Good Guitar Player vs. Bad Guitar Player


Good Guitar Player vs. Bad Guitar Player

Good guitar players have developed a series of traits that enable them to play extremely well. They understand exactly what it takes to be the best that they can be and they strive to achieve in every situation... 

Find out what separates good guitar players from bad ones. What does it take to become a good guitarist? Is it great rhythm, versitility or a great ear? Or, is it all of the above and then some? 

This short video runs through a majority of the traits found from the better guitar players out there. Are there more traits? Sure, but these ones are the primary skills that separate the good from the bad. These skills (once developed) will help any guitar player polish their ability and reach their playing goals much faster. Enjoy!!

Good Guitar Player vs. Bad Guitar Player



Join Now

The 4 Types of Musician You Don't Want in Your Band

Courtesy of Daniel Reifsnyder... 

These types will suck the energy out of everything in their orbit, and for that reason alone every band-leader should try their best to avoid these types from ever becoming a band member...

You probably already know the types: beyond negative, beyond jaded, an undiscovered genius who thinks everyone else is terrible. These people are the, “black holes,” of inter-personal relationships, which is an incredibly apt description. And, it's exactly why you never want them in your band. 

Here are some of the hallmarks of "the Black-Hole musician."

1. The "I Think" that I'm a "Big Deal" Musician
Don't get me wrong; there are some amazing, undiscovered artists out there where this is actually the case. But most of them have their nose to the grindstone and are working their asses off. Then there's that musician, however, who spends more time whining and complaining about how much better he or she is than the empty trash on the radio. Nevermind that he or she hasn't picked up an instrument or played a show in 10 years.

2. The "Industry is keeping me down" Musician
The music industry (aka, “the system”) is keeping them from making it. Everything boils down to politics and nepotism, which are never in their favor. Everything is rigged. Likewise, it's the only reason any other artist, regardless of actual talent, manages to succeed.

While there's certainly some truth to the idea that politics play a role in the music industry (and let's face it, they play a role in everything), it's possible to make it on raw talent and hard work.

3. The "world isn't quite ready for me" Musician
Nevermind that their searing 'out of tune' guitar solo went 'out of fashion' 30 years ago. Or, that their vocals sound like the intercom on a commercial flight. Should they take stock? Adjust their style? Fix the chorus in an otherwise great song? Never. The fault doesn't lie in them and their shortcomings. (What shortcomings?)

The issue is everyone else; the world simply hasn't caught up with their genius and is really missing out. They bristle at even the mildest of criticism, accusing you of being just another hater intent on squashing their brilliance.

4. The "I know everything" Musician
Not just about their own music and career, but yours, too. They'll tell you how to act onstage, how your song could be better, even how you're wearing your guitar strap wrong. This advice may appear kindly, but it's really just a way for them to put you down so they can feel superior.

A conversation with them will leave you disillusioned about the music industry, (if not life in general), believing everything is either rigged or a scam. It's their not-so-subtle way of trying to pull you down to their level and make you just as cynical and jaded as they are.

In Conclusion...
If any of these ring a bell for you, it's time to take a good look in the mirror. You may be one of the select few who are happy being unhappy. If that's the case, no amount of personal insight or success can help you. But I hope this can be a wake-up call for some of you.

Set aside being a successful musician for a minute; at bare minimum, friends and colleagues won't want to be around you. If you're the person described herein, consider changing your outlook and behavior. And, if you know a musician like this... run!

Daniel Reifsnyder is a Nashville-based, Grammy-nominated songwriter, having started his musical journey at the age of three. In addition to being an accomplished commercial actor, his voice can be heard on The Magic School Bus theme song and in Home Alone 2. Throughout his career, he has had the honor of working with the likes of Michael Jackson and Little Richard among many others.


Join Now

Why a Guitarist Should Learn to Play Piano...

Guitarists like Eric Johnson and Tony MacAlpine are well known for their guitar virtuosity, but they are also talented pianist's, having studied the instrument from their youth...

Check out this Tony MacAlpine piano solo below...

Speaking recently with Total Guitar, Eric Johnson said that learning the basics of piano playing is an essential part of becoming a well-rounded guitarist. In particular, he says, the instrument’s layout can give players a valuable perspective on music.

To that end, he suggests guitarists—for that matter, all musicians—study the instrument.

“I think understanding the piano really helps,” he explains. “And you don't have to become a great pianist, that’s not really important. A lot of people play just enough piano to write a song or figure out chord changes.

“It’s a beautiful instrument for writing and studying music—I would suggest any musicians of any instrument to undertake piano lessons. Not for the intention to become great at the instrument, but rather for perspective.

“When you look at a piano, you can see every note. All 88 keys—the whole spectrum. It’s like laying out a long piece of paper that has all the architectural plans for a building. It’s a great center-point and home base to look at and study music.

