question #2

"I find the guitar
to be a very
frustrating instrument.
Do you?"

- Matt Reeves in Raleigh, North Carolina

I use to. I am quite certainly a recovering frustrated guitarist. The question is: Why do so many guitarists feel this way? I believe it has a lot to do with how the average person learns to play a guitar.

When starting out, most guitarists are able to acquire all the necessary skills for playing basic melodies, open and barre chords, along with a variety of movable scale patterns with very little resistance. Before long, however, many of these same guitarists (of which I was one) hit a wall. Significant improvements to their overall skills and know-how become slower and slower and slower until they eventually stop completely. This is when the frustrations creep in.

This is why a guitar is probably one of the easiest instruments to play, yet one of the hardest to master. Because the same common approaches and attitudes, used to make playing basic guitar easy in the beginning, are inadvertently creating limiting habits which end up inhibiting guitarists in the end.

The solution to my frustrations came in two parts.

Part one was when I realized: everything is connected. No matter what style of music I wanted to play on the guitar, they all use the same 12 notes, 3 octaves and 5 positions.

Part two was when I could sincerely accept this simple truth: playing a guitar is an art, not a science. So instead of blindly following what I thought I "should" or "needed" to do, I simply asked myself: "What do I want to do?"

"For some it can be played in a few days while others need to spend a lifetime perfecting their art, but in the guitar
there is something for everyone."

— Barney Kessel, jazz guitarist