You've come a long way, so pat yourself on the back. In the preceding chapters you learned the basics of music and applied them to rock and blues music; but these basics apply to all styles. If you decide to study jazz at some point, you can use the same scales and arpeggios appearing in this book, except in a different way. The basic information stays the same. In a way, you've learned more than you think.
However, just reading the material in this book and playing some of the examples doesn't mean that you know it. Learning a scale position doesn't mean that you understand a scale. The difference between superficial learning and true knowledge is important to understand. So, if you just skimmed this book, go back and reread it and practice some more. Learning music to a level where you can create it is a deep and mysterious task that can't be rushed. It's like learning to speak your native language—sure you picked up small words and phrases early, but it took many years to speak fluently. The same holds true for music. If you really want to learn, the material in this book can last you a lifetime.
Boston guitar teacher Jon Finn speaks about “The Path” and finding your own way. Use the basic building blocks of music—scales, intervals, and chords—and work hard to find your own way as a musician. When you practice, try to find new and inventive ways to play the instrument.
Find a new way to play a scale. In the beginning, study great players, but don't take what they do as gospel. The truly great players are all innovators in some way. Their inventiveness is what made them so great, not how much they sounded like someone else.
It's very easy to use clichés when playing guitar. If you've spent time learning licks, it's easy for you to stay there forever and not change how you play. But once you learn the basic tools of guitar playing, you should take those tools and seek out your own path to create your own music. For example, if you give three graphic artists the same pencil and paper, you'll get three different drawings. Same tools—different outcomes. The same thing holds true in music: Give three guitar players the same notes, scales, and chords, and each musician will create different music. The great artists transcend the instrument and use it as a tool, not just a guitar.
Try this experiment: Get an old guitar and buy a whole bunch of small stickers from a crafts store. Place the stickers under the strings according to a scale diagram (there are plenty in Chapter 6). This will highlight the correct notes and leave the wrong notes empty. Now play. Notice that, since you have the whole neck available to you, you tend to use all of the notes. In general, after practicing this way, most players find themselves playing all over the neck and rarely, if ever, go back to scale boxes. The scale box patterns are convenient because they help you learn three or four frets at a time, but the fret stickers allow you to explore freely.