-- Steve Vai Question --

Question for you guitar players...

Excluding his natural talent...how many hours do you think Steve Vai
played/practiced when he first began playing ?

Second question....

Let's say a person starts learning guitar, can only practice seriously
1hour a day. How long till he can play a Vai song , like For the Love of
God ?

What would your strategy be ? Music theory / reading skills mixed with
practice. Breaking down a Vai song measure by measure to learn his

Curious becasue Vai is my guitar god , I play a little but have always
dreamed of playing one of his compositions.

Vai is an amazing technical guitar player, there's no question.

But of ALL the great guitar players, why would you want to be Vai?

Figure out how to be one-tenth of Stevie Ray and you'll have accomplished something...

BENBJJ---thanks for a great reply.

10hr workouts ..won't work for me at all. 3 kids lol. I figured it was
something crazy like that. I have just a little bit of talent and seem to pick
things up quickly....but I haven't ever really got serious about trying to
tackle Vai. Just dream about it.

I have a second love for piano too , so I am always torn about where to
spend my practice/playing time.

Man, I wish I would have gotten serious about music as a teen, or had
parents that helped me stay commited to it. Not enough time in the day
between work,training,parenting..etc.

We'll at least I can strum Margaritavile...lol

Player's players, guys who are into it, and the technical side of things, and don't want to be limited by physical technical difficulty, practice 10-12 hours a day, easy.

I and many other guys I know practiced like that...virtually all of our waking hours, especially in the early years.

The time to start with that is when you're young, when you don't have to have a job, or you're a music student.

Texarcher--- Why would I want to be Vai ?

Probably the same reason I would want to grapple like Marcelo. They are
just my favorites and idols. I guess I'm in awe of them and just think it
would be crazy and fun to shred a guitar like Vai.......that just has to be

The long practices keep coming up -----

How do they know what to practice is my question. It's the same as a BJJ
thread I saw. More mat time isn't the answer always, smart mat time is.

Being older with limited time , I have to find smart practice time...some
kind of guided direction.

I think you can get pretty awesome if you seriously hit the woodshed for an hour a day, every day, for 2 to 3 years. While smart practice is important, more really is better. I also think every day is important.

As for smart practice, get John Petrucci's "Rock Discipline" dvd (or the book). And get a metronome. That should keep you busy for at least a year.

Speaking of Paco De Lucia, get the cd "Friday Night in San Francisco". Live face-melting shredding on acoustic guitar by Al DiMeola, John McLoughlin, and Paco de Lucia.

Appreciate all the input.......

any of you guys had to spread your time over two instruments ?

I like the piano for different reasons....mainly George Winston and DAvid

The guitar you can always have handy though..so there I fall to Vai first
and Satriani second, as inspirations of course.

Your fingers are only getting warmed up after an hour. It's hours into it that your fingers start to do things that even surprise yourself.

You spend the time starting out with scale, shape, and chromatic exercises, along with picking technique. You can write up a list of things to go through everyday. Just like a workout. You have a list of things you're working on and the number of "sets" of each you'll be doing, and at what speeds on the metronome (building up over time)...think of the metronome speed as "weight".

It's also a good idea to record yourself going through this part, because your ears sometimes are not objective while you are doing it. The tape however, while listening back later, is brutally honest.

Paul Gilbert's Terrifying Guitar Trip is by far the most entertaining instructional I've seen. Even my non-musical friends find it funny.

You can get pretty damn good for an hour a day, every day. Problem is staying consistent & getting the best out of that hour.

IMO, it's not that hard to master a single song, if that's all you're focused on for a long enough period of time.

Part of what makes the greats great is that the 10 hour workouts make the single song focus unnecessary. But if you just want to pick a couple & get good at them, that's doable over time.

PS Leo Kottke has guitars strategically positioned within arm's reach of everywhere he's likely to be, so he can noodle whenever inspired. I don't go that far, but having 1 in each regular room helps.

