Session Guitar: Why You Should Include Yourself on Your List of Favorite Guitarists
This week, I pose a question: Who are your favorite guitarists?
It's a tricky subject, but since this is a session guitarist blog, and so many people ask me questions about what they need to do, know and own to become a session guitarist, I'm going out on a dangerous limb here. Hopefully, I will not be misunderstood.
Again: Who are your favorite guitarists? I have many. And every day I hear more and more who absolutely blow me away. Some are acoustic monsters, others are two-handed, 32nd-note-playing and tapping shredders. Others still are hardcore bebop jazz heads playing lines I could only dream about!
Then there are those who can sight read fly shit off a piece of paper, or those who can juggle five instruments on the same cue while sight reading and following a conductor.
I probably have 50 guitarists in my top spot, and I alternate them daily. They are a varied lot. I've met some and studied with a few. And in each circumstance, a certain quality became apparent. They all have a common trait I believe to be the most important quality for a career in music, studio or otherwise.
Its confidence. Self-confidence. Knowing who you are and what you can do on your instrument. Not caring what anybody thinks about you or how you play. Especially the trolls and idiots on the web who seem to find only bad things to say about others. People are hiring you to be you and do what you do. You've practiced, studied, gained experience, and now you should have a damn good idea of what you are and what you can offer.
I've seen some of the most popular and best say they couldn't play something, and they didn't feel fear saying it. They came to do what they do. They weren't hired to be every guitarist. Just do what they can do and do it the best they know how. That's a musician. That's a session guitarist. That's an artist.
Once again: Who are your favorite guitarists? There should be at least one favorite guitarist on this list, and it should be the same for every professional guitarist out there: YOURSELF.
I don't believe in any "best guitarist." Popularity doesn't mean being the best. Style doesn't have anything to do with it, either. I know damn well that there are thousands of players who are better than I am in so many areas of technique and style, but I have to just keep trying. But when I play music I create, be it my own releases or playing a solo for someone else, I'm hearing what I like to hear.
My own limitations have created the guitar playing I enjoy. I may love when someone taps on the neck, but I have little interest in it for myself. I love when I hear really "outside" lines, but my heart lies in pop and diatonics. I can stretch out and play in every style when called upon for a while. I shed in most genres when I practice. Not to master them, but to be prepared. Prepared for the times I may feel the need to play a jazz thing or rock thing or classical thing. Or when I am called upon to do it. But in a way that I prefer. Selective learning.
I love neo-classical shred players, but that's not me. I'm a pop guy. I have a short attention span. And when the day is done and I'm playing for me, or when the day starts and I'm playing for someone else, I know what I can do, what I like to do, and I enjoy hearing that guy play! (After he finally gets it right and punches a part in and edits it where necessary!) I'm a session player. And I'm on my own list of favorites. Rarely near the top. Usually way down the list, but I'm on it.
Now finally: Who are your favorite guitarists? Get at least one right answer and win a career! Or at least a feeling of peace. Both are worth the price of admission.
Another Free Download! Enjoy this bit of happy music. It's called "Louder Than the Guns." Guns come in many forms. Not just weapons. Just trying to keep positive and play my ass off.
Listen here and at my website.
Till next time…
Ron Zabrocki on Ron Zabrocki: I’m a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just believed everyone started that way! I could pretty much sight read anything within a few years, and that aided me in becoming a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could and was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played many jingle sessions, and even now I not only play them but have written a few. I’ve “ghosted” for a few people that shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I got the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.