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Study: Guitarists Brains Are Different Than Others

For anyone who has ever marveled at a killer guitar solo or failed miserably at trying to play one there is a study that explains why great guitarists can play the way they do. Their brains are different!


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lindsey buckingham must be a

lindsey buckingham must be a genius, then. (performed using one guitar, one take.)


Will we ever run out of new music?


Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

I don't know about my brain being different, but ....

.... I've been playing guitar for about 23 years now and playing lead guitarist in a band for 15, and one thing I can say is I simply will not ... absolutely will not learn songs by reading music. All I need to do is hear the song and once I figure out the key, I dive right in and not only can play along, but my most favorite thing is to toss my own fills and solos in there. I've got the fretboard layout burnt into my brain and given a key of a song and hearing it a few times, I can dive right in and just do it :). With the exception of a set of songs where the solo is significant (Meaning that you really need to play the solo as is done by the recording to convey the song properly), most of my soloing is improvised ..... all I need is the key of the song :)

Man, you gotta get beyond keys.

That's what a trumpet player told me about 40 years ago. He was right. A singer can sing and improvise without knowing what the key is. So can a horn-player. Guitar players too, I imagine. When my chops are in good shape, I can play the sax like I am singing through it. There is no thought of keys or notes, only singing. It's the inner voice. It stops saying words in my head and starts singing.

A great jazz sax man taught me to do it, in a kind of Zen master way. He told me that the first time I got "into the zone," it would scare me, and I would immediately pop right back out. He was right. The thing is to go back again and again. Eventually it will no longer frighten. One learns to be comfortable there, ecstatic even.


Sheet music is a useful tool. There is no reason to avoid it. Like Louis Prima says in the novelty song, "The Lip," "I'll tell you, hon, I read a little bit but not enough to hurt me none."

Ĵīɣȩ Ɖåđşŏń

"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln


Guess that explains why in the realm of musician jokes, the ones about guitar players almost always bust on their attitude and not their brains or talent.
'How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb?'
answer: 100, 1 to change the bulb and 99 to stand around smirking while muttering "heh, I can do that!"

When you have a feel for rhythm...

When you have a feel for rhythm playing any instrument, you fall into a dance that coordinates with the beat, and a type of muscle memory "dance" occurs; so that can be somewhat auto-pilot.

But I would agree that focusing on any instrument intensely may contribute to some kind of bran function or brain development.

"Automatic Pilot": Intuition + Pre-Loaded "Memory" (+ Video)

To My Dear Friends at The Daily Paul:

:) -----> http://youtu.be/Tnyvskr4BNw

I will share something I have explained to guitar students before.


Don't EVER let anyone LIE to you and disencourage you.

Talent? Certainly some people have more "natural talent" than others, but "basic music" I say ANYONE can train to play a little. You just need a GOOD TEACHER. Those with more talent - if they continue to polish their skills, both Natural and LEARNT: Those are the ones who become Professionals.

However: It does take work. Lots of practice, study. It NEVER ends.

What happens - and I speak from experience - is that before going onstage, something "switches". Personal worries, the things that run in the background of our minds every day VANISH. I walk onstage and I AM A MUSICIAN. You are not thinking about your job, bank account, nothing. You BECOME music.

Everything you have learned and experienced as a musician is there like like RAM memory. That is why you don't see many musicians - not only guitarists - play without sheet music. Either: A- It has already been played and memorized or B- You are able to GO INTO IT BLINDLY and improvise BECAUSE...YOU HAVE YEARS OF STUDY AND EXPERIENCE. That Is Why. INTUITION IS "GRABBING" FROM WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW.

To get to that level, you MUST have paid your dues. Period.

ART is 10% Inspiration and 90 Perspiration? (Work?). I say YES.

So we "walk onstage" and "make it look easy"? Sure. BEFORE THAT MOMENT THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF HARD WORK "behind the scenes". Musicians in their bedroom becoming musicians.

It looks easy because IT IS EASY. Because you have HAMMERED AWAY everything about your music that was difficult.

Art and Intuition are Gifts. But they have to be nurtured.




Wisdom Strategies

+1 ...

Yes yes yes!!!! soooooo true! I second your statement. I've been playing for years, and it took me years upon years upon years to perfect some things as well as memorize progressions that you hear over and over.

And yes, when I walk on stage and play the fun songs that we do and the crowd enjoys it, I totally and completely get lost in it :)

This Article Is Referring To Professional Guitarists.

This Article Is Referring To Professional Guitarists.

"When non-experienced-musicians attempt to play a solo, the conscious portion of their brain stays on, which implies that "real" guitarists are able to switch to this more creative and less-practical mode of thinking more easily."

