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Respected for their versatility and high professionalism, studio guitarists (also commonly referred to as session guitarists) have always been some of the most demanded musicians in the music industry world. Being a studio guitarist means at first place having a flawless guitar technique that allows you to perform in a wide range of music genres, knowing how to use a wide variety of guitar and recording equipment to achieve the desired guitar sounds in any given situation and last, but not least, constantly working to improve your playing skills. You will also have to be either great at improvisation or at sight reading (prima vista) or ideally at both. We will also give you some useful tips and thus hopefully help you achieve your dream to become a professional studio guitar player.
Still determined to become a studio guitarist? OK then, heres where to start from:
1) Practice, practice, practice you should practice on a daily basis. That involves making different exercises to increase your speed, endurance and coordination, but also playing actual guitar songs, learning advanced guitar techniques, reading guitar books and articles, watching guitar lessons, practicing improvisation and sight reading. However, be extremely careful not to overwork and injure your hands. Doing all of the above-mentioned activities within a single day is way too much for a beginner (in fact even for an intermediate guitar player), as it requires at least 4 hours of playing per day. If youre not used to playing that much, your hands wont be able to handle the sudden change and you will most probably injure yourself. So to avoid injuries you have to gradually increase your playing time instead. Start with 45 minutes of guitar playing and 15 minutes of rest. If your hands feel relaxed after the rest, you can go for another 45 minutes of playing and another 15 minutes of rest. You can keep increasing your series like this, until you reach 8 series per day, which is equal to a total of 6 hours of guitar playing and 2 hours of rest.
2) Play with bands Find some bands to play with. A new band is always a new challenge and you will always learn new things, either from your bandmates, from the songs that you rehearse or from the fact that the place youre rehearsing in is filled with equipment thats completely unknown to you. With time you will not only increase your repertoire, which is always a good thing for a studio guitarist, but you will also get used to shaping your guitar sound with amps, effects, and even guitars that you have never used before and thats a thing that happens way too often in the career of a studio guitarist. One thing thats important to note when playing with different bands, try not to stick with bands that play in the same genre. For example playing in 3 different hard rock bands wont be very useful to you compared to playing in a hard rock band, jazz band and country band. After all, you need to learn to be versatile.
3) Make contacts Playing with different bands, performing live, visiting different studios and rehearsal rooms will undoubtedly result in meeting many new people related to the music world. As you practice steadily and your skills improve these people will start noticing you and at some point you will get some session recording offers. Every producer needs some fresh blood, so dont think theyre doing it from good heart. The truth is that the market is swarmed with skilled session guitar players, BUT these guys are usually in the business for quite a long time and know their price really well, and if a producer is short on budget, which tends to happen a lot when youre working with less known artists, and you have the skills, he will gladly hire you instead. That put, it doesnt sound too good, but actually it is a great way to gain some real studio recording experience and to build a portfolio of projects that youve worked on. These will later open your doors to working on more serious projects and with more popular artists.
Following these 3 steps you are much closer to becoming a real studio guitarist. To be successful you have to keep repeating them throughout your career, but in such way that:
– Your practice sessions get much more complicated than before.
– The bands you play with consist of much more skilled musicians and sound much more professional than your previous ones.
– Your contacts in the music industry world get much more influential being able to secure you working in better studios with better recording engineers and artists.
And before you begin your journey, here are some final tips that will increase your chance of success:
– Listen to music a lot and in as many different genres as possible. Dont just limit yourself to only one genre.
– Learn to play on as many different guitars, amps, stomp boxes and effect processors as possible. You never know which studio you may get into and what equipment you may have to use, especially in the beginning of your career.
– Learn to use audio recording software. Sometimes you simply need to show the recording engineer what youre trying to tell him.
– Try to find suitable contacts on your own instead of waiting someone to notice you. Ask the owners of the places where you rehearse or the people that you meet on gigs if theres someone that may need your recording services.
– Dont worry if your first studio recording sessions are crap. You cant expect working with world acclaimed artists right from the start.
Last but not least – dont get easily discouraged. Finding the right bands to play with may take you an year or two. Finding your first contacts with people belonging to the music industry may take even more. Just be patient and both of these will happen sooner or later. Good luck!
Harvey Mosley started developing his passion for music at age of 10. He learned to play guitar songs at age of 13 and pursued his love of music since then. He owns now a music studio and inspires many students to learn guitar songs. Visit http://www.bandjammer.com for more guitar song lessons.
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