Episode 11 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at a few different paths you can choose to take as a guitarist.
Whether you want to build a career out of your guitar playing or you just want to try different paths as a hobby, this episode will give you some new ideas.
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Here are some helpful guides on some of the different paths covered in this episode:
- How to Record Guitar for YouTube
- Ultimate Guide to Recording Guitar at Home
- How to Hydro Dip a Guitar Pedal
- DIY Guitar Pedal Series (coming soon)
Have a read through some of these guides to get a better idea of the path and whether it interests you.
Podcast Episode 11 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 11 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.
In this short and to-the-point episode, let’s look at a few different paths you can take with guitar, from a hobby or career perspective.
This episode might be helpful whether you’re trying to figure out where you want to take your guitar playing, if you feel a bit stuck or bored with your guitar playing, or if you just want some ideas on different directions you can take.
Some of the paths I’ll cover are more career-focused, while other paths you can take just for fun.
Let’s start by looking at the most obvious path you can take. Performing to a live audience is what most people think of when they think of career paths for guitarists.
There are plenty of different ways you can perform as a guitarist. You can join a band, play in a duo or trio, or as a solo act.
Each type of performance feels completely different and you may find that you enjoy one or more options here.
For example, I really enjoyed performing in a 5-piece metal band, but I also enjoyed when I was performing in a duo on acoustic guitar. It should be clear that performing on stage in a metal band feels completely different from strumming soft acoustic ballads at a winery.
So when I say that performing live is a path you can take, you can really split it up into a lot of different paths.
If you’ve never performed live before, I recommend considering it. Simply joining a band to jam and have fun can be ridiculously fun. Even if your band never gets a paid gig, being able to play with other musicians is worth it.
I could fill entire episodes talking about performing live – and I’ll probably do that in the future. But let’s move on to talk about the other options that aren’t as obvious as performing live or joining a band.
Recording music is another obvious path you can take. Some guitarists might want to record music as a way to build a career, while others might record music for the fun of it.
Building a career out of recording music has never been an easy career path, but musicians are finding out that this path is getting harder. With music streaming, there’s far more competition than ever before. This doesn’t mean you can’t build a career out of recording your music, but it does mean if you want to take this path, you need to think differently.
Recording your own music used to be expensive. If you wanted to produce a decent quality recording, you would have to spend a lot of money at a recording studio. Today, you can produce studio-quality recordings at home surprisingly cheap.
If you’re interested in getting started with recording music, I have guides and tutorials explaining every piece of hardware and every step you need to take. Check out guitargearfinder.com/podcast for links to tutorials and guides to get you started.
The key point I want to emphasize with recording your own music is that it’s not just for people wanting to use it as a way to build a career. You can record music just for fun or to share with your friends.
I personally really enjoy writing and recording music and I only do it for fun. Because I have no expectations of building a career from my music, I can just enjoy it.
Even if you’re a beginner learning your first songs, I suggest everybody try recording something. Record a cover of your favorite song and see if you enjoy the process. You might find as I did how rewarding it can be to learn a song and record your own version of it.
I also talk about other reasons why you should record your own playing in episode 3, so listen to that episode for some other reasons to get into recording.
A lot of people only think of performing and recording music as the only career or hobby paths you can take, but that’s not true. There are a lot of opportunities outside of these two paths. So let’s move on to some less obvious paths you can take.
Building Guitar Pedals
An unusual path some guitarists might be interested in is building your own guitars, pedals, or even amps.
This is a very different path compared to typical things to do with guitar, but that’s why I suggest looking into it.
The massive rise of boutique pedal and guitar companies should make it clear that a lot of people find this path worth the effort in learning.
Let’s start with building guitar pedals.
If you’ve never built a guitar pedal before, it might seem too hard. But if were to look inside a pedal such as a fuzz face or many other vintage classics, you might be shocked by how basic it is.
Once you learn the basics of soldering, which isn’t hard, you can start building your own pedals. Building clones of popular guitar pedals such as a Tubescreamer, a vintage fuzz face, or the iconic Klon Centaur is surprisingly easy. A lot of iconic guitar pedals use basic circuits and are easy to build.
I only recently started getting into pedal building and I’m surprised by how fun it is. You start with a pedal kit or a bunch of components and end up with a fully functional pedal just as good as one you would buy from a shop. But in a way it’s better because you know you built it.
Once you get the hang of building pedals, you can take things further if you want and start designing your own pedals. You can tweak and customize classic pedals or come up with your own unique circuits.
If you’ve never considered this before, it might surprise you to find out how popular this hobby is. There are websites and forums full of custom pedals and schematics people have created.
