How many hours do you think Buckethead practices a day?

The first thing that may come to mind is numb fingers, followed by callouses that could break a diamond in two. I would picture that, or the world’s most durable pick, smoking in a metal tin to prevent burning down the house. While that might be a dramatic representation, it does bring up an important question.

How Much Do Professional Guitarists Practice? Some sources will tell you to practice up to thirty hours a week. However, many famous guitarists do not have a precise hourly amount. Through a routine practice schedule with a clear goal, aspiring musicians have a much higher likelihood of success. You can choose to master specific techniques, memorize songs, or write new music. Utilize what you know about your learning style.

This idea doesn’t take away from those who practice at a high volume. Those who can follow through with a long, goal-oriented practice are some of the most impressive guitarists in the world. Below, we will be going into some further details on the length and quality of training.

How Much Do Famous Professional Guitarists Practice?

In this section, we are going to focus on famous musicians who have taken interviews commenting on their practice habits. You will notice that some of them do not reflect on hourly practice times.

Guitarists Practice Routines
Eddie Van Halen According to an interview with GuitarWorld, Eddie Van Halen practices for more than three hours per period.
Yngwie Malsteen While Yngwie Malsteen doesn’t call it practice, he does play every day to keep his skills sharpened.
Zakk Wylde Zakk Wylde played every day for 22 days for the Black Label album.
Tom Morello Tom Morello believes that you get more out of practicing one hour a day than all at once.
Steve Vai Steve Vai states that you should not put in an amount of time that makes you uncomfortable.
Kerry King Kerry King reminds us to be a whole person. Take the guitar as seriously as you would other aspects of your life. You do not need to practice 24/7.

 

We’ve gone through advice from some of the biggest names in metal. There are many paths to reach the level of a professional musician. For guitarists, the variance can be anywhere between ten minutes a day to 8 hours a day.

The key to all of these guitarists is not free time. It is passion.

Just because you had to work a double-overtime shift at your “day job” doesn’t mean that you are going to suck at guitar. That “bad feeling” is your passion coming to bite you. Going to practice every day with a goal outweighs the time you spend on this.

Ask yourself the question: how much playing per week do I need to feel comfortable? Once you have that answer, focus on learning goals. This thought brings us to another important point.

Focus on Practicing Carefully

If you spend all of your practice time flicking at the same chords, you aren’t going to learn much. Me saying this isn’t me discouraging your creativity, because Slash has proven that with one of his famous rift’s, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

However, beginners should focus on establishing a series of goals for what they want for themself. Set up small goals for yourself to reach an overall goal. Let’s say, for example, you want to try and be the next Buckethead.

First, you may want to avoid the whole “bucket on your head” thing, because that has a history. Instead, your goal could be to work towards on technique at a time. After you master each one, you may want to attempt his three-note-per-string approach and use it as if you created it.

However impressive it may be to pull off this stunt, remember the idea is not to become another musician. It is to take the talents of musicians after you for your benefit. You must be careful to develop methods that work for you. By asking yourself why you want to become this musician, you will come closer to being a unique guitarist.

What are the Different Techniques I Could Learn?

As a guitarist, you may want to get some practice with the fundamentals before getting into these.  We will list out a total of five, but there is more to consider.

Technique Description
Slides The guitarist holds a note and drags that note to another area of the chord.
String bending It is a technique where the guitarist bends the string to change the sound coming from the note, mimicking the human voice.
Palm-muting A technique where you lightly press your palm against the strings to reduce how long the strings resonate or make noise.
Choking The guitarist presses their picking hand onto the string to stop, or “choke,” the noise.
Double stops Two notes played in quick succession. Excellent at transitioning to the guitar techniques mentioned earlier.

 

There is no set amount of hours you need to reach before you can perform any of these techniques. Base it upon your comfort level. But much like learning any guitar chords, they will require repetition before you can truly master them.

What is the Ten Thousand Hour Rule?

The ten thousand hour rule is a dangerous beast in the world of guitar. By following this rule, you have given yourself a job.

Don’t get me wrong; you need to set goals to get better. But deciding to play ten thousand hours of the guitar, without any of the details, reminds me of that guy who picked billions of flowers in World of Warcraft to reach the max level.  It is fantastic that you’ve hit that threshold, but what are you going to do with it?

Let’s say you have set a goal to play the famous “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zepplin. It is a tune we have all heard before, but you want to master it. You can’t just crank out those hours without thinking about it.

Instead, you stop at the tricky sessions, playing them until you get them to be stellar. Once you play the entire stairway, you’ve made it look easy. It’s more of an escalator to heaven because you made it seem that easy.

There is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Whether you are comfortable practicing in public, a studio, or your underpants at home, your journey isn’t going to look like Slash’s journey. The chances are that your journey is not going to look like any artist’s journey. Your method of practicing the guitar will have to be completely different from others.

There Is still a lot of knowledge coming from those who have been there before. Take the techniques of the most skilled people and apply it to your process. Erase the word talent out of your head and replace that with hard work.

Conclusion

With the number of impressive guitarists out there, people are obsessed with finding the quickest path to becoming the next one. Whether you want to be the next Eddie Van Halen, Buckethead, or Tom Morello, know you are not likely to become a future version of anyone. Instead, you are going to become the first you.

Much like with any practice, you may want to emulate their techniques, but you don’t want to follow the person. You also don’t want to think that time alone is what separates you from the best. By having a goal-oriented practice where you seek to master techniques, songs, or chords, you give yourself the best chance at being a fantastic guitarist.

Keep it on Bythebarricade.com for tons of punk rock interviews, reviews, articles, and photos! Also, “Like” By the Barricade on Facebook to never miss a post.