The most important piece of advice I’ve ever gotten in my life was from guitar legend Steve Vai.
He once told me “if you learn the fundamentals, you’ll be playing like an instrument. If you don’t, you’ll be playing like a player.” And that’s a big enough concept that I had to pay careful attention to it.
Why does Steve talk about principles? What is an idea? What’s wrong with an idea? Why do we have so few ideas?
As guitar players, our entire goal is to play as the best guitarist we can be. As musicians, our goal is to be great musicians and entertain people. If one or the other’s priority is to be the best guitarist or entertainer, it must be a priority for all players.
I’ll answer some ideas, but most guys will want me to go into detail on the specifics for them. That’s because guitar playing in itself is an art. It has its own nuances and its own rules, but the key elements are sound and touch.
You can play a riff, a chord, a scale, or a pattern at will if you have to. The trick is to maintain touch throughout. If the tone of the chord or sequence is too far off the neck, then a guitar player is out of touch with what’s going on.
The same goes for a fingerstyle technique. If you play on a chord line while playing a fingerstyle lick on the same string, then you’re not playing on a chord line at all.
To maintain sound and touch is not a question for guitarists; it’s a question for every guitarist. To be the best guitar player you can be, you need to be the best musicians in you band.
Most bands don’t have many ideas, they have only a few concepts they plan to play on the show and then they have a set list. There’s no room for creativity because the same thing is likely to be played 10, 20, or even 100 times on the show.
So if that’s your goal, you need to be the best idea-creating guitarist that you can be. That’s the real goal, not the best guitar player.
What are your thoughts about modern technology? Is it all about making the game easier, not more difficult?
Most people know that electronic music creates a whole different sound than traditional music, and many people are now playing and experiencing this new music the same way they have
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