When you’re learning how to play guitar, sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Especially in this day and age, there are so many guitar resources out there – for guitar chords, guitar scales, guitar tabs, easy guitar songs, guitar music theory – it’s hard to know where to look and what guitar advice is good advice.
Well, you know that these next three pieces of advice are worth reading because they come from three of the greatest guitarists of all time. Trust me, these guys know a thing or two about guitar playing, and these three quotes are things you need to hear.
Whether you started out teaching yourself guitar or bass, or are on the verge of going pro, you should take what these guys are saying to heart because these are the things that separate the great from the good.
Jimmy Page: Find What Makes You Unique
“I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.”
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page knows a thing or two about distinctive guitar playing. Even to the uninitiated, his riffs are instantly recognizable.
The take-home from this quote is simple. If you want to make a real impact as a guitar player, then you need to work out what you can offer that no-one else can.
Plenty of would-be guitar heroes out there spend their hours attempting to imitate whatever style is en vogue at the time they’re playing. But the true greats aren’t the ones that follow the trends; they’re the ones that set them.
Being a great guitarist requires a bit of soul searching. Don’t just jump on the band-wagon. Take a breather and work out what you really want to say with your playing. It’s when you do that that people will start to take notice.
Eddie Van Halen: Rock-stardom vs. Being a Musician
“If you want to be a rock star or just be famous, then run down the street naked, you’ll make the news or something. But if you want music to be your livelihood, then play, play, play and play! And eventually you’ll get to where you want to be.”
This classic quote from Eddie Van Halen is one that every would-be shredder should read on the first day they pick up the guitar. Any jerk can act like a rock star –as EVH notes; it’s as simple as running down the road with your pants off. But, being a real musician means putting in the hours.
There’s a time and a place for rock star antics. But that comes after you’ve got the foundations of your playing down. If you clown around without the chops to back it up, then you’re just a clown. And being a talentless clown won’t get you far as a guitarist.
Marty Friedman: “Get Out There and Play”
“People should stop wasting time on exercises; you might think early on they help with getting used to moving fingers, but to be honest, there’s not one that’s loads better. These are all mechanical things. If I want to warm up, I’ll play anything at all… it really does not matter.
Don’t even spend a quarter of your time on this tips stuff. Get out there and play in bands to anyone you can. That’s how you find out how to play well. In your bedroom, you won’t have the right stimulus to play for real and avoid f–k-ups. Mechanical stuff is great if you’re Billy No Mates; otherwise, put pressure on yourself by getting out there!”
Ex-Megadeth man Marty Friedman is a hero to many, and there are plenty of people who consider him one of the best technical guitarists working today. But, a huge part of Friedman’s success comes because he doesn’t prize technicality over feel. And, he prioritizes the importance of real-world experience over bedroom warrior antics. That’s very apparent in this interview with Music Radar, where he dispels the myth of endless shred exercises.
Scales and exercises will get you so far, but the real learning experience for a guitarist starts when you’re with other musicians. So get out of the house, start posting some adverts and take your playing to the next level through real, human interaction.