Are You a Guitar Player or a MUSICIAN?

WARNING: Hot Button Topic... 

Most guitar players like to believe that they're "Musicians" but generally their skills are so poor when compared to highly trained musicians that upon meeting one, they will run through a whole range of emotions - many of them not so good...

Back almost 30 years ago I had a very strict guitar teacher. He used to ask me this really harsh question at least once a month. He’d say, “Do You Want to be a Musician or Just a Guitar Player?” Obviously, "Just a Guitar Player" was the WRONG answer...

The first time he asked me this, I didn’t even know what he meant! And, when I asked him what he meant by that, he grabbed a piece of paper and wrote out some theory idea on it, like maybe an interval and he said, alright “is this an Augmented 4th or a Diminished 5th?”

When he did that to me, it really put me on the spot. But, as I said, he was a very stern teacher. Not a nice guy. I think his whole intention was that he wanted to make me feel like I had a lot to learn.

I recall him saying (often) that “A Guitar Player Just Plays the Guitar, But a Musician Knows and Understands Music – Even When the Guitar is Put Away in the Case at the Back of the Room.”


So, before we go any further take a moment out and see if you can answer that theory question that I just posed. Do you know what interval that is?

It’s actually a fairly straight-forward question of any music student who’s been working on the key signatures and learning about how the musical intervals operate. So, take a moment out and see if you can you answer it?

Intervals are the distance between two notes and they are named from their lower pitch to the higher. In this case the lower pitch is the "E." The higher pitch is "Bb."

The other part of naming intervals has to do with what is called "Quantity" and "Quality."

The Quantity of an interval is the letter-name distance from the lower letter name to the higher. In this case the lower letter name is "E," and the upper is "B." The flat does not matter in this step.

The distance from the "E" up to the "B" is five steps. So, this interval is some type of fifth.

The next step is the determine this intervals "Quality."

This involves two steps. The first step is understanding the total number of half-steps, (this is where the flat matters).

The "B" tone contains a 'flat' so we need to understand if that degree exists in the "Major Scale of our lower note.

Is there a "B flat" in the "E Major Scale?" The answer is NO. So, the interval is altered. Is it higher or lower than the interval located within the key? It is Lower.

Therefore the "Perfect 5th" located in the key of "E Major" has been "Diminished" The answer is "Diminished 5th."

I hope you tried to understand that instead of just copping out of answering it. If you cop out and say something like, “Well Jimi Hendrix Probably Couldn’t Answer That – And Are You Gonna Say He Wasn’t A Musician?” You've chosen the easy path, that’s the path of not answering, of getting defensive and really... it’s the path of giving up!

Who cares if Jimi Hendrix knew that answer, or if Santana knows that, or if BB King would have known that. What matters is if you know that, and even more important is actually if you care about learning the answer.

There’s hundreds of other musical questions just like that one - waiting to be understood. I know that there’s going to be thousands of players out there who get their back up and want to argue and scream at the top of their lungs that this stuff doesn’t matter.

Players who will fight this and say, nobody needs to know that because theory is stupid and nobody good knows theory anyway cuz Slash Rocks. I’ve heard it all over the years.

And, while I do think people can just go about their guitar playing life and do whatever they’d like to. The interesting thing to me is that I meet and talk with older age guitar players every week, who are usually in their 50’s, 60’s and even in their 70’s who wish they would have learned about this!Luckily, they're learning now!

I want to leave you with something important to consider. When I was younger and initially studying music, I wanted to learn and know about everything.

I had a whole bunch of different teachers and I eventually decided to pack my bags and head down to Hollywood California and attend the Musicians Institute. I was music knowledge hungry and I wanted to learn everything I could.

That was just my personality and that was who I was as a player back then. I never thought anything of it.

What I want to leave you with is a consideration of what learning more about music theory and music reading and harmony and complex styles like classical and jazz, just think of what pursuing that might end up giving you and the benefits that would be associated with that kind of knowledge.

As musicians, we grow more and more through exposure to new musical situations, new topics new songs, so be sure to ask yourself how much musical exposure you’re giving yourself.

These days with the internet and all of the information we have access to, you can actually learn a lot without even leaving the comfort of your home! So, ask yourself if you want to be a guitar player or if you want to be a musician.

And, think about what it could give you to really fully and completely understand music, even when the guitar is tucked away in the case at the back corner of the room.

I also for sure want to let you know about the guitar courses available over on my website at

I’ve got step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses that work alongside of in-depth elective programs to form the best guitar course available.

The courses work to help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to that next level of guitar playing, in a very organized step-by-step way, that makes sense.

I look forward to helping you further at

Until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next video. Bye for now. 



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