I suppose one of the advantages of being a guitarist/musician is that work can be found on many levels. It seems true that it’s even harder to find good work these days as a guitarist, but there are so many ways people enjoy music, that it seems that if one puts their mind to it, they can really make a living as a guitar player.
Lord knows that against all odds, I was certainly able to do it, and I stayed in guitar, and the music world in any way I could. For example, when I started Hot Licks, it was because the yearly touring I was used to doing had temporarily ceased, and suddenly there was no income! I started teaching guitar again to supplement my income (another good alternative for players!) and turned all those well-honed teaching “chops” into a series of taped lessons called Hot Licks that I had planned on doing since the early 1970s! My feeling about this in regards to my music was that it would still keep attention on me as a guitarist, not just as a teacher….that people would want to look deeper into what I had done, and was still doing, with my solo albums, etc. In this way, I still felt the “forward motion” of my career, and I was getting further attention, not only for my teaching, but for the uniqueness of what I taught, and how it pertained to me as an artist!
This was a critical decision to make, and actually, if I must say so myself, I was ahead of my time! Back then, many players had never done anything like this and there was still an “un-coolness” factor when it came to teaching. To me, it was all a very important part of the legacy I wanted to leave and pass on to others, and I wanted to document as many of the great players as possible! This also points to now why my newly planned Guitar Hall of Fame seems like such a logical step for someone like me, who’s been involved in “passing it on” for so many years!
So, the teaching aspect is really important as a form of “other” work and let’s face it, people love to hear music in many situations. There are restaurants to play, bars, outdoor gigs, weddings, birthdays, so many ways a guitar player can, solo or with a band, continue to hone his/her skills! If we were into acting, we’d be just waiting for that “break” to come…..you can’t just go to a restaurant and “act” in the corner while folks are eating, but they love to hear some quiet background guitar! There’s also the solo verses band factor, and I think it’s critical to be able to do both. It not only creates more work for you, but it will really “fine tune” your skills as an overall player!
So, never be discouraged. There are lots of ways for a guitarist to work, to find work and to just generally keep his or her name “out there.” The main thing is having the persistence and courage to do so. There’s no “corporate” ladder when it comes to moving up in the world of the guitar; it’s really all up to you! Best of luck!