Developing a Guitarist’s Repertoire and Vocabulary

We need two things to play music: repertoire and vocabulary. Repertoire is the collection of songs we know by heart. Vocabulary is the stuff we play on the songs in our repertoire.

A guitarist’s repertoir has two parts:

  • Rhythm guitar vocabulary
  • Solo guitar vocabulary

When I started out as a working musician, I figured out pretty quickly that I needed to cover a lot of styles to keep working. If I were to sound authentic and keep a gig, I had to develop believable solo and rhythm guitar vocabulary that fit each style. And what’s great about vocabulary is that it’s reusable in song after song within the same genre.

I get that this is a methodical approach, but I think it’s how we end up learning anyway, whether or not we’re conscious of it.

Playing music is about baring our soul musically. But we need vocabulary to do that. As a guitarist, it’s important for you to develop your vocabulary so you have a way to express yourself and bare your soul.


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