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> Playing To Our Strengths
Ben Higgins
post May 20 2011, 09:43 AM
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Greetings fellow Disciples of the String ! smile.gif

I was thinking about what truly makes a good, or even great guitarist. To me, I think it is when somebody follows their natural calling and develops in those areas that are most pleasing and fulfilling to them. Instead of fighting one's way down a path that they think they should be going down, one is instead allowing themself to follow their natural path and experience the necessary peaks and troughs that it will bring. In this way, progress is bound to be more forthcoming because the added bonus of natural gravitation towards a style is allied to the desire and effort coming from the student. To help explain my slightly confusing point I'll give an imaginary example.

Let's pretend that Eric Clapton had mixed directions as a guitarists when he was younger.. if he spent his efforts on trying to do things on the guitar that he didn't particularly want to do, but thought he should do because other people could, then his focus would have been fragmented and scattered in different directions. Because he spent time trying to learn jazz, funk and classical he didn't put his heart and soul into what he WAS good at and therefore we didn't get the bluesman of today. ohmy.gif

I don't mean a musician should be narrow minded at all.. but they should be focused on what brings them satisfaction and meaning as a musician or artist.. that way, they are much better placed to reach greater heights than if they spread their attentions too wide.

This brings me on to my main point (eventually!) Inspired by something Steve Vai said, I think as musicians we all need to spend time cultivating our strengths rather than always focusing on our weaknesses. We will all have something that we are naturally quite good at so if we have something positive that we can accentuate then why not do it ? biggrin.gif

I do think it's important to work on weaknesses (IF they are crucial and beneficial to our style) but for this thread let's forget them and share our strengths... what are your strengths ? smile.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: May 20 2011, 09:45 AM


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Chris Evans
post May 20 2011, 10:05 AM
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that makes perfect sense to me, from the very beginning of my six string journey I have only really stuck to one era of rock music (80`s), one, because I love it, and two, I feel thats what I play the best.

some may cringe, but I have never entertained the idea of learning how to play Jazz or country etc, sure you could argue that it "limits" me somewhat, but to me, I really dont care for it, I`m never going to and will never want to play it, its not in me so it will never sound any good, I`d rather spend my time and efforts on developing skills that will help me play even better the style I love to play the most smile.gif


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Azzaboi
post May 20 2011, 10:07 AM
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No pointing trying to learn it all and just being average. However, I'll like to point out...

As Michael Angelo Batio grew up, he had a rock instructor, he loved rock music, but also liked jazz/blues/classic techniques. He took pieces he enjoyed listening to from each and made it into his own thing - shred metal! He loved playing fast, and that's what he's known for.

Focus down on what you enjoy the most, to be great at something it needs to be something you love and are addicted to. However, all music has paths you should explore. Don't limit yourself? Some help build on other areas to make you even better and more open to new things as well.

I think the best way of developing, improve and move forward is actually to focus more on your weaknesses! By building on what your not so good at, you learn and improve on your exisiting skills too. Just keep your mini goal(s) focused on targeting your major goal.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post May 20 2011, 10:17 AM
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It makes perfect sense Ben, nice post smile.gif

I always loved to play the blues, that would be my strength. Focusing on the feel, phrasing, shuffled rhythms, bending, vibrato, were things that helped me become better player. However, focusing on technique is equally important, but playing fast doesn't provide me with that much pleasure really.


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Chris Evans
post May 20 2011, 10:26 AM
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QUOTE (Azzaboi @ May 20 2011, 10:07 AM) *
No pointing trying to learn it all and just being average. However, I'll like to point out...

As Michael Angelo Batio grew up, he had a rock instructor, he loved rock music, but also liked jazz/blues/classic techniques. He took pieces he enjoyed listening to from each and made it into his own thing - shred metal! He loved playing fast, and that's what he's known for.


I think thats the point though, MAB liked those techniques and explored them to become the MAB he is today, this is about "your" journey of discovery and becoming the player "you" want to be and creating your own identity rather than following what someone else did just because they did it and not because you wanted to.

I think if you have a sideline interest in other areas of music then you will naturally explore those areas and take things from it.


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Daniel Realpe
post May 20 2011, 02:49 PM
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I think this a very good advice for guitarists who already have been playing for some time and "know" the instrument more. For beginners I wouldn't say it's good advice because one thing is to listen to a particular style and another to play it.

For example, I enjoy listening to some classical guitar playing but I'm very bad at it. I know I'm not going to learn the style because it would take years and my motivation is not on it despite I enjoy listening to it sometimes.

Also, thanks to today's technology such as sequencers we can record any instrument we want and make them play whatever we want, or hey, maybe even call a friend to play a part for us in the nylon string guitar. So, I think it boils down to what our purpose is with music. Is it to pump our "guitar hero" ego?, or to create a piece of art that will inspire others and maybe even bring consciousness into this world?

