The Secret to Becoming a Better Guitarist

For most of my guitar-playing life, I’ve been trying to find the secret to becoming a better guitarist. I’ve spent countless hours reading magazines and books, scouring the Internet, and searching for teachers. What I’ve learned is this: There is no secret.

Becoming a better guitarist takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance. There are no shortcuts. This is a lesson that has taken me many years to learn. Actually, I’m still learning this lesson. The way all the guitarists I admire got better was by playing, listening, and learning. That’s what it’ll take for me and you to get better, too.

Posted in: Beginners


13 Responses to “The Secret to Becoming a Better Guitarist”


We keep learning and playing because we love it!

March 2nd, 2010 at 10:55

While it is certainly true that you are not going to get any better just by reading articles in magazines (most of which are written by random writer guys with no “secrets” to share), it is undeniable that some people advance faster than others. You have to practice, but the way you practice matters. There are lots of little secrets to learning guitar. Don’t you agree?

March 2nd, 2010 at 19:26

I have found that a good guitarist never stops learning. The subject is way too big to master. I think that you should enjoy the journey and enjoy your playing. It is easy to become frustrated especially in the early days.

One other thing to remember is that the race is with yourself. The sad fact is that even if you become and outstanding talent on guitar, you may never achieve any real recognition.

I once saw Sting accept a music award and what he said stuck in my head, “Music is its own reward”.

Enjoy your playing, keep playing, find new things to play that you enjoy, you will get better.

Don’t forget the learning curve too. Some people go from zero to hero in a short space of time on guitar but to get the maturity in your playing can take a hundred times as long. By this I mean getting your bends perfectly in tune, getting your vibrato just right or adding the slight changes in the way you play your notes to get “that” sound.

Last thing, how good a player you are is subjective. Your playing may really turn some off while have others on their knees begging for more.

March 3rd, 2010 at 06:06

If there is a secret it is probably to integrate single note lines and chords – the hardest thing to do well. Chord melody playing will help with this,and maybe an hour spent on this is worth many more just going through scales.

March 4th, 2010 at 20:31
Ed Pauley

Good observations, guys. We are so fortunate the guitar never stops giving up its secrets – as long as we keep looking for them. Simply put, guitar is a lifestyle.

March 4th, 2010 at 21:39

“What I’ve learned is this: There is no secret.” I love posts that short and to the point as well as being on point.

March 5th, 2010 at 13:25

@Mark – Thanks for stopping by!

@Andre – There are certainly things that you learn over time that seem like secrets, but the point I’m trying to make is that seeking out those secrets, from my experience, have taken away from actually learning the basics that lead to those “secrets”.

@Andy – Yes, all of the musicians I admire are open to learning and realize that they have more to learn. It’s the learning curve that can be frustrating at times. Some things come quickly, while some things take a long time to learn.

@Jon – Combining chord and single line melodies would be very interesting. Any specific exercises to try?

@Ed – Yep, guitar is a lifestyle, and it requires constant attention.

@Sarge – thanks for stopping by!

March 6th, 2010 at 14:59

The guitar has developed so much over the years, you can make a whole array of sounds from it, its fantastic. One never stops learning the techniques and technology! Good post.

March 13th, 2010 at 17:59

So true..talent helps, but genuine passion trumps all.

March 21st, 2010 at 20:53

True that!
I think we all get the “try to read everything you can on everything at once” and not on a specific subject.
Then comes information overload! and you don’t make progression
I like your words: Dedication and Perseverance, that must be the ol’ core essentials to mastering the guitar.

Short but powerful post, very nice josh

March 22nd, 2010 at 00:57

Lots of PATIENCE…that’s the key to becoming a better guitarist!

April 2nd, 2010 at 16:13

[...] Practice providing his thoughts about what it takes to get better, responding in part to my article The Secret to Becoming a Better Guitarist. In that article, I posited that there actually are no secrets; Anthony agrees, but says that there [...]

April 5th, 2010 at 21:23

I follow the PP rule: Passion and Patience. Both are extremely important to keep up with the learning curve. I have been learning since nearly six months and I think I’m still passionate about learning guitar.

April 6th, 2010 at 12:23

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