Open vs Closed-Minded Guitarists: Bite-Size Guitar Podcast Episode 5

Episode 5 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at open vs closed-minded guitarists and how to prevent becoming close-minded.

As you’ll learn in this episode, becoming close-minded as a guitarist doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual change that can have a devastating impact on your guitar abilities.

This is an important topic for every guitarist to understand, so regardless of your current skill level, have a listen to it.

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Useful Resources

The goal of this episode is to help you become more open-minded as a guitarist and try new things.

Here are some guides and lists of songs to check out and take your playing in new directions:

Check out some of the songs using techniques or pedals that you don’t normally use and practice looking at them with an open mind. At worst, it’ll help you feel more confident in being open-minded. At best, you might uncover a new band or song you enjoy that you never would have considered before.

Podcast Episode 5 Transcript

Hi, I’m Aaron from and this is episode 5 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.

In this short and to-the-point episode, let’s have a look at why some guitarists become close-minded and how being open-minded as a guitarist can help you grow as a musician.

In this episode, you’ll learn three things:

  1. Why some guitarists become close-minded over time
  2. How being open-minded can help you grow as a guitarist
  3. A challenge you can use to grow as a guitarist

Let’s start at looking at why some guitarists become close-minded over time.

Close-Minded Guitarists

If you’ve spent any time on social media, in forums, or talking to other guitarists, you’ve probably experienced closed-minded guitarists before.

While generally speaking, most guitarists are pretty open-minded to other guitarist’s preferences in music, gear, or style, there always seems to be some guitarists who think everything sucks except for what they believe.

They’ll happily explain to you why every band sucks except for the five bands they listen to. Or they’ll tell you why you need to buy this pedal because nothing else comes close to it.

If somebody posts a question in a guitar group asking for advice on learning a specific song, you can pretty much guarantee that somebody will reply that the band sucks and not to bother learning that song.

Why is it that some guitarists seem to be hopelessly close-minded?

This is really important to understand because it can happen to anyone. A guitarist doesn’t wake up one day and decide that every guitar sucks except for the Les Paul he happens to own.

He doesn’t go to bed one night enjoying a broad range of music, only to wake up the next morning ranting that every song recorded after 1982 is pure garbage.

These close-minded views don’t just appear out of nowhere, they gradually build over time. I’m sure a psychologist can explain in detail the reasons why this happens, but for us, the main point to remember is that it’s something that gradually happens over time.

Guitarists gradually become close-minded by cutting themselves off from other points of view or other styles of music. They might start by avoiding certain styles of music, then they might decide they only like certain brands of guitars.

They gradually limit what they listen to and dismiss anything else.

Why Being Open-Minded Is Good For You

It seems crazy for me to say this because it should be obvious, but being open-minded is good for your guitar abilities and for your growth as a musician. Being close-minded is generally bad for your growth as a musician.

As a simple example, imagine hearing a song from a style of music you don’t normally listen to. If you listen to rock, imagine hearing a classical piece, a country ballad, or an EDM song with no guitars.

A close-minded guitarist would immediately dismiss it as garbage. As soon as they hear what style of music it is, they’ve already decided they don’t like it and have no interest in hearing it.

An open-minded guitarist may or may not like the song or the style of music, but they will at least give it a chance. They’ll listen to it and pay attention if there’s any part of the song that interests them.

They may hear something in the song that grabs their attention, then they’ll think about how they can take that idea and experiment with it in their preferred style of music.

The open-minded guitarist may not like the song at all, but by being open-minded, they have the chance to learn from it.

Being open-minded as a guitarist is good for you because it gives you way more ways of learning and growing. Instead of being limited to a very narrow range of songs or guitarists you can learn from, you can learn something from everybody.

Open-minded guitarists can draw inspiration from a wide range of sources.

Most guitarists probably don’t think they can learn anything from a top 40 pop ballad with no guitars in it.

But if you listen with an open mind, you’ll find something you can learn from. It might be how they structure the simple melody to be the main hook of the song. If you try to write a simple pop-style melody, you might suddenly realize it’s harder to do than it sounds.

The big point I want to leave with this episode is that there’s something we can learn from every style of music, every song, and every musician. Even if you hate the style of music or you can’t stand the song, there’s something we can learn from it if you look hard enough.

The big problem with being closed-minded as a guitarist, well, there’s a lot of problems, but a big problem is that it severely limits the ways you can learn and grow.

Open-Minded Challenge

The best way to understand what I’m talking about is to try this challenge.
After you finish listening to this episode, search in Google for the top songs in a style of music you don’t like.

So if you don’t like country music, search for ‘top 10 country songs’. If you don’t like jazz, search for ‘top 10 jazz songs’.

Choose a style of music you don’t like and search for the top songs in that style.

Now pick one of the songs and challenge yourself to listen to it with a completely open mind. Just listen to it. It’ll probably feel pretty uncomfortable and you may even feel repulsed by the thought that people listen to this type of stuff.

But try to stay open-minded. Try to listen for any positives in the song. Try to find one aspect of the song you like or acknowledge as being interesting.

You might find the guitar tone interesting, even if you hate what the guitarist was playing. Or maybe you think the lyrics are terrible, but one of the vocal melodies grabbed your attention. Or maybe a chord progression or key change surprised you in a good way.

Try to pick out one good thing about the song. It’s okay if you still don’t like the style of music by the end of the song. Everybody has different tastes in music and I’m not suggesting you should force yourself to broaden your tastes.

All I’m suggesting with this challenge is that there’s something you can learn from every song. If you can pick out one thing you like in the song, you’ve benefited from being open-minded.

See if you can take that thing you liked in the song and play around with it on your guitar. Try to copy the vocal melody you heard, try playing the chord progression, or whatever you heard and use it to inspire your playing.

This will be easier with some songs compared to others, but the main point is that there’s something you can take away and learn from any song. The more you practice this open-mindedness, the easier it gets.

Every day for the next week, try doing this with styles of music you normally never listen to. Search for the top songs in that style, then listen to them with an open mind.

Try to find one good thing in each song and try to take it over to your guitar and experiment with it.

Whether you think of yourself as open-minded or not, give this challenge a try. If you feel squeamish listening to certain styles of music, really try to see any good you can from that style.

You don’t need to like it, just acknowledge that there is something good there. After all, if somebody said the music you listen to is worthless, I’m sure you could point out the good aspects of it. So try and do this for music you don’t personally like.

This will be a tough challenge for some people, and the tougher this challenge feels, the more you can benefit from it.

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