Why You Can Do Everything Your Guitar Heroes Can - And More
12 Jun, 2017
What if your favourite players really AREN'T doing anything special?
Picture your favourite player in front of you. They're on stage and you're in the front row, having the time of your life.
They start their best song and the audience goes wild - how do they do such incredible things? The chord progression, the melody... it's perfect. They're a natural, for sure. How else would they do it?
In this lesson you're gonna learn why that's a load of rubbish, and why anyone - including you - can get to a world-class level of skill. This is the second "Mindset" article ( read the first here
) covering why your mindset towards guitar is the most important thing
. Nothing else comes close when determining your success.
Guitar Heroes and Super Powers
In the last article we explored the idea that "guitar heroes" aren't as amazing as you think, and are only presented that way because record labels make money from it.
Tell people your product is OK, and you won't make a penny. Tell people you've found the next big thing, and you can make millions.
People (including you and me) fall for advertising like this all the time. Products are rarely as incredible as adverts make out.
On the whole, advertising is great - it lets us know about products we might like, and lets companies share their ideas with us - but you need to know when to listen and when you're being deceived.
With guitar heroes, we're usually misled into thinking there's something special going on. So-and-so has such a unique style and feel, and no-one can ever come close to his pure expression on the guitar!
Just think about that for a moment, and question it. Are they REALLY as incredible as you've been told?
There's nothing special going on. If Jimi Hendrix can do it, so can you. He was a good player, but the media have made millions from branding him as something that he's not (i.e. someone with unattainable skills). This is true of ANY player, from ANY genre and era. Nobody has super powers - they all had the same starting point as you.
Don't think that I'm insulting all pro guitar players here!
That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that ANYONE can reach any level of skill they like, as long as they have the right mindset.
Car Adverts and Guitar Gods
Guitar hero advertising is a bit like a car advert.
Car adverts don't just tell the truth (and what most of us think when the novelty wears off) - which is that it just gets you from A to B.
Instead, they present the car as the next must-have life accessory. It's cool, it's sexy and it'll make your life better!
They do cool action shots of the car, and add special effects to make it look like a movie scene. They even hire good-looking actors and actresses to grab our attention!
We all know that the car isn't really that awesome; buying a new car isn't going to get us an attractive girlfriend, or make us truly happy, or give us great family time. It'll get us from A to B in comfort, but that's about it.
The advertising still draws us in, but we all know inside that the car isn't that special. Ever seen those hatchback adverts with shots that belong in a big-budget action movie? It's a hatchback for god's sake!
It's the same for guitar players, only most of us don't realise that there isn't anything fancy going on. We all get drawn in by the advertising, but forget that it's just that - advertising. It's not an accurate picture.
But why should it be any different to the car?
Next time you see an advert, review, interview or lesson from one of your favourite guitarists, remember that at its core it's still an advert
You know the car isn't really that amazing, so apply the same thinking to guitar. For that matter, apply the same thinking to everything!
But if They're Not Special, How Do They Sound So Awesome?
I know what you're thinking - "but they sound AMAZING! Surely sounding that good requires loads of talent and skill, right?"
On guitar (and on everything, in fact), the best-sounding and coolest-looking things aren't the hardest to play, or the hardest to write.
Let's take the right-hand tapping technique. When Eddie Van Halen first used it in his solo "Eruption", everyone was blown away. He was using both hands on the fretboard! It looked and sounded incredible - "he must be so talented", everyone said.
And then, when you try it, you realise that it's not that hard at all. In fact, it's easier than many other "shred" techniques like sweep picking and alternate picking. It looks awesome and sounds crazy, but it's actually pretty simple.
The same applies to almost everything that sounds or looks cool. Chances are it's not as hard as you think, or as hard as people say it is.
Take great songs and riffs, for example. Surely there must be something special going on, right? The people who wrote them must have loads of talent.
Well, no, actually. They've done lots of practice (and probably written hundreds, if not thousands of songs), but there isn't any talent involved.
Most great riffs and songs aren't actually complicated at all - they're quite simple, which makes them catchier and easier for listeners to follow. They use basic scales like the major and minor scales, because that's what people recognise and know.
They use common time signatures like 4/4 to make them easy to dance to, and even stick to common chord progressions like the "Four Chord Song"
So How Come I Can't Write Great Songs?
Once again, it comes down to thinking there's something fancy going on when there isn't
If you think that you have to do something special to write a great song, you'll dismiss all your simple ideas that might actually be great.
You'll try too hard and end up with songs that are difficult to follow or don't have a good structure.
When we're noodling or improvising we all think of great, simple ideas but we dismiss them because they're "too simple", or they don't seem like anything special. In reality, the fact that there isn't anything special going on makes the ideas better!
Simple ideas are easier to follow, easier for listeners to sing (which is crucial for a catchy song) and easier to build into something great. Simple is better!
Of course, you'll still need practice - nobody writes a hit without writing loads of songs first - but remembering that "simple is better" can really help you to improve your songwriting.
Why Does It Still Seem Wrong?
At this point you might be thinking that although this sounds pretty solid, there's something about it that feels wrong.
Surely it can't be THIS simple, right?
There are two reasons it feels "wrong":
1) Because you've hear the opposite all your life, so it feels strange to suddenly realise that it's all smoke and mirrors.
2) Because now you have no excuse! You can't blame your lack of skills on "talent" or "natural ability" - it's all down to YOU. If you're not the player you want to be, you've gotta play more!
Once you get over those, you'll realise how free this way of thinking makes you. You never think "oh, I could never play that". Instead, it's "I can't play that yet
" - which is way more exciting!
Why It's EASIER For You Than Your Heroes
It's actually easier for you to master the guitar than it was for your heroes.
Think about it. Most famous guitar players (Hendrix, Page etc.) didn't have the internet. The internet is full of literally THOUSANDS of free
guitar lessons you can use to improve.
You can even get close-up video of the best players in the world by typing their name into YouTube. Guitarists in the 70's and 80's would've killed for that!
Guitars weren't as well-built back then either because luthiers didn't have as much technology, so the guitar you own makes it even easier to play well.
Instead of thinking about the DISADVANTAGES you have compared to them, think of the ADVANTAGES. You'd be surprised how many there are.
Here's a little exercise:
1) Think of three of your favourite guitar players in the world 2) Write them down 3) Next to each, write three solid reasons you're at an ADVANTAGE in mastering the guitar than they were. Think about technology, tuition, etc.
It'll be difficult at first but you'll soon realise it's easy. You CAN be a great guitar player!
None of your heroes’ skills are unattainable – otherwise
they wouldn’t have attained them! It’s not talent, and it’s not natural
ability; it’s just down to having the right mindset.
Remember this, and you'll be ahead of 95% of guitar players out there.