The reason I'll never be a great guitar player

I was watching Justin’s lesson on John Mayer’s ‘Stop this Train’. (Great song BTW). He talks about the tricky part of the main riff being the right hand and how he spent an hour just getting the thumb to hit the D string correctly so it got a percussive hit on the A string and muted the D at the same time. It reminds me of stories I read of Jimi Hendrix playing from morning to night and falling asleep with his guitar in his hands.
I love playing the guitar and I play quite a lot, but if I’m honest I don’t have that level of dedication, and that’s OK. I’ll never be as good as my heros, because I don’t want it as much as they did, and I’m at peace with that - I will still improve and I enjoy seeing the progress, but I won’t beat myself up if it’s a very slow process :slight_smile:

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Me too Paul,

I always feel that emulation of a player or style is a bit like “pushing a string”. A player will have played a riff or lick that way because it’s what came naturally at the time. It’s gotta sound good, but it’s got to feel good too.

…or maybe I just like to justify my own laziness :rofl:

But it comes easy it’s more likely to stick.

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Emulating another person teaches us how to make those sounds. I don’t necessarily need to sound like Jimi or SRV, but I do want to know how to make the sounds so I have them in my tool set.

I was watching the Albert King and Stevie Ray “In Session” video the other day. There were some significantly similar licks from the two, so I bet Albert was an influence for SRV. But, SRV was different in his own way.

This isn’t really about me wanting to sound or play like anyone else - just recognising the dedication it takes to become truly great, and I’d put Albert, Jimi and Stevie in that category.

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I too don’t feel or have the desire to become great. This is just a hobby and one which I enjoy immensely, so as long as I am having fun then that’s all that matters. It also means that when things don’t go well then I don’t beat myself up about it. Now if one day I did happen to get great then I will gladly take that as a nice bonus :joy:

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I don’t care about being great, but there is a level of good enough that I hope to achieve. I’m keenly aware of the dedication needed to get to good enough. It takes me a long time to get stuff sounding right. I am still balancing time with work as well. I sure would like to find a way to learn this stuff faster so I can get to my primary goal and have more time to enjoy that.

I started to learn something about 2 years ago that was WAY above my skill level. I have it sounding ok now. The song has a lot of little change nuances that I still need to learn, but the primary riffs all sequence out fairly cleanly. It felt like I’d never get there when I started, but here I am able to play most of it now. There is a lot to be said for the benefits of tenacity when learning guitar.

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It’s interesting. I dont want to be Hendrix, or Mayer or Slash or anyone at that level. But I do want to be good. I want to be able to improvise, make melodies out easily and find them on the fretboard with ease. Not take two months to learn a new song. Do a solo right outta my head. Now, if I have to be Mayer/Slash/BB King level to do it, then no I’ll never be that good. I think our normal goals are perfectly fine and can make great players. But I will never make it to stratosphere nor do I want to.

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I’m not sure I’ll ever get to ‘good enough’, I think there’ll always be another hill to climb. I’m trying to learn to enjoy the journey as it’s a long road!

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I suppose “good enough” depends on your goals. If your version of good enough, is too high then there’s a reasonable probability you’ll quit the guitar before you get there. I’ve been there and done that before.
My good enough has become to be able to play some simple songs which I can do so I’m happy. There’ll always be a next song that I’m working on but that’s got nothing to do with good enough. There’s crazy metal songs that I’d like to play but I know that I don’t have the time and patience for that right now. One day, maybe. The next song should be something attainable with a little work, rather than having just learned to ride a bicycle and targeting a Tour de France win next summer!

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I am already great. Just not at guitar…

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The reason most people never become great guitarists is because they try and do everything and never do anything very well. It takes time to become good at 1 thing and it takes forever to become mediocre at everything.
People Like Slash, John Mayer or (insert you favorite) do 1 thing great. BB King doesn’t shred, Steve Vai doesn’t play classical but SRV is one Killer Blues player.

The one thing all these players have in common is they all are great Rhythm players and have the basics down solid so they don’t have to think about the rest.

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Its much much easier to develop your own groove than try copy someone else esp if that someone else is John Mayer.

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I totally agree with what you all are saying . There is already a John Mayer, but only 1 you. You can be whatever level of performer you choose to be with time and patience, but don’t forget to pause to celebrate small victories along the journey.

Jeff

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I’m at Grade 3 in Justin’s course. I think grade 3 is, among other things, where you find that you know enough to know there’s so much you don’t know! And having reached this point in my guitar journey in my 60s I know that I’ll never be a great guitar player, but that doesn’t stop me practicing stuff I don’t know so as to get better than I am at the moment.

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Grade 3 puts you ahead of the majority of guitarists and about 99% of the people on the planet…

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I just wonder how in the flippin heck the great guitarists got so great. Did they take dedicated lessons from a fantastic teacher? Did they go to music school? Did they have enough money to where they didn’t have to work and could practice every waking hour every day? Or did they get so good solely using fretboard exploration? If we knew, we’d probably be a little deflated by learning, yes they took lessons and no, they weren’t some self taught natural talant savant the way we like to picture them. Or at least the way I like to picture them.

Even when watching guitar covers on Youtube from “normal” people, it looks cool and easy. But, what we don’t see is how many hours of pratice it took to record that cover. I like some difficult songs, but I don’t like them enough to spend all those hours learning it. It’s true that music requires a lot of patience and repetition when you think about it. I like music but less than some of my friends that pratice many hours a day.

All the great guitarists has an insane amount of hours with practise. Many of them has had teachers or mentors. But all of them has done the 10000 hours +++ of hard work that is lying behind theire skills.
Many of them do have some kind of musical talent… but it is hours and hours of practise to get these skills.
What most have in common is they started when they were really young.
The only exception is Robert Johnson. He got his skills by trading in his soul to the devil…

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Yeah but how did they know what to practice? They had to have some amazing teachers, or insane drive to explore technical playing with an incredible creativity. I’ve played piano 30+ years and don’t have pro level skill and ease of playing. I stopped lessons before I was a teenager.

Hehehe… good question.
As someone stated further up, no one knows how to play everything. They are masters in the style they play…
but yeah. Insane drive and a lot of skilled mentors and teachers in an early age…
its the same with music as anything else in life… Michael Jordan did not get to be that good sitting on the couch… same with Leo Messi :rofl: they have all laid down an insane amount of hours…