Bits Of Wisdom For All Guitarists

An article that has observations and wisdom for all guitarists, beginners and all other players.

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I have always liked music, this has changed over my life, but I have always felt that I wanted to do something with music. So when I began to pick up interest in guitar, I felt that I would be doing that for the rest of my life, and I still do. Anyway I guess here are some of the things I learned along the way through my "journey" of guitar playing and music. Hopefully beginners and others can read this and get something out of it.

Play Guitar Because You Love It

Don't just pick buy one because your cousin, best friend, or the coolest kid in school did. If you really want to play guitar and pursue music like that, then do it. If you are doing it just because of popularity or "to be cool and trendy" or whatever, I would suggest not buying a guitar. Chances are you will just leave it sit around in a closet or under a bed. So all you really got out of it was a thinner wallet and 15 minutes of playing time. Make sure you are serious about playing guitar.

If you really like music, and want to make your own, pick up the guitar. I have seen so many people pick up a guitar to be "cool" and now they just leave it set. It is a shame. Having said this I have heard of people who have picked up a guitar because of family and have succeeded. Still, I don't really like that approach, but I can't stop you, and really I have no right to. And if you happen to pick up guitar because of the above reasons and do happen to succeed, congratulations. You went through with something and never gave up.

Here is a true story about a person I know. When I got my first electric guitar he got one too. He does this with other things too. He seems to follow me. Well, since then I have blossomed as a guitar player, becoming quite good (hate to brag). He on the other hand has barely learned anything. He has learned a couple of easy songs, mostly learned from me, and not much else. He can't even name a simple E, A, or G chord shape. He recently got a rather nice Dean acoustic guitar for a Christmas gift. It has been played maybe twice. Twice! The point is that he never tried to follow me, and ended up wasting time and money. Don't be like this, although if you are reading this article you are probably decently serious about guitar in the first place.

Take Lessons

"Well (insert guitarists name here) was self taught ". Yes, I am sure you have heard that, and if you haven't you will. But since you are not (insert same guitarists name here), and (insert name, again) is probably just a god (Hendrix) or sort of got lucky off of media attention (Cobain) you should probably take lessons. At least a few. I suggest taking lessons until you have learned a sufficient amount of music theory and have attained decent techniques and skills. This way you can learn more on your own. Personally, I don't think I would be as good of a guitar player today if I didn't take lessons. I would not know theory or have a grasp on advanced techniques. Trust me, lessons are a worthwhile investment. I have since stopped taking lessons, but still I look at my books I bought for learning and I still learn more about theory and guitar playing. Lessons gave me a good base to start on and I have built substantially on that base. Lessons are great!

Also, when taking lessons make sure that your teacher is goal oriented and does more than just teach you songs. He (or she) should be teaching you technique and theory, this way you will be able to develop yourself as a better musician. You will get your money's worth this way. You will become a better guitarist.

(*NOTE - The Cobain thing is not Nirvana bashing, I am just trying to get the point across that Cobain wasn't a great guitar player. I have always said he was a great songwriter and am a huge Nirvana fan.)

Learn More Than Just Your Favorite Songs/ Artists/ Genres

When I first picked up a guitar I wanted to play like Nirvana. That was what I wanted to do at the time. But then through listening to more music and taking lessons, I have expanded my musical "walls" gratefully. I went from wanting to play like Nirvana to wanting to play almost everything. By learning other genres of music you expand your musical knowledge and find ways to blend genres together. From wanting to play only Nirvana-like songs, I now want to mix Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Clapton, Santana, RATM, Allman Bothers, AC/DC, SRV, The Doors, ect. together. I want to do so much of everything. I have found that by learning a multitude of genres, you better yourself greatly. You will thank yourself for doing this. Your own personal songs will be better and you will be more able to play with others. Be open to other genres.

