This will not make you a better guitar player

I can remember quite clearly struggling with guitar in hand trying desperately to learn some new skill thinking I would never get anywhere and if I did it would be years, most likely decades. Then I can remember getting lost in gear and articles about gear and the idea that gear could make the difference. It never did. The only difference it made was I had some expensive piece of something that only amplified or saturated, with multiple effects, or both my minimal abilities. I almost just put the whole thing down.
But then I started working over things and realized it was not the end of the attempt at being a good guitarist. I just had to focus in on something basic and master it. Also I had to find a person who could send me in the right direction.
I had very few lessons, formal ones that is, in my time with my instrument, but I have had numerous, like too many to count, times where I played with another guitarist and probably should have slipped them some money just for the privilege of playing with them and picking up the things I learned.
If you are going to start down the road of guitar player/god to be remember, first, that the road is long. But there are some road signs you should heed.
1) Play with those better than you. This works for just about any endeavor which requires skill
2) Listen to others who are regarded as legend or whose style strikes you. Also remember you can learn a great deal from just about anyone if you listen.
3) Do some theory work by actually reading the lessons in guitar magazines or online or wherever and start getting the “why this is this way” ideas. I think a little theory goes a long way.
4) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Stretch out there. Even if you are at a jam, on a stage, and you make a flub there is no trap door that is going to open and suck you down to a torture chamber. Though this might not be a bad idea in some situations, it most likely will not happen. But the mistakes you make will teach you something.
5) In the same light of #4 Play in front of people live and preferably in some type of venue type setting. Playing live if the best practice in the world, here is why I believe this to be so: the noodle factor. When you are sitting alone, playing or just dorking around it is more relaxed and you tend to play scale patterns or noodle things over and over because they are comfortable and fun. Also we humans like to feel proficient so playing things we are good at, no matter how overplayed they are, makes us feel good. Playing in a rehearsal adds the element of focus that is greatly missing from this and live there is no room for anything but the structure of the performance. Hence the term Show Time.
6) Read auto bio or bios about musicians, not even always guitar players. One of my favorite books and one which taught me a great deal intellectually as a musician was Really Blues by Mizz Mizzrow who was a proficient, albeit not masterful, clarinet player from the golden age of jazz. I think many musicians, at least I have noticed with guitar players, make the mistake of being instrumentally provincial and look down or fail to learn from the other instruments. This is a bad mistake,first of all, from a learning perspective as it discounts the true purpose or possibilities of making music and second of all you are negating a dearth of information which could only help you learn.

If you ever think for one minute that money and expensive gear will do it here is the reality: this will not make you a better guitar player.
To me there was always a beauty about the utter ability of a guitar to be a divining element where desire and practice met with love of music and skill to make a guitar player. As long as you have a guitar that works then there is very little that separates you from even those bearing thousand dollar axes. A great player is a great player and in the same vein it always feels so rewarding to be able to do something which you know, as you are doing it, that very few people, if any, can do. They also cannot buy their way into doing it, they have to truly earn it.

Go practice your guitar!


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