Today I want to give you a powerful tool to help you cut through the crap and finally become the guitarist you’d like to be.
Anyone who’s picked up guitar in the last 20 years has been living in a time of informational abundance.
Whereas Paul McCartney had to take a series of busses just to learn how to play B7, you and I have the power of the internet and a vast catalog of instructional materials at our disposal.
This informational abundance is mostly a boon, but it comes with a price.
Whereas once guitarists were great at learning by ear, now we’re much more likely to google the TAB for a song we want to know how to play.
We buy books and video courses with titles like 50 Rockabilly Licks or 2500 Guitar Chords or The Complete Book of Guitar Scales. But even extensive study of these doesn’t turn us into proper musicians.
It calls to mind Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink.”
With so much information at our fingertips, the question has ceased being “Where can find this thing I want to know?” and has instead become “Am I working on what I should be working on next?”
Here’s an important mental framework to help you cut through the fog of true-but-useless information––to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
Strategy vs. Tactics
“Strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.”
“Tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective.”
Applied to guitar, this means that
- sweep picking
- playing guitar behind your head
- learning some cool licks or
- yet another song
are all tactics.
So what’s strategy?
- developing and maintaining a practice regiment
- learning where to find notes, chords, & scales anywhere on the neck
- understanding how these three things are related
- analyzing chord progressions
- mastering the get-paid skills
- transcribing solos by ear, then
- trying to understand where the soloist was coming from
- doing a little reading each and every day
If you didn’t notice, I have a marked preference for strategy over tactics.
I don’t want to be the 900th guy online who’ll show you how to play Get Lucky.
I want to be the guy you trust to help you formulate a plan to get your shit together, so you can enjoy music even more.
Plus If You Act Now
There’s a bonus that goes along with a strategy-first mindset:
If you take the time to get your strategic act together (ie. all the things on the strategy list above), the tactical things get waaaaaay easier.
It’s one thing to look up how to play G7b9, and quite another to know how to build one wherever you happen to be on the neck.
It’s one thing to get a TAB book of Joe Pass solos, and quite another to understand the approach behind his playing.
And as for sweep picking?
A smart, funny, beautiful woman swears off sex forever every time you do it.
So cut it out already.