Have You Found The Kind Of Guitar Player You Are?
Posted: November 25th, 2013 by Ashley Saunders
In the last past, we discussed the kinds of guitar players there are. I talked through each one in some depth. What I didn’t do is tell you how to discover which one is most likely you; neither did we talk about how to set goals around your new found identity.
Let’s start with a recap of the kinds of guitar players there are:
Mr Pit is a freakishly good at reading complex music on the fly whilst under serious amounts of pressure. He is used to playing with a click track and is used to dialling in his tone using a digital modelling amp. He usually works in a theatre pit and so doesn’t travel much, unless the show goes on tour.
Mr on Tour
He is great at playing the same songs exactly the same night after night and knows them exceptional well. He is good at interpreting the vision of the artist into the final show. The allure of touring is the travel, although the demand of touring leaves little time for any major sightseeing adventures.
Mr Reader Session
This guy gets the call for movies, TV intro/outro, TV underscore (music within the TV show), radio jingles, music for adverts, etc. This guy can read fast and be able to move fast and can move from style to style without so much as a blink – and play them authentically.
Mr Pop Session
This guy gets called to play guitar on singles and album tracks. He is called for this work as he has a strong personal style and can play something similar to what’s currently on the radio. A lot of his work is done over emailed, although he does occasionally gets to record with a full rhythm section in a live studio setting.
His sole pursuit is to learn for the sake of learning and passing it on. He might not care too much about taking gigs or touring the world but helping others grow, learn and discover.
He’s an artist in his own right. He’s writing the songs, acting as the Musical Director, fronting the band, giving interviews, pushing the next gig, signing merch, and all the other stuff that goes along with being an artist.
This is similar to the one above, apart from your part of the band, all four or five, so you can work as a team on promoting the band, engaging with fans and writing the material.
The above list just about covers every type of guitar player there is. I didn’t cover bedroom rock star as there’s no career in that! Sorry!
How To Choose Which Guitarist You Are
So how to you choose which player you want to become?
For some of you, you won’t. It’s likely that you will start off playing in pubs and clubs. You will end up just fall into certain bands or in to touring with someone in a session capacity. And then from there, keep picking up more tours, recording work etc.
You could however start one band, and then get asked to join another which has some long term success and enables you to turn professional and make your income solely from music.
However, there are a small amount of you, who will want to plan, set career goals and try and achieve them.
Me and Session guitar work
I always wanted to do session work, and so I moved, over 100 miles away, to London in search of that kind of work. The change was dramatic; I went from living in small village with a few thousand, to one of the world’s biggest cities with millions living there. Big change but it was easy, as it felt like the right next step on the career I was trying to build for myself. The proof, as they say is in the pudding.
My result was this: In a few short years, I was playing over 100 gigs a year, multiple writing session with some top song writers each week, and got to play on some great recording session, which included some work being released in Japan and major A and R men heard my guitar parts on pitches they were played.
I didn’t try to waste time starting my own band or getting involved with people who wanted to mess around. Instead, I spent time work on building contacts with the right people which lead to some great work, some weird session but overall, achievement of what I set out to do.
Try Teaching guitar
I had to do some guitar teaching in order to keep food on the table from month to month as work could be patchy, and you will too, if you decided to pursue music. You will probably have to take every piece of work that comes your way, plus a few nights a week of teaching, in order to make a full time income. However, doing some teaching which ensure that you will have enough time practice and to concentrate full time on playing.
Like a challenge?
For those who really like a challenge and want to learn how to sight read. Firstly, you can’t “fake it” like you can with say country or the blues (even if you have time to prepare). Sight reading, really is an art form unto itself. You can spend a lot of time, effort and skill trying to develop your chops. However, as most shy away from any work which involves reading there will always be plenty of opportunity for those who do read to make an income. Being able to sight read does not mean you have to lose your own personal style or that work where you get to play in your own way will dry up. Actually, it could be the other way, as many more people might want to work with you as you’re not scared of the dots – even if the gig involves no reading!!
The hardest of all is being an artist by yourself and/or starting a band. By being a session guy, it’s expected that you’ll get paid, even it’s a tiny amount and that in return you’ll know the material really well and just get on with business of playing.
If you’re an artist, you have to fight for slots – even unpaid one. You have to fund rehearsals, merch, promotions etc. It’s often, lonely at the top, even if you’re in a band. Plus most band members are under different pressures and end up wanting different outcomes from life, which often means the band splits before it shows signs of success and this can often happen. This could leaves your dreams unfulfilled. The more time you can spend discussing where you’re going as a band. And using these talks to drive progress. Then the more likely you are to see your goals reach.
What guitar work do you want
So how do you decide what kinds of work you want to do?
Any type of session will be changeling. The joy of session work is being stretched and finding yourself playing with a range of different people in multiple situations. In less you’re touring or doing a theatre run, you’ll probably play with different sets of musician on each gig.
If that scares you, then becoming your own artist or starting/joining a band is for you. You’ll get to play as a team which is likely to remain the same for years. When you do get successful you’ll all be there to celebrate together and bask in the glory!
Most people fail as they don’t set meaningful goals and then don’t start on the way to achieving them. Don’t be one of them. Start setting goals, however easy the can be achieved, and then over time start to stretch yourself.
Have You Found The Kind Of Player You Are?
As a bonus, if you have any questions about your music career. Please write them below, I’ll jump in and answer them!