Learn Theory

"Do I really need to know theory"; " I don't like using theory/scales". Yes you have probably heard these. Well yes, you need to know theory, at least a sufficient amount of it. You need to learn scales. I have a friend who is supposedly in a band. He claims he doesn't use theory, hates scales, blah, blah. And he goes around claiming his greatness. So I am guessing this "said" band sucks. Yes, sucks. I have seen him play. He sucks. Why? Because he is a lazy piece of crap who never plays anything except power chords and learns one new song each year. But the point is he doesn't use theory. The lazy-ass will never become a great guitar player without some knowledge of theory or scales. You don't' have to know every last drop of theory (even though it wouldn't hurt) but enough to where you know what in the hell you are doing. Playing other peoples songs from Tabs only gets you so far. Learn scales. Learn theory. 'Nuff said.

Be Yourself

If you like classic rock and all of your friends like pop-punk, well don't change for them. Find others to play with. (And kick your friends ***** asses for liking pop-punk in the first place). If you make a Southern Rock band (god knows we need some more) or if you want to play the blues, make an alternative band, or play 20 minute jams, then do it. Being true to yourself is one of the greatest things you will do as a guitarist. This will also help you open up to other genres and will make you a better player. You will be more comfortable playing guitar. This also brings me to my next point:

Make Your Own Decisions

If you have ever been in the Electric Guitar forum here at UG you would have seen many people bashing and upholding different guitars. This is great; they have their own opinions, but don't let other's opinions dictate yours. Say you want to buy a Fender Standard Strat (yes I chose a popular topic). You have played one in a store and loved it. It fits your budget and it fits you. You post a topic about wanting to buy this. A couple of jackasses come along and chime in saying "standard strats suk, fender sux, get a (insert brand or guitar model here." (Well first off Standard Strats are good guitars and second of all these are probably people who are like the afore-said idiot who has complete disregard of theory). Is this going to affect your decision? No. It shouldn't. This goes along with being true to you.

Don't Try To Make A Serious Band With Your Friends Who Have No Talent Whatsoever

We all probably have a friend or two that have a guitar and are not that good at it. You want to start getting more serious and want him to be a part of it. Well, you find he drags you down. He doesn't know what he is doing. You get pissed. Ditch him! Be as nice as possible about it, but be straight with him. Tell him how you feel. Hopefully he will take it right. Find people who you mesh well with to start a band.

Record Yourself Playing

Use a tape recorder, computer, or whatever. Recording yourself playing is a great way to analyze your playing and if you like to write songs it is a great way to analyze them and make necessary adjustments. I do this. It works.

This is also a good way to play songs with two guitar parts. Such as a Pearl Jam song or something where you can record the rhythm and play lead over it. This is what I have done, it is great, especially if you have a metronome or drum machine.

Never Stop Wanting To Learn

Remember this. Write this down. I will even say it again. Never stop wanting to learn. The more you learn the better you will get, the better your music will get. For the third time. Never stop wanting to learn. The more you progress you will become more interested in guitar. People who become bored with guitar are usually not learning. Never stop wanting to learn.

And Most Important Thing: Keep Coming To UG

Well, duh. You should know this by now. This is the best place I have found to get tabs, learn random things, and to be part of a kick-ass forum. I guess this is more of an opinion, but yes, UG is the best guitar site on the net, hands down.

That's it for this article. I hope someone reads it and takes something from it. This along with other UG articles should be a help to many.

