We receive messages and emails from fans from time to time not only regarding the band for booking, merchandise, videos, etc., but on occasion, we get asked questions more specific. Yesterday, we received one of the latter messages and we feel the need to share it and the response just for the sake of transparency and honesty.
The message addressed a few members of the band and went on to ask what we thought this fan should do in the way of bettering his guitar playing. Sean fielded the question. Here is his reply:
This is Sean. My best advice is to continue to play what you like, but also continue to stretch yourself. I started by playing along with rock songs I enjoyed the most (Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water", Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", etc etc etc), but I kept reading what the best players were doing. I read guitar magazines that showed Zakk Wylde's pedal board and amp settings and who he looked up to as a kid, different exercises that built up my fingers and gave me a feel for the fretboard, etc. Nowadays, you can always just watch other people's videos on YouTube and even view personal lessons as well. As long as you're developing an ear for what sounds good to you and keeps your interest in guitar, it's all good. I have personally never posted a video of myself just playing because, deep down, I know there are million way better guitarists than myself. But, that's just me. I continue to grow and play what makes me happy. In the last few years, I have spent way more time playing riffs that I thought up and finding ways that the band can utilize them as potential songs for us to play. About 20% of the riffs I come up with actually make it to a legitimate NOWAKE song and that's ok. It's what keeps me going. I no longer want to look up other people's songs and try to figure them out like I used to. Although, on the occasion that I do look up a YouTube video or tab on someone else's song, I usually find myself learning more usable styles that, in turn, becomes apparent in my music... so maybe I should spend a little more time jamming along with songs I hear on my Spotify or Pandora stations LOL.
Anyway, keep doing what makes you happy and keep challenging yourself. Have fun!
In a world of flashy guitar videos that leave you feeling like you will never be good enough, just do you. Play what is fun and continue growing in your craft. If you end up like Eddie Van Halen, playing for millions of people in sold-out arenas, great. If you end up being like the rest of us who just enjoy getting together and playing fun songs, perfect.