

Where should we send it?

Switch off strumming arm so it can be on autopilot.

In a similar way to the above point about chords, pick a song with a simple rhythm.

Again, we do this to make life easier for ourselves. To be able to sing and play guitar at the same time, you need to be able to strum your guitar in a consistent and fluid way.

This is much easier to do if you pick a song with a rhythm that you find easy to play.

Can you see what we’re doing here? We’re eliminating the ‘barriers’ to make progress easy for you.

We’re making it EASY for you to learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time.

And in time you can increase the complexity. You can play songs with tougher chords and more demanding rhythms, but in the early days we want to make things easy so you can have fun straight away.

To learn more about this read our article: How To Strum A Guitar Correctly

Ok let’s move on and look at some singing tips.

 

how to play and sing on guitar at the same time

Stand up to sing with more power

Your voice is more powerful when you stand up. If you want to know how to sing and play guitar at the same time this is something that can make things a lot easier.

So consider attaching a strap to your guitar (adjust it carefully so it’s just right for you) and you’ll be able to sing with more force.

A major ingredient in good singing is having enough breath to fuel your singing. Sure, you can sing sat down (and that’s how I sing 90% of the time), but if you want to belt it out, or there’s a song you’re struggling with, standing up will help.

Pick songs that suit your voice and range.

Even the world’s best singers have a range they can sing in. If they step outside that range they struggle.

And guess what my friend, you will too! 🙂

I see so many guitar-learners and students of ours getting really despondent and downhearted because they can’t sing a certain song. But if it’s outside their range they can’t do it. End of story.

  • The only solution to this is to change the key of the song. To put in inside YOUR range.
  • You can use a capo to change the key and keep playing the same chord shapes. This is a super useful trick that most people don’t know.

To learn how to use a capo read our article: How To Use A Capo

To learn about keys read our article: Guitar Keys – An Essential Guide

Knowing how to sing and play guitar at the same time is such a fun skill to have and an understanding of capos and keys will give you a big boost.

 

playing guitar and singing at the same time

Time your breaths carefully

Singing well requires lots of air to pass over your vocal chords. This means you need plenty of breath to power your singing.

If you get short of breath you won’t have the raw material required to sing. It’s as simple as that. So time your breaths carefully!

If there’s a particular note you’re struggling to hit, try taking a deep breath a line or two earlier (even if you feel like you don’t need it) to ensure you have enough fuel in the tank when you come around to that tough note.

Remember, breath = power.

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Pro-tip: Alter your vowels

One of the best singing tips I ever got was to alter my vowels. If you want to know how to sing and play guitar at the same time this is a ‘must-know’ technique.

If you sing the word ‘all’ by pronouncing it as you would say it, there’s a strong ‘a’ sound.

“Aaaaaaaall”

This can be hard to sing because of the shape your throat and mouth have to assume to create this tone.

But if you sing it as ‘ool’ instead, it makes it much easier.

“Oooooooooll’

It will feel really weird to you, but the listener won’t notice. I know it sounds crazy but this WORKS so play around with it.

Elton John is an absolute master of this. Listen to any of his early albums and you hear him pronouncing his vowels in really unusual ways. Not only does it allow him to vocalise in a powerful way, but it adds a lot of swagger to the character of the vocals.

Listen to Crocodile Rock (‘Had an uuuuuurrrl gold Chevy’), All The Young Girls Love Alice and Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting for lots of examples.

Notice how differently he sings his vowels compared to how a person would speak them.

Be careful how you approach vowels, they can make a huge difference!

 

how to play guitar and sing at the same time

Sing from your belly, not your head.

Ok here’s another pro-tip…

Professional singers will tell you that you have 3 voices:

  • Your belly voice
  • Your throat voice
  • Your head voice

If you sing from your lowest possible note to your highest, you will FEEL your voice rising up through these three stages. It’s pretty cool, give it a try.

Notice how the sound gets ‘thinner’ as it goes up? Notice how the note feels less stable as it goes higher?

If you’re struggling with a certain note, try and sing it from a lower voice. This is hard to explain in words, but you’ll get it fast when you give it a try. Sing from your belly for more power.

When you’re learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time this is something you should constantly be exploring.

Let’s cover off a few final points.

Adapt chords to make things easier

There are lots of different ways you can play every chord. (The chord G for example, can be played in many different ways.)

  • If you have a tough vocal part, you may find it easier to play a barre chord G, or an open G depending on A) the chord before it and B) the chord after it.
  • Is the song easier to play on the guitar if you move the chord and try one G or the other? Threy’re both G chords and most of the time it doesn’t matter which voicing of G you choice.

So if it makes it easier to play, do it! As we discussed earlier, the basic principle here is make the Guitar Things easier so you can focus on the Singing Things.

Remember, learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time is tricky, so we want to remove as many complications as possible.

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

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how do I sing and play guitar

For 99% of people singing is like learning any musical instrument. It takes years of practice.

There are a tiny minority of people who can naturally sing well. (They can’t sing a bum note if they try.) For everyone else, the key to good singing is repeated practice.

  • You can’t learn how to play the guitar overnight, so why would you expect to learn how to sing overnight? Many people do! And they get disheartened and give up quickly.
  • So keep your expectations realistic. If you do, you will enjoy the journey a lot more. Start with easy songs and have fun building your confidence. In time you can progress to harder material.

I’ve been trying to sing ‘In My Life‘ by the Beatles perfectly for 20 years and I still can’t do it. I don’t mind. I adore the song and as much as I wish I could sing it perfectly, I kinda like that John Lennon can sing it much better than me. 🙂

Have fun and enjoy the moments of your musical journey

Most importantly of all, enjoy each step of your musical journey.

There is no ‘end’ and you will never reach your ‘destination’ because there’s always something new and fascinating that you will want to explore. So don’t rush anywhere. Enjoy where you’re at right now.

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