Having a favorite guitarist is a great way to gain motivation for becoming a better guitar player. When you have someone to look up to, it inspires you to want to play music like them, which drives you to practice and improve your skills. Many guitarists begin this way and move on to become great players (sometimes becoming even better than their main influences). Here are several ways to quickly become as good as your favorite player:
Work together with a guitar teacher
This is the primary action you must take before anything else. Why? Without a guitar teacher, it’s impossible to know for sure which things you should be practicing and HOW to practice them in order to get better. Even if you download tabs from your favorite guitarist’s songs, this does not help you understand how you should practicing the material to learn it effectively and improve your overall playing faster.
Tom Hess, pro guitar player and guitar teacher trainer suggests finding a guitar teacher with the following traits:
1. The teacher teaches in your specific musical style. In other words, if you play rock, don’t take lessons with a classical guitar teacher. Find someone who specializes in what you want to play.
2. The teacher has proper credentials. Many guitarists assume that teachers with music degrees are qualified to teach. In reality, having a music degree does not help you understand how to teach guitar, it only helps you understand how music is made. Look for a guitar teacher who has credentials that are specifically related to guitar teaching.
3. The teacher has already helped many students achieve their musical goals. When you see that a guitar teacher has provided results for his students, there’s a good chance he/she will do it for you too. Guitar teachers who haven’t helped many students become great players often are just beginning or simply don’t know how to teach guitar effectively.
Study your favorite guitarist’s style very closely
Once you’ve found a teacher, work together with this person to understand the specific style of your favorite player so you can learn all the correct techniques, scales, arpeggios, exercises, etc. that you need to practice. Learning with a teacher helps you stay on the right track so you don’t end up practicing something that won’t bring you to your ultimate goals. In the end, you should have a list of guitar skills to practice and a clear strategy for how to get better at those skills over a set period of time.
Apply the skills you learn into your own playing
Don’t only learn the songs of your favorite guitarists. This is what most people do, and they usually don’t become very good guitarists because of it. The best guitarists learn how to apply the different skills they learn into all areas of their guitar playing. So if you learn a cool lick that your favorite player wrote, break it down to understand what techniques were used in its creation. Then see how you can apply these techniques into all areas of your guitar playing. For example, taking speed picking from a lick and using it to practice your scales, improvise or write a lick of your own. The possibilities are endless, and when you do this you become a better guitarist much faster!