No wonder Steve Vai explores writing on other instruments a lot too.

I guess it's two different kind of musicians. The performer of the instrument, and the creative writer who uses instruments as brushes on a canvas only.

This post has been edited by Daniel Realpe: May 20 2011, 02:54 PM


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Kristofer Dahl
post May 20 2011, 10:00 PM
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Fantastic topic Ben!

I couldn't agree more - in fact the only exception I see would be that it makes sense to look at your weaknesses if you think it could improve you strong sides...if that makes sense.

Al though I have never really been able to write anything other than rock/metal material - I have found that shallow excursions into other styles (let's say to just learn a jazz solo without having a clue about what the heck you are doing) can really be an eye opener.

The best is that it's fairly "cheap": Learning to play jazz could require a lifetime of practice (or two!!) - whereas learning to replicate someone else's jazz solo can easily be done in a day.

Doing that will give you such an advantage over the average guitarist in your style. But then of course if you don't like the sound of any jazz solo in the world - I would of course stick to Vai's thinking and say skip it!


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Todd Simpson
post May 21 2011, 01:27 AM
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A KILLER topic and GREAT ADVICE! For players just starting out, sometimes they can get driven by insecurity or the inability to play something rather than the desire to play something the love and might be better at. Not everyone is a "blues guy", or a "shredder", or what not, and it would be boring if they were.

Following a path that focuses on the music you love and your strengths as a player is simply sage wisdom. Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't fight to get "better" but that's almost a different topic.

As for pushing yourself creatively, I"m a bit believer in "stretching" yourself by jumping in to unfamiliar ground. Much like Kris Dahl, I write a LOT of METAL/ROCK. So I"ve intentionally started writing anything but. Some of which has NO GUITAR. This forced me to learn to play keyboards and learn about melody outside of my instrument. It helped a great deal when I went back to guitar. Here is an example track featuring KEIKO TAKAMURA on Guest Vocals.

Attached File  running_Feat_keiko.mp3 ( 4.98MB ) Number of downloads: 115


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casinostrat
post May 21 2011, 01:30 AM
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This is a great topic! Often we focus so much upon how to improve our weak points in playing guitar we totally ignore our strong points. In my opinion there needs to be a balance between the two, in other words looking to make the strong points stronger, as well as developing and improving the weak points. In my playing I have tended to be focused more on the blues, and consequently my strengths as a player tend to be in those areas that the blues emphasizes. Consequently then, my weak points are in areas that the blues does not commonly address. But when I work on the areas where I'm weak, it will make the areas where I'm strong sound all the better. Playing guitar is a lifelong journey, and part of it is learning to deal with both our strengths and our weaknesses


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Todd Simpson
post May 21 2011, 05:13 AM
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Also very well said smile.gif In the end, Guitar, like just about everything else, is about "Balance". FInding that balance can take a life time. Here we go again, but It really is a journey more than a destination. This is cold comfort when your first starting and your fingers won't do what your brain wants them to do. But it's a truth that comes after much practice. wink.gif

QUOTE (casinostrat @ May 20 2011, 07:30 PM) *
This is a great topic! Often we focus so much upon how to improve our weak points in playing guitar we totally ignore our strong points. In my opinion there needs to be a balance between the two, in other words looking to make the strong points stronger, as well as developing and improving the weak points. In my playing I have tended to be focused more on the blues, and consequently my strengths as a player tend to be in those areas that the blues emphasizes. Consequently then, my weak points are in areas that the blues does not commonly address. But when I work on the areas where I'm weak, it will make the areas where I'm strong sound all the better. Playing guitar is a lifelong journey, and part of it is learning to deal with both our strengths and our weaknesses



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maharzan
post May 21 2011, 08:10 AM
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What if everything is a weakness? note not all people are gifted with talent. probably 20% people know how to play guitar well but not everyone can be like vai. wink.gif


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Ben Higgins
post May 21 2011, 09:58 AM
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QUOTE (maharzan @ May 21 2011, 08:10 AM) *
What if everything is a weakness? note not all people are gifted with talent. probably 20% people know how to play guitar well but not everyone can be like vai. wink.gif


Ah, but let us not forget Kris's words of widsom 'There is no natural talent, just hard work' smile.gif

But I do hear and understand your point.. we all will have strengths somewhere.. it may not be immediately apparant in the physical side of playing but you might have a great strength for patience.. or resilience, or listening which are all things that are very important in the development of a skill. smile.gif

I also should have highlighted it more but I didn't say we shouldn't look at our weaknesses, we most definitely should.. but let's dedicate some time (and this thread) to celebrating our strengths and the places it may lead us. smile.gif

Todd, Kris and casinostrat you are most definitely right.. it's all about balance.. and you can make adventures into other styles of music and skim ideas from it, as Kris says, rather than 'master' the style..

It's all about what you want as a guitarist.. but focusing and working with our strengths is a definite road to something good smile.gif



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