Most people think that the hardest instrument to play is the guitar. It’s true in my case as well, but not true for all.
I think there is something called “melodic mastery” or “piano skill”, which is very important in the guitar scene. People are really skilled at making melodic changes on the guitar, but they tend to make the guitar sound like a piano. People play off the chords or a chord progression with the most effort (or they’re going straight against a beat or scale) and they never use the most effective techniques.
But as the number of people playing guitar has gone up, we’ve lost some of the ability to control the speed and pace of the song. Today, it’s more possible to go through a chord progression in a way that feels good.
The first time I was really impressed with John Mayer was when he played in the song “Heart of Glass” on his first album. The first thing he did was take a line from “Heart of Glass”, but he used a faster tempo, and it felt so natural after that. When I’ve seen a good guitarist practice on the guitar, their technique is very similar to what Mayer did.
Some players who try an “easy” guitar rhythm have an “easy” sound. They’ll play a few bars, and then drop it down a step. The result is often worse than if you had used a faster tempo and started there.
Some guitarists, like Neil Young and Stevie Wonder, are very quick in tempo and pace. They just use a single chord or scale phrase after another, and they’ll pick it up faster than they would on a piano. This makes the guitar sound like a keyboard, and it isn’t very good for the sound of a solo. But when they stop and play a melody, they’re so good at playing the chord progression they can easily make it sound like a piano. For example, on the album I Am the Walrus, in the “Heart of Glass” solo he’s using a C chord to get the idea going.
I have played with Neil Young many times and he could easily play in a very quick tempo rhythm compared to other guitarists of this era. Even when I tried to play slower tempos on a tune, like on the song “You and I”, he was so good at picking out the notes.
The second thing a guitarist can do is to use an open D chord, or an E
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