“You can then transfer that perspective to any instrument. I don’t think too much about practicing scales any more—I don’t approach things theoretically.

“It’s more like I’ve taught my ear to know the scales and that’s what I go with. If I hear a melody I like, then I’ll work it out.”

You can see Johnson performing his piano rendition of the Jimi Hendrix tune “The Wind Cries Mary” below.



Join Now

F# Minor Repetition Licks [QwikLicks 015]

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (015)

The latest QwikLicks video is, "F# Minor Repetition Licks" Available in the FREE members area. Includes a PDF handout!

QwikLicks are a FREE lesson series for all membership levels at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikLicks Series will run through a short collection of guitar licks in all kinds of different playing styles...

Episode 015 runs through a series of repetitive licks in the key of "F# Minor." The licks cover three repeating phrases. We begin with a repeating pull-off phrase from F# Natural Minor scale. Next we explore a hammer-on /pull-off idea from F# Minor Pentatonic and we wrap-up with an F# Dorian Mode idea applying a pedal-point concept. 

Sign into the website with your free members account to watch the lesson, and be sure to download the PDF lesson handout. 

If you're not currently a FREE member of the website, sign up today!


Join Now

Is Going to Music School Worth It?

A hotly contested topic in the music industry, and a question I frequently get asked by students is, “Will getting a degree in music be a waste of time and money?” I find the answer to that question is actually a much more nuanced one, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer...

The old guard of the music industry had you learn to be a professional player by working your way up from the bottom, and if you did get a college degree, you were one in a thousand. 

This "old-school" crowd generally looks at music schools, (especially the non-degree-granting ones), as pyramid schemes and complete frauds.

The funny thing is, they’re not wrong. Graduates of many of these institutions now trying to find their way in the musical workforce look back at their alma maters as farces that sold them a pipe dream and then left them in debt in a ruthless, decaying, boarded-up industry holding the bag. 

Conversely, some graduates look back at their path and credit every moment of success they’ve had to these institutions. They’re not wrong, either.

What are you looking to get out of a degree in music?
That may be the million-dollar question here. What exactly is your expectation from a guitar program? If you expect to come out of school with your piece of paper and walk right into a job as an guitarist somewhere, you’re going to be sadly disappointed.

In the music scene, as it stands today, a degree in music won't move you any further up the ladder; the dues still need to be paid. In some cases, being a graduate of some programs may even get you shown the door before you get a chance to present what you’re capable of.

What is Success...?
The next thing you need to define is “success” in the world of music. Is your goal to play on platinum-selling RandB albums all day, every day? That’s a very narrow definition of success achieved by an even smaller group of individuals. If you’re willing to stretch your mind and your skills, it's very attainable to work in the music field for a living, and your degree can even help you get there. So here are some things to consider.

Look into the credentials and reputation of the program
What the program offers you is probably going to be one of your biggest contributing factors to the question of, “Is this right for me?” By that, I don’t mean the catchy stock photos of students smiling at each other jamming on amazing music school stages.

Try to find a program with a strong alumni network, as this is ultimately what you’re going to be paying for with a degree in music. Your classmates and fellow alumni are more than likely going to be where you find those first leads looking for gigs or work.

Look for a program that offers you more than just a course load. Finding an institution that will give you more than things you can learn from a web-site article or YouTube video is important. Classes in music business or learning about computer music software and other disciplines like playing live are what are going to give you the tools to be competitive in a market flooded with people holding certificates from 18-month music school programs.

Learn more about your options
The music industry is growing and is diverse in the applications of your degree. Filling your weeks with playing gigs for only indie rock bands may not be viable unless you’re already independently wealthy. And, getting work as a session musician will in most cases be too far and in between to ever pay your bills.

There are a number of opportunities in not only the studio, but in live shows, sound-track work for television, movies, video games, podcasts, corporate applications, production, plugin and product design, etc.

If you’re not afraid to try any music style, if your versatile, and not hung-up on only working on strictly original music, (because you want to be famous), there are many more career paths and revenue streams available to you as a musician.

Understand the "power" of your degree
You have to remember you're entering a field where sweat equity in the industry is still of high value. Having your bachelor’s doesn’t mean anything. For me personally, the skills I learned in school have been infinitely valuable in my day-to-day work in music, but a degree isn't a badge.All it is was a period of time spent studying music intently. Gaining knowledge.

Don’t expect anyone to be impressed by putting “bachelor’s in music from XYZ University” on your resume. Instead, that degree is a key and it'll open a select few doors. Your skills will be your real resume. How "able" are you to get the gig done and sound excellent at it.

