Becoming a guitar-god is a long and winding road starting from the best guitar lessons for beginners to being fraught with so many differing opinions and palm calluses, it can be hard to know where to take quality advice.
We are in luck that some of those already certified gods were paying attention. When they weren’t busy partying, or simply hanging around looking cool, some been have giving back to their fans invaluable guitar music lessons.
The top-hatted guitar titan takes a very natural approach to his song writing. Talking with Guitar Center Sessions, he outlines the importance of recording all of your favorite ideas the first chance you get, ‘I make sure I get it down, because you tend to forget stuff.’
He also thoroughly recommends jamming as much as you can ‘playing live… it’s one of the reasons I jam so much. I don’t think I get the same experience and I don’t think I get technically any more proficient from just sitting around playing by myself’.
A 2008 interview with NME magazine saw the ex-smiths and Modest Mouse guitarist give aspiring guitarists a boost with these tips for beginners.
“When you start playing, don’t be put off by the first couple of weeks’ pain while you develop calluses. If you’ve never played before, your fingers do get sore. But that’s the very first step; don’t ever be put off.
Then, if you’re gonna get a teacher, only get one who can show you songs by your favorite band. Under no circumstances learn classical guitar if you wanna play in a rock band. If you wanna learn a Franz Ferinand song or an Oasis song, then try and do that. You’re better initially trying to stick with fairly simple songs that are chordy and strummy so you’re not trying to learn any super-tricky riffs from the off.
Basically, pick some songs that you like and get somebody to show you them. Chord books are really good; the graphic nature of playing guitar is one of the things that makes it easy to learn. But even rock chord books are filled with some chords that you don’t really need to know. If you want me to do it for you, stick with E, E minor, A, A minor, D,B and G. That’ll do for now. Then, if a few weeks down the line you’re getting on swimmingly with these, go ahead and tackle F.
Some people struggle with barre-chords, and it puts them off, so don’t do it. Just be a guitar player who at first learns all the other first-edition chords that are mentioned. And when you’ve got a bunch of songs together – and a band even – you can then start throwing barre-chords in. When you’re first starting out and want to learn all the chords, get a capo and put it really high up – that way you’re not stretching across, because the frets are closer together on the neck. Learn an acoustic if you can, because then if you graduate to an electric, it’s a much easier step than the other way round. Learning on an electric guitar is like learning to drive on an automatic car, it’s almost too easy. Acoustics are a bit difficult to handle. Also, if you’ve got a mate who’s better, play with them as much as you can, because you learn more in playing with someone else in half an hour than you do playing guitar on your own for five hours.
What else do you need to know? Well, make sure you’ve got the right clothes and haircut for the job. Obviously.”
The former Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist gives all of his inside method tips in this complete breakdown of how to play ‘Under the Bridge’ for Guitar World magazine. He also finds time to break into tangents on funk and the merits of Jimi Hendrix’s playing style.
On Funk: ‘Just don’t press down all of the way… it makes it more of a percussive instrument’.
His teaching style is very much based on showing rather telling so watch the full video below.
The late metal hero was always eager to offer advice to his fans and had great tips on how to keep your shredding skills up-to -speed.
Play Trills: ‘Whenever I feel my chops are slacking, I’ll play some wide-stretch trilling exercises and take them up and down the neck as well as across it. I’ll start off with a two-fret stretch trill between my index and middle fingers and do that until I feel a burn. Then I’ll do the same thing with a three-fret trill between my index and ring fingers, and then a four-fret one between my index and pinkie’.
Play from the heart.
Even though I’ll do finger warm-ups that go up and down the neck to build up my chops and dexterity, I never, ever sit around and practice the actual licks I’m gonna play live. If you do then you’ll be all worried about the complexity of getting the fingering right and everything else about it, as opposed to the feel…and to me the feel overrides everything’.
If your favorite guitarist is Metallica’s Kirk Hammet, you’d be interested to know that his teacher was the great surfer with the alien: Joe Satriani.
The guitarist’s guitarist gives regular tips and lessons from his website on everything from ‘pitch axis’ to the pressure you place on your frets: ‘when you’re hammering-on and pulling-off, it’s actually all about accuracy, not strength. Find out where the perfect spot is to hammer-on and to pull-off, and then expend energy only to do that, and get rid of everything else’.
A compilation of Joe Satriani’s guitar tips gives a concise display of his best advice.
Where does all of this combined advice lead?
All of these guitarists have invested hundreds of dedicated hours to becoming a better musician (also see how to find more time to play guitar). It is also their dedicated approach to learning, which has really led them to become who they are today.
When you cant receive the feedback and hands on approach of a guitar legend through your computer screen, a music will allow you all of the hours and personal tuition you need to make an impression on the music scene. www.bimm.co.uk offers a wide range of courses these guitar gods would have killed for the opportunity to study on.
Before you go, check out our new guitar playing tips page for more guitar chit chat.