That solid spruce-top body, grasping the elegant mahogany neck that cradles an arresting rosewood fingerboard, flagged with an unmistakable, unforgivable classic head-stock, tethered together by six steel strings of liberation and freedom.
Everything about the guitar exudes sensuality, whether it’s boogie-boogie blues or hard-hitting rock and roll, soft & slow soul or frantic fusion jazz. The Guitar, as a figure, is a symbol of salvation, a ”machine to kill fascists” , claimed by Folk Legend Woody Guthrie.
It’s no surprise that through the past couple of years, along with the revival of vinyl records and classic rock, the fascination of hammering out on an old six-string has made a resounding comeback with kids everywhere leaving the over-dubbed over-mastered dub-step behind on a search for a real, untainted means of rhythm and rhyme. Why this is so exciting to me is that, not long ago, i myself, fell to my knee’s before The Guitars robust seduction. Of-course, as soon as i picked up that square shoulder desire i was struck by the reality that i did not have the insane skill set of Eric Clapton, hammering out Blues scales like a strike of lightening, or the rhythm of Merle Travis, picking my way through and old-time country ballad as though my fingers were kissed by Hank Williams, Sr himself. The out-rage! Where on earth was my primed and ready-to-play mastery of every Jimi Hendrix riff i’d heard years before?! well, quite simply, i didn’t know my instrument yet! we hadn’t bonded, their was no relationship between the tips of my fingers and the frets of that board. Not yet.
With a little love and a little time, anyone can play the guitar, we’ve outlined our SIX COMMANDMENTS to approach the guitar with that will help even the skilled guitarist enhance their play. Listen up strummers!
1. If You’re Gonna Go It.. Do It Right!
There is no fast track to playing the guitar, no shortcut you can take to get you through the painstaking hours of thumbing around with your machine. Take your time and learn the right way. There is no point in half-arsing your way around those tricky barre chords and scales just to find that when you have finally mastered speed, you’re lacking in quality. Put your all into a method of learning guitar, take it slow and do it right.
Throughout your six-string journey, you’re going to be braced with the need or want to play those scary harmonics, scales, hammer-on’s and pull-offs.
“you’re always learning about this thing every time you pick it up” ~ Keith Richards
2. Practice, Practice, Practice.
Remember that expression you heard from all your junior school teachers, the one you ignored and passed off as a boring old cliche, ‘Practice Makes Perfect’, well, it’s true. It will come to a surprise to some that even the likes of Hendrix wasn’t born with the ability to rip it up on a 52′ Telecaster or roll out awe-inspiring riffs from a Jazzmaster at the click of a finger. Hendrix kept his guitar with him at all times, as recalled by a girlfriend of the rock and roll hero, practicing with every free second he had. Your head, your body and your finger tips all work as a muscle. it take time and practice to work up enough muscle ability, flexibility and memory to make those once terrifying, ass-hauling’ riffs seem like second nature. Practice.
” if you sound good when you’re practicing, you’re not practicing the right way” ~ Captain Kirk Douglas.
3. Learn The Lingo & Get In The Know
If you’re passionate about the music you’re playing and you’re serious about playing guitar, it really helps to get yourself known among other musicians, whether it be that old-hippie who live up the road playing The Grateful Dead till the break of dawn, or the ‘girl-next-door’ who can bust out any organ symphony sweeter than any Beethoven piece you’ve ever heard – get in the know! Surround yourself with fellow players and take time to watch your inspirations play, take time out to attend gigs and see how other cats play. When you’re starting out with the guitar, it can be very easy to fall to the belief that you should surround yourself in your room with your cowboy chord strumming patterns and pentatonic scale practice until you’ve reach god-like level, but this just insn’t true, get out there, meet other musicians, jam with friends and have fun with it, you’ll learn more about your craft and pick up skills from other players too!
