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Why Guitarists Need Music Theory

(Image credit: Cindy Moorhead)

You don’t need music theory to be a successful musician. In fact, a lot of successful people didn’t follow traditional paths to build their legacy.

Jimi Hendrix had no idea what a diminished chord was, Microsoft founder Bill Gates didn’t graduate from college and NFL Hall of Famer Antonio Gates didn’t even play football until his early 20s.

Most of us aren’t those rare kinds of people, though, and we need as many advantages as we can get. Music theory is just that: an advantage.

I find most people who are against learning music theory think it’s a blanket approach that changes you from a soulful guitarist with feel into a robotic nerd with no creativity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s think about it in the context of eating, because everybody likes to eat. What if your goal was to assemble the tastiest plate of food at a buffet? To do that, you’d want that buffet table to be huge and full of options, right?

That’s what music theory does–it expands the buffet of musical choices. You don’t have to eat everything all at once, or ever.

The point is, you can have it if you want it, which can’t be said for those who don’t know music theory sitting in the corner with a piece of bread and a glass of water.

If you’re interested in getting a jump on music theory, consider checking out my Guitar Super System course. You’ll be surprised how quickly your musical hunger is satisfied.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.