How to become a good guitarist? Very simply. I’ll actually give you the answer step-by-step.
Now, before I begin, let me assure you that talent is complete bullshit. You do not need to be talented. All talent means is that you can pick something up 5-10% faster than the average Joe or Jane. You still have to put in the work.
If you are untalented, that means you have to work 5-10% harder than the average Joe or Jane. Some folks are “slow.” That’s not an end all be all by any means. That just means you have to bust ass even harder than the average person.
Scales and chords
First things first, the fundamentals. You need to know your scales and chords.
Every morning without fail for years, I warmed up with scales. I only started missing mornings when my wife and I first started leaving the country once a year.
When I’m in the country however, no excuse for missing practice. And practice begins with scales.
As for chords, they depend on what kind of music you play. Obviously, Jazz, Country, Metal, Blues, Folk, and Punk Rock all have different chords. Learn accordingly. And jam with people outside your genre. It’s not only a lot of fun; it will expand your horizons.
Take your top 10 songs of all-time. Learn every single one of them. If you really want to know how to play guitar, you have to do this.
When you learn covers and you play along to them, two things happen. First and foremost, you start to incorporate your idols’ style into your own. As I’ve said many times, the more you emulate others, the more original you become. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it’s quite true. You become original by ripping off as many people as possible.
Second, you learn timing. You are literally playing along to a drummer. Sure, it’s pre-recorded. However, you’re still picking up the drummer’s timing. Therefore, you’re on your way to getting to the next step.
Jam with everyone
When I say everyone, I really mean it. Jam with everyone.
My formal guitar education comes from one Blues/Jazz class. The class was great! We spent half the class jamming with people.
The teacher constantly brought in bass players and drummers and you had to go in front of the class with your guitar and jam. He even brought in a singer once. She’s the one who gave us the advice I’ll never forget – “I can’t play a lick of guitar, but I know what I like. I like a guitarist who can make his guitar sing.”
Hands down best advice I ever got on lead guitar playing. Make your guitar sing!
I’m neither a Jazz nor Blues player. However, I learned Jazz chords and learned how to play a pretty decent 12-bar Blues. If you can play Blues, you can play Country. So that’s three types of music that I don’t even necessarily like that I can play along with if I had to.
I’ve jammed with so many different musicians before, it would take the rest of the article to talk about them. Yes, I’ve been in mainly Metal bands. But besides Metal and Romanticism, I can play a little of everything from the Ramones to Flamenco music.
Note that I don’t talk out of my ass. I take my own advice. If I tell you to jam with everyone, you can bet your ass that I’ve already done just that.
I can’t stress this enough. If you want to become a good guitarist, you have to practice daily. Every single day for the first few years without failure.
I distinctly remember other guitarists who have been playing longer than me who complained that I surpassed them. Their excuse is always the same – “you must be naturally talented.”
No, asshole. I practice daily. You get drunk.
I personally know plenty of people who complain that they’re not getting far enough on the guitar who find several hours a day to watch TV, but can’t find time to practice. Those people will never amount to anything. I can guarantee you that.
Don’t be one of those people. Practice every single day. No excuses.