Arlen Roth on What You Want from the Guitar
There’s no doubt that we all have had quite a “love affair” with the guitar for quite some time now, and I’d easily venture to say that there has never been a more popular instrument, right across the board! But the main thing you want to consider as you start off on your journey is just what this instrument is really going to mean to you, and just what it is you’re after as a guitar player.
It’s hard to quantify when you are at different stages in your playing as well as in your career, but I know that when I was very young the effect the guitar had on me was enormous, and it only seemed to naturally grow and grow. As far as expectations went, there really weren’t too many, except the fact that I expected to keep growing as a player. I fell in love with many other wonderful guitarists who had instantly strong influences on me, and I eventually formed a band when I found some players, also very young, who shared in my love of all the music of the time, and also of the guitar, drums and singing. (Bass players were nowhere to be found, unless they were guitar players who were willing to convert!)
I can recall the first gig I ever did where I actually got paid and that was quite a shock!! TEN DOLLARS!!? My goodness, there was an old coin I bought with my Dad that was 10 dollars, and I was “paying it off” week by week, a dollar at a time!!
Too many people expect to enter into music these days and to be instantly carted off into fame and fortune. This is a BIG problem, especially since there are literally hundreds of thousands more talented bands than when I first started out, and it’s gotten even much more competitive. You are so much better making sure that you keep your “dreams” in proper perspective, and that you really concentrate on simply getting better and more experienced within the scope of your guitar playing.
My daughter Lexie Roth, has just embarked on her first nationwide tour and will be doing many hard gigs….around 28 in 30 days! What I like about it is the true perspective that she has about such a tour, which as I know all too well can be very tough and rigorous. Even when I did 2 to 3 weeks on a customized bus it was rough, and this is going to be in a van with no real sleeping quarters. This is a girl that has 2 albums out, a song in a new movie, is on the new Les Paul Tribute album and who even sings with Levon Helm on my album I did with him. She writes every day, and is getting to be a better guitar player each day as well. Meanwhile she has nothing but wonderful youthful optimism about her tour, and is so ready to take it all on in the name of experiences and improving her performing and her music!
If you keep that positive attitude, you’ll always be able to keep a proper perspective on just what the guitar and music really mean to you, and what you expect to get out of it all in the end!! Best of luck!
Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.