I needed to reexamine my musical motivation. There was a time when I could get by on awe and dreams, but perspective reared its ugly head and brought reality with it. Guitar and I have had great times together: the first time I played a G chord, the first song I wrote, and the first time I shredded across the fretboard, ending resoundingly with a piercing, vibrato-drenched pinch harmonic. The honeymoon's long over, though and my instrument and I have moved into seven-year itch territory. It seemed that there was nothing new in the guitar and there were no more hidden secrets in my fingers. I ignored the feeling until that fateful moment I noticed myself lusting over the luscious features of the latest edition of Cubase, contemplating the grooves I could make if I only had it and a simple MIDI keyboard. Revelation hit me like sneaker through a speaker cabinet. The time I never thought would come had arrived: I needed to take action and rejuvenate my relationship with the guitar.
When I listen to a rip-roaring, face-melting guitar solo, I want to emulate it. Even if that solo is, instead, a mindblowing jazz-fusion excursion, an impressive chord melody, or even just a toe-tapping funky groove, I reach for my guitar. There are songs that motivate me without fail. For example, Voodoo Chile, in any of its incarnations, electrifies my guitar-drive, and Comfortably Numb makes my fingers tingle. Sometimes it will be an amazing shred-fest video I've stumbled upon or a novel new album. Great guitar rarely ceases to ignite my guitar enthusiasm. Even if their skills are dwarfed by your own, others can provide motivation. Taking up teaching or spending time with an eager musician of any skill level or instrument will inject some guitar juice into your veins. There are guitarists and guitar music everywhere, and there's usually more than enough surplus enthusiasm dripping off for one to supplement themselves in those times when their own is waning.
Part of the initial enjoyment in playing the guitar comes from the constant learning and improvement. Eventually, however, it becomes painfully difficult to progress at that same speed. Guitarists have an uncanny number of possible paths to follow to become better, but it's terribly easy to stick to a few familiar ones and ignore the rest. Those licks and riffs you can play without thinking? They're mindlessly dull. Learn something fresh, maybe even something you think you'll despise. Regardless of the size, accomplishments drive more accomplishments, and the feeling of even slight progress is addictive.
Be A Polygamist
Contrary to what you may believe (and what my introduction may have alluded), you don't have to be limited to guitar. If you find that another instrument is more fitting, take consolation that your guitar ability will only aid in your endeavor. Perhaps you'll merely dabble in the new musical avenue, but when you return to the guitar you may find your mind expanded. It may be as simple as imitating other instruments with your guitar: the piano's left and right hand interaction, the funk of drums or a bass guitar; the twang of a banjo.
Boldly Throw Aside Your Inhibitions
Afraid of classical or jazz for fear of appearing pretentious? Terrified of hip-hop or dance music? Worried your shredding chops will melt the instant you leave them on the shelf for awhile? Music is not an identity, even though album covers often suggest differently.. One does not have to be a gangster to appreciate hip-hop or a redneck to listen to country. Granted, there is a lot of bad music and it may not always be worth it to wade through it until you find gold. Nonetheless, don't restrict your exploration out of fear of the unknown. When a sound strikes you as good, listen some more. If the song proves to be the product of a teen pop-idol, identify what aspect grabbed your attention and internalize it. You may instantly transform into a screaming prepubescent girl, but that will only make other guitarists more humiliated when you put them to shame.
Put Yourself Under The Microscope
The guitar's incredible versatility ensures that, even though every guy and his dog is a guitarist, one can excel without being an irritating repeat of other accomplished players. Nonetheless, many guitarists are indistinguishable from each other. Whether you dream of musical stardom or merely pursue the instrument as a hobby, you'll benefit from personalizing your playing. An expansive knowledge of guitar and music will help, as will an experienced ear. Steer your sound in the direction that will allow you to pursue those aspects of the guitar and music that you enjoy the most. If your musical drive is fueled by a desire for shredding in front of an ecstatic crowd, refine your chops and take steps to move towards that. If songwriting is what you go for, write songs and work on improving your musical craftsmanship. One can learn nearly endlessly as a guitarist, and no one can hope to learn everything. Once you're aware of what you most enjoy, there's simply no reason why you should not spend the majority of your time on it.
Virtually all guitarists eventually play themselves into a lull and lose their motivation. This musical ailment is relatively easily cured by taking a realistic inspection of the situation. Part of the attractiveness of playing an instrument is that musicians are never finished. As a guitarist, you will never run out of new things to play, and as a musician and listener, you will never explore all the sounds or angles available to you. If your tenure as a guitarist was an album, those times you feel you've reached a plateau are merely pauses between songs. Oh, and no one said the album couldn't be mind-bogglingly long and genius throughout.