Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top 10 Things Every Guitarist Should Master

Ten things every guitarist should master

 1. Anatomy

This may not seem really important, but it is. You need to know how to do many things like communicate to guitar techs when there is a problem. Also, this goes further into buying the right strings, self maintenance, and even being able to finesse the right sound out of your instrument.  Also, knowing what guitar will produce what sound, what pickups sound better for one style over another, what bracing patterns in acoustic guitars do, etc. Don't neglect this area of playing guitar.

 2. Notation

Any method that is used to convey how to play a certain bit of music on your instrument is important to understand. There are many who will tell you to only learn tablature; that it is all you will need. But they are wrong. You need to understand all of the following:

- Tablature
 - Chord Blocks
- Neck Diagrams
- Music Notation

The last one is more important than many give it credit. Though it is true oat guitarists can have long, wealthy careers without learning this, you need to learn it. Music for every other instrument is written this way and you need to be able to communicate with them. Plus, in a studio setting, the player that can read music will be more valuable than one who doesn't.

3. Tuning

Again, it may seem simple, but you need to master this. Whether it is using a tuner or using your ear, tuning is very very very important!  The best musicians in the world have what is called perfect pitch and can tune any instrument completely by er.

4. The CAGED System

These are your basic go to chords for most styles and you must have them under your fingers. Know the shapes for major, seventh, major seventh, minor, and minor seventh at least. But, you should venture out into the sixth, augmented, and diminished chords as well. Along with the chord shapes is learning the scale shapes that the chords are built on.

5. The Major Scale

 Almost our entire music theory system is based off of the major scale. Most guitarists can't play one shape of the major scale much less build chords or licks from it. Mastering this scale and it's many shapes and modes will open a world of possibilities to you.

6. Chord Theory

Once you have the major scale figured up, the next thing is learning how chords are created. Knowing this and having a firm grasp of it on the fretboard will make playing music and creating your own arrangements much easier.

7. Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales

These have been the go to scales for soloists in many styles for years. Mastering these scales and their shapes will get you soloing. Also, many tunes use a pentatonic scale within the melody which will give you a leg up when learning that tune.

8.  Building Bass Lines

As a soloist, you will find yourself needing to play a duel role often when playing for yourself or comping for another soloist. Bass lines will help create a dynamic accompaniment. And, it will set you aside from other guitarists.

9. Sight Reading

 Being able to play chords, melody, and a basic accompaniment with little or no run throughs on the music.  This is another skill that will need to constantly be refined and practiced.

10. Listening

We often forget about this very necessary skill.  I'm not talking about listening just to your playing or your band mates, but to every bit of music you can. Developing an ear for a lot of styles and what other professionals have already done will go a long way towards your mastery of guitar.

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