25 Things Every Guitarist Should Know
Read on for 25 tips that you -- as a guitarist -- can't afford to ignore.
06. Know what you want to be
The most successful people in the music business are totally focused-they have specific goals in mind and do whatever is necessary to achieve them. The simple realization that you don't have to be a musician to be a rock star and don't have to be a rock star to be a musician can spare you years of cynicism and bitterness.
07. Play for the song, not for yourself
It's imperative to play what's idiomatically correct. For example, don't play Yngwie licks on Bush's "Glycerine" or a noodly jazz solo on Soundgarden's "Outshined," no matter how much it impresses you. I learned this the hard way while auditioning for a punk singer. I thought I'd show her what a good, well-rounded musician I was and ended a thrash song in A with an Am(add9) chord, instead of a more appropriate A5. I was promptly shown the door.
08. Play with musicians who are better (and better known) than you
There's no faster way to improve and jump up to the next level than to play with great musicians. You'll learn the tricks of the trade, and pick up on their years of experience in the trenches, as well. But if you want to be a star, there's no better way to kick-start your career than by ingratiating yourself with someone famous and be seen sycophantically swilling drinks with him or her at the coolest bar in town.
09. Less is more
Most players you hear or read about pay lip service to what has become the guitardom's ultimate cliché. The fact is, though, what's glibly easy to say is not necessarily easy to do. I learned this on a gig backing up a singer on a cruise ship (It was the actual "Love Boat!"). Back then, I couldn't read music or play over changes very well, so during the first show, in abject fear, I played very sparsely-only what I was sure would work. After the show, the singer told me she had never worked with so sensitive an accompanist.
10. Image does matter
This is one of the sad truths about the music business. The good news, however, is that not every musical situation calls for the same image. So use some common sense-if you're going to be auditioning for a wimpy jangle band, don't come dressed like a Marilyn Manson cast-off.
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