How not to suck at singing

Hi just watched this video from Justin and found it very interesting and informative. I do have one question, just speaks a tuner in the video, that displays the chord on guitar that is played, and then shows you how your voice pitch is compared to the chords played.

Anybody know what kind of tuner he’s talking about?


Hi Adrien, any chromatic tuner will work. I have one called “insTuner” which is a free app you can download to your phone. Works great.

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Thanks I’ll download it and try it out.

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The best way to not suck at singing is to not listen to yourself sing. Go ahead and sing even if you think you suck. This is a guitar site, we sing to carry the melody and to serve the song. Any one good enough to release rock radio ready vocals is not going to need a “how not to suck at singing” tutorial. Rest assured that most of us fall short of that rock radio ready bar (maybe even sir Justin). Just do your best and let your guitar chops be the focus.

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How to not suck at singing? Practice singing, just like you improve your guitar playing by practice, your singing voice will improve the more you use it. Just being able to sing and play at the same time badly is an accomplishment, don’t worry about how you sound initially. It just gets better.


Yes. This.

Your voice is an instrument. You can improve with practice. Just singing regularly is a good first step, but there are additional steps you can take.

With any instrument, practice benefits from structure, focus, and frequency/consistency. That is, to make the most of your practice time you should have some goals, a plan, and a regular schedule. For example, on guitar you’ll tend to get much better results following Justin’s method and practicing daily than you would “just playing” daily. Both of those approaches will generate some improvement, but following Justin’s structured method you’ll see faster and more sustained improvement.

The same goes for singing. Just singing a lot will help, and is fundamental. But you can boost your improvement if you apply some structure and focus to your singing practice. That can be as simple as scouring youtube for info on singing, vocal exercises, singing lessons, et cetera. Or it could be a paid singing course. Or it could be one-on-one lessons with a private instructor. Your approach probably will depend on how badly you want to improve your singing.

My own experience has been that just singing a lot, learning about singing and singing technique, and using free lessons from youtube has been enough to satisfy my desire to improve…mostly. I still think I would benefit from a paid course or private instructor, but I’ve been too lazy to actually take that step.


Chiming in as somebody who currently sucks at singing, would like to get better at it, and has taken a few small steps along that path …

The “just practice singing” advice is probably good advice in general but it’s not for everybody. If you aren’t naturally able to sing on pitch, and not currently able to readily tell by ear whether your voice is on pitch or not, then practicing singing might mean that you are just practicing singing way off pitch, and as Justin often says, practice makes permanent.

The exercise of singing into a tuner is a really great, and totally objective, way to figure out how in-tune your voice is, and how well you are able to detect the pitch of your own voice.

If the results from the tuner show that you’re pretty much hitting the notes you want to hit, and you can pretty much tell whether you’re on or off the pitch, then great! You’re already in excellent shape, and “just practice singing” will be a fine way to improve.

If the results from the tuner show … the other thing :sweat_smile: , then you have a different kind of work ahead of you, continuing to work with single notes in the tuner, to build up the neural linkages needed to turn your voice into a tunable instrument.

Using the tuner is also a big help in figuring out where your vocal range and registers sit, which in turn can help you to learn when to use a capo to adjust the key of a song to better suit your voice.


In order to not suck at singing you need to sing in tune, “simple” as that. Once you can sing in tune that’s only when you can try to develop a more attractive voice tone and become a decent singer. So what is the first step? You need to start hearing yourself - I suggest getting a simple mic and headphones and monitoring yourself and how you sing. Play a backing track quietly in the background and try to sing in tune with the song. You should be able to pick up when you are not in tune while singing thanks to headphones on and live monitoring, but if not you can always record it and listen back to the recording in order to establish if you were in tune.

Start with simple songs and see how you get on, Happy Bday, Twinkle Twinkle Little star - this sort of thing. If you feel you sing in tune after hearing yourself and your recording move on to something more tricky. If you learn how to keep in tune you can then start to learn singing as in vocal techniques, breath control etc etc.

Sounds scarier than it is in reality! :slight_smile:


If there is one thing I am good at, it is sucking at singing. Not sure I want to lose my talent there…


Thank everyone for the input!

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Hi Adrien, sorry I’m a bit late to this party! I use an app called simply “vocal pitch monitor”. I like its graphical interface which lets you see not only the note you’re hitting but how much vibrato you’re generating, whether you’re going flat at the end etc, and you can see a visual representation of how well you’re matching a note played on the guitar

I use it not so much for singing per se, as for working on recognising intervals by singing them. Which, now I come to think about it, is automatically going to improve my singing, even if I do seem to have a tin ear when it comes to descending 6th and 7th intervals

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It is as others have said like any other instrument…you practice “properly” and you will improve. A couple have already mentioned what is key to me. Make sure you can hear yourself properly. I find I get the best feedback by using a decent mic and listening through headphones…I can tell very clearly what I sound like then. Play songs, sing to them, record them and play them back. Does it sound right? what do you need to change? keep doing that and you’ll improve.

There are also of course plenty of courses online and certainly a few people in the community @DavidP @TheMadman_tobyjenner have followed these with quite a lot of success. I’m sure they will share their views.


Thanks for the answer and suggestions can you tell me which vocal pitch monitor you are working with, there is a few different ones on the App Store I’m using and apple iPhone if that makes a difference.

Regards and thanks again Adrien

I use Singscope on my iPad and iPhone which is a free download for the basic version and that basic version works for what I want it to do.

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Check out Chris Liepe’s Discover Your Voice course. Not free but exceptional value. Improved my singing no end. There are a number of threads on the subject with links but I am out and about and don’t do cut n paste easily on the mobile.

It’s actually called “Vocal Pitch Monitor” it is definitely in the Android Play Store, but I don’t know if it’s in the Apple store, not all apps are in both. The developer is Tadao Yamaoka, if that helps.