#1
During my formative years, I never really had “guitar heroes” that I looked up to. Not to say that there weren’t guitar players that I admired, just that these guys wouldn’t be considered (especially around here) masters of the six-string. I guess you could say that instead of having “guitar heroes”, I had “guitar average Joes”. Growing up, I listened to (and still do listen to) guys like Kurt and Billie Joe- not Yngwie and Guthrie. The musical culture of the time definitely made an impression on me, as, I’ve always found myself gravitating towards the “three-chords-and-the-truth” genres that tend to eschew technicality for musicality.

Ever since I’ve started my guitar journey, I’ve been bombarded by resources teaching you how to “Become a guitar god!”, or “Gain massive speed!” If that’s what you’re into, more power to you, and I certainly respect your goals, (in fact, I’ve found some of Jason Becker’s work quite tasteful, actually) but it’s just never been something that I wanted for myself. The fact that such a vast majority of the output of guitar information today seems in direct opposition of my personal goals has really begun to make me feel a lacking in direction or purpose as a musician. Worse still, I think that I’ve really gotten in a rut stunted my development as a musician by deliberately avoiding anything that has even a hint of this “guitar god” mentality… foolish and counterproductive, I know.

A while ago, I came across a quote from Keith Richards about how he avoids trying to be the “fastest gun in the West” in favor of being a more well-rounded musician- something really resonated with me as a guitarist. I desperately want to develop myself as a musician, just not too much (or rather, too vertically, if that makes sense). To fall into the old cliché, “New year, new me”. So where would I like to see myself go as a guitarist? With rhythm playing, I’d like to be adept at a variety of styles (again, “three-chords-and-the-truth&rdquo from punk to blues- some of which can, admittedly, be relatively technical. As far as lead playing, I’d like to see myself approaching the skill of, say, Angus Young. The problem, though, is that aside from obvious areas like behind-the-back two-handed tapping (OK, that was maybe an exaggeration), I’m not entirely sure what skills aren’t necessary for my development, and more important, what skills are necessary to work on. With the exception of blues, there doesn’t seem to be information on practice routines for the other genres that interest me such as folk, country (the older stuff in the style of Hank Williams), and (especially), punk- Johnny Ramone was famous for rejecting any sort of practice. So, having said all of that, my question for you guys is: how can I set myself on a path towards becoming a good guitarist while avoiding the “risk” of becoming a “guitar god”?

I’m finding it a bit difficult to articulate my thoughts without more venting, so I’ll enclose a link that more or less (aside from the “fortune and fame” bit) covers my thoughts.

http://myguitaraddiction.com/2014/05/07/be-good-but-dont-be-too-good-of-a-guitar-player/

TL;DR: How can I set myself on a path towards becoming a good guitarist while avoiding the “risk” of becoming a “guitar god”?

I hope my post wasn’t too long and rambling- thanks in advance for any help you can offer!
#2
There are essentially two types of guitarists. "The gunslinger" and "The Sideman". One is all about the fastest gun... and them. The other is all about the music and musical interpretation. Surely there are other iterations but these are the most common. EVH, Vai, Malmsteen are gunslingers. Keith Richards, The Edge, and Mike Campbell are sidemen. I appreciate the gunslinger but prefer to listen to the sideman. In the end I think being a gunslinger gets tiresome. There is always someone faster. Always.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#3
you want to be an overall guitar player then do it. instead of concentrating totally on any one aspect work on them all. really you should start with rhythm guitar concepts and build from there. songs are mainly rhythmic in nature so that is a good place to start. it's really not that hard to not be a guitar hero, i've been very successful for over 30 years . don't avoid lead playing but rather find your voice and work that in. i spent a fair bit of time in the mid 80s to early 90s trying to be a shred king. thing was i just really aint that guy. once i started to go with what was actually coming out of me playing wise i was a much happier player. this isn't to say i can't burn a lick when desired but it's not my main focus. write songs and don't worry if they are "great" just do it.
#4
You set yourself a path by practicing what you like. Folk and Country like you mentioned come from an aural tradition, just like old traditions like jazz and blues does. They learned from copying the musicians they liked and by developing that material further.

The best practice routine is in your record collection.

I was very much a "speed for speeds sake" kind of guy in my teens. Fortunately my taste became better and more well rounded. Although i am guilty of doing some fairly technical things nowadays, it is no longer because of the need of playing fast. It is because i have something to say that occasionally requires me to do so, and that is something i have picked up from my heroes. (My record collection of musicians i look up to, such as Charlie Parker and Clifford brown)

But yeah, the best things you can do are:

1. Learn music you love from records, by ear.
2. Learn to understand how that music works (theory).
3. Make your own exercises/etudes/studies from things you learn from records.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 forever.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

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#5
Quote by Cajundaddy
There are essentially two types of guitarists. "The gunslinger" and "The Sideman". One is all about the fastest gun... and them. The other is all about the music and musical interpretation. Surely there are other iterations but these are the most common. EVH, Vai, Malmsteen are gunslingers. Keith Richards, The Edge, and Mike Campbell are sidemen. I appreciate the gunslinger but prefer to listen to the sideman. In the end I think being a gunslinger gets tiresome. There is always someone faster. Always.

