Here's another excellent article by Peter Jones. This is the formula to follow to become the best guitarist you can be.
The Great Guitar Playing Secret
By: Peter Jones
So, you want to be a guitar player huh? You want to strut like
Chuck Berry, be as cool as Keith Richards, rock like Jimi
Hendrix and astound like Steve Vai. You want to wake up in the
morning a beginner and go to bed at night an expert. You want to
be hero-worshipped and have people chant your name. Idolised,
admired, remembered and revered. You want your money for nothing
and your chicks for free. You want all that and more!
Good for you! You have ambition; fire in your belly and a lion
in your heart. It takes a lot of gusto to want to be a great
guitarist. I wish you well and hope you achieve your dreams many
Now that we've established that you want to be a great guitar
picker, how would you feel if I said I know the secret of being
a great guitar picker? Furthermore, how would you feel if I told
you I was going to share that secret with you right now, free of
charge? I suppose you would think there's a catch and that
really I just want to sell you something. Well, it's true that I
do have an on-line store that sells great guitar tutorials. It's
also true that I would love you to visit and buy everything in
the shop. However, that's not why I'm going to share this secret
with you. No way, I have another reason for giving you this
When I was starting out playing the guitar, I always wished that
I could have known somebody who could already play and could
teach me a few things. Unfortunately, in those early days I
didn't know anybody that played. I had to struggle along trying
to learn chords, scales and arpeggios from the printed page. I
used to worry about whether I was holding the guitar correctly,
or if I was putting my fingers on the correct fret or string. A
lot of it was pretty much hit and miss. More often than
not.....it was miss!!
For that reason, I would like to offer some advice to guitar
players that are just starting out. If you promise to listen and
take notice of my advice, I promise I will share with you the
secret of becoming a great guitar player. Deal? Ok, settle down
with cold can of fizzy pop, and read on......
I'm going to list these pieces of advice one by one in a
bulleted list. Remember, the deal is you read and digest the
information and then I will tell you the great guitar playing
secret. Press your focus and concentration buttons.........Now!!
1. BUY A GUITAR TUNER AND TUNE UP! If you don't know anybody who
can tune the guitar for you, and you can't yet tune it yourself,
then you need to invest in a tuner. Do this today! Don't
struggle along on a guitar that sounds like elastic bands on a
shoebox. You will not get any enjoyment whatsoever from an out
of tune guitar. So, piece of advice number 1 - Tune it and keep
2. CONSIDER LESSONS! When beginning anything in life, it is good
to get off on the right foot. A teacher, a mentor, an advisor,
call it what you will. To teach is one of the most fantastic
things we can do. Find a teacher that takes great pride in what
he does. Usually the best ones are found by word of mouth. Ask
people, make enquiries, e-mail, telephone, write a letter,
anything it takes to find the right person. Remember, no matter
how good you get there is always somebody who can teach you
something new. Hiring a teacher is not just for when you are
starting out, it is something you should consider throughout
your guitar playing life. A good teacher will advise you on
technique, theory, performance, attitude and practicing. He or
she will set you goals and reward you when you accomplish them.
He or she will also explain the small things such as the
importance of using a metronome in your studies, keeping your
instrument clean and changing strings. Advice number 2 - Find a
3. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE............BUT NOT TOO MUCH!!
What does that mean "Practice, but not too much?" Well, if we
want to get good at anything then obviously we do need to
practice. With regards to learning the guitar, we need to get
our hands to play the right notes in the right way. Although
great technique takes a lot of time, effort, commitment and
PRACTICE, we need to be aware of when to draw the line.
Sometimes we can get that wrapped up in something that we are
interested in; we can forget that there are other things in
life. Our family, our friends, sports, the theatre, cinema,
books, etc... Advice number 3 - Practice to get good, but chill
out and relax to get even better! 4. KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO LEARN
AND ITS IMPORTANCE TO YOU NOW!! There are so many things to
learn on the guitar that it is inevitable that you will get
distracted. Chords, scales, arpeggios, licks, tunes, exercises
etc... They all have to be learnt as they are all important. If
you realise the importance of learning these things before you
start to practice them, you will stand a better chance of
keeping your focus and completing your studies. If you are
learning a new chord for example, think about why it is
important that you learn the chord. How will it benefit you? How
will it help you to advance? How will it help you to evolve into
a better musician? Everything you learn is important, understand
its importance. Advice number 4 - Make sure you know the
relevance of everything you need to learn.
5. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!! Ok, this piece of advice has two
parts. The first part means listen to a lot of music. Try and
have many influences. Remember, there is no bad music, only bad
musicians. Be open to jazz, blues, rock, funk, pop, country,
classical, anything! We can learn such a lot by listening. It
plays a major part in our musical development. The second part
of this piece of advice involves you training your ears. Try to
learn to recognise chords just by the sound they make. Be aware
of the subtle differences between a 7th chord and a 9th chord.
It takes a long time to be able to do this properly. Stick with
it and don't worry when you get them wrong. Each time you try,
you improve a little bit more. Advice number 5 - Use those ears!!
6. PLAY WITH OTHER PEOPLE!! Join a band or form a band as soon
as you can. You will learn so much from playing with other
people. Put an advertisement in a music shop advertising your
services as a guitar player. Don't worry if you don't feel
ready, do it anyway. The experience will be priceless!
Everything improves when you play regularly with other
musicians. Your time, your feel, your technique, your
confidence, EVERYTHING! Make sure you do this at the earliest
opportunity! Advice number 6 - Take the licks out of your room
and into a band!!
7. LEARN YOUR THEORY!! Ok, your guitar teacher will probably
stress the importance of this to you. The more theory you learn,
the more your guitar playing will improve. Learn chord
construction, diatonic harmony, learn about triads, intervals,
major scales, relative minors, modes, etc... A lot of guitar
players don't like studying theory. Make sure you are not one of
them. Advice number 7 - Read lots of music theory books!!
8. VISUALISE!! A lot of people do not realise how powerful a
tool this is. There is nothing you can't do in your mind!
Visualisation will not improve your technique. The only way to
improve technique is to sit down and play for long hours.
Visualisation helps in other ways. It helps you commit things to
your long term memory. Use it when learning chords, scales,
arpeggios, songs, in fact, anything. There is however, a time
and a place for visualisation. You can use it while travelling
on a bus, waiting for your date to turn up, while falling asleep
at night, sunbathing or relaxing. You must NOT use it while
doing anything that requires your full attention. For example;
driving, using tools, cooking and riding you bicycle. You get
the idea, right? Also, do not ever think that visualisation is a
substitute for hands on practice - it isn't! You have to do that
as well. Advice number 8 - Practice in your mind!!
9. BE INQUISITIVE!! The more you play the more chance you have
of meeting other guitar players. Never, ever be afraid to ask
them questions even if they haven't been playing as long as you
have. We learn off everybody. Ask probing questions to see how
they developed their technique. Check out the chord shapes they
use. If you see one that you don't recognise, ask them what it
is. Remember your job is to improve your playing at every
opportunity - do your job! Advice number 9 - Ask lots of
questions and you'll get lots of answers!!!
10. SMILE!! Sometimes the stress of being a practicing guitar
player can get us down. Maybe a lick you are working on just
isn't happening, or no matter how hard you try you just cannot
execute a new scale properly. This is normal. Sometimes it's
better to put the instrument down and come back to it later on.
Never, ever let it get you mad and never, ever get frustrated.
Fight back at these challenging situations with a big smile. Try
it now, right this minute. Think of something that is bothering
you although deep down you know it isn't important. Visualise
it. Ok, hold it there and.......SMILE! Laugh even. Not just a
chuckle but a big laugh right from your belly. Go on, feels
good, doesn't it? Treat your guitar playing challenges in
exactly the same way. Deep down you know they aren't really that
important. Tomorrow is another day. I'm not saying don't take
your guitar playing seriously; just stop and smell the flowers
now and again. Be optimistic, be bold, be the best you can be
and........smile!! Advice number 10 - Playing the guitar is fun
- Enjoy it!!
There you go, that's my advice to you.
Right, all that's left for me to do is tell you the great guitar
playing secret. Are you ready? Well, don't tell anybody but the
secret of being a great guitar player
. .......in everything you've just read!! Sorry guys, but there
ain't no shortcut to greatness. If you follow the 10 pieces of
advice I've just given you then you won't go far wrong. I still
haven't achieved it and I may never will. One thing is for sure,
I'm gonna keep on plugging away, and, who knows, maybe one day
I'll get pretty close. The fun is in the trying.
So, you want to be a guitar player huh? You bet your life I
About the author:
Peter Jones is the Managing Director of Jack Sky Ltd. Jack Sky
is based on the banks of the River Mersey in the great city of
Liverpool. The company is dedicated to providing excellent
guitar tutorials to advancing guitar players.