Guitar players have more information today than ever before at their fingertips: videos, Internet, books, DVD's, practice CD's ... whatever you want, you can get it and fast!
So the problem is not lack of information, instead it's a classic case of information overload coming at you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Which brings me to the real issue ... just what should you learn?
Let's see there's ... scales, chords, modes, chord substitution, arpeggios etc., have I missed something?
Yes, the most obvious and most important one, songs!
How often do guitar players get themselves totally sidetracked learning all sorts of good stuff and forget to learn songs?
Of course, anyone who didn't play a musical instrument would have noticed that right away, but then they are not swamped by a avalanche of information are they?
My point is ... in all the time that I have been playing, I've never had a request for a Dorian mode or an E minor Arpeggio.
O.k., you get the idea people who don't play the guitar want to hear songs. Next problem is what songs to learn, I mean there's thousands of songs, how as we going to learn them all?
The good news is you don't have to learn them all and to get you started here's three of the most important songs to learn, at least make sure you learn these songs early in your playing career.
I know you are going to surprised at the choice of songs, let's see why.
Song 1: Guitar Boogie - I can't tell you how many times this song has saved my butt. Firstly, Guitar Boogie is easy to play, it's a simple 12 bar blues and gets every foot tapping regardless of the
Song 2: Wipe Out - Another simple 12 bar blues, with a very simple melody line, always a crowd pleaser.
Song 3: Happy Birthday - Everyone knows this one tune, but how many people know how to play it?
If I had asked you to guess the top 3 songs to learn I doubt whether many guitarists would have picked these songs.
Why have I chosen these particular songs?
(a) All three songs have strong melodies, since I sound like a "frog in a bag" when I sing, it's a big plus when you can pluck out the melody on a single string and everyone can recognize the tune immediately.
(b) Two of them (Guitar Boogie and Wipe Out) have a very strong beat, keep in mind people respond favorably to songs with a strong groove.
(c) What can I say "Happy Birthday" may not be your favorite song, but this songs is top of the charts with everyone once a year.
Here's two riffs I'd also learn, depending on your audience it's a good idea to know how to play these riffs.
Bonus song (riff): Smoke On The Water
Bonus song (riff): Sweet Child Of Mine
Remember to get these songs "off the paper and into your head" so you can play them without having to refer to any written music!
True story: I recall working with a student helping them prepare for an important performance, the student selected a Joe Satriani tune, he working on it relentlessly for about six months and in the end I think he played it as well as Joe!
However, I warned this student that he should also have a plan "B", which was to learn one of the three songs from our list ... the guy laughed and said he wouldn't be seen dead playing any of these songs.
I persisted and eventually begrudgingly he learnt Guitar Boogie, anyway ... long story short, this guy had told everyone to keep an ear out for his special guitar piece ... after he had performed the Joe Satriani piece someone from the audience asked when was he going to play his amazing guitar piece he had told
Totally in shock he remembered my advice, during the next set he played Guitar Boogie to thunderous applause. Whereas previously he had walked off stage to the sound of his own feet!
Why? Simply because most of the time you will find yourself playing to people who don't play guitar, they don't understand if something is easy or hard to play ... they just know if they like the song or not.
Remember to always have a plan "B" and you will be a very popular and successful guitarist.