Many people don't know what Professional Guitarist really means. This is why many people don't think of Guitar Players like they think of Architects, Engineers, Doctors, etc. At TOP Levels, it is THE SAME THING. A Professional is a Professional in whatever field.

Unfortunately Serious Music - in whatever style - is KEPT FROM THE PUBLIC. Raising Educational Standards does not seem to be a priority.

That is why I thought I would share a little of what I know. This "false notion" that people magically become amazing artists by hanging out and "jamming" is beyond laughable and idiotic. IT IS WRONG TO LIE TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE A DESIRE TO LEARN. So I thought I would come here and share THE TRUTH.

Some people may think after a while that "they are not so talented".

I WROTE THIS TO EMPOWER PEOPLE. I SAID THAT ANYBODY CAN LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT. How far people want to take it depends on how serious they are. Music can be a hobby, or a Profession.

From All The Teachers and Professionals I have met over the years - my own heroes: These people PRACTICE AND STUDY ALL THE TIME. Yes: The Best Musicians In The World Practice and Study probably every day even at their level. So it's no wonder. That explains everything.

I will never forget the first time I met my hero of heroes: Vicente Amigo. I met him backstage after the show and he invited my teacher and I to have dinner with him. While having dinner my teacher leaned over my shoulder and whispered at me: "Ask him if he doesn't study".

Of course I realized at that moment what an idiotic question that would have been.

It's the 21st. Century and there are awesome guitarists out there if you know where to look. It is a great time to discover and learn :)


"At The Highest Levels You Don't Find Arrogant People. Those Are The Ones Who Became World Class Musicians by Being Humble Enough To Ask For Lessons".

Wisdom Strategies

I agree. All true.

And not only can anyone play an instrument,
Anyone can enjoy it. At any level.

I had a new neighbor move in. He had a couple of guitars. One each acustic and electric.
He was a beginner.
Soon enough he was exposed to many excellent musicians that regularly play with me.
We are all working professionals. A few very famous musicians as well.

One day he came over and we were playing some Dave Brubeck...
Herbie Hancock...The Meters...

Appearently, all that was too much.
He offered to sell me his guitars.
Said that he would never be that good.
That he would never be on a stage performing.

I had to explain to him that what we do is "business".
That is not the same as loving and enjoying music.
I told him that playing an instrument is deeper than that.
A love for music has little to do with business.

I asked him, "When you sit on your couch noodling away, does it make you feel good"? Yes.
"Then don't sell your guitars". It's not about work!
When you turn on your guitar, does it return the favor?!?
That's all that matters!

Not everyone will work in the music "business".
But work is not what music and playing instruments is all about.
After a lifetime of the music business,
I am now trying to separate the business from my love of music.

And on the last paragraph, "What happens..."
That is what happens! Or at least should!
In the Cantonese Opera, they have a thing they do.
It's called, "Crossing the Hudumen Line". (Spelling?)
An imaginary line between backstage and the stage.
When they cross it, they leave all of themselves behind.
And become the character fully.
I have always crossed that line.

Great comment Wisdom Strategies!

Defend Liberty!

America Rising.
The Constitution Stands.

"That the pen is mightier than the sword would be proven false; if I should take my sword and cut off the hand that holds the pen" - American Nomad

What is the difference?

What is the difference between a guitar player and a mutual fund?

Eventually, a mutual fund will mature and make money!

Defend Liberty!

America Rising.
The Constitution Stands.

"That the pen is mightier than the sword would be proven false; if I should take my sword and cut off the hand that holds the pen" - American Nomad

Some People Are So Poor That All They Have Is Money. Hmmmm?

So Professional Musicians Don't Work? Lol!!!!!

What do Multi-Millionaires do when they want to have a party? Entertain their guests with their iPOD? Lol!!!!!

Want to hire Professional Musicians? They are NOT cheap.

Some Talent Agencies will tell you not to bother contacting them unless you have $20,000 Budget Minimum.

So if you are wealthy and you want Upscale Music to impress your friends, it won't be cheap.



"Mucho dinero y poca educación son la peor combinación".

Wisdom Strategies

Uh..um..it was a joke. Lighten up!

It was one of many musician jokes I have learned after 30+ years as a professional musician.
Why are you digging deeper? It was a joke. A funny!

What does a drummer use for birth control?
His personality!

How do you know when a drummer is knocking at your door?
Because he speeds up, then comes in late!

What does a stripper do with her a$$hole before going to work?
She drops him off at band practice!

All jokes.
Not to be taken seriously.
Place tounge in cheek.
Have a chuckle!

Exercise Liberty and humor.

America Rising.
The Constitution Stands.

"That the pen is mightier than the sword would be proven false; if I should take my sword and cut off the hand that holds the pen" - American Nomad

Refined Manners and Classy Jokes, hmmmmm?

