How Does learning guitar from your Guitar Idol Can Harm You?

You can be learning guitar from a famous guitarist, but if you copy the wrong things, it’s not going to help you succeed at your guitar playing but even can harm you.

The first thing I’ve seen frequently is that guitarists of all levels try to emulate their favorite guitarists and
it usually does not work.
From the technique, paraphrases to familiar solos, guitar models, gear, personal look and even facial expressions.

The biggest problem with imitation others is that it will always hold you back because
you will never be authentic.
It will never feel authentic and especially if people know the original.

On the other hand,  It’s a positive thing to mirror them, but it’s how you do it What do you do with there inspirational licks, what do you pay attention to, how do you follow their playing
in such a way that it helps you build your style, sound, and character.

The reason that this happens is that it’s pretty logical because human beings are programmed to copy.

We’ve been taught from an early age that we need to fit in,  to wear the same clothes in school, speak the same language and slang, listen to popular music among our social circle and much less emphasize our difference.

The society also thought us that we don’t have to try to reinvent everything so by default we are searching for someone to look after.

It’s also one of the most efficient ways to learning guitar from a famous guitarist because we learn by imitating other people.

In this video, Jimmy Page talks about his guitar inspiration.

I think it’s rare to actually do something that has never done before and copying can be
a very good way to acquire a new skill.

For example, an effective method of improving your musical playing is to figure out the notes of
a guitar solo that you love.
You sit down with the guitar, play the music back and forth, memorize it, make a mistake, correct it,
apply it again etc until you succeed.

Of course, today with YouTube it’s easier and you’ll probably find guitar lessons for most of the best-known solos.

Actually, For a long time, people learned to play by imitation in the form of a teacher and a student,
and the Oral Tradition was passed on from generation to generation, even though the characters were already invented.

The basis for your development as an artist and an instrumentalist was the direct interaction with
your esteemed teacher.

In this video, Slash talks about musical beginnings, inspirations, and recording process.

You may have already encountered a well-known guitars company releasing a line of signature guitars
signed by a famous guitarist and then many guitar players buy this guitar out of conscious or unconscious thought that if they get it then they will be as good as the famous guitarist.

I believe that you, too, who are reading these lines at the moment, want to hear something authentic,
fresh, new when you hear a new guitarist.

Where being a guitar player, in some ways you have to go against your nature to the point
where you have to create a new thing rather than learning guitar from a famous guitarist
by duplicating something that already exists, because as it appears, that what humans do, they copy.

The question is where are your priorities and what are you focusing on
because if the thing that you spend most of your time playing is to figure out other musician’ songs, guitar parts then that’s probably not going to help you to discover what artist, amateur or professional,  you really are.

What I try in this article is to uncover what to take from you favorite guitarist, how to do it,
and what to ignore to really give yourself an advantage when you’re building your musical personality.

Learning guitar from a famous guitarist vs becoming an artist

Understand the principles rather than the superficial details.

Force yourself to go deeper, dig below the surface and to look at everything that your guitar hero is doing in a specific guitar lick.

Ask yourself:

– What makes this guitarist so influential successful?
– Is it only his music or something else?
– Is there any outline pattern for his guitar solos?
– Does he has his own embellishment and if so how and how does much he do it?

Everything that’s under the hood rather than just on the surface.

This kind of questions is, of course, more difficult to spot than information like
the guitar effect he uses, his pedals settings, the way he picks, the voicing he chooses etc,
but those are the things that probably actually make a difference.

I fell into this trap for years.
My background as a guitarist is classical music so my whole guitar experience was to
play other people’s works, learning guitar from a famous guitarist, however genius, but not my original music.

Once I realized my new goal of shaping my own personality as an artist,
it took me only a few months to start writing my works, going deep into improvisation
and meet the right musician to collaborate with.

In this amazing video, Mark Knopfler talks about his life journey with his guitars.

Pick A Guitarist You Admire And Study Him

Study that guitar master and try to get to know everything that there is about that person and about what he is doing and how he gets his inspiration.
Who are the guitarist he admires and that influence his way of playing? and so on.
You can get these insights just by reading and watching interviews with him.

We can imitate our guitar legend and every note of his music but can’t model his inner musical mind,
so the most important stuff is often stuff you can’t hear in his guitar playing.

His guitar playing is a reflection of how he hears the music inside his mind which is far beyond and much deeper level from playing technically the correct notes.

An evidence to this is when you hear this guitarist in a live concert develops and even changes significantly the recording version of the solo you were figuring out, but still, remains faithful the “feel” of the piece.

Have More Than One Guitar Idol

If you’re only following one guitarist then you’re really missing out on variety.
Creativity is often just like to put different styles, attitude and sounds together.

If you mostly focus on one guitar player then your mind will more naturally gravitate towards imitating
his styles rather than develop yours.

You’ll reach the point in which you can’t see any way in which you could possibly play the
same like he does or even better than him.
The best you can hope for is that you can just do the exact same music.

As soon as you have multiple different sources of inspiration, then your mind will start mashing up
those different ways of guitar playing and that’s where your creativity will reach the next level.

Also, If you are learning guitar from a famous guitarist, or even much less known one who is not of your style of music, you can see music ideas, guitar techniques, new grooves, different methods of music production and more,
that you can transport into your music.

So when you have a greater variety of sources to pull ideas from,
that will automatically make you so much more creative.

In addition, I would recommend that you don’t draw your inspiration just from the music
but also look at other types of art.
Every time I return home from an esteemed gallery exhibition or dance show, I am flooded with new musical ideas and trying to see how I can adapt this to my music.

What really helped me when I was expanding my self from the classical music were two questions I was asking:
what do I want to do the same as my guitar idols do and how I would differentiate myself?

I think that the second question is where you evolve from being only a guitar player to an artist.
that is extremely important.
You have to know what you want to play, who you want to play it for, and how the music you’re doing is different from what other guitarists are doing.


We all know inspiring guitar players we look up to.

What is their secret to the way the play we so admire?
Can we be just as good as they are if “make a cover”  to what they are playing?

Yes and no. 

While learning guitar from a famous guitarist and getting inspired by him be a good thing,
but building all your guitar vocabulary on him without filtering can hurt you.
Take it too far and you’ll lose your authenticity, uniqueness that you have.

Use inspiration to create something unique in this world and make it your way.