Ah… the guitar. The endless joy that six (or more) strings can bring into somebody's life. You heard the music, you saw what your heroes played, you went online to check out the gear, and then you bought yourself a guitar and amp. Now, it’s just a matter of time until you too can grace stages with your power chords and contagious riffs.
And as we know, this might be true if you stick to practicing. You do practice, right? It’s quite the conundrum, but for some reason, many guitar players think of dozens of things they need to get better and forget practicing altogether. Here the top seven wrong assumptions for guitarists.
I need a specific guitar or piece of gear to get better
Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the world’s top guitar players insist on using their top-notch gear and instruments, most of their sound comes from themselves, not the gear. There are countless stories of guitar heroes switching to lesser gear and still sounding unequivocally like themselves. Joe Satriani on a cheap Squire Strat? Sounds like Joe Satriani. Pat Metheny on Russian-made unnamed guitar and amp? Sounds exactly like Pat Metheny.
Sure, it would be so nice to play through a 7 thousand dollars Ibanez guitar plugged into expensive pedals and amps. But guess what, if you can’t even bar chords correctly in your cheap guitar, you won't be able to do that either on an expensive one. Better gear does not make you a better player. Only practice does. Read that again and get to work.
I just don't have enough talent
This is one of the most common phrases for excusing yourself from doing the work it takes to get better. Yes, there is such a thing as talent, but now we know that working hard weight much more. After all, talent alone won’t cut it, you need to put in the work.
Some folks my tight that Steve Vai or Al Di Meola are gifted guitar players. But is you practiced about 10 hours a day for five years, every single day like Vai and Di Meola… you will become far better than everybody else around you.
I only play what I like
If you only play licks you already know over and over, you won't be making much progress. You need to get out there and learn new things constantly. It can be new licks, new songs, techniques, etc.
To move forward as a guitar player, you need to keep learning new things, constantly. If you do that consistently, you will be able to do things that you were not able to do before. That is what practicing is for.
My fingers are too short and fat
This one is a favorite of guitar and piano players. It is also related to the “I don’t have enough talent” assumption above. Again, practice will make you better, no matter what physical attributes you might or might not have. And remember, this is guitar playing. You are not trying to make the NBA, where if your size will dramatically affect your chances.
One of the greatest guitar players to ever lived was Django Reinhart. He is still a massive influence on guitar players all around the globe. Yet, his middle and ring finger were stuck together due to a fire accident. Google him, take a look at his burned hand and stop making excuses for yourself.
I’m good enough
One of the worst assumptions a musician can have. This is the exact opposite of what drives people to strive and get better. Even at a later stage in their career, world-renowned musicians still have a curiosity about the instrument and a constant desire to learn more. You might say that is the very essence of their success.
So you think you are the next Jimmy Page? Then you should practice as Jimmy Page did! When you think you are good enough, you immediately take away that drive to improve in the instrument. After all, if you are good enough, what is the point of practicing then?
I need inspiration to play
Inspiration is real. It is also extremely undependable. Waiting for inspiration to strike so you get to work is a fools’ errand. It might come for 15 minutes on Monday and 10 on Thursday and unfortunately, that's not gonna cut it. You need to play regularly. Oh, but how regularly? Everyday. Yup, that is the best answer. And understand that it is far superior to practice 30 minutes every day for six days than three hours once a week.
Can’t play every day? How about three or four times a week? If you can do that, you will still improve at a good rate as long as you are consistent with your practicing. Do not wait for inspiration to get to work. If you practice regularly, you will improve. And nothing is more regularly than every day.
Music theory will get in the way of soulful playing
Learning music theory will only help you as a guitar player. And you don’t need to learn that much music theory anyways; nobody is asking you to get a degree in Schenkerian analysis. But knowing how chords are constructed, how progressions work, form and scale relationships will take your playing to a higher level. You can use theory to your advantage, always
Wrapping it all up
It might seem that it’s easier to lie to ourselves instead of putting in the hard work during the year. But if you want to become even a decent guitar player, you need to face the truth and stop believing or repeating these assumptions. They are atrocious for your playing and your life in general.
After all, putting in the effort, overcoming obstacles and seeing the results can be an extremely rewarding journey. Many don’t have that vision and work ethic to become good at guitar. It is not something particularly easy. But your effort will be rewarded. And that is a beautiful thing.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned and…Peace Out!