It’s possible to take this path all the way to selling your own pedals, but even if you’re not interested in that it’s still surprisingly fulfilling to build a pedalboard of custom pedals you’ve built.
If you’re interested in learning about this path, I’m currently working on a series of guides and video tutorials. Join my email list on my website for updates on these guides.
Now, let’s look at building guitars.
This path is very similar to building guitar pedals. The easiest way to get into this path is to buy a guitar kit and piece your guitar together. You can give it a custom paint job and learn how to properly set a guitar up.
From there, you can start by buying a premade guitar neck and learn to build your own electric guitar body from a plank of wood. This involves woodworking skills and tools, but it is something anybody can learn.
There’s a bit more to learn when you want to build a guitar from scratch and as you might expect, there’s a big difference between a poorly made guitar and a well-made guitar. This is a craft that takes time to learn and master.
Building an acoustic guitar is far more involved than an electric guitar, but it is a path you might want to consider if you play acoustic guitar.
There are even guitar building courses you can take if you just want to try this once without having to buy all of the tools.
If you like the idea of building your own custom guitar, you might want to look into guitar building courses.
Creating a career out of this path is tough, but if you really enjoy it and hone your craft, it is possible. But for most people, building guitars will just be a hobby you enjoy.
YouTube and other Online Platforms
The next path to consider is YouTube, podcasts, or other online platforms. Some guitarists use YouTube and the other platforms as a way to build a full time career, while others just do it for fun.
What makes this an appealing path to consider is that you can go in many different directions.
Some guitarists use YouTube to share their cover versions of popular songs. Others share their original music. Some use it to teach, while others to just talk about guitar, like what I’m doing with this podcast.
I’ll talk about this more in future episodes if people are interested. If you’ve been thinking about doing something on YouTube, a podcast, or anything else, ask me a question on the page for this episode and I’ll answer it in a future episode.
Another big reason why you might want to consider this path is because it is possible to use something like YouTube to build a career in the future. You could start your YouTube channel off just for fun, then in the future if you do build a large number of subscribers, you could decide to take things further and build it as your career.
There are a growing number of guitarists who are finding out they can do this as a full time career, and that number will continue to rise.
The final reason I suggest looking into these online platforms is because there’s no gatekeepers. You don’t need to audition or apply to start something like a YouTube channel. You can just hit record and go for it.
This is very different from the past such as getting a band’s music on to the radio. A band would have to jump through a lot of hurdles and get a lot of people to say yes just to have the chance of airtime. Today, a band can just upload to soundcloud, YouTube, or even go straight onto music streaming platforms such as Spotify.
If you want to give YouTube a shot, read my guide on recording guitar for YouTube for advice on how to make your video and audio look and sound good.
Another more traditional career path is to become a guitar teacher. Again, there are a lot of different ways you can build a career as a guitar teacher. You could teach one-on-one lessons, teach small groups, run workshops, teach in person, or teach online. Some people teach guitar full time, others teach on the side one or two nights a week.
The one thing I’ll mention here about teaching guitar is that it’s a completely different skillset compared to playing guitar. Amazing guitar players don’t automatically make amazing guitar teachers and amazing teachers aren’t necessarily amazing players. So even if you’re already an amazing player, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a great teacher.
In the past, I had some lessons with a high profile guitarist and while that guitarist is far more accomplished than me, he was a terrible teacher. I don’t say this to knock him, only to make it clear that your skills on guitar are separate from your skills as a teacher.
So if you really want to teach guitar but you’re hesitating because of your current skill level, that shouldn’t stop you. You don’t need to be a virtuoso to teach a beginner to properly strum chords. But you do need to learn how to teach.
I’ll talk more about this career path in a future episode if people are interested.
Hobby vs Career
Okay, so I’ve talked about quite a few different paths you can take with guitar. There are plenty of other paths I could talk about, but hopefully I’ve covered a few paths that might interest you.
Whether you want to stick to playing guitar as a hobby or you want to take things more seriously, I suggest looking into some of the paths I’ve talked about here.
You may find that one of these paths takes your interest in a way you never thought about before. I’m only just getting into building guitar pedals now and I’m absolutely loving it. But I never considered it over the last 20+ years of playing guitar.
So think about what I’ve talked about here and look into any paths that grab your attention.
If you’ve been enjoying these episodes, you might also enjoy receiving weekly emails from me filled with advice and links to useful guides and lessons. If you’re not already on my email list, sign up here.
I hope this episode has given you some ideas to try out. Look into any path that grabbed your attention and I’ll talk to you next time.