Is Your Guitar Better Than You Are?

What struck me most as Vince sat down for his first guitar lesson was his guitar. I would learn that Vince was the type of guy that had to have the best, and his very expensive Taylor guitar was a good start in that direction. I would also learn that although Vince had to have the best guitar he could get, he unfortunately did not have to be the guitarist he could be!

It wasn't unfortunate for Vince, it was unfortunate for me. I discovered as our lessons continued that Vince was quite happy not playing very well. I knew this because he consistently did not do the many things I told him he must do to fix his playing problems and start to develop real guitar playing ability. No, even though he thought he wanted to "learn guitar", he showed what he really wanted in the same way we all show what we really want - by what he actually did (or did not!).

Vince really wanted to own some expensive guitars (as befits a man of his means), and dabble with playing a bit. If he couldn't quite make all the chord changes in a song, that was okay with him. It was not okay with me, however. I am in the business of building real guitar players, guitar players who make music, whether it is a Johnny Cash song or a Jimmy Page lead, an acoustic blues or a classical solo. What I want (need) is to make people better on guitar, and for all the time they spend studying with me, I want to see them continue to get better.

So, of course, after we both understood what we wanted, Vince sailed away happily into the rest of his life, buying more guitars, and, hopefully, having a good time owning guitars that will always be better at being guitars than he is at being a guitar player.

I often meet people who own guitars that are better than they are. Lucky for me, they are not all like Vince. Very often, they desperately want to close the gap between themselves and their guitar. They sincerely want to get better and are willing to do the hard work to make it happen. Their problem is they simply don't know what to do, and they can't seem to find someone who can show them. That changes when they meet me.

Their guitar playing changes too, for the better of course. They begin to deserve that expensive guitar they have, or they begin to realize that they deserve a better one then the "beginner" guitar they started with. Either way, the end result is that everyone ends up happier - guitar player, guitar, and whoever will be listening to the both of them.

Someone once said to me "But Jamie, not everyone wants to play at the professional level on guitar!" Oh really!

I can understand that not everyone intends to make playing the guitar their profession, but that doesn't mean they don't want to play like a professional. When I think of all the different skills that people make their living by, and others do as a hobby or enriching sideline to their primary occupation, I can't think of one in which someone says, "Oh, I don't really want to perform at a professional level".

Are there basketball players who say "I don't really want to get the ball in the basket. I don't really want to win when I play, I'll leave that to the professionals!". Are there golfers who say "Oh, I don't really want to get the ball near the hole, or heaven forbid, actually get it in the hole. I'll leave that to the pros!" No, I don't think so.

Playing guitar at the professional level simply means being able to make music, real music. The standards are clear-cut. You have to play your notes in time. There has to be a groove. You have to be able to make the notes be there, and not have playing that is starting, stopping, and full of holes. That is what music is, and that is what it is when the "pros" play, and that is what it should be when you play, even if you don't intend to turn pro!

And it can be. Since the publication of "The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar" anyone can play like a pro. You don't need "natural talent", although it never hurts to have some! "Talent" is the tendency to do things the correct way, and thereby achieve the correct result. Talent can be learned, and whatever talent you have, can be extended far beyond what most people believe, or have been able to achieve. We do it every day at GuitarPrinciples, and thousands of players around the world are doing it for themselves after having learned our methods of "correct practice".

Finally, realize that a great sound does not begin with the guitar. A great guitar in the hands of a not-great player will not sound like a great guitar. The great sound is locked inside the great guitar. It can only be unlocked by the touch of a competent player. The sound is first in your mind and spirit, then, it is in your body, finally to emerge at the meeting place of player and music, which is the touch of the finger (or pick) on the strings.

So, I say to all guitar players out there who are not Vince: become the player you really want to be, the one who makes the music you love so much you want to create it yourself, with your own body, mind and heart. Learn about GuitarPrinciples and the revolutionary approach to guitar we teach. Become a pro, or just sound like one!

Jamie Andreas is a virtuoso classical guitarist from New York.

She started playing guitar at age 14, by 17 she was giving concerts and teaching guitar.

Jamie Andreas