Refined Manners and Classy Jokes, hmmmmm?


Wisdom Strategies

Dude it's a music thread...

Expect some bass humor.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

Oops! I forgot the bass jokes...!

Hey Chris!
Here's one for you!

So this kid wants to learn to play bass.
His Dad says OK, and sets him up with lessons.

The first week, the Dad comes home and asks, "Well son, how was your first bass lesson?"
The kids says, "Great Dad, I learned to play the first four notes on the first string!"
Dad says, "That's great son!"

Second week the Dad asks again, "How was your second bass lesson son?"
Kid says, "Great Dad, I learned to play the first four notes on the second string!"
Dad says, "That's good! I'm proud of you son!"

Third week, Dad comes home and asks, "Well son, how was your third bass lesson?"
And the kid says, "I couldn't make it...I had a gig!!!"

Exercise Liberty and humor!

America Rising.
The Constitution Stands.

"That the pen is mightier than the sword would be proven false; if I should take my sword and cut off the hand that holds the pen" - American Nomad

I don't tell my fingers what to do.

I merely makes suggestions and they take over from there.
Was not always this way!

Defend Liberty.

America Rising.
The Constitution Stands.

"That the pen is mightier than the sword would be proven false; if I should take my sword and cut off the hand that holds the pen" - American Nomad

The same can be said for any

The same can be said for any musician. Music, like anything else, you "get it" or you don't, and it's something you are born with, you have the innate talent or you don't.

Turn off the TV Propaganda.
Find out what's really going on!
"Your portal to reality!"

Yeah - I can't play with some dudes cause I can tell they aren't

Musicians they're technicians who thought it would be cool for them to be in a band or something.

Fine for an orchestra but not so much for rock and roll.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

The only reason I don't use

The only reason I don't use my "conscious brain" when i shred is because I have the notes and general movements memorized. So I don't really have to consciously think about it. It doesn't make me special, i just know how to solo i don't have to think that hard about it. It is however true that when you play alone in the dark for a long period of time u get into a hypnotic type relaxing trance, like u've been sleeping like ababy for the past20 minutes when you finally snap back to reality.

What about when you jam without memory?

How does that work?

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Its about knowing the sounds

Its about knowing the sounds and the notes, and then you can do whatever you want because you understand how it all works. I hardwired myself that way I wasn't born that way, it was hard at first. once you get the hang of it, its like wrestling i suppose, you just improvise as you go but there is a strategy or technique to it. I think if our brains are wired differently then its of our own doing rather then being born that way.

I've always explained it as the instrument playing you...

...instead of you playing the instrument.
For a short comparison.

I agree with the detachment.
Ask yourself, do you type full words on the keyboard...
or spell each letter of the word while hitting the keys?

In Soviet Russia...

In Soviet Russia...

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

Heh heh heh! Good one Virginian!

...keys hit you!

Defend Liberty!

America Rising.
The Constitution Stands.

"That the pen is mightier than the sword would be proven false; if I should take my sword and cut off the hand that holds the pen" - American Nomad


Anyone that buys into this nonsense would believe that a congressman's brain is different than anyone else's brain. A brain is simply a piece of meat that has no creative or cognitive ability. If you don't believe me, go down to the butcher shop and get some brains. Or you can go to a morgue and get some brains, of a guitarist if you like. Take the brains home, dissect them, analyze them under a really big microscope if you like. See if you can find any difference between a guitarist's brains and the brains of a Congressman or someone that flipped burgers at McDonalds. All you will find is a bunch of meat. It's not the brain that holds knowledge or creative ability. It's the human spirit that does the thinking, understanding and creation. The spirit resides in the human body, typically in the area of the brain. But the idea that a guitarist's brain is somehow more creative is simply pure nonsense. Such ignorant ideas lead to discrimination. Are guitarists going to be given some special privileges or considerations on the basis of this study?

People's brains

develop differently depending on the types of stimulation
they receive and learning tasks that are undertaken.

Which helps explain things like why there are three year old kids
who are more adept at interacting with a tablet or i-phone
interface than I am - but the same child may be inept at playing
with blocks or Legos or interacting with other children:


Doing tasks that require complex motor skills cause neuron
development to increase in certain parts of the brain, for example.

Language acquisition in children also affects brain development
as studies like this one show:


Thus, the music I was exposed to as a child and the year or so of piano
lessons that I suffered (I think my teacher suffered more) through in
junior high school - to very little apparent benefit - may have created
the conditions for me to pick up the guitar decades later and actually
make considerable progress, nearly all from just playing by ear and
checking out the (very) occasional youtube lesson...

they got it down to a "science"!

it must be true! :-)

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Spirit would be the gas for the brain engine...

for the way you describe the action.

Trevor Lyman's picture

Neet! Me play geetar. :)