I can't even conceive of playing 10+ hours a day. How do you build up to that without injuring your hands/fingers/wrist?

when I first started playing I would play about 4 or 5 hours a day. I never really did any kind of drills or workouts though. What I would do is just find songs I liked and learn to play them. First thing I ever did was learn still loving you by the scorpions by ear. Wasn't easy since I didn't even know where any notes were on any strings but eventually I figured it out. I did this with a few songs and along the way I learned some basic chords. About a year into my playing a friend taught me the basic pentatonic shapes. Once I learned those (to this day all I know and use are the two basic ones), I would put on a song I liked, figure out what key it was in, then just noodle over it with the shapes I knew. Eventually I learned the basic major and minor scale shapes (again, only the two basic ones...) and started doing stuff with those.

I never got into the whole practice and drills and 10 hour workout thing though. Too fucking boring. Just put on a song you like and jam along to it.

"you have to be a very good guitarist to play vai's music, but it's not as unattainable as some on here make it out to be."

true...but...playing something like that makes you a good technical player with the ability to copy someone else's stuff. imo, taht doesn't necessarily make you a good guitar player. It makes you a good technician.

I'm not sure how exactly to explain it. Put it this way, I can play stuff that to most people sounds very impressive but to me is not that hard to play because it comes natural to me. It might also not be easy for others to imitate what I play. This doesn't necessarily mean I'm a better player than them. Just like if I have a hard time copying someone else's playing it doesn't mean I suck and they are better. What vai plays comes natural to him but copying his exact fingerings and stuff probably won't be natural for anyone else.

Does this make any sense or should I just STFU and go back to playing twinkle twinkle little star?

Happy Birthday to Steve Vai!

"who is to decide what's good and what's bad?"

me, obviously.

didn't you get the memo?

Regardless whether you can get more done in an hour that others in 10, when you are a beginner, the more time spent a day the better. There's no way around that. Even if you have kids and can only practice an hour, if you can squeeze in ten more minutes here and there throughout the day, it will all help and be better than nothing.

Even Gods like Shawn Lane practiced 10-15 hours a day in the beginning, and then years later, didn't practice technique at all. But you have to put in the time to get there first. I don't think Shawn was "wasting" his time in the beginning.

armbreaker is correct. 10 hours a day sounds glamorous, but the reality is that 7 hours a week in one hour a day intervals is more then your arverage joe guitarist practices. if you can find the time to practice 7 hours a week you will be well on your way as a guitarist.

its cool to set goals with certain songs, but id be careful how you choose to get there. rather then memorize a specific song its best to understand the theory behind it. once you have a solid grasp of music theory you can adapt to almost any style and then its just a question of understanding the nuances of what makes said guitarists song unique.

also as an aspiring shredder id say devote time to rhythm playing and songwriting. most shredders have all the technique in the world but are painful to listen to. surfing with the alien is a very technical song, but listen to the back track. thats the most cheesy riff in the world and actually degrades everything he plays after you realize thats the riff thats going to drive the song. why is that? because the song is just a vehicle for him to assualt you with his lead guitar prowess. thats also why him and other shredders find very limited audiences beyond other musicians. the songs are weak, but the technique is blinding. most people couldnt give two shits though because technique in and of itself is pointless.

concentrate on being a well versed guitarist in all areas. chord shapes/structures  and rhythm playing are every bit as important as scales. also play on an acoustic guitar regularly. you have to be much more precise when you cant hide behind a wall of noise.

"thats also why him and other shredders find very limited audiences beyond other musicians. the songs are weak, but the technique is blinding. most people couldnt give two shits though because technique in and of itself is pointless."

exactly. That's why I've never been into shredder music. I own exactly one satriani CD. It's the only shredder cd I've ever owned. Even though I'm a guitar player, it just doesn't interest me. I can listen to it and say "yeah..wow..that's impressive..." but it doesn't move me or interest me one bit. I'd much rather listen to james taylor strumming and plucking his acoustic than to shawn lane playing a million notes a second.

Guitarists like van halen and george lynch on the other hand, they have an amazing blend of technique and melody and feeling and emotion in their playing.

And if you want to listen to some amazing stuff that even the super-shredders of the 80s were amazed by, listen to brian setzer.

Satriani is a shredder? That's news to me.