Playing guitar is one of those skills where there is no special secret, no key to your own greatness. It pretty much takes a combination of practice, and just feeling the music.
Psychedelic rocker, and favorite of rock snobs the world-over, Captain Beefheart rattled off his “10 Commandments of Guitar Playing.” One of his commandments really hit home for me because it took me so long to realize, and I continue to struggle with it:
5. If you’re guilty of thinking, you’re out
If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.
It takes a lot for me to switch off my brain and just feel, but I’m starting to do it.
I find it easier to stop thinking when I play with other people, and/or jam on the same song for a long time. Grateful Dead tunes are amazing for this.
On a much lighter note, I also liked the Captain’s 10th commandment:
10. You gotta have a hood for your engine
Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.
I think it’s time to pick up the guitar for a while before bed.
(Beefheart.com Via BoingBoing)
Over the last six months, I’ve become more serious about playing guitar. As a result, I’m working on creating a more structured practice regimen for myself.
At the moment it’s kind of a trial and error system while I determine what works, but I did find a series of tips from legendary guitarists John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot), and Dimebag Darrell (Pantera). While all three men are known for their shredding, the tips apple to any style of play.
Some of my favorites are:
John Petrucci – Use a metronome
I don’t use one often enough.
Dimebag Darrell – Play from the heart
If you aren’t feeling it, you’re doing it wrong.
Joe Satriani – Run through every chord you know
I have a feeling that this will help immensely.
John Petrucci – Record yourself
I’ve been messing around with recording, and it’s a pretty scary experience to hear your mistakes played back. It’s like listening to yourself on an answering machine.
Joe Satriani -Stay in tune
If the notes don’t sound right, it won’t feel right.
Have a look at their full list of tips.
Regardless of your opinion of Prince’s musical stylings, you can’t argue with fact that the guy is a killer guitarist. He manages to shred with soul, a feat that is accomplished by a rare few.
This performance of the Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps from the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction of George Harrison features Tom Petty, Dhani Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Stevie Ferrone, and Prince.
If you’re impatient, Prince’s solo kicks in at 3:30, and continues throughout the song.
The Old Crow Medicine Show is an old-time sting band that I’m told is reminiscent of early 20th Century, pre-recording music (I claim no expertise on the subject).
Their most popular song (according to iTunes & YouTube) is Wagon Wheel. It’s a folksy, twangy number that OCMS created from an unfinished Bob Dylan song. Enjoy.
Wagon Wheel grew on me while jamming with the NJ Acoustic Music in the Park Meetup Group.
It’s a fun song to jam on, and if you live near Central Jersey, the Meetup Group is a wonderful, judgement free place to play.
Check us out at http://www.meetup.com/NJ-Acoustic-Music-in-the-Park/