Honestly, I think this is a silly dichotomy to impose on other players. Everyone's making music for themselves (whether that's for the meaning or for the means, as it were), and I think it's somewhat disrespectful to put those labels on people.

I think the key things if you want to be an interesting player are (a) obviously never forget the rhythm playing is the basis for everything important and (b) try things miles out from what you normally would, and see how you can apply that to what you usually play. As long as you're practicing stuff that challenges you, you're developing. My example would be trying to learn Chet Atkins' rendition of "Mr Sandman" a few months ago. Can I play it? Well, at very least I can make some of it sound reasonably musical, and my fingerstyle is leagues better for it. It's pretty simple, when you listen to something, there'll always be things that stand out and make you wonder "How does so-and-so make that bit sound like that? How can I do that?" Then you do your research, learn it, and apply it.
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#6
Thanks for the replies, guys!

Sickz: Great suggestions, I'll definitely keep them in mind.
#7
Hi JakeP,

I understand your thoughts, but keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to make Music, it really doesn't matter if you're fast or not. In regards to virtuosity, one can be a rhythm virtuoso, eg Ross Bolton or Joe Pass among others and a good solo doesn't have to be fast (actually normally it isn't)

I believe the industry is towards selling and talking about 'fast' stuff just because it is what sells the most, but if you do some research you'll find good material not related to this "rockstar attitude".

I also agree with Sickz suggestions and the site MyGuitarAddiction is quite interesting!

But it doesn't mean I don't have my heroes too: Harry K. Cody and Steve Stevens are my favs from that era.

--[ KenA ]--
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#8
+1 for what Cajundaddy said. "I appreciate the gunslinger but prefer to listen to the sideman. In the end I think being a gunslinger gets tiresome. There is always someone faster. Always."

I couldn't have said it better. Too many times I feel like there is some subtle spirit of competition going on to see who can play faster. It's the musical (melodic) content and overall technique that moves me. Who can play faster? I don't care.

I like the line in Eddie and the Crusiers 2 where Eddie watches the guitar player he's jamming with do some fast/shredding during lead. Eddie stops and says, "If I was in a club and I saw you play, I'd be impressed. Then I'd go home and forget about it."
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Dec 31, 2015,
#9
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Honestly, I think this is a silly dichotomy to impose on other players. Everyone's making music for themselves (whether that's for the meaning or for the means, as it were), and I think it's somewhat disrespectful to put those labels on people.


Yeah. Why are fast players automatically about themselves? Why can't some Johnny Ramone wannabe be some self centered as a musician? I think that it was a very overly simplified view that ignores most of everything outside of a small sphere of rock music.

I've never understood this rock guitar concept of being a "solid musician" and being "technically advanced" as being borderline mutually exclusive concepts. In like every other musical subworld, musicians don't get criticized for being too technical and being technically proficient is generally part of being considered a complete musician. It's very bizarre.

For a classical or bluegrass or world folk musician, the standard repetoire includes pieces that require technical profiency and nobody says "well I never learned to play those difficult passages because I don't want to be known for playing fast" unless they don't want a job. If you want a job in an orchestra, you need to be able to play anything they put in front of you. If you want to be a concert pianist, you need to be able to play Chopin and Liszt and Bach. If you want to play bluegrass, you're expected to be able to saw or pick the hell out of Clinch Mountain Backstep and Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Orange Blossom Special and all those other tunes.

But apparently not rock guitar.
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#10
^Theo

Guitarists, especially the rock and metal guys that make up most of the players on this forum, are usually a bit egotistical at times. When it comes to playing fast and learning theory, they typically make up countless excuses for not [being able/knowing how] to do it.

It usually has to do with guitarist's laziness and insecurities, I would think. Then again, it also has to do with the genres they want to play. If the person wants to do simple "dad-rock," blues, and the likes, they won't really need be to be insanely technically skilled to be able to fit into that genre. If they wanted to be a classical, metal, or shred guitarist, then they'd need to work on their technical abilities a bit more.
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#11
I think you misunderstood. It's not making excuses. It's more the culture surrounding that type of music that almost condemns high levels of proficiency in many situations as if it were somehow outside the realm of musicianship. Therefore there is no need to learn to play fast because it's not considered a valuable skill and because of the culture, it has gotten to the point where it really isn't a valuable skill anymore.
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#12
Quote by Sickz

1. Learn music you love from records, by ear.
2. Learn to understand how that music works (theory).
3. Make your own exercises/etudes/studies from things you learn from records.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 forever.


^ Honestly I think this is the best advice so far. Hopefully this thread doesn't spiral into another "us vs. shredders" disaster.

OP, I think to get to the place you want to be you need to forget about the opinions of other people, including mine... and as contradictory as this is, I have more to say. Isn't expressing ourselves the reason we pick up guitars in the first place? Then focus on what you *want* to say with your instrument, and forget about what contemporary guitar culture thinks about that. Avoiding something you might want to play or learn (i.e. a more challenging AC/DC solo) simply because it's more technically challenging is just another way of letting shredders ruin music for you; if it's music you want to play, regardless of whether it comes from inside you or some other source, do what it takes to learn it and forget what anyone else has to say about it.

