Once again, Guitarz Forever is here to bring you another cool article about playing the guitar. That’s why you’re here right? Real information from real musicians… My friend Ben Trexel who’s been rock’n since the early 80’s has written an article for ya with few Indian tricks to share.… Ben produces, teaches, plays live, and has released a few of his own solo albums ta boot! It’s so freakin’ cool that Ben is willing to share his experience with us over here a Guitarz “The Modern Rock Guitarist” has really evolved over the years. So much more is expected from you as a player, band mate, entertainer, and money maker (it’s all in the riff man). So please read and learn some good tips you may need to use in your guitar playing future. See if this information can help you along in your journey as a musician and to help you be the best you can be….



We live in a musical environment where sound and texture have taken the place of true technical wizardry when it comes to the guitar. In a way, this is an exciting development because someone can go from not being able to play at all to making a living and having an actual impact in a few short years.

I personally came about my skills as a guitarist the long and hard way which I would not trade for anything. It took me two years of struggling with a James Taylor songbook to become comfortable with a D Major, G Major, and an A minor chord.

From there, the first guitar solo I learned was "Celebration Day," from the infamous Led Zeppelin Complete Songbook. I scratched many an album learning licks from Kiss, Randy era Ozzy, Joe Walsh, Kansas, Boston, and Alice Cooper. It was the hard way, but it stuck. I remember getting up before school in 10th grade and practicing for an hour and a half before school every day. I was obsessed.

I was also blessed to come up at a time when concerts were plentiful and affordable. I saw Queen, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Lynryrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Robin Trower, Montrose, Aerosmith, The Doobie Brothers, Rush, Boston, Seals and Crofts, America, Gregg Allman, Wet Willie, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Bob Seger, Led Zeppelin, Yes, The Who, The Moody Blues, Kansas, The Police, Prince, and I promise, the list goes on. This was an education simply not available today. There is no way to describe the energy and excitement of those events.

My background in recording began in earnest in 1983 when I purchased my first Fostex 4 Track. It was very exciting to come up with a rhythm guitar track and lay down a lead on a separate track. This opened up the magic doors for an individual who previously had relied on having several people present to achieve this. I went to an Akai 12 track in 1989, then to ADATs in 1994, and finally to Pro-Tools in 1999, which brings us to the present.

So, I have recorded for 24 years, taught over 9000 guitar lessons, played over 1500 live gigs, released three instrumental solo albums, and produced over two dozen albums for other artists. And guess what? I am still in the infancy of my career. What does this mean? It means many things.

One, it is not easy to make a career of doing what you love.

Two, the music business does not always reward talent and hard work.

Three, it means that the Stones, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, and Paul McCartney still have not retired.

Should we be discouraged? The best thing I can do as a fellow musician is try to impart the knowledge I have attained to the aspiring musician, to try to point out shortcuts as well as dead-ends on the path to achievement.

Being a good or even great guitarist is simply not enough in today's music business. You must have many overlapping skills and I recommend you start to develop them right away. Songs are the currency of this business. Write songs with others and by yourself. Learn Pro-Tools. You don't have to be rich to get a Pro-Tools M-Box for your computer. Get some good speakers, such as M-Audio powered, and a midi controller. Learn how to program a drum beat. I recommend DrumCore as a software solution. Learn how to layer interesting parts with your guitar and softsynths.

Nobody is doing anything earthshaking harmonically in pop music today. It's all sounds, textures, layers. I'm afraid the two most harmonically deep pop bands of all time, The Beatles, and Steely Dan, might not even get signed today. The technology exists today to map out your songs, including tempos, drum guides, overdubs, vocal harmonies, etc. all on your own time. When you have it all together, you can go into a professional studio with a professional drummer for a day or two and record drums for an entire album. You can then take these tracks back to your own studio, and edit, edit, edit, until you have world class drum tracks. Then, with a good pre-amp and compressor, you can re-cut your demo tracks to the new drum tracks. Take as long as you need to make everything the way you want it.

You can even do a great deal of "pre-mixing" on your own. When you are finally ready, you can go back into a professional studio and mix your album in a very short time. What used to cost $300,000 to $500,000 can now, with proper planning and execution, cost less than $10,000. Yes, that's allot of money, but, realistically, in today’s world with more competition than has ever existed in this business, it is a bargain.

I spoke earlier of dead ends. Here are a few: don't use a less than pro drummer, don't try to record drums at your home studio, don't use amp simulators for your final tracks, don't waste money on gear you really don't need such as drum mikes. Here are some do's: get a good pre-amp, suggestions are ADL 600 by PreSonus, AMEK, API, NEVE, get a good compressor, suggestions are Tube Tech or Avalon. Get a good amp, suggestions are Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, Vox AC 30 Custom Classic.

"Master all the skills of today's pop music and you will have more of a chance of success than simply playing guitar. And, it's much more fun and rewarding."

Ben Trexel is a producer, composer, and guitarist. His solo albums are available online at Look for his new instructional CD, "32 Essential Exercises for Guitar," due out in early 2007.

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