I'm an intermediate guitarist and I practice daily in my quest to get "good". But let's say tomorrow, hypothetically, I were a professional session guitarist laying down tracks for some huge band with a big name producer and all that.

These are, basically my skills:

- Open chords
- Barre chords
- Single-note lead melodies (with the occasional double stop and the usual legato techniques, of course)
- Triads (although I've still only learned about 15% of them)
- A handful of jazz chords, although I'm not hugely comfortable with them yet

In addition, I can pull a few tricks while strumming; I've got the "karate chop" for percussive, beat-like strumming, I can pluck out notes (especially the bass note) in between strums for a bluegrass-style sound, and I have a basic grasp of Hendrix-style barre chord embellishments (although I'm still working on that).

I know the above is still all a drop in the bucket. So...

What are some of the other kinds of techniques I might be expected to perform in order to play the kind of guitar that easily blends into a larger mix? It's one thing to play solo, where all you might have to do is strum giant, chunky chords while singing. But what if there are 12 other instruments and all sorts of effects and stuff? What kind of tricks would I be expected to wheel out to make my guitar part a more mixable, manageable element? Or what if they want a lead style that's got some specific personality or presence to it? Or whatever. Electric, acoustic, either one.

Basically I'm looking for as long a list as possible of the kind of general techniques beyond my modest intermediate toolbox that a pro guitarist would regularly be expected to know, to help guide my future practice strategies. Anything would be great. Thanks!
Last edited by dragnet99 at Aug 13, 2013,
Of course, my point wasn't to suggest that I'm actually planning on pulling this off tomorrow. I'm just trying to get a more comprehensive idea of the range of techniques that separate an intermediate with a couple years of experience from a pro. You know, so I can slowly work on bridging that divide.

As an example of what inspired my question, I know that guitarists, both live and in the studio, often play more "lightweight" versions of chords so they better fit into a mix of instruments. So does that mean that a traditional barre chord might be replaced with an equivalent triad? Or some 4-string movable chord that has a bit less harmonic weight to it? That's just an example of the kind of thing I'd expect, but I know there are 10,000 others I haven't even thought of (and not necessarily related to chords).
If you want to be a session guitar player you're gonna have to be able to read some music, and especially read rhythms. you have to have really good rhythm and be able to make up really good rhythms. Things you play have to feel good.
I would suggest that you learn how to play lots of genres/styles. Emulate Famous guitarists to an extent. Reading music, yes standard notation, is necessary. How to get various tones out of your equipment. I would also recommend having a feel for certain effects and what they do to the overall mix. Eg. compression, reverb (adding reverb to a track that is going to be mixed properly is a very touchy topic)

A fine tuned ear for pitch is a great asset. Now, I would also recommend developing a skill you have not though about, communication. You will have circumstances arise that you will need to communicate very clearly to your clients. You will also have to have the skill to get them to do the same to you.

I would also recommend reading up on everything you can about your soon-to-be co-workers jobs. It is really nice to know what a recording, mixing, mastering engineers and the producer does. You can see the whole picture and where you fit in.

I also aspire to be a session musician, so I have looked into it too. Hope this helps
This is a pointless thread, as a session guitarist you could be asked to play anything and everything, that's the whole point. However it's safe to assume you'd spend less time playing traditional guitar-based genres like rock and metal and more time playing stuff like pop and easy listening. You also need to know how to sight read music and have a good understanding of theory. If you turn up to a gig and can't do so something you're asked to do you won't get another one.

I'm not leaving a thread open that's basically asking "please list every technique on the guitar" though.
Actually called Mark!

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