When does one earn the title "guitarist"?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by vbf, May 10, 2016.

  1. vbf

    vbf Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia
    Greetings, gents. Like some of you, I've been playing for many years, have been in numerous bands, and currently gig, not nationally, mind you. I've always associated the term "guitarist" with a strong-semi-professional to professional player; a studio-quality musician, if you will. I consider my self a player of average skill, maybe at the lower end of a semi-professional level due to experience (and not musical training), that's played in large venues with various types of ensembles, bands, and orchestras and can loosely follow sheet music but need to write the guitar chords above the staff. I recognize time signatures, key signatures, rests, repeats, etc. but in no way could walk blind into a session with the expectation that I could play sheet music straight away. Guys that can do that, in my estimation, are "guitarists" and everyone else is a player. I've always admired and respected "guitarists" and accorded them the respect I think they are due. It's kind of like the difference between a piano player and a pianist. Isn't the expectation for a "pianist" higher than a "piano player"? Is the expectation of a "guitarist" higher than someone that plays the guitar? I've often been introduced as the "guitarist" and felt uncomfortable because I haven't earned it. So when does one earn it?

    Anyway, curious what you guys think.
     
    Krausewitz and AParrotLooksAt4O like this.
  2. AParrotLooksAt4O

    AParrotLooksAt4O Member

    Messages:
    6,849
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    I don't think you have to have session player level skill to be a guitarist, but I wouldn't use that term on someone who only knows 3 chords on their Carlo Robelli leaning against the dorm room wall.

    We will all have different opinions. I'm not a session player and I can't walk in and sight-read a chart, but I've written and arranged music/parts for myself, bands and a short musical and have been payed many of those times. Am I writing out the chart in proper notation? Not always. But I wouldn't limit myself to a hobbyist player either.
     
    David Garner likes this.
  3. Darkburst

    Darkburst Member

    Messages:
    4,157
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Location:
    La Cañada, California
    A guitarist is anyone who plays guitar.
     
  4. zeffbeff

    zeffbeff Member

    Messages:
    1,743
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2014
  5. Anchorage42

    Anchorage42 Member

    Messages:
    300
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Location:
    Thornton, Co
    I'm gonna say once you've hit the level where someone can tell you the name of a chord (M,m,7th maybe?) and you can play it, you're a guitarist. Something of a representative understanding of the instrument that would allow you to play any songs
     
    lowyaw likes this.
  6. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,125
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    Under the whang whang guitar star
    Context is everything. If you're discussing professions, you become a guitarist when you start to make a living at it, for example.

    When you were a 14 year old beginner and started a garage band with your friends, you were the band's guitarist, even if you only knew three chords and it took you a second to finger that third one. For another example.
     
    2016aug29 and MrLahey like this.
  7. Slevin

    Slevin Member

    Messages:
    1,434
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2015
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've never looked at guitarists and guitar players as separate entities. As long as you play guitar and it's something you enjoy and strive being better at than you're either in my mind. I guess the only way I wouldn't consider you one is if you are the dude playing Jason Mraz covers on the beach with the Ed Hardy tank and rainbow sandals.
     
  8. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,716
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2015
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    A guitarist is someone who plays the guitar. You can qualify it with an adjective to reflect the skill level of the player: - ("I'm a professional guitarist", "I'm a terrible guitarist") or it can be used in a context that implies a level of skill ("What do you do for a living?" "I'm a guitarist"), but the word in itself doesn't suggest a skill level.
     
    hobbyplayer, Jonny G, Rod and 6 others like this.
  9. AParrotLooksAt4O

    AParrotLooksAt4O Member

    Messages:
    6,849
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    True.

    I prefer Steely Dan covers in khakis and a black bowling shirt with flames around the bottom. Tevas? Event better.
     
    conrad79 likes this.
  10. Help!I'maRock!

    Help!I'maRock! Member

    Messages:
    9,566
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Location:
    Capitol City
    Forget guitarist. Try being a musician.
     
    candid_x, strumnhum, scott944 and 6 others like this.
  11. Moby Dick

    Moby Dick Member

    Messages:
    1,720
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2014
    Location:
    The Motorcity
    I never refer to myself as a guitarist or guitar player.

    I play guitar.
     
  12. changeling

    changeling Member

    Messages:
    1,649
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Location:
    ...where the strings come in.
    You're a guitarist.
    Professional guitarists are defined as those who receive compensation for
    their skills,so you are also a professional guitarist.

    For the record,neither Jimi or Prince read music beyond your reading skills,and maybe
    not even that.

    Enjoy.
     
  13. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Longmont, Colorado
    A guitarist, like a pianist, ought to have a real repertoire that she can perform all by herself without accompaniment.

    And she should be able to play those pieces well without fumbling because she's put a lot of time and work into perfecting her art.
     
    amstrtatnut likes this.
  14. 202dy

    202dy Member

    Messages:
    441
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Anyone who buys or is given a guitar is a guitarist as long as they pick it up and try to play.

    Musician, on the other hand, is something else altogether.
     
  15. zztomato

    zztomato Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,435
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    So, what do you call a person who plays guitar up until that time when you anoint them "guitarist"? Are they just a maker of noise?
    Maybe we should just decide right now that until you have graduated with a masters degree in guitar performance, you are simply a student of the guitar.
    There, I set the bar for you all to follow. Good luck! Report back when you've achieved the lofty designation. :aok
     
  16. Mojofied

    Mojofied Member

    Messages:
    102
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    Modesto, CA
    If you play the guitar you are a guitar player. If you make a living playing the guitar you are a guitarist. Fixing the pipes under my sink does not make me a plumber.

    Frankly worrying about earning a title and such nonsense is the realm of the poser.
     
  17. SuperSilverHaze

    SuperSilverHaze Member

    Messages:
    1,522
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    You must be able to flawlessly play Little Wing through a vintage guitar and tube amp. The more expensive the better.
     
    Jonny G, David Garner and scolfax like this.
  18. Devnor

    Devnor Member

    Messages:
    3,272
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    I think the OP worries a little too much about labels and possibly has the desire to diminish other players thru labels because they don't meet his criteria.

    This idea that a musicians/guitarist must be paid to call himself a professional is ridiculous. If I'm playing for tips am I automatically a pro? If I'm in a bar band playing the same tunes I learned 30 years ago why does that make me a pro? If I handle myself in a professional manner but I'm not playing for the tip jar suddenly excludes me from your little club?

    I'm a musician. I play guitar therefore I'm a guitarist. When I'm playing bass I am a bassist. It's pretty simple.
     
  19. Pat Healy

    Pat Healy Member

    Messages:
    10,957
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Rap is like this. Anybody can rhyme some words, but only through hard work, dedication, and professionalism can a rapper earn the title of "rapist."
     
    lowyaw, =JL= and Blahfingers like this.
  20. Bussman

    Bussman Member

    Messages:
    2,555
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Sounds like too much work!
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice