Learning guitar in this era

It’s a blessing and a curse. You have websites, video clips, and content coming out of your ass, but you also have a short attention span and 397 other commitments. I don’t envy you one bit. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure if I was a teenager in this current era, I’d be a crappier guitarist than I am now. Lucky I did all my woodshedding pre internet. Otherwise I’d be waaay fucked. It’s all about time management and organizing, anyways. So, this blog is dedicated to the guitarist who is going to learn without a private guitar teacher.


I’m just going to list the way I’d learn things in somewhat of an order. Now, obviously, this isn’t etched in stone, as there’s young kids out there who can grasp music, technique, feel, all that shit intuitively. And to that I say, skip over this and join a fuckin’ band, write and record some songs. Because songs are where it’s at. That’s always gonna be where it’s at. But yes, I am painting with broad strokes here. Take what you like, throw away the rest.

I find it odd that many people want to burn like Loomis or Gilbert, they want to do sweeps, but they don’t even know the note names. So this’ll be a fairly broad list of stuff you should know (or want to know), and the order. Finding a buddy to jam with early on is also in your best interest. In high school I had a few friends to exchange ideas with (Scot Miller, Dave Hull, and Eric Fraser. All still playing today).

1. Note names / major and minor chord names

2. All 5 boxes on the Major and Minor Pentatonic scale. In E minor and A minor. You’ll understand later.

2.5. Vibrato. Andy James says it’s categorized under the ‘feel’ category. Paul Gilbert says vibrato and phrasing are the two biggest challenges in guitar today. Do me a flave, watch this clip and rip off George’s finger vibrato. You’ll make everyone pleased as punch. for reals.

3. Modes of the C major scale in three note per string form. Why? In shred/burn, all the fast stuff is usually three note per string. Makes sense. This will help get you there.

4. Ear training and jamming with a band. I was in bands since I was 14. The earlier you can start jamming with people, the better. This can actually go at 1.5, ha ha.


5. Legato (Left hand burning, a la Nuno, lynch, De Martini, Garsed, Holdsworth, Govan)

6. Staccato (picking every note, a la Yngwie, Gilbert, Becker, DiMeola)

7. Tapping (EVH, Rhoads, sweep taps, etc etc)

8. Sweep arpeggios (This is usually first with every young fucker I run into). Can’t write a song or grasp even basic theory, but you’re happy to sweep all over the place. The enthusiasm is cute, but mostly annoying. It’s like trying to teach a toddler jiu jitsu. It ain’t gonna happen.


9. Hybrid picking (If you’re into that. I’m trying to get into it now and finding it quite a lil’ bitch, tbh).

10. Ugggh, I’m running out of steam. Repeat all that shit until you die, I guess.

When I was 19, The first Paul Gilbert Video (Intense Rock 1) came out. I was busy for years. I still don’t have all of it down. I’ll add that video and the Vinnie Moore one, and that’ll seriously keep you busy for a good 3-5 years.


Practice time. I did 3-6 hour days from about the ages of 18-21. I’d say if you REALLY want to make some progress, do a minimum of an hour a day. Jam with friends, listen to all kinds of music. Check out what Chris has to say on practicing below.

GOOD LUCK!! I have once again run out of steam. Oh, and limit the fucking forums you’re on. Wouldn’t you rather be playing than typing?



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