By: George Nellas
Today it seems that everyone is trying to be the next best
guitarist. So many people dream of playing in a legendary band
or being the next Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen, and have the
innate desire to learn the instrument inside and out and be able
to express their own style and play many different types of
No matter what any advertisement for a guitar course or private
instructor states, there are no shortcuts to mastering the
guitar, and no guarantee of stardom even after mastery. There
are basic skills that must be learned in order to get the most
out of the instrument that memorably fantastic guitarists have
achieved through hard work and many years in the business of
accruing various types of musical knowledge.
There are seven major abilities that are critical to the
development of any player that truly wants to become not only an
excellent guitarist, but also an excellent musician:
The greatest guitarists put an effort into fully understanding
the underlying techniques of guitar playing. Too many people try
to mimic a great guitar sound, merely doing whatever it takes to
copy it, rather than getting to know the underlying technical
applications that go into making the sound.
Playing in tune and keeping the instrument in tune is critical
to good guitar playing. Everyone has heard a band play live or
even on a recording that doesn't quite hit the mark in the
tuning category, and the results can be painful and sound
For many, the desire to become a guitarist is based on some
natural creative talent or inspiration that begs to be
developed. But many with this natural affinity for music and for
the guitar in particular mistake "inspiration" for skill and
musicianship. Just because someone has the talent to play the
guitar does not necessarily mean he/she needs less practice than
a person for whom music might not come as naturally.
Musicianship, or artistry in performing music, is another
essential ability for a guitarist, and like any other skill,
takes concentrated practice and effort to fully develop.
Another essential ability for great guitar playing is creativity
as it relates to flexibility. As mentioned previously,
creativity is both a cause and effect of musicianship and
practicing. But by practicing being creative by improvising with
basic technique on a regular basis, a guitarist will learn the
critical tool of flexibility.
5. EAR TRAINING
Some claim that ear training is the single most important part
of being a great guitarist. It certainly does bring the ability
to process all the other skills - flexibility/creativity, quick
technique implementation, musicianship and even others such as
stage presence/confidence, but it is one of the more complex
skills to learn because it takes a lot of different types of
practice, particularly for those without natural aural abilities.
6. STAGE PRESENCE/CONFIDENCE
Stage presence and confidence are tied in with personality and
natural charisma, but even more so with practice and knowledge
of basic techniques and all the other skills mentioned that make
up a great musician and guitarist.
Practice is a difficult necessity for being an outstanding
guitarist because it demands time, but it is also the most
obvious way to tie in all elements of great guitar playing.
Practice is simply allowing time to implement the techniques and
musicianship, the ear, the confidence and all other elements of
the guitar and the guitarist as they develop.
There are different opinions about what is the most important
"skill" to learn in order to truly excel at the craft of guitar
playing, but a lot claim there is no one skill that can exist
alone or is all-important - all work together like puzzle pieces
to create a whole, functioning being capable of growth,
innovation and inspiration.
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