A lot of factors determine if a guitar player is great. Is it their sense of timing? Their ability to shred? Or maybe their understanding of music theory?
Let’s count the ways:
- The Best Guitar Players Have Awesome Timing and Rhythm
A great player always has good timing and rhythm. They can hear when chords are in key. The greatest guitarists also have a great sense of harmony, even if it’s just in their head, and can anticipate when specific chord changes are about to happen. This sense of anticipation is crucial when playing with other musicians.
If you lose your sense of time and rhythm, it’s game over. When you start jamming with other musicians, the first thing they’ll do is tell you to slow down or speed up if your timing isn’t right. And even if you are playing by yourself, a great guitar player knows when to change chords or switch licks.
Learning timing and rhythm isn’t easy, especially when you start playing with others. Fortunately, you can develop this skill with proper guitar lessons.
- They Have Experience with Different Styles
A good musician can play in many genres, not just one thing. It’s kind of like playing the game “Where’s Waldo?” You have to look for different things that set each genre apart from another. Practice makes perfect, and a good guitarist will put in the hours to gain this experience.
Because they have incredible exposure to various genres, great guitar players can compose great licks that are often more than just pentatonic scales played fast. They know how to enhance their playing with harmonic minor scales, double stops, modal runs, etc. They also know when to play these things and when not to.
- The Best Guitar Players Stay in Tune
You can’t be a great player if you’re out of tune all the time. This is essential because if your instrument isn’t tuned right, it’s like playing on the wrong instrument (for example, somebody flat-picking a banjo).
One of the ways to know how to be in tune is to learn how to play by ear. Many guitar players have learned the instrument from a book, but those who truly excel have learned these songs by ear from listening to others play them first on records or live on stage. Being able to pick out a piece and figure it out by ear is a great skill that seems effortless yet takes years of experience to master.
- They Understand Music Theory
What is music theory? It’s just the study of how different frequencies of sound work with each other. The more you learn about music theory, the more you’ll be able to identify what scales and chords will go great together.
This is a skill that can be developed whether you’re self-taught or take regular lessons. A great musician learns things like chord construction (what notes are in a chord) and scale construction (how many notes are in a scale). They can also tell you what notes and scales go superbly together (and which ones don’t).
They can learn all these either by listening to others play songs or reading books on musical theory. This way, they know what chord progressions will work best in different keys and can improvise over complex chord changes.
- They Can Express Themselves through Their Playing
As people often say, music is the language of the soul. Great players can express themselves through their playing. They can take an audience with them on a musical journey, which they often orchestrate in their head.
They have this ability because they know how to communicate what they hear in their head (their different licks and solos) without actually saying anything verbally. By using the language of music, great guitar players can convey their thoughts, feelings, and motivations behind the notes and chords they play.
The skill to express themselves also helps them become more original. After all, great guitar players think outside the box and come up with original arrangements and solos that stand out from the rest.
They can improvise and take a song in different directions than what was initially intended. Great guitarists don’t just play songs note-for-note as they sound on the record. They know how to put their stamp on everything they do, which is why fans come to see them every time they play.
It might seem like a lot of work to become a good guitarist, but it’s well worth the effort when you consider the life satisfaction you’ll get from it. There is no better feeling in life than knowing you reached your full potential in something you’re genuinely passionate about.
Meta title; What Makes an Excellent Guitar Player?
meta desc: How does one become the next Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, or Van Halen? Know about the essential skills you need to become the best guitar player.