The “Secret” To Being A Great Electric Guitarist

  • Written By 
  • Shalon Palmer

There are plenty of things that make a great electric guitarist, but there’s one specific skill that stands out far above the rest of them.

The first time I really grasped this skill was about 10 years ago at a Worship Conference. I was a new-ish guitar player so of course I had my eyes glued to electric guitarists. (I know, I should have been worshiping. Shame on me) But what I saw changed my playing forever.

The electric guitarist on the right was doing some cool lead part, but the guy on the left didn’t play a thing for pretty much the entire song! What was he even doing there? He simply worshiped through the whole thing.  And I know for a fact that guy could shred our faces off!

It wasn’t until right near the end of the song at a big bridge part, that he let out some simply, yet powerful, chords. The song and everybody in the room was lifted to an entirely new level! I was blown away!

Did you pick up on the skill that I’m talking about? Not only did this guy know when to play, he knew when NOT to play!

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Yes, it’s important to know when to play. However, the difference between a good guitarist and a great one is knowing when NOT to play.  A person who knows when not to play is playing on a whole different level than a person who doesn’t know. This person is listening to the band as whole, not just what he is doing.

He has the ability to see into the future and know where the song, and even the entire set, is going. He asks himself the question, how can I make the band better?

I know many of you are already agreeing with what I’m saying (that’s because Worship Online is a community of the greatest worship musicians on Earth!) but allow me to use an analogy I love using when teaching this.

Say you’re having a conversation.  Hopefully you are saying things that have meaning.  If you are just blabbing away the whole conversation, nothing you say means anything and people get tired of listening to you.  But if you say something meaningful in the right moment.  Your words go so much farther and can move people. The wisest people on Earth know how to listen.

In other words, they know how and when to not play.  Do you find yourself just playing to play? Or are you intentional about what and when you are playing. Are you giving the song some space to breathe? Or are you blabbing away the entire conversation?  These are all questions to ask yourself.

If you want to see some examples of how guitarists from band’s like Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, etc, know when not to play, you are in the right place.  At Worship Online, we teach you how to play the songs exactly like the artists.  This way, you’re able to not only see what they are playing, but also what they aren’t playing.  Which is just as important!

So before we go, what are your ideas and experiences on knowing when NOT to play? Do you have any questions? Share with us in the comments below!

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