How Good is Good Enough?
What does it mean to be good on guitar? What does it mean to be great? The best? Guitar god?? First, it depends on who you talk to. Everyone has a different opinion. For example, I think Slash from Guns N’ Roses is a fine guitarist. My college roommate, however, thought that Slash absolutely sucked. “My grandmother can play better than Slash,” he’d say. I’ve never heard his grandmother play guitar, but if she can play the guitar solo at the end of Paradise City, I’d be impressed. Generally speaking, you aspire to play the songs that you like. So, if you don’t care about playing solos, then you probably don’t bother to learn scales. If you like Neil Young and Nirvana, you’re probably more motivated to learn chords and how to strum along with your favorites. You put yourself into a certain box. That’s fine. At the end of the day, you’re playing what you want to play, and what makes you happy. I always wanted to be able to play it all - rock, blues, jazz, even (God help us) country. I wasn’t happy until I got down at least the fundamentals of all styles. But maybe you’re not that into doing that. It’s OK to learn only heavy metal if that’s what you want and it’s just a hobby. If you’re trying to make it as a pro, however, things change. Suddenly you’ll be asked to play things you never dreamed you’d play - like Edelweiss.
Suddenly it’s not all about you and what you like, it’s about what the gig (job) calls for. It’s what the person who asked you to play with him/her needs you to do. If you’re interested in playing functions, parties, cruise ships, horse shows, etc., you have to be ready to play a bunch of different styles of music. Not to worry, of course; an ‘A’ chord is an ‘A’ chord, whether it’s in Back in Black or the Macarena. I hadn’t thought much about how flexible I’d need to be if I wanted to keep working as a musician. As in any business, you have to keep your customers happy, and music is no exception. And it can be tough to be a master at all styles. I have my strengths, some types of music I’m better at than others, especially if I listen to a lot of it. Other types I’m not as good at. I may never be a great fingerstyle player. But I can do it. I’d consider taking a gig that calls for it. It doesn’t matter that there are plenty of other guitarists out there that can run circles around me when it comes to fingerstyle guitar. I’m good enough. Music is one of those areas where so much of what we consider ‘good’ comes down to personal taste. Unless you’re auditioning to get into music school or the like, being good enough really comes down to being happy with where you’re at with your own playing. Even if you can’t play the guitar solo at the end of Paradise City.
Copyright 2014 Lance Vallis