What should all guitarists know in general?

10 things a guitarist needs to know

The most important minor matters of the guitarist's life

(Image: © Shutterstock / Kinga)

I admit it: there are probably more than ten things you should know and master as a guitarist, and for most of them there are excellent books and teachers to help you on these issues.

However, even with those who have been using their instrument for a while, one repeatedly encounters similar problems, hurdles, or at least certain neuralgic points that require discussion. Because there are various topics that are not necessarily the subject of instructional videos and books, we want to address precisely these today.

1. Correct votes

As banal as it may sound, many guitarists find it extremely difficult to tune their instruments by ear. Of course, it is much more convenient to use the tuner, but not infrequently it happens that either none is at hand, or, for example, that you have to tune to a piano, which does not always refer exactly to 440 or 442 Hz concert pitch. If you have deficits here, you should definitely practice tuning by ear, because this ability also sensitizes you to other aural training issues, such as intonation during bends or in singing.

2. A feeling for sounds

Many guitarists are booked not only because of their playful qualities, but because they always come around the corner with tasteful sounds that fit perfectly into the desired setting. This usually does not even require expensive investments in your own equipment, but what is much more crucial: Learn to handle what you have well and master your equipment as well as your instrument. Get yourself a clean and crunch sound, a rhythm board and a lead sound and possibly a few special effects such as delay, tremolo or chorus, and you are prepared for most situations!

3. What is the correct volume?

Unfortunately, guitarists often have a reputation for being the loudest comrades in the rehearsal room. This can become a serious problem in the professional or semi-professional area, which can lead to the fact that you may no longer be called. Therefore: Find a suitable volume, boost your solo sound by about 3dB. If you actually shouldn't hear each other, simply reconsider your listening situation or the placement of your cabinet.

4. What does the song need?

A good musician knows what a song needs and what it doesn't. Ego is completely out of place here, because good music is an interlocking of different parts and elements. Get used to a certain "outside view": If you were to hear this song on the radio with another guitarist, which part would you be happy about and which would you rather notice?

5. The guitar is not just for soloing

Try to understand the role of the guitar correctly, because it is primarily a harmony and rhythm instrument and therefore actually the only one besides the piano.

Great solos are great and also important, but they don't pay you the rent and are definitely not a hiring criterion for the band. Try to work on both construction sites in parallel and do not neglect the "core business" of your instrument.

6. Anyone can learn guitar if they practice

The term talent circulates like a ghost through all possible disciplines without ever clearly defining what is actually meant by it. In my opinion that is completely irrelevant, because patience, diligence and of course the will and the imagination are more important than talent, for which there is no evidence at all in the form of prenatal predisposition. If you want to learn guitar, you can too - if you do something for it!

7. The Internet does not show a real picture of the guitarist's everyday life

If you look at various YouTube videos and shredder platforms including comments, you get the impression that the real image of the "good" guitarist is given, although you usually get little to see apart from quick soloing. The guitarist's everyday life looks completely different, however, and you won't even meet many of the great musicians in such formats.

Even if the internet has opened some doors: Still try to go your own way and see the guitar and music in general and in all its facets - even those that are less popular on the internet.

Chord and rhythm playing, harmony theory, good hearing, improvisation, reading sight, composing, operating sounds, and much more are all elements of what makes a good guitarist. A solo video can say little about this, and certainly nothing about the quality of the guitarist in a musical situation.

8. Practice does not replace playing with musicians

Playing a band instrument means: playing with others - for others!

This means that while practicing in a quiet little room is necessary and also very effective, it is difficult to find fertile ground if the whole thing is not put into practice. So try to form a band as early as possible and you will notice how all that you have practiced and learned will become available to you much faster.

9. One cannot be able to do everything

It is far too easy to let yourself be distracted from your path because some guitarist has played something revolutionary in some video. Then it is difficult to stick to one topic and jump from A to Z without having worked something really in-depth.

Inspiration is important, but not when it stops you from focusing! Make it clear to yourself what you want and try to realize that you cannot control everything. Often you quickly notice what your individual strengths are, and you should develop them!

10. Punctuality and preparation

Here we come to two points that can actually be subsumed under the umbrella term "respect for fellow musicians". It is not uncommon for guitarists to have to vacate their seats or to no longer receive calls because these two basic pillars were lacking. Anyone who is late and not prepared treats other people's time as if it were their own, is disrespectful and harms the overall project. Funnily enough, this is completely superfluous, because these quirks can be eliminated much more easily than playful deficits.