Never give up. Keep rocking on, - sjones

84 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Shoestick
    I agree with the expanding your musical horizons, but even those bands you listed were rather narrow-minded. If you truly want to be a versatile guitar player the go out and learn as much as possible. Blues, jazz, bossa nova, spanish, theres tons of great styles that you can learn and then go back and put into rock.
    mattbellamy
    thanks mate that helps do you think internet lessons can work? for someone whos skint lol
    green_man_gr
    awesome! this is the best artice i've read on UG for now. you're totally right. and i'm kind in your situation with my friend following me. i'm curious of how you've handled him. cause i don't wanna get rid of him, just that he'll stop copying me anyawwy man, good job
    JimmyJackrabbit
    stiff-upper-lip: well good article, we need more, yer ^ theory should be your next one, or techniques *cough* pinch harmonics *cough*...lol
    So far I've only found 1 pinch harmonics article on the net...and it wasn't great. Someone enlighten me...I can get em sometimes, but they don't always sound great.
    nc182
    great article. very helpful... dont like the bit on dissing pop-punk though... respect people's opinions on music.
    gibsonLP68
    DUDE. Hell Yeah. Thats one of the best articles out there.The only reason anyone should be playing guitar is for the passion. If u dont wanna be playin all the time and learning new things(and yeah u better learn all the scales or u arent getting anywhere)then guitar and music isnt ur thing. OH yeah the thing about the band. Hes right. If you wanna start a band with some friends, but nobody can play and they just act like, "yeah i got the bass but i gotta learn still and buy one" then just keep searching for someone else, also if they never talk about music or anything band-related just give up on them. KICK ASS article. ROCK n'Roll baby!! haha emo rocks tho
    Moto+_+
    WHOA! one of the best articles i have ever read....GREAT JOB!!!!!
    hololos
    Great Article. The bit where you told us to take guitar lessons...Hmmm, you made me change my mind, I took a few lessons in the beginning, then I was self-taught to what i am now, which is pretty good..I might go back and take guitar lessons...Great Article again!
    stiff-upper-lip
    well good article, we need more, yer ^ theory should be your next one, or techniques *cough* pinch harmonics *cough*...lol yer, its tru avin lessons does help you, i dont tink i would be as good as i am without avin lessons, well for one thing i wouldnt know bout half tha scales or shit i learnt. tink i might take em up again and learn how to rely rock out and solo....lol
    stunt
    man this article sux. lol jk no, it was good. About your next topic you should write about some basic theory that every guitarist should know *coughs* (pentatonic scales).
    SDGuitarist
    Again this article is 5 stars. I am very inspired to go and learn scales and theory now. Excellent arcticle.
    rocker_dude74
    guitar lessons dont help every1, infact, i HATE it when some1 tells me how to do something, i learned everything i know from this site actually, and, im so good at guitar now that the only thing thats better thatn playing guitar isgetting layed
    ChordProgressiv
    Great article, seriously useful stuff. I also record myself. As well as being a handy way of playing songs with two guitar parts, it helps me analyse the quality of my playing, and my singing, which I also record. Congrats on getting into the top 10 columns 2004.
    Im_the_ozzgurl
    rocker_dude74: guitar lessons dont help every1, infact, i HATE it when some1 tells me how to do something, i learned everything i know from this site actually, and, im so good at guitar now that the only thing thats better thatn playing guitar isgetting layed
    You're an ignorant fool. If you dont like people telling you how to do something, why the f*ck did you read the article? You're also the kind of guy who I wouldn't have sex with even if you were the last guy in the world. I hope you die of AIDS or Herpes. scumbag.
    Im_the_ozzgurl
    Dude... ::gulp:: you're... amazing... ::bows at feet:: I'M NOT WORTHY! I'M NOT WORTHY! keep up the good stuff
    Ark0n