If you followed the two above recommendations, you should have a figurative toolbox of skills and experiences you can call upon to help you move forward. However, the hard work is still ahead of you, and you'll still need to prove yourself or carve out your own niche.

I think that having a degree in music is valuable and can be an important step to obtaining your goals. That being said, it’s not for everyone, and you do have to do your homework. You have to remember that it’s not a means to an end, but a part of the journey when done right.

So, to answer the question, "is going to music college worth it?" Well, whether you go or you don't go, either way, you’re not wrong.


Join Now

25 Tips to Become the Best Guitarist You Can Be...

Getting better on guitar is all about constantly learning more and more material. Learning more sound, techniques, scales, phrasing and music has to become a regular part of your day to day studies. Every guitarist can improve a lot more once they put in some thought about what they’re doing and especially how they're going to spend their time...

1. Play Music With Other People
It’s obvious. No two people play guitar the same, and for all the wood-shedding you do on your own, you’ll learn more by playing with others. They might have new ways of voicing chords, a unique rhythm style, or simply turn you on to new influences. Playing dual-lead guitar, honing your rhythm while someone else plays lead (or vice versa) or swapping licks. A guitarist’s best friend is another guitarist.

2. Purchase Guitar Lessons Books and Videos
Print may seem old fashioned, but good guitar books can be a real boost to your playing. Whether it’s chords, scales, theory or all three – read more, and you will learn more.

3. Learn Your Favorite Songs Note-for-Note
Yes, it’s a tough ask. But if you want to play like your heroes, try and learn exactly what they do. It will help you appreciate the art and skill of playing guitar like a legend.

4. Get One-to-One Professional Music Lessons
Lessons are not just for beginners. And, a more experienced player shouldn't have a "beginner" level teacher. Every player has quirks (some bad) and a seasoned pro teacher can really help iron them out. You’re never too old to learn from a professional teacher. You have nothing to lose, other than learning more.

5. Make Daily Recordings of Yourself
In your head, you may think you’re playing great. Record your practices (solo or band) and you may hear differently. It’s a simple way of hearing what others are hearing. It could be sometimes painful, but will help you identify where you need to get better.

6. Use Technology to Improve Your Skills
Guitarists often get obsessed by physical wood and wire. And, we all know that a great guitar can make you sound better, but they won’t always help you play better. From impromptu recording to chord apps to amp/FX emulation software, there’s a host of tech that can help you. 

7. Play a Lot Slower - SLOW DOWN
Sure, you may want to be fastest guitar-slinger in town. But when you slow down your playing, you’ll learn more about your own phrasing and rhythm.

8. Maintain Tempo Through the Use of a Metronome
This will also help you with tempo. Even quirky rhythm, before or ahead of the beat – see Keith Richards – relies on knowing where the beat lies. Solo practice with a metronome will help you.

9. Buy Guitar FX Pedals and Mod-Your-Sound
Some great music happens simply because of FX pedals. U2’s The Edge once said, “I don’t think of playing through effects,” ..... “I play the effects.” Keith Richards said, The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” wouldn’t have worked without his Maestro fuzztone. Color your sound, try using multi-effects pedals and listen as a new world opens up.

10. Maintain the Care and Condition of Your Guitar
We’ve all let our guitars “just-be” for months. Get a pro set-up, tinker with action, keep it clean… Even a simple change of strings can help you play better, (not to mention more in tune).

11. Test Different Guitar String Types and Gauges
Try different gauge strings. As you know, guitarists can be creatures of habit. But heavier strings can help both your tone and fingering strength, while lighter strings may suit bigger bends. Experiment! Billy F Gibbons has the thickest tone but his top E is only a .007. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s top E was a .013. Changing string gauge may just bring out your best inner-self.

12. Try Using a Guitar Capo
Who defaults to playing songs in the same key with usual-suspect chords? I know I sometimes do. But buy a capo and you can be in another world. Capos are cheap, you don’t have to retune, and you can suddenly be playing your usual progressions in E-flat or A#. It will help you learn more about your playing and harmonic possibilities.

13. “Build” Your Songs and Solos
Shredding scales is all well and good but the best songs and solos have structure, tempo changes and memorable licks. It may be a cliché, but listen to Jimmy Page’s solo in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” – now that’s how you build-up to a solo. It may be your time to shine, but don’t just gush everywhere – think about structure and let your solos build and breathe.

14. Test, Try and Swap Instruments
It could be hard, but try playing a different instrument once in a while. Guitarists playing bass will soon learn more about groove. Play a piano and you’ll find yourself thinking more about notes and scales outside of your 6-string comfort zone.

15. Play Outside of Your Comfort Zone
You may love only one style of music. And that’s fine. But try playing some other styles. Funk maestro Carlos Alomar went through hell on David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album, being asked to play more “grinding” guitar alongside Robert Fripp. “It was very interesting,” says Alomar. “I learned a lot and when I came back to my more natural style, I felt really fresh about it.”

