20 guitar tips from the pros

(Image credit: Ebet Roberts / Getty)

ELECTRIC GUITAR WEEK: Everyone has to start somewhere, and every guitar player has encountered hurdles in their playing. Here, we pick the brains of 20 world-class guitarists, frontmen and singer songwriters to bring you advice on how they got there, and how they continue to improve.

Electric Guitar Week is brought to you in association with Fender. Check out the Electric Guitar Week hub page for more tips and tutorials.

1. Don’t force it

“Being creative is a constant thing; you’ve always got to be available for a great idea to land in your lap. You can’t just decide when that happens. You can’t write to order, that’s not what music is.” Simon Neil, Biffy Clyro

When it’s driving you mental and you can’t quite figure out the Rubik’s Cube, it’s best to leave it alone for a while.

Richard Hawley

2. Small things make a difference

“A lot of your tones comes from even the type of pick you use. It’s really interesting. Did you know that you can get 10 picks from a music store, and if you’re using enough distortion, each one will sound totally different? It can make you think you’re playing a totally different amp!” Eric Johnson

3. Get out there!

“You’ve got to live life and express that through your music. If your life is just being in your bedroom, then it’s obvious that the music you make will be pretty boring. I think you have to get out and live life and do some dodgy stuff. That will come out in your music.” Billy Duffy, The Cult 

4. Record yourself

“People always say to practise to a metronome. I would say that is not enough. Doing that doesn’t give you the feedback of how well you’re really doing. You might think that you’re really nailing it, but maybe you’re not. My advice is to record yourself to a click and listen back. Analysing yourself forces you to become a much tighter player. If you are serious about guitar and you want to be better in the studio, just record, record, record.” Misha Mansoor, Periphery  

5. Step back

“When it’s driving you mental and you can’t quite figure out the Rubik’s Cube, it’s best to leave it alone for a while. Don’t just keep hammering away, because you’ll probably see what it is that you’re trying to do from a different angle on a different day… and you’ll get it. Be patient with yourself, because you can’t get it all in one day. If you truly fall in love with the guitar – and I’m a head-over-heels, married man to the guitar and I still love it every day – it’s something that will accompany you in your loneliest and most difficult moments.” Richard Hawley  


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