Top 10 GUITAR LESSONS MYTH #10 | I Must Play the Song Tabs Exactly | FALSE!

“Don’t worry about getting all the notes right. Make sure the people in nosebleed in the back of the stadium see you smile and wave at them.” — MICK JAGGER

So the trap you want to avoid in pop guitar lessons when you’re using tabs is to remember that this is not classical music!  The paradigm is completely different!  This is rock-and-roll; this is about putting your own signature on things so that people recognize what they’re hearing as you and feel something that is distinct that they can’t get anywhere else.  This idea that you have to play the song note for note in order to cover it accurately and in a way that your audience enjoys is one of the most detrimental things to progressing and becoming your own artist.  At my Atlanta studio, time and again in guitar lessons I watch players who are completely at a standstill or roadblock… staring at guitar tab trying to replicate it perfectly… watching other people online play it so called “perfectly.”  but most of those perfect performances online are actually quite stiff.  As soon is I decouple students from this and have them start to put their own spin on it within certain parameters of course so it sounds like the song, all of a sudden they start playing things  that they never thought they could.

This is a secret weapon of cover band artist with massive song repertoire who are out there getting paid great money!  One guitar player that I knew was in a cruise ship cover band  and every night on the ship there was a different style of music: classic rock one night , reggae the next, funk the next, disco, Latin, I forget all the different kinds.  But the punchline is the costumes changed, the genre music changed… but it was all the same guys are playing on his crew ship every night!   And they had this massive song repertoire.  You’re never going to get a gig like that if you’re sitting there trying to replicate the song exactly: chasing this perfection this “ghost” if you will and trying to impress people on YouTube that you got it exactly right.  The players that are out there making money doing this for a living know there’s simply no time for that and the audience doesn’t require it.  The only exception to this perhaps is a tribute band where people are paying to see you replicate a particular artist perfectly.  Noticed that in a tribute band you’re doing only one artist: it’s just not practical to try to do this for lots and lots of different bands and cover songs. So the most important thing to remember in guitar instruction is that when you try to play a tab exactly what’s usually going to happen is: even if you manage to accomplish this goal, it’s not going to sound like the artist that you’re trying to play.  It’s going to sound like you taking your square peg and putting it in the round hole that is the other players tendencies.!  You’re trying to make your neurophysiology play like them and that is simply not possible.  So even if you nail all the notes right, you won’t be able to learn nearly as many songs doing that; you’ll be stuck in your room a lot longer trying to replicate this,  all for audiences who usually don’t care and won’t pay you a dime extra for it! When Joe Satriani got the gig with Mick Jagger, he was out there playing stuff perfectly the first few nights.  Mick comes up to him, put his arm around him and tells Joe “Don’t worry about getting all the notes right. Make sure the people in nosebleed in the back of the stadium see you smile and wave at them.”  You don’t get bigger and more successful than Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and yet this is exactly why people are coming for a show.  S.H.O.W. ! Capital letters.  As a guitar teacher this is one of the most important things I try to convey to students, getting them away from the idea of taking tabs literally. They don’t care that you hit every note right: they want to feel something viscerally right in the chest and they want to see you connect with them.  Your audience.  Your fans.


Play it your way.

The Cypher way.

Rock on.

Jimmy Cypher out!