Practicing the Guitar

I was going to write about good practice habits, but realized that I don’t have good practice habits.  So instead, I’m linking to a few of my favorite guitarists, who do have good practice habits.


Adam Levy is probably best known for being the lead guitarist for Norah Jones.  He’s also worked with Tracy Chapman and Amos Lee.  On top of all that, he’s a gifted singer and songwriter himself.

He wrote a few tips/lessons, they are thoughtful and instantly applicable to guitarists of any skill level.  I’m trying to get better at pretty much everything he mentions.


Tuck Andress is an immensely talented guitarist.  He’s written extensively on every imaginable way to pluck a guitar string.  His thoughts on pick and fingerstyle technique are worth checking out.


Charlie Hunter changed the way that I see the guitar as an instrument.  I’ve met him a few times, and, because I’m a huge guitar nerd, I asked him about how he developed his technique.

His response?

“Play drums. Do you play drums?”

I was puzzled, because I was pretty sure I had asked him specifically about the guitar.  After a brief moment where I was thoroughly confused, we ended up having a conversation similar to this one, where he expanded a bit on what he meant.  Oh, Charlie also co-wrote this song with John Mayer.


Happy practicing.

– Caleb

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An excerpt from Jimi Hendrix’s Air Force discharge papers

There’s a fine line between purposeful focus and destructive obsession.  I think Jimi spent time on both sides of that line during his career.  Had his intense desire to experience, create and express been tempered with a bit of prudence, he may still be with us today.

I found this section interesting, “Pvt Hendrix plays a musical instrument during his off duty hours, or so he says.  This is one of his faults, because his mind apparently cannot function while perfuming duties and thinking about his guitar”.

I’ve often thought about what type of music Jimi would have written as he aged.  There was a softness and humility to him that may surprise those who only know of his wild onstage antics.  His peer, Eric Clapton, wrote beautiful acoustic arrangements later in his career.  I can’t help but wonder if Jimi would have written music as hauntingly emotive as Tears in Heaven.

Interestingly, I’ve read similar stories about Michael Jordan.  His competitive nature and drive to win were an excellent match with his freakish athletic ability.  However, that same competitive nature affected other areas of his life.  He couldn’t handle losing a friendly ping pong game with friends, for example.

He had an unhealthy desire to dominate everything the way he did on the basketball court, and at one point in his career, he came under scrutiny due to excessive gambling.  He wanted to win.  Always.

We can learn from all three of these icons.  Pursue your dreams, let yourself grow old, and don’t gamble your life away.


– Caleb

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