If you’re reading this, you probably want to become someone like Santana who played his guitar in the Brazil 2014 World Cup final. How do you become as awesome as they are? Do you think you’re going nowhere with your progress. Besides your normal guitar routines, here’s my views on how to become an explosive dynamite from a regular guitar player.
1. Have strong determination
The important thing is that you keep on digging and be desperate to play. Albert King would break into his bosses room to play guitar. Though left handed, he played a right handed guitar cause there was no left handed guitar then. Kurt Cobain who was born right handed by started playing a left handed guitar cause he was gifted one. Be determined to play under all conditions. Doesn’t matter even if you suck. Don’t be shy or feel awful. You’ll get better.
2. Find a companion
Maybe someone a little more experienced or a little less, you can still help each other. Learning from someone experienced would help but it’s beneficial if you grow to be better with someone of a similar level. You could help each other out with anything new you come across. One could give the rhythm while one solos.
3. Listen to good music
You’ll get nowhere close to being a good guitarist if you listen to losers of the 21st century. Try listening to people who started before the 90’s. Any musician after Nirvana sucks so it’s not much worth learning from modern day artists. Biased? Really? I’m here to help. Know that. Still it’s better if you listen to all genres anyway; it broadens the horizon.
4. Learn a little bit of theory
You don’t really need to learn to read notations but try to learn a bit. Understand a bit is theory like fret board navigation and chords. Learn about notes, octaves but do not go too deep. You will lose creativity. B.B. King never learned theory and yet he’s the king of the blues. Your music should come naturally to you.
5. Have a role model
Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Joe Perry, Ritchie Blackmore, Davis Gilmour, Keith Richards, Gary Moore. These are some big names. Have a role model. Try to become like them. Dress like them, do crazy things like they did, read their bio’s and try to find out how they became a good guitarist. Consider them your God’s and the almighty will grant you power to become something like them.
6. Cover others songs
Take a song like “You Shook Me” and jam with your companion. Cover songs of great artists though you or your mates may suck. Learn licks from your favorite artist. There’s a quote that goes on like “Good composers borrow, great composers steal.” It’s the deal breaker. Learn from others till you can create something of your own.
7. Create your own songs
Create a delicate intro, make your own riffs, create chorus, create verse, add in your solos… Basically make your own structure. Try to put pieces of your influences from your friends or your idol. Add in lyrics, add in a few instruments. Record your sessions with any available device and listen to it. You will find ways to improve so record again. Give it yet another listen and keep finding ways to make changes.
8. Try different guitars
Every guitar gives out a different sound. Go to your brothers and play his guitar. It might be harder to play or it may sound a bit different. You will get a different vibe in different guitars and you will be surprised how even when you play the same thing, the outcome is very different. Also electric, acoustic and classical guitars have their own purpose. Know which songs sound best in which guitar.
9. Plug in the guitar to an amplifier with distortion or overdrive
You never know what’s bottled inside you. Go wild. Pretend to be Pete Townshend, Angus Young, Mark Knoffler, Kurt Cobain, Zack Wilde, Ace Frehley or anyone else. Just play and try to be original. Steal some riffs and licks, mash it up. Try to put in different techniques. Play clean or shred. Look in the mirror if you need a bit of self motivation. Fell comfortable to hear your sound. Disturb the neighbors. Try experimenting with all equipments like a bottle neck or whammy bar.
P.S. I highly recommend not to break your guitar till you’re rich enough to do that.
10. Watch and listen to live performances
Besides losing yourself to your idols, try to listen how different your favorite artists are in every concert. The same song will sound so different in every performance as all great artists improvise. Many times even studio songs are spiced up. Look how they perform and learn a bit about showmanship. See how the band maintain the flow. Every great artist from the 20th Century did this. Make sure you’re don’t play the solos of the song the same way every again.
11. Practice consistently
Learn a few pieces to practice and work on it consistently. Many famous artists post their guitar lessons and explain their techniques. Learn their practice licks and keep working on it till your fingers are free flowing and still keep on doing. You could even try performing songs like “Every Breath You Take” from The Police will warm you up by stretching your fingers. Keep practicing till your finger bleeds.
12. Find a guru
I’ve always found people who went through the hippie generation to be experts in guitar. These people learned by listening to tapes or radio. They will bring the best out of you with their experience. You’ll feel poor in front of them but you will learn a lot from them. They would have heard songs from the original creators of blues. Many times someone of your own age can be pretty mature for it though.
13. Train your ears
Marvin Berry called Chuck Berry when he heard this guy playing his guitar amazingly and made him listen through the phone. That’s the story of one of history’s greatest song “Johnny B Goode”. Train your ears to play something someone else is playing. Make sure your can duel with your partner by learning the sound and to be able to instantly copy what they’re playing. Helps a lot.
14. Invent your own style
Have your own signature move, have you’re own signature licks. Like Jack White would say, pick a fight with your guitar. Experiment with it. Try to create a sound never heard of before. Create your own genre. Won’t you be glad if people can listen to a recording of yours and tell it was you? Be unique. Mash up different techniques. Break rules of playing and come up with your own patterns and rhythm.
15. Check your artists timeline
All artists were beginners too. If your check the timeline of artists, you will find that they gradually improved. Eric Clapton thought he was fucked when he saw Jimi Hendrix play. It takes time to improve. See how gradually they became a super group and how they developed from paupers to pros. Listen to their discography starting from their very first years to gradually go to their final or latest point. In fact study about your favorite artists, it’s going to be fun when you find out facts like Clapton was in George Harrison’s garden when he composed the song “Here Comes The Sun”.