So, you’ve finally purchased, borrowed or pilfered your first axe and you’re ready to take your first step to Guitar Hero status. Good for you! Here are 10 tips to help get you there in once piece. Break a leg!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
There is not a single thing you can do that is more important than honing your craft. Before you can express yourself through a guitar (or a piano or whatever), you have to learn and master the language of the instrument. And the only way to do that is through hard — but hopefully enjoyable — work.
Don’t work yourself into a box.
Roadhouse bars are littered with good guitarists who will never be great, because they never learned that there’s more to life than the Minor Pentatonic blues scale. Mix it up. Learn other scales and modes and make them a comfortable part of your repertoire.
Don’t neglect your picking hand.
Force yourself to fingerpick. It’s so easy to fall in love with a pick — and picks are great. But there is an entire world of expression in the subtleties of the picking hand. You’ll regret it later on if you neglect this now.
Don’t neglect your pinky.
As for your fretting hand, don’t forget to use that little guy on the end. As you learn your scales, don’t take shortcuts around your friend, the pinky. Taking him out of the equation removes 25% of your arsenal.
Pros over Bros.
Work with people who have the same goals and drive as you. It might be fun in the beginning, banging out chords with your buds, but eventually there will come a time when your band will only succeed if everyone is willing to put everything else aside in favor of the group.
…But Be Bros with your Pros.
Don’t work with people you truly don’t get along with. Long-term success is nearly impossible if you are destined to bang heads with each other. The last thing you want to do is be in one of those bands that break up on the verge of making it. Watch That Thing You Do! if this requires motivation.
Be a self-promoter.
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Don’t make music that you don’t believe in. First off, you probably won’t be as good at it as you would something you can totally put your heart into. And honestly, why do something you don’t enjoy, because the main point of it all is to…
You’re making music, dude. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing something wrong. As Paul McCartney said, “That’s why it’s called ‘playing music,’ and not ‘working music.’”
Editorial Director/Pro Bro