Ultimately I want to be the guy a studio calls when they need someone to step in and lay down a few tracks. 

First, a little background: I don't have a band, I've been playing about 10 years now, mostly self taught, and can play many different styles for acoustic and electric.

Any advice on gear, preparation, making connections, would be appreciated. But one thing I have absolutely NO idea for, is how much $$ should I ask for my time? People always say "ask for what you think you're worth" but I'd appreciate a little insight as to if there's an industry average/standard, different amounts in different areas, what others ask for, etc. 

You don't have to disclose any personal financial info obviously, I just need a frame of reference.
Look up online session musicians. You can probably start with a site like Kompoz - join some sessions and see what is required.

I've been asked to do studio work after I've been to studios and have recorded and the engineers/producers saw me that I cut my parts usually in 2 takes and was providing quality work. So I got called back, this both for bass and guitar, in different bands.

Start offering services for free for a song and then ask for $. Standard rate locally at least is about $100-$150 per track with 2-3 corrections. Drummers are mostly who I use when I hire out, and they charge about that if you pay for the studio or some do it online via Paypal.

So you need quality gear. Not many guitars but something good and reliable. A few tube amps, again there are session specific things but an all rounder quality pro amp, like say Mesa Mark V or Marshall JCM2000 or one of the fridge sized Fenders.

You need to learn how to do guitar tuning, setup, string change on the spot, always carry backup guitar and backup strings.

I guess good guitars to start with are the classics - some kind of Fender Strat and a Les Paul, unless we're talking metal where maybe a Jackson Soloist would be in order or something like that.

I'd suggest that you do some free sessions with songwriters around town first to get somewhat known and then proceed as paid services.
In some places and jobs it might require you to be a union (AFM & SAG-AFTRA) member. Though more often companies offer a buyout or yellow dog contracts instead of dealing with the the union.
Unions can also get you jobs if you match what is being looked for as they function like most other labor unions. There are (admittingly minimal but helpful) benefits to joining the union even if you are not working through them although if you get caught working a yellow dog contract they can take action.

Otherwise I recommend looking for people like myself that are involved in commercial production or music for film, TV & video. I'm not looking currently, but many of us use local musicians that we can rely on. It can be very important sometimes (not always) that you can sight-read music. In commercial production, you would usually need to be available to deliver on very short notice. A call to me from an ad exec at 9:00am might mean I am scrambling to provide finished content for afternoon drive time.
First of all make sure you have immaculate knowledge of music theory or forget it. Beyond that, you need to be able to play all styles, learn fast and play very cleanly and precisely. You also need a portfolio of performance/experience. If you don't have any experience anywhere and no work to show, or no degree in music the chances of you being employed as a guitarist are slim. 
Versatility is the biggest asset you will need. If you want to work regularly you need to develop a reputation for being able to play any style of music fairly well so a producer or studio will think of you no matter what the project is. It might be a full band session, it might be a commercial jingle session, a fill in overdub for another player who didn't quite come up with the goods or any other type of job and you need to be thought of as that "go to" guy for any type of music.  Rock, jazz, country whatever, you need to be the guy who can nail it in just a few takes. You also need to be somewhat "colorless" in the sense that you are there to offer your services without coloring the recording in some personal way. That means being flexible and good at taking direction because in my experience the producer already has certain expectations of what he/she is looking for and they are not often looking for your opinion. They want you to figure out what they have in mind and be capable of giving it to them. It ain't easy. 

You need to be able to read fairly well and understand both basic chord charts as well as notation and even how the Nashville style numbering works.

Get very professional business cards and have them available 24x7. You never know when you need one. Get ones that look like a professional business card not something overly artistic and gaudy. Name, contact info, what instrument(s) you play and that's about it.

Lastly you need to be ready, available, on time. Try to always be available, it may be the last time you get a call. 
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Aug 24, 2017,