12/2/2009 12:24 PM
Stuart Smith, who has been mentored by Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore—and has shared stages with Buddy Guy, Richie Sambora, Slash, Steve
Lukather, Bobby Kimball, Howard Leese, Paul Rodgers, David Paich, Uli
Jon Roth, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Keith Emerson, and others—will
share his experiences in the industry to help young players through the
complex maze that is the music business. Smith is currently guitarist
for the reformed Sweet.
So You Want To Be A Guitarist! It happens
thousands of times a day. You see your first concert or hear the first
piece of music that turns you on and you're hooked for life. You want
to be up there on that stage with the guitar in your hand, and the
screaming fans at your feet but believe me, for every single one that
succeeds and makes a living at playing the guitar, there are hundreds
of thousands who fall by the wayside. The pitfalls and lows are many,
but the highs and personal enjoyment that comes with being proficient
on the guitar can more than make up for them. Through this blog I will
try to give you the benefit of my experience so you can try to avoid
the traps and work your way to a successful career or even get more
enjoyment out of just playing for a hobby.
Get a Good Instrument When choosing a guitar, it's important to decide what music you want to
play to begin with. If Slash is your inspiration, then obviously your
choice is going to be a Les Paul. I feel it's important to have
somebody who knows about guitars to come with you when you purchase
your first guitar -- either a guitar teacher or someone you know who
has a good working knowledge of the instrument. They will be able to
help you make the right choice, as opposed by some salesman cajoling
you into something that isn't right for you. One other point worth
mentioning on this topic is that if you get a lower-priced guitar, it
might be worth your while to take it to a reputable guitar luthier to
give it a "once over" tune up, as many guitars right out of the box are
not set up properly.
Guitar Lessons There are two things I feel are of
the upmost importance when you decide to become a guitarist. The first
is the dreaded guitar lessons, and the next is the kind of strap you
decide to use. I thank the day my father got me to have classical
lessons, as learning how to hold the guitar and finger it properly had
a dramatic result on the way I ended up playing. If you teach yourself,
it's going to be natural to get into the habit of not using your fourth
finger of your fingering hand, as that finger is naturally weaker and
it's easier to get the third one to slip over that fret and do what the
fourth should be doing. This is something you will regret later on, as
you try to play faster and more complex material, as you may end up
sounding messy and unpolished. Choosing a guitar teacher is difficult
in this day and age, as it seems like anyone who can do a sweep up and
down the neck is touting themselves as the next best thing since sliced
bread. Try talking to some friends who you feel are making progress
with their playing, and ask who is teaching them. The trick is to find
someone who not only has the credentials, but also will make the
lessons interesting for you. On the rare occasions I've taught anyone,
I've always made a point to teach one lesson of technique, and then, as
a reward, if they've made the effort to learn that lesson, then I teach
them a song that they like, and have picked themselves. That way, it
keeps you interested in the instrument, and you'll practice more. Don't
be afraid to ask your guitar teacher to do this for you. Don't forget
they're working for you, not the other way around. If they don't want
to do this, then find someone else who will. There are other options
such as Internet lessons that are given by my old friend Wolf Marshall,
but I personally feel these should wait until you have had some
one-on-one training with a personal teacher before you move over to
this type of instruction.
Guitar Straps Believe it or not, the type of
guitar strap you use will make a big difference to you later on in life
if you continue to play the guitar. You have no idea of some of the
big-name guitarists I know who have major back pain, and have even had
to have corrective surgery because they used the thin guitar straps
when they started playing, which, at the time, were the only straps
available. If you're holding a 9-lb Strat for 90 minutes onstage, it's
going to pull on muscles that were not designed to take that kind of
stress. Any strap you choose should be at least 3 inches wide, and
preferably with sheepskin padding in the shoulder area.
Practicing Discipline & Tips
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2 comment(s) so far...
By Larry on
12/19/2009 4:04 PM
STUART SMITH's CAREER BLOG
Is this the Sweet band from the 70s? They were such an influence on me, and what I conceived great music to be. Songs that had melody, great vocals, hooks, and fantastic interplay with many different parts on their recorded work. I want to record like that, like this is the last time I'll record this song, and put all the parts in there.
The middle part of "Love is Like Oxygen", is a lesson in itself, and not to be missed. Songs like "Little Willy", "Fox on the Run", and the classic "Ballroom Blitz", are among my favorite songs of all time.
You've played with such great heavyweights, I'm still shakin' my head! Uli Roth is another fave of mine.
And Stuart, much success with the band. I'm sure you represent their sound well.
Your blog has great advice.
By post workout on
2/17/2011 10:40 PM
STUART SMITH's CAREER BLOG
That way, it keeps you interested in the instrument, and you'll practice more. Don't be afraid to ask your guitar teacher to do this for you. Don't forget they're working for you, not the other way around.