Maybe you dream of being an incredible guitar player. The bright lights are blinding for a moment before flickering away. The stacked speakers projecting your flawless guitar playing. You look over to your band mates with a smile as you hear the roar of the crowd.
On your way to rock and roll fame, you might be dreaming right now of playing a small venue. The building packed with people who can’t wait to see you play and you’re having the time of your life. You might be thinking about recording your song and posting it online. There’s just one problem: you don’t believe you’re good enough!
Don’t worry if you’re not the greatest guitarist as most guitarists don’t need to be virtuosos to be in a band. It can be nerve-wracking to think about playing in front of an audience, no matter how big. But when are you good enough to perform?
Keep focused and ignore unhelpful people
The longer you play the guitar, you’ll inevitably come across people who like to tell you how great at guitar they are. You know the ones. They have an opinion about everything! They like to tell you how you need to know certain things to make you ‘a real guitar player’ like they have some sort of rule book you didn’t pick up. It may seem like you are a long way from being a proper guitarist, so why bother?
But answer this: who are your favourite guitar players? Be honest, are they from your favourite bands rather than from a ‘Top 10 Guitarists’ list? Are you more impressed by a well-crafted song compared to a solo guitarist doing a 20-minute solo with every technique under the sun, but no structure? If this the case, then why are you worried about being the next virtuoso?
It’s great to challenge yourself and get better at your craft, but don’t discount how amazing you can make three chords sound if you play them well.
Do you find yourself humming those short melodic solos rather than the longer more technical ones? A technical solo may impress other guitarists, but a great melody can become an earworm for everyone.
Build a solid foundation before worrying about the advanced stuff: don’t worry if you’re not the greatest guitar player.
I used to know guy who was considered an impressive guitar player. He could do all the fancy lead stuff like tapping and could play a lot of classic rock solos. Do you know what he couldn’t do? Play a simple chord pattern. There aren’t many songs you can play without playing any chords since the majority of songs are the basics. Don’t try and be a guitar hero before you can play the simple stuff, because you will always use the simple stuff.
If you aren’t the most technical guitar player in the world, that’s fine. You can learn those advanced techniques later. Focus on what you enjoy about the guitar. Some of the biggest musicians in the world play simple guitar parts (I’m sure you have learnt many of them already) but how great do they sound?
Focus on the basics: great rhythm, clear chords, crisp chord changes and playing in tune (watch those guitar bends). By having a solid foundation, you can then go ahead and go whichever direction you want. Do you want to keep playing like that or do you want to move onto more complicated stuff?
There are a lot of guitar players out there who learn the advanced techniques but have horrible timing and could never play in a band because of it. There are also guitarists who can play good solid solos as well as the rhythm. These are the ideal guitars for bands.
Don’t worry if you’re not the greatest guitarist in the world, remember most of your favourite guitar players aren’t the world’s greatest technical players either.