What Makes A “Good” Guitarist

By nature, guitarists tend to be very competitive. We all want to be able to play the craziest, fastest and most complicated solos or percussive finger style songs. But that doesn’t necessarily make you a “good guitarists”. So what then makes a guitarist “good”?

1. Knowledge

Any decent musician MUST know their music theory. This would involve knowing the notes of every scale (major, minor, pentatonic etc.), knowing the modes, diatonic harmony, chord composition, circle of fifths, intervals and much more.

2. Skill

Of course a “good” musician needs to have some serious chops under his belt. Techniques like alternate picking, economy picking, fingerpicking, sweeping, legato and harp-harmonics all contribute to a guitarist’s abilities. Speed is also a factor here.

3. Sight Reading

If a guitarist doesn’t at least have a basic understanding of sight reading, then they’re really only limiting themselves. Remember – Sight Reading is NOT music theory, it’s simply the written form of what we hear. Aside from being able to sight read, other areas will improve from learning this component, such as timing, rhythm and your general understanding of music.

4. Originality and Creativity

Now this is a tough one. In a world where so many possibilities have been already used, how then can you be original in your use of music? If you look at any innovative guitarist, they’ve done something that other’s haven’t done before. I’m not saying you need to completely revolutionise the guitar industry, you just simply need to be expressive in your playing and composing. Every person is unique and so your own music should reflect that.

5. Listening Skills

All good musicians need to have good listening skills. After all, music is audible isn’t it! A “good” musician will be able to identify tonality, keys, modes, intervals, extension chords, altered chords, arpeggios, scales and chord progressions all completely by ear. They should also be able to figure out how to play songs on their instrument – even if their instrument isn’t even used in the song.

So how do you get to be good at these things? Get yourself a good guitar teacher (preferably from UGA!!). Practice. A lot. Here’s a checklist that you can use to identify what areas you are already competent with and what needs work. If you’re unsure what you’re “good” at, then make a short youtube clip and send us the link – we’re happy to view it and provide some feedback for you!

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