Press "Enter" to skip to content

An Open Letter To Guitar Teachers: Watching Pedal Demos Is Practice

Dear Guitar teachers of the world,

Who hurt you?

Every week, my guitar lesson starts off the same. I fumble my way into almost finishing a minor pentatonic scale and my teacher asks the same boring, old-person question: “Did you even practice last week?”

The answer is yes. I practiced for over 30 hours, according to my YouTube history. I told my guitar teacher I practiced acquiring the knowledge necessary to become a successful musician. He told me his rates were going up.

I declare that it’s time for guitar teachers of the world to accept the simple fact that watching people dick around with expensive effects pedals online is a valid form of practice! I’m sorry that this doesn’t align with your puritanical views on learning “the CAGED system,” or “sweep picking,” or “the fretboard.” Maybe you just didn’t get what the person I was watching was going for.

Why would I waste time learning the Phrygian mode when I can just get a Russian Big Muff Pi, plug it into a Strymon Timeline delay, then fart in the general direction of my guitar’s pickups? All that’s left to do is record that shit into Ableton, loop it while applying filters, and sit back while Pitchfork labels me Best New Music.

Meanwhile, you guitar teachers are setting students up for a lifetime of playing low-volume blues gigs while watching people shove brisket into their faces at the local brewery. Shameful.

Do you think guitarists backstage talk about whether they prefer a F#m7 or an F#m9? No. They like to intimidate each other with contrarian opinions like, “I actually always thought the TS-9 Tubescreamer sounds like ass, I prefer my Klon Centaur.” The language musicians use to communicate with each other is “pretension” not “theory.” That said, the two can often appear the same.

You tell us to study the works of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Chet Atkins. I’m saying we should study Dan & Mick from That Pedal Show, the curly-haired guy from Reverb who doesn’t use a pick, and the smooth Wes Anderson-esque directorial stylings of Josh from JHS Effects. At least that stuff is fun.

Who even takes guitar lessons anymore? If you cared about your students’ futures in music, you’d teach them how to install an Antares Auto-Tune VST plugin. That will be around far longer than the guitar ever will.