Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, MUSIC

What makes a great guitarist?

How to be a great guitarist, not just a good one.  

What is it that makes guitarists stand out from the rest?

I think the music that I find most meaningless is music that sounds like everyone else.   My approach has always been unusual; I’ve tried over the years not to copy other players, to the point of avoiding working out their tunes , I’d rather have a brief listen, get an overview of what they are saying and interpret it my own way.  It is a bit difficult but it has helped me define my own style(s).  What I found was that if I listened too much to another player it was really easy to sound like them, so it has always been important to listen to lots of genres.  To a lot of people music from particular genres sound the same, all music falls into some musical style category but obviously, it is possible to have your own musical signature in a particular style.  e.g. Hendrix sounds like Hendrix and Steve Vai sounds like Steve Vai,  and with one note Carlos Santana will be immediately be recognizable.

I don’t particularly like cover bands, but I admit that for many people it is a valid way of making an income and we need to eat, and there is a market. 

The thing that separates players from players is the uniqueness of what they do. If there’s one thing in music worth doing it has to be finding your own musical voice. It’s great to admire other players but very important to find your own style that is not a carbon copy of another player.  It’s the way to get the greatest satisfaction from music.

Good players play well, great players are themselves


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3 thoughts on “What makes a great guitarist?

  1. John Williams says he does not like masterclasses, because students need to be “encouraged to find their own way, not simply imitate what I do.”

    Dare I say it, “imitation” was one failing of the great Segovia, who seemed to think only his way was the correct way to play any phrase. Yet of all the classical guitarists, Segovia’s sound was the most distinctive.

    Therefore, I feel it’s vital for a teacher to discover a students musicality, and to encourage development, not just instruct on how to play the notes.

  2. Well, we all need the shoulders of other great players to stand on so we can see far but like it has been said we should rather study and learn from others not copying what they are. If they have identity then we can creat our own.

  3. As a guitarist, I would never imagine achieving “greatness” until I could routinely accomplish the following:
    1. To be able to instantly express any musical phrase, sound, or idea that comes to my mind.
    2. To be able to play with anyone in any genre of music even without rehearsal.
    3. To be able to perform to the delight of any audience.
    4. To be able to execute the music of other composers “perfectly.”
    5. To discover new and uncommon sounds and to be creatively able to integrate them into my own compositions
    6. To strum, pick, pluck, hammer, and use the instrument in every way it can utter a pleasurable or appropriate sound
    7. To master a comprehensive understand of the instrument and be able to communicate on all levels through it.

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