“I find that musically, looking back, I have learned much more from those relationships, people I have bumped into that I have admired, that’s the way I feel musically I have learned most in life.” ~ John Williams
Whether you are playing for recreational purposes of whether you are playing to pursue a further career in music, you are going to need to versatile! playing the same chords, the same scales, the same riffs day after day will only begin to dwell on you, don’t be afraid to test yourself and try new things! If you are a blues player, learn some funk. If you are a finger-picker, get strumming! if rock and roll is your thing, tune into some old soul! With learning new skills comes confidence and is that confidence that will turn you into the guitar-god that lies inside of your very soul!
Learn new skills and move on, don’t stick around for too long going over the same old rhythms and licks, the art to any craft is being able to push yourself. Throwing yourself in at the deep-end, driving full speed ahead into unknown lands at what it is that catches you out is always a great way to over come your weakness’ on the guitar and further your playing abilities.
“I had struggled with alternate picking for a very long time. I never thought I could do it.” ~ Paul Gilbert
5.Get Back To Basics
If you are just starting out on the guitar, it is so easy to become ridiculously overwhelmed with vast amount of theory and technical work regarding your guitar, – learning how to tune your guitar, learning how chords are formed, how a scale should sound, how to read sheet music.. it can all become too much! enough to make even the greatest hidden six-string messiahs throw down their instrument and pick up a book on physics instead … Fear not! you don’t have to learn everything right away, take it slow while you are learning the physical stuff and then let yourself go back over common ground to refresh your memory and instill the theory of music into your head. And remember, theory is your friend! sure, finding out the quickest way to hammer out a Van Halen style solo may sound more attractive, but giving yourself to in time learn of the technical aspects of your instrument will only work for you in the future.
“A lot of people think that if they learn to read music they are gonna lose their feel or their groove or something. It’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” ~ Frank Gambale
Why are you learning the guitar? why did you ever pick up a six-string?.. probably because you just really love the music you’re playing, it is passion that has driven you to decide to ever pick up your machine and it is passion that will teach you how to use it. Learn the songs that you love, not you think people want to hear. Watch the artists that get you going, learn from your own heros, not what everyone else tells you who to learn from, and find your own way of playing, find your own style! there is no right or wrong way of playing the guitar, whether you play with you use your guitar as your own drum, snapping the snare on the side of that body or powering out clear-cut bass notes lay by the bottom of the soundboard, whether you play with your hands, tongue or feet! let your passion flow and then follow where it goes.
“I just play, just you know, If i just sit down with the guitar and just do whatever for, you know, an half an hour or an hour whatever. That’s pretty much, that should do it for me.” ~ Slash
Debunking Guitar Myths:
Myths, we hear them everywhere, throughout the grounds of society everybody has an opinion on just about everything, some for better, some for worse and some just completely full of bullshit. Many myths regarding the art of the guitar have been flowing through the highways and turnpike of the world since Les Paul ever customized his first set of strings. Myths can often be misinformed, ill-mannered and severely discouraging to any aspiring musicians dreams, here are some of the most ‘popular’ exploited myths debunked…
”You’ve either got it, or haven’t – it comes natural ” Bullshit. No child is born with coal-mine rough catalyst on their fingers, roaring and ready to play and steel strung monster out of their local music dealer, it just doesn’t happen. Great guitar players are evolved from great learners. However, with that said, their is some truth behind some minds having a more creative wing in instilled in their mind, making them pick up on ‘the arts’ much easier than the more academic type; With that said, if in their mind, anybody has the yearning to become a great guitar player, that yearning alone shows that they too can progress their way to ‘king of the six string’.
”You NEED to know every bit of theory to be able to survive” Now, instead of be debunking this ridiculous statement, allow yourself sometime to learn all about the musicians who created some of their biggest hits before they even studied/knew anything about music theory… hint: Paul Mccartney, Jimi Hendrix, Glen Campbell and Robert Johnson are but a few.
”High-range tech is ESSENTIAL to sounding good” This myth is more down to the taste, preference and prestige of the player, if you honestly believe that owning the most renowned gear makes you sound like a better player – you’re not playing right.
Let’s face it, you could rip the house down when you tear it up on your guitar and the last thing anybody is going notice what label is across your head-stock, and you can’t use that name to cover up if you’re a terrible player either. Rather than letting your gear define your sound alone, let the techs of your instrument enhance your sound.
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