    Can't really complain about your article. The only thing that I would have to say that wouldn't be entirely positive is that... and don't get me wrong - I'm a beginner. But shouldn't some of those points be general knowledge applied not just to music or the guitar, but anything that you are passionate about? Again, I'm very new to the guitar (actually the first instrument I've picked up, period) so correct me if I'm wrong here, but the original writer didn't say that the lessons must be the "official" or what ever you want to call it, kind. My best friend is teaching me (he's really skilled and passionate about his growth as a musician, I know he knows his stuff) and thus far I am finding it entirely more useful than I could imagine any lessons would be from an "official" paid tutor or what not. I've dipped into a little bit of alot of things, he's got me started on scales and technique, I don't know any theory yet, however I do take this seriously and the more I learn, the more I want to learn - making it inevitable that I will soon be inquiring about theory and genres I haven't played and such. I really did like this article, very good subject matter and relevance and - though I'm a beginner - I can see the validity in all of your points. I'd also like to suggest, for any of you lyricists out there, "Lyrics Generating" (Columns/General/Lyrics Generating) by Jetman. Deserves the same respect as this article, two of the few articles I feel better about having read. I would like a theory article, if at least touching down on beginning theory but that may just be me =D
    acillatem
    Cool Article man. I played Cello for two years before I picked up the guitar (I'm 14), So I had a pretty big background in all the technical stuff about music. like cleffs and time sigs. and what not. But yeah, Good Article.
    tiffchin
    haha... i agree with ppl who say that lessons are good... i used to take classical guitar lessons, but i stopped (for a few reasons). when i started lessons again, i was assigned to another teacher and this one was way better than my previous teacher. this teacher actually bothered to ask me what kind of music i was into, and in the first lesson, he took me to the elec guitar room to let me try it out, even tho i paid for classical guitar lessons, and i found out that i really loved the elec guitar. haha! i'm still taking lessons from him, and currently, i'm learning the pentatonic scales... hehe.. but don't get me wrong, i love my classical guitar to death and play on that more than i do with my elec... good article man... props
    Ash_Lawrence
    Cool article, and nice brutal honesty about Kurt. Possibly the most over rated GUitarist in the world (but yeah kickass song writer and general musician)
    chinko
    lol at ^. i played bass cos i was attempting to play my bro's guitar (who is one of those 'cool' people), i went and purposely bought a cheap bass and taught (spellin?) myself how to play, and now im searchin for a band. all i need to learn is all the theory when i can be bothered, also lessons are incredibly overpriced around here so the internet lessons are my only option. oh yeh 5* BRILLIANT article, i want more like this
    numetaldude
    excellent, excellent article! most of the stuff is very true! i had an experience when my best friend felt left out whenever his girlfriend and I started talking about guitar chord shapes and stuff, so he decided to buy a guitar which cost twice mine, and take lessons.. which cost like 4x the lessons i took.. so in a few months, he quit his lessons and gave his guitar to his girlfriend! hahahaha! poor guy....
    Ibanezno1
    Good Article, agree with most of the stuff especially abt not picking up guitar to be cool....i fuc*ing hate ppl like that But I dont think that you have to take lessons as such I mean if your dedicated enough then you can learn to be good on your own, plus the internet is a huge help for new guitarists Allin all though good article
    WhiteKnight123
    i disagree with idea you have to have formal lessons, learning from friends, internet etc has made me one of the best guitar players i know, and lessons help but you can save money and just learn off other soruces, you have ot be serious though, just like you said
    civildp1
    Good article but not struck on the 'get lessons' bit. I took lessons and the teacher kept trying to get me to play flamenco and shit when I wanted to rock out like Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain, Jonny Greenwood and Joey Santiago! Books teach you the basics and then you can go and get tabs from UG and learn songs you wanna actually play!
    thats not about lessons its about the teacher. Best article ever. Just a little tid bit, Cobain took lessons but I get the point.
    Wasp
    Good article, in my opinion. Every 'new' player should read it. Good job.
    Oswald
    Taking Lessons is good. I dont got the opurtunity but when i see a chance, I will take it.....
    BeatnikBop
    good article. i took lessons for a while and learned a little theory but never really got motivated to learn scales. like your article says, you can only go so far with only learning from tabs. thats where im at. this definately motivates me to learn some scales now. thanks.
    Maverick49
    Good article but not struck on the 'get lessons' bit. I took lessons and the teacher kept trying to get me to play flamenco and shit when I wanted to rock out like Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain, Jonny Greenwood and Joey Santiago! Books teach you the basics and then you can go and get tabs from UG and learn songs you wanna actually play!