Monday, November 20, 2006

The way you do the things you do.


Let's suppose you're a beginner.
Let's suppose your best friend who started playing the guitar before you makes you listen to some Joe Satriani song, let's say "The Mystical Potatoe Head Groove Thing".

Now enlightened, you've discovered your next goal in life : to become able to play that song.
So you buy the songbook, or download the tabs on the internet (or try to pick it up by ear and screw up the whole thing).
Now let's see if I can read your mind.... what you're going to do is... play the main riff... then start learning the lead guitar... yes, that's right, I can now clearly see that 99% of you will do so.

Now the bad news : doing so will make you a loser.
Sure you will be jumping in your room with the CD playing in the background, and you will be able to impress your friends with that cool-looking arpeggio. But you know, there are hundreds of guitar players out there who did the same as you, and can probably play that song better than you, so if one of them invites you to play that song with him (maybe Joe Satriani himself !), he may want to play the lead guitar and you'll have to play the rythm guitar. Oh, you didn't take the time to learn it ?
Too bad, Satriani will play with someone else, I guess....

When you learn a song, whatever it is, the very first thing you should learn is the rythm guitar. Don't think I knew that from the beginning, I did the same mistake as you, of course. But among the things I learnt, one is that a reliable rythm guitar player is something priceless. I have one of my friends who once played onstage with other members of his campus. They had an excellent drummer (they did a samba interlude in the middle of Satriani's "Time Machine", go figure...), but their rythm guitar player was awful. When the solo time came, my friends kept on playing shitty because he had to rely on that rythm guitar player who couldn't keep the rythm. As a lead guitar player, having to play with such people is a REAL pain in the ass. Why do you think Steve Vai hired Tony Mac Alpine as a rythm guitar player ?
Playing the rythm part of a song will build your endurance (try to play the rythm part of 10 songs in a row) and being able to rythmically support other musicians in a band is not to be taken lightly, because in music rythm is everything.
Sure you want to shine and steal the show and get laid, but if that's really the reason why you're playing the guitar, just forget it. Please become an actor instead.
When you'll understand the real achievement that being an excellent rythm guitar player is, you'll start becoming a much better musician and your lead playing will improve accordingly.

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