How did you break through and "get good"?


Strat-Talk Member
Aug 3, 2020
Canberra Australia
It's hard to break through from a player that simply mimics things that he has practiced to one who can play extemporaneously with versatility.

Can you pin point a period during which things clicked and you found yourself a more confident player who was that much closet to understanding how the guitar works? How did you do it?

What do YOU call good? - a musician who imitates other players, or some one does their own stuff? Two different journeys, often done back to back. Play a lot with other musicians and all play kinds of music, even stuff you don't like. Groove(rhythm) is paramount. Play everything with groove. It's not the note selection so much of great players - it's how the notes are phrased rythmically.

That's my take on it.


Brian H

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 7, 2016
For you it's a ladder..for me a fricking obstacle course.

This is a simple way of seeing it. I found this which shows 3 G Pen scales....thats in the darker tan segments. So its easy to get stuck in that position going across the neck. So I circled some of the paths I will use that are easy for me to go up the neck ..and down. Paths of least resistance :)

When you reach the next 'scale' you can play around on it...slide up or down to the next . There are many paths





Cali Dude

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 9, 2020
I made a commitment to myself to get lessons, practice my butt off, and be ready to be in a gigging band. I was lucky, and had a great teacher. In a year or so, I was in a gigging band playing rhythm and lead guitar for a classic rock band that also played country. After that, I stayed with the lessons to improve. I later joined multiple bands at the same time. It was a blast. Bottom line: Find a teacher you bond with; then practice.


Dr. Stratster
Gold Supporting Member
Silver Member
Dec 2, 2010
Peardale CA
Hasn't happened
May not...
But like
Dr. Strangelove
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb....

How I Learned to Stop Worrying
And Love the
Noise I make
On the deck in the hot months...
In my bedroom around noon...
In the living room by the stove in the cold months...


Senior Stratmaster
Dec 15, 2011
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
I get plateaued quickly after about 10 years of learning guitar, but then I got quick improvement especially in terms of accuracy, timing, and precision when I started recording.

Many people know that when you are recording a modern rock song, you will do what's called double tracking. Basically you play the same exact thing twice and stereo them left and right, that's how you get that modern guitar sound.

When I started learning double tracking, all the little mistakes, imperfections, inaccuracies all show up quite clearly when I listen back to my recording. So that's when I got motivated to practice to get my playing better, so that when I double track my stuff, it will sound as pristine as possible with very minimal discrepancies between the left and the right track. I suppose that is almost like "practice with intention" kind of mentality, which I suppose is a good thing.


Most Honored Senior Member
Jun 8, 2009
Area 51
It's interesting that you played sax in school, but had to have Vai tell you phrasing. :D Not laughing at you, laughing with you.....

Yeah - it was more the mental phrasing - singing it in your head before and as you are playing.
Along the same lines, one carryover from sax is that I still take breath pauses while I'm playing...


Strat-Talk Member
Jan 23, 2015
Vancouver BC
It's an interesting question because I don't consider myself to be a good guitar player. Part of the reason why is that I find it so hard to learn songs and riffs by ear (or 'mimic') but it's very easy for me to just sit down and spontaneously create music on the guitar. I've always been able to do that but it's only within the last 7 years or so that I've been happy with what I hear (out of about 25 years playing).


Senior Stratmaster
Sep 7, 2016
First of all, I'm still not good. But I had my biggest breakthrough in improvement when I finally got over my fear/shyness and started playing with other musicians.


Mar 16, 2014
East Texas
Someone taught me the pentatonic scale, and I played along with the radio and my favorite albums all of the time. At night in bed, I would mess with my new found pentatonic scale and bend all of the notes this way and that. I actually learned other scales before the pentatonic, but if you're gonna rock it's the one you want to know. Though, playing along with music helped the most I'd say.

Bob Spumoni

Senior Stratmaster
May 5, 2019
New England
Years ago, I was in a mediocre western swing/country group. A record producer (He had a couple clients whose names you would recognize) came to hear us practice, told us we weren't nearly ready yet. He told me individually to stop trying so d---d hard, stop trying to play so d----d fast, and above all LISTEN to myself for a change fer crissakes. He told me what I was playing wasn't music at all, just stiff, dead sounds.

I guess you could say he wasn't exactly the nurturing type. But he was absolutely right. When I get in a rut and start boring myself to tears just running the usual stuff faster and faster out of nothing but muscle memory, I always remember what he said. I slow down, loosen up so I don't try so hard even if it means more mistakes, and LISTEN to what I'm playing (which is after all what people hear).

I don't know whether I "got good" or not, but I got better.


Vivamus libero Vivamus duris
Jun 5, 2013
to be honest, i just started drinking alot and doing every kind of drug possible, and the next thing i knew i was up on stage doing it, and had no idea i was doing it. but i was.
so i dont remember.


May 25, 2020
I enjoy the honesty of this thread. Now I know that there are a lot of players like me...Not great, but Just play for fun and learn something new every now and then. I read topics on this board about all the gear somebody has, or all the settings on an amp, or a flawless set up. All of that stuff is a distraction for me. I just want to learn a song I have always wanted to learn, work on some basic solos or rhythm, and enjoy the process. Good to know I am not alone!


Strat-Talk Member
Dec 1, 2020
North Of Pittsburgh
A bass player and I were looking for a drummer because ours went off to college. So we met a drummer in a rented space in the next town over. We got our gear set up and an old dude came out and put sheet music in front of us. So we packed our stuff up and went quietly home.

That was the first time I quit guitar.

Mr C

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 17, 2016
New Zealand
I think the first time someone said ‘oh it’s you playing, I thought it was the radio’ was when I kind of thought to myself maybe your not a hopeless case after all....


Senior Stratmaster
Feb 3, 2016
Mesquite, Texas
The two things that really improved my playing were:

1. Playing live with other musicians.
2. Recording with other musicians. Especially recording other people’s original’s, which pushed me out of my comfort zones.


Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
Altered States
Lots of good info here... My issue is that I can improvise blues of a certain type very well... but I tend to stay in my groove. I need to force myself out of that area.

I find that one thing that helps me is to go to youtube and learn to play, inch by inch, something that's a little outside my normal area. It forces me to learn someone else's style and often really opens up my eyes as to new ways / sounds to play.