Five Steps To Start Playing Guitar Professionally
by Rodrigo Sanchez, Aug 17, 2020 . 4 min read
Turning your hobby into your profession is quite a leap. There is very little pressure in playing for fun. But for a professional guitarist, every gig is a serious matter. After all, you will be getting paid according to your abilities and the realities of the market you’re in.
And hope that at the end of the month you can cover your bills. After all, most professional guitar players are not Slash. So take a deep breath and carefully read through if you want to turn your hobby into a profession. Here are the five steps to start playing guitar professionally.
Be well prepared, very well prepared
I cannot overstate the importance of this. You need to be able to play beyond just “good enough” in order to be a professional. That means practicing (more on that later). Develop an incessant quest to be better. Always look for ways to improve. You also need to have the right equipment for the job. That means that your Bluetooth speaker/amp won’t do. Invest in the right guitar, amp, effects, cable, picks, strings, tuner, etc. Do not skimp here.
What is your goal? Will you focus on playing on rock cover bands? Great! That means you need to know about 100 rock classics. And know them well from top to bottom, no mistakes. Or perhaps you want to be a studio musician? That one is gonna take a lot more practice, preparation and a lot more gear. Nowadays, most studio guitarists work from home. You will need to have a recording setup to at least track guitars. Studio guitarists are highly skilled, especially in big cities. As hard as it sounds, try to be realistic about your goal.
Playing guitar professionally will require from you to be in tip-top shape. Dominate scales, arpeggios, chord inversions, solos, etc. Only you can know best what to practice. It will depend on what type of guitar player you are. Just know that in the professional world, a minimum of two hours of daily practice is standard. And that’s just to be in playing shape. If you are still reading, know that there is no way around this one. Still there? Hello?
Consider becoming semi-professional
This might be the best tip on this list. Join a local band, rehearse until you sound tight. Try to book gigs that pay money instead of beers. Already doing that? Fantastic! Now book a series of gigs that pay well. That means everybody in the band gets at least one hundred American Dollars. Do that consistently for at least five months. I don’t want to hear any excuses, just do it. No can do? Perhaps what you really want is to be semi-professional. Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t quit your day job.
Develop realistic expectations
If you want to start playing guitar professionally you will have to deal with the business side of things. You will need to know how much to charge. You will have to learn when to say no. Know that you will have bad gigs. What happens when you play and the person that hired you does not pay? Know this: few things are more seductive than playing guitar for a living. Which is why this field is flooded with people. And only the very best rise to the top. And I’m talking about the local level, in your very own hometown.
When it comes to music, too much emphasis is put on talent. And of course, many think they have the goods to become professional guitar players. Let me state this in other terms; just because you like to play basketball for fun, does not mean you can join the NBA. If you decide this is the path you want, be ready. Prepare yourself like you are going to war because you are. After all, you can be mediocre in many professions and still earn a living. Guitar playing is not one of them.