16. Don’t Just “Jam” Endlessly
Everyone just likes a random jam – ask the Grateful Dead. But when in band practice, stick to a regime and work on your songs. Be sure to follow a set list at rehearsals. It’s too easy to go, “let’s play some blues in A.” ...Play songs, you'll improve your bands sound more and when you focus on the songs everyone's ability benefits.

17. Write a Song a Week
You don’t need to be the new Bob Dylan of lyrics to write a song. Writing a song with your own lyrics and vocal melody will help you learn how your guitar fits into songs. Phrasing, space, when to play rhythm, when to think about any solo (see 13), chord changes etc. You don’t have to share it. But do it for yourself. It will help you understand songs much better.

18. Book a Gig - Let's Do This!
Think about your school exams. There’s nothing better than focusing your mind than a looming deadline. Book a gig, even if it’s just an open-mic night. You’ll be amazed how much drive you have to play better.

19. Try Playing Without a Guitar Pick
It could be scary if you always use a pick. But listen to the likes of Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler – unique players who play their electric guitars only with fingers. It’s a good exercise to see if your fingers actually work better than picks. There can be wonderful sound in just using your fingers.

20. Take Time to Reflect on Your Musical Side
Playing guitar like mad is great and all, but human beings need to take breaks. Every now and again we need to just take a day off and go to the beach. Go for a long drive, visit a friend, take a long walk or just lay in the sun and read a book. Too much of anything can bog us down, and stifle our creativity. We need time away from the things we enjoy in order to build-up the desire, keep us motivated and remain fresh.

21. Document Where You're At (Keep a Log)
It's easy to get caught up in songwriting, recording and playing with your band. So, you need to spend time keeping a log of what your week requires. If you're a busy person, this is even more important. Use a calendar system, and keep things simple. Any basic daily log will do, but have a plan for your time and document what is important in your week.

22. Do Everything Possible to Remain Healthy
Being a musician - being any sort of creative person - requires a lot of energy and focus. You cannot afford to get sick. Of course, you will... inevitably it will happen, you'll get the flu. But, everything you can possibly do to keep it away helps. Eat well, take vitamins, exercise, meditate, sleep well, drink less alcohol and stop using drugs. It's so important to treat your body like a temple. Respect it and maintain the best possible health that you can. It sucks playing a gig when your sick, so do everything you can to remain healthy.

23. Read About Famous Players/Musicians
Plenty of world-class musicians have written biographies and have had documentaries filmed about their lives. And, through reading and watching these you will gain valuable insight for not just what to do, but also what not to do. Even one statement in a biography can make a big impact on your life as a musician. So, take the time to find out the ways that some of the most well-known players have lived their lives. It'll educate you and probably even surprise you to explore their lives as musicians.

24. Push Yourself to Become Better
Too many players will feel like, "I'm good enough at that." Or, they'll think that learning Jazz or how to perform Classical Guitar - or even just learning to read traditional music notation is too demanding, or the study will take too much time and effort. But, if you push yourself and dedicate your time - you'll find out that it will come to you with practice. Just like everything else you've learned has come to you. Push yourself, it will surprise you what you're capable of.

25. Remain Happy and Pleasant - No Matter What
The final point is probably the most important. Remaining of a good nature with your personality. If you've met a lot of older musicians, you'll tend to discover a common trait. They're miserable. It is so common. They wanted so much more in life, but instead they got shafted. At least that's how they've decoded to view it. This is so sad. Think about it, millions of people go to work in an office cubicle. They hate their jobs, their boss, their co-workers. And, then there's somebody who has played music their whole life. But, they're miserable !?! It almost makes no sense. So, maintain a happy and pleasant attitude. After all, you get to play music every day. What an amazing job!! What an amazing life!!!


Join Now

How to Make Lead Guitar Practice More Fun


How to Make Lead Guitar Practice More Fun

For a lot of guitar players, ripping out a solo can be intimidating. The prospect of hitting wrong notes, of freezing up, of getting lost on the fingerboard... 

The fear of hitting any number of "in solo" potential disaster zones can be downright scary. If we're ever going to have success with playing lead guitar, we need a plan to follow when we're practicing that will help us once we hit the stage. 

Once we have a plan in place, the leads that we play at rehearsals will feel more connected. When we jump on stage our lines will come together better and our success will help us build more confidence. Over time, the success and the confidence will be there prior to playing the first note of our solo, and guitar improvising won't be something feared, it'll be something that's looked forward to.

On this episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider," were going to discuss how guitar players can improve their solos, by making lead guitar practice a lot more fun!

How to Make Lead Guitar Practice More Fun



Join Now