The top 10 reasons to play guitar

Person playing electric guitar
(Image credit: Future)

Right now, you're reading a story on a website for (and by) guitarists.

This means you already play electric or acoustic guitar and are looking for a little vindication of your obsession - or you’re a beginner looking to find out whether you've chosen the right instrument.

Well, here's every reason you'll ever need to quiet the little voice in the back of your head that asks, “Why am I doing this?” Check out the top 10 reasons to start playing guitar!

1. Rules of attraction

Admit it. Whatever your purportedly purist goals were, you had visions of adoration racing through your mind when you figured out the riff to Enter Sandman. After all, it pays off when the object of your affection sees how well you can use your hands.

2. Piss off your parents

Rebellion is a natural expression of individuality. Since several generations of adults were raised on rock music, it takes a bit of creativity to get under the folks’ skin. A gentle, new-age acoustic interlude could drive Slayer-loving parents bonkers.

And if you want to get artsy, assembling a dozen friends to rehearse an atonal Glenn Branca guitar symphony should do the trick.

3. An alternative to the sporting life

Too short and skinny to play football? Pick up an axe. The average jock’s self-esteem- not to mention knees - collapses shortly after high school. For guitarists, life just gets better, as there are years of gigs, jam sessions and musical explorations ahead.

4. Improve your vocabulary

Learn the arcane meanings of common words like action, bridge, gauge, stack, shred and pickup. Using their secret meanings around the square crowd might lead to embarrassing and potentially dangerous situations, but when you speak them around another guitarist, they will recognize you as one of the club and doors will open.

5. Be the life of the party

People are drawn toward guitarists in social situations - as long as those guitarists play (rather than talk about gear)

People are drawn toward guitarists in social situations - as long as those guitarists play (rather than talk about gear). It’s the guitarist’s responsibility to lead the campfire sing-alongs as well as make nightclub audiences gasp at ripping-good riffs or solos.

6. Form a band and join the circus

It’s a great way to meet friends and gain attention. If the combo is good, you could stay away from home for weeks at a time, eat a steady diet of fast food, associate with mentally unbalanced characters, get ripped off by club owners and then return to a lousy job so you can save up money to do it all again.

7. Get a headstart on a psychology or management degree

You’ve seen This Is Spinal Tap and The Commitments. Once in a band, you get to observe the twisted little minds of musicians. If you figure out how to make the insane drummer, egomaniacal singer, absent bassist, (ahem) insecure guitarist and redundant yet snobbish keyboardist get along and show up for gigs on time, document it and put it on your college application.

8. Versatility

You can’t play chords on a violin. You can’t slur notes on a piano. You can’t play counterpoint harmonies on a sax. It ain’t perfect, but the guitar has a vast range of musical possibilities for those who take the time to learn it well.

9. Slay your idols

OK, Nietzsche, once you master Eruption, the next step is proving you’re faster than Yngwie, more inventive than Hendrix and more athletic than Angus. You will dominate the guitar universe and lay your heroes to waste! Good luck. Don’t attempt to be a god. Strive for guru status, develop a cult of followers and sell them instructional videos.

10. Enlightenment

If you wade though all the other reasons for playing and make it a lifelong activity, the realization will hit that you possess the gift of communicating with people through the sublime language of music.

Ever walk away from a gig or a jam session and felt as if you had just been in another world because your playing was so good? That, right there, is the ticket to nirvana.

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.