The Guitar Greats
Playing the guitar takes dedication and perseverance. You won’t just wake up one day and be able to play Eruption. You need to stick with it and practice daily. Your favorite guitarists didn’t become as great as they are by just wishing to be better – they put in the time. While we can’t sit with you and make sure you’re actually practicing outside of lessons, we can give you some motivation to keep going by sharing how some of the most famous guitar greats got their start and their key practice tips.
Jimi Hendrix: Hendrix defined what rock music is with zero formal training. While he’s one of the greatest guitar players of all time, he still had to put in the work. He didn’t come out of the womb flawlessly playing Hey Joe (much to our surprise) but started his career by playing along to records of other guitarists. He would constantly practice, although it didn’t come naturally to him – he could only play three songs as a beginner and couldn’t even read music.
Eric Clapton: Clapton’s childhood was filled with music; most of his family members played an instrument, and he started playing guitar at the age of 13-years-old. He became enthralled with the guitar and even got kicked out of art school because he spent more time playing than he did studying. While Clapton probably wouldn’t recommend you do the same, the key takeaway is that he practiced constantly.
Eddie Van Halen: The master of riffs got his start playing the piano, surprisingly. His father was a pianist and introduced the instrument to Van Halen and his brothers. However, growing up during the rock ‘n’ roll era did little to entice Van Halen towards the piano, and he instead gravitated towards the guitar. He would practice for hours on end each night. Noticing a theme yet?
Pete Townshend: The self-taught The Who guitarist was introduced to the world of music from his guitar-playing father. He started out on a harmonica then perfected his craft on a banjo before finally moving to the guitar. His favorite way of practicing was by watching other great guitar players and mimicking their style. He had the passion for music and the determination to succeed, which you all do, too.
Chuck Berry: Berry is known by some as the father of rock ‘n’ roll but actually got his start singing in his church’s choir. He was a star singer, but picked up the guitar after he performed a duet with a guitar player at his school’s talent show and the guitarist got more praise than he did. Berry and the guitar parted ways for some years after a run-in with the law, but he picked it back up in the 1950s and never stopped again.
Jeff Beck: The Grammy-winning guitarist’s flawless technique came from constant practice in his youth. He learned off of a borrowed guitar and even tried to make his own guitar at one point. He recommends practicing between four to five hours each day, whether you want to practice straight or break up the time.
Hopefully this post lit a fire in you, and you’re ready to put in the work. Before you get back to practicing, be sure to check out our Hits from the Greatest Guitar Players playlist on Spotify.