Also, for what it's worth, you will never, ever "accidentally" blunder your way into sweep picking at 180bpm. Turning into the kind of guitar god you're afraid of becoming takes years of lucid and deliberate decision making, and if it's not what you want, you have nothing to be afraid of.


Quote by theogonia777
Yeah. Why are fast players automatically about themselves? Why can't some Johnny Ramone wannabe be some self centered as a musician? I think that it was a very overly simplified view that ignores most of everything outside of a small sphere of rock music.

I've never understood this rock guitar concept of being a "solid musician" and being "technically advanced" as being borderline mutually exclusive concepts. In like every other musical subworld, musicians don't get criticized for being too technical and being technically proficient is generally part of being considered a complete musician. It's very bizarre.

For a classical or bluegrass or world folk musician, the standard repetoire includes pieces that require technical profiency and nobody says "well I never learned to play those difficult passages because I don't want to be known for playing fast" unless they don't want a job. If you want a job in an orchestra, you need to be able to play anything they put in front of you. If you want to be a concert pianist, you need to be able to play Chopin and Liszt and Bach. If you want to play bluegrass, you're expected to be able to saw or pick the hell out of Clinch Mountain Backstep and Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Orange Blossom Special and all those other tunes.

But apparently not rock guitar.


^ This. Being amusical and playing fast are not correlated. There's a number of anecdotes from Beethoven and Bach's lives where they struggled to find cellists and contrabass players who could actually *play* their compositions at the tempos they wanted. The cellists famously argued that the instruments weren't made to produce notes that quickly, the obvious retort being that the players themselves were the inadequacy.

Case and point, I get a kick out of Guthrie Govan being thrown in the same list as jokers like Batio and Rusty Cooley, as Govan is so beautifully musical in his phraseology and expression as to be the obvious exception to the "shredders have no soul" rule. I love Angus Young as much as I love Govan, because to me their both doing what any good musician ought: honestly and purely expressing themselves.

I mean come on : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUZK9dasP8s
Last edited by lumberjack at Dec 31, 2015,
#13
Well it's almost Larry Carlton style... incidentally there's also a popular AC/DC song, I think it's "Dirty Deeds", where Angus does some shredding legato and totally flubs it at the very end of the solo, to the point I'm surprised they kept the take.


Anyway...

Of course you don't have to be a shredder to be a good guitarist. You don't have to be fast to be goddamn amazing player - take Larry Carlton for example.

That said, unless you intend to develop awesome songwriting skills, you do need solid technique and all around musicianship. Some styles of music demand faster playing and some don't. Pursue what skills you need to play the music you enjoy or want to use professionally.

And it's OK not to have guitar idols. There are guitarists I admire tremendously, but just as often I admire pianists, bassists, saxophonists, drummers... It's really the music itself that should inspire you, and it's that music - not the chops - that you can actually learn something from.
Last edited by cdgraves at Dec 31, 2015,
#14
Worrying about being too good of a guitarist seems kinda silly. Just work on being a better all around guitarist instead of being a one-trick pony and only focusing on shredding and speed.
#15
Just depends on the music you like. I'm the type who has always fast forwarded through songs to get to the solo. For me, finding new techniques to increase speed and clarity, and by tempo seeing an improvement has always been a big part of the fun of guitar playing for me. I don't want to be in a band, and I'm fine soloing to backing tracks for youtube vids. As such, rhythm has little use for me. Just depends on what you enjoy and what your goals are.
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#16
Quote by theogonia777
Yeah. Why are fast players automatically about themselves? Why can't some Johnny Ramone wannabe be some self centered as a musician? I think that it was a very overly simplified view that ignores most of everything outside of a small sphere of rock music.

I've never understood this rock guitar concept of being a "solid musician" and being "technically advanced" as being borderline mutually exclusive concepts. In like every other musical subworld, musicians don't get criticized for being too technical and being technically proficient is generally part of being considered a complete musician. It's very bizarre.

For a classical or bluegrass or world folk musician, the standard repetoire includes pieces that require technical profiency and nobody says "well I never learned to play those difficult passages because I don't want to be known for playing fast" unless they don't want a job. If you want a job in an orchestra, you need to be able to play anything they put in front of you. If you want to be a concert pianist, you need to be able to play Chopin and Liszt and Bach. If you want to play bluegrass, you're expected to be able to saw or pick the hell out of Clinch Mountain Backstep and Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Orange Blossom Special and all those other tunes.

But apparently not rock guitar.


+1

If you read a lot of interviews with other band members of those supposedly "side men", or "it's all about the song" types of players, they often turn out to have been complete dicks.

not saying being a gunslinger doesn't automatically not make you a dick either, of course. i dare say plenty of those guys have been dicks too.

To the OP: If you don't want to a guitar god, then don't. You should do what you enjoy. Look into books about music theory, songwriting and stuff like that.
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