Guest Blogger: Byline – Colleen

The music industry is a competitive, dog-eat-dog world. Tons of guitarists are trying to make it in the music business every day. What separates the successful guitarists from the “wanna be” rock stars? Aside from awesome guitar skills, you need to have specific personality traits to lead you to greatness. These 5 important qualities will take you a step above the competition and make you successful.

Guitarists making a living with their music are some of the hardest working people that I know. The road to stardom requires hours of effort. This means working long days, nights, weekends, and making sacrifices for their music.

As a guitarist, you need to understand all aspects of the professional music making industry, not just the guitar. Successful guitarists will step in to fill other roles, such as manager, promoter, or booker. It’s cheaper than paying someone else to do the work, plus it’s one less person to write a check to. The income from doing extra jobs can help put food on a musician’s table.

Johnny Cash is one of the most hard-working singer/song-writers to date. He grew up during the depression in extreme poverty, but started writing songs at the age of 12. Cash released a total of 96 albums in his 50 year career!

Successful guitarists are a slave to their music. They are willing to eat, breathe, and sleep with their guitar. You have to truly love what you do to get through some of the inevitable tough times ahead.

Money is a driving force for people that want to be famous. Successful guitarists aren’t driven by the money. They are driven by their passion for music, writing, performing, and recording. Money is just a result of the time and efforts being put in.

A famously passionate singer, songwriter, and musician, Joan Baez, is known for her music and supporting global human rights. Baez participated in demonstrations led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and supported her beliefs in marches and rallies. She has been performing publicly for over 55 years and continuously shows her passion for music and human rights.

It will take many “no’s” before you get a “yes.” Elvis Presley wasn’t always a household name. His first manager, Jimmy Denny, fired him after his first performance telling him that he should return to truck driving. Due to Elvis’s persistence in his music dreams, his career sky rocketed and his net worth is now over $300 million dollars.

On your road to success, expect failures and changes. Life obstacles will be thrown you’re way that will require you to persevere. If a band member quits, you’ll have to find a way to replace him/her and simultaneously keep performing at gigs.

Most overnight successes, actually take years in the making. We may perceive them to be instantly famous, but usually these artists have been working years to make their dream come true.

Open Minded
The world requires you to be open minded about a lot of things, especially in the music business. Open mindedness may mean you are creative at finding ways to make money to support yourself. Teaching guitar lessons, or working at a music shop can help you survive, while on the road to greatness.

It’s important to have an open outlook on your future. Things don’t always turn out the way we expect them too. Let’s say you always dreamed of becoming a heavy metal guitarist, but a spot opens up in a rock band. Having an open mind will lead you to more opportunities, which could lead to success.

Enjoy Everyday Practice
Every day that you miss practice, someone else in the world is using that time to become better. A successful guitarist realizes the importance of practicing on a daily basis to hone their craft. The music business is an extremely competitive business. Your willingness to dedicate yourself will set your skills aside from the “wanna be” rock stars.

Steve Vai, voted the 10th “Greatest Guitarist” by Guitar World magazine said, “I dedicated all the time I had to it. The 10 hour workout was just what I put in the magazine at the time, but for me it was every waking moment.”

If you possess these top 5 qualities, you are well on your way to becoming a successful guitarist. No one would be great without all 5. Your passion will slowly die without the persistence to hone your craft. You can be incredibly hard working, but miss wonderful opportunities without an open mind. The key is to use all 5 success qualities to reach your music goals as a guitarist.

Sources & Further Reading
7 Hard-Working Musicians Who Should Be Your Role Models
The Guitar Practice Routine That’s Truly Fun
How 10 Musicians Make Good Livings In Today’s Music Industry

About the Author
Colleen has a passion for guitars and ukuleles. She enjoys jamming, teaching, and getting others involved in music. Her website,, focuses specifically on guitars and ukes.