Learn To Love Your Mistakes

Learn To Love Your Mistakes

It's so easy as a guitarist to focus on speed.  Flashy licks.  Crazy whammy bar tricks. That's probably a lot of what caught your eye about playing the damn thing to begin with. Or maybe one certain guitarist. Eddie Van Halen. Steve Vai. Jimi Hendrix. Yngwie Malmsteen. So you bought a guitar. Got a tab book. And quickly realized that THAT doesn't happen over night.

There are so many amazing guitarists out there now on YouTube, SnapChat, SoundCloud, whatever. It's easy to become discouraged. Guys and girls who sit in their rooms and deliver videos of flawlessly executed shred opuses that make your jaw drop.  It's daunting.  Well. I'm here to offer you some encouragement.  

The thing is, while it's fun, and very beneficial, to pursue "project songs", I'm betting that being able to shred a perfect cover of a Paul Gilbert solo isn't your ultimate goal. It's a great goal. But... Every guitarist mentioned so far in this article by name has something in common. A voice. A style. An unmistakable signature musically that separates them from the pack. And THAT, my friend, is what you really want.  All of them are great guitarists, and worth emulating and gleaning from, but in search of your own sound. Not simply to cover their work. And to find your own sound, you have to learn to love YOUR sound.  Right now. As it is.

Do you?  Do you love the sound you make?  Work on it.  Learn to love a single note, played by you.  Your vibrato. Your tone. Your note choice.  Your mistakes.  Don't be ashamed of them. Don't hide from them. Make them!  Play a wrong note and enjoy the wrongness of it. You just shaped your sound by learning you don't like that note in that context.

Music theory is simply a systematic way to understand pleasant sounds versus unpleasant sounds. Engage your soul. The goal is to be able to speak thru your instrument in a way that others can understand. That's why you love the music you love. It speaks to you. Learn to speak to others by connecting your soul to your hands. Never be ashamed of a wrong note. They just highlight the right ones. If you can learn to love your own playing now, then every step on the road to being a masterful player is a joy. You're expressing your soul.   

When I was in the studio recording the latest Red Reign cd, the producer told me constantly. "Play LESS. Just play the right notes. People think Kieth Richards is great." And he was right.  I went in intending to dazzle them. And I ended up being forced to sing my soul to them. And it's a much better record for it.  

No matter what level you find yourself at technically, the best thing you can do for yourself creatively is to fall in love with your own playing. Let your soul sing through it. Find your tone. Find your voice. Steve Vai used to sit for hours just playing a single note. Absorbing it. Learning it. Like a word.  You have to know the meaning of a word to use it correctly.  The more words you know the more eloquently you can speak.  The more you know your notes the more eloquently you can speak musically.  You don't think about words as you speak. You just speak.  Get those notes into your vocabulary. Make them yours. And then speak.  In your voice. Find your voice in the most simple and basic terms. And then build on it. Skill. Speed. Dexterity. All come with time and hours. But a voice is unique.  The world doesn't need another Eddie Van Halen. You'll never beat him at it anyway. You'll never be a better Eddie than Eddie.

Be you. Find you. Learn to love your mistakes instead of fearing them. Find YOU, without fear.  You'll set yourself free.  And you'll become great.


Stevie Shred has played guitar for over 25 years, has performed all over the United States, Canada, and Europe, with musical projects ranging from solo acoustic to melodic death metal to shred instrumental guitar. His current project, Red Reign, recorded their debut self titled cd with Grammy Winning Producer David Ivory (Patti Labelle, The Roots, Halestorm) and is currently being shopped to labels. Stevie also currently performs with Sweet Justice, a classic rock cover band, playing throughout the Mid Atlantic region, in addition to session work for video and product demonstration. Stevie has also recently begun working with Phat Guitars in Glen Allen VA as a luthier, hand crafting guitars.

Stevie currently uses and endorses Phat Guitars, Sfarzo Strings, and 69Chosen Custom Stagewear.


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