How To Master Guitar (Part 1) ft. Hedras Ramos
Hedras Ramos, 19 year old guitar virtuoso from Guatemala, has been playing since he was 8 years old and was a finalist for UK’s Guitar Idol in 2009. He recently released his second album, Atoms And Space, which was contributed to by amazing talents such as Jennifer Batten (guitarist for Michael Jackson), Andy James, Billy Ashbaugh, and more! He currently travels around the world, performing and composing new music.
Yep. That’s how long they say it takes minimum to master anything in this world (don’t ask me who “they” are, because frankly I don’t know…but you’ll probably hear it again, so bear with me here…).
That’s roughly 416 days of non-stop practice.
Sounds like a lot of work. But then you look at music virtuosos (like Beethoven or Sungha Jung) and you start to think, These people were masters practically since the beginning. This 10,000 hour thing can’t be 100% true. And then you start to think, If they could do it, so can I, right?
That’s what you’d like to believe, anyway. So you go to your local music shop and totally splurge on a Les Paul. You buy some books, maybe hire an instructor, and expect all the natural talent and genius to do the rest of the work.
A couple of days go by…you look down at the tips of your fingers red and throbbing with pain, and you realize, This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
At this point, most people tend to give up.
They either give away their guitar or try selling it to get some of their money back, and never pick up the guitar again.
And that (sad as it is), is usually the way the world works. Unfortunately, not everybody has the natural skill (or even the time) to pick up an instrument and really learn to master it. Life gets in the way, reality hits…and the idea that you could become the next Clapton gets lost among the other broken dreams of your past.
But what if you really COULD make your dreams a reality? What if mastering the guitar wasn’t really as hard as you thought it would be?
Obviously, the idea that 10,000 hours is what it takes isn’t going to be true for everyone. That’s why we’ve interviewed some of the best guitarists in the industry to find out what it really takes to master the guitar, because when you want answers, it only makes sense to go to the experts who can give you those answers.
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those cheesy, “Become A Guitar Legend In 3 Days” commercials (unfortunately, not even Hendrix mastered the guitar in that short amount of time…). Just the cold hard facts.
How do you define an “expert” guitarist?
“I would say there is a huge difference between a musician and a simple guitarist,” says Hedras Ramos, “First of all, the guitar is just an instrument and you can make sounds and notes with it, just like any other instrument like piano, sax, etc.” he says, “So the guitar is an instrument for making music and the most important thing for a musician, is music, not speed or technique, the techniques are just different ways you can make the same notes, so for me is not the way you make the notes I mean the technique [sic] it could be sweeps, legatos, tapping, but the important thing is what you’re saying, the notes you’re making and the sound that is coming out of your instrument.”
“It must be beautiful and have a meaning to the song or musical background that people is listening, so it’s weird to say ‘expert guitarist’ because music is such an abstract art and is so personal, it’s not a game with levels or something like that, so I could say that an expert guitarist is the musician who uses the guitar to make music.”
Do you believe that age matters?
“There are people that are born with great gifts and talents.” Hedras explains, “There are people that are geniuses and understand complex stuff about music with almost nothing of theory studies, but for some people like me, normal people, you have to develop the technique to express your musical ideas and say what’s in your mind,” he continues, “Sometimes what I have in my head is beyond what I can play, so I have to invest my time on trying to reach the sounds I have in mind, but my goal is to make the sounds I want… it could be a chord, it could be a funny sound, not necessarily something about speed, so it depends on each one.
“There are guys that practice 1 year full time and they are amazing monsters, there are other people that prefer to focus on harmony and they are real geniuses. So, to become an expert you have to be honest and decide what you want and what you like, maybe you wanna practice the whole year and become a super great shredder, if that’s what you like, it’s cool, or maybe you want to understand music, and speak the language of music in different ways.”
How important is it to have a role model?
“For me it was vital,” Hedras replies, “Joe Satriani was the one that got me into music, since then I’ve been discovering new musicians that inspire me, it’s great to meet musicians that love the same music you love.”
Is music theory important?
“Music theory is the names that humans gave to the notes, chords, scales, rhytms, and any combination of the notes with rhythms, but music is about the sounds, not the names.” Hedras comments, “It’s like humans… we are special because we have emotions and ideas inside of us, not because our outside stuff like our clothes, nationality or color etc.. There are amazing self thaught players like Guthrie Govan or people that don’t like theory like Allan Holdsworth.” he continues, “I think the right way to use theory is to make music that is easier to share, learn and understand.
“I’m self taught so I never had any hard music theory routing, I studied the names of the chords, scales and that stuff when I was 13 years old, all those scales like harmonic minor, melodic minor, the major scales and the 7 modes, etc., but I’m the kind of person who prefer to learn how to use certain sounds than learning the names in papers.”
What advice would you give to someone looking to join a band?
“To know what you want.” answers Hedras, “If you wanna join a band and tour, that’s what you want; or maybe you wanna learn theory and understand all the aspects of music…You have to be honest with yourself, that’s the most important thing.”
What’s the minimal amount of time you think it might take someone to master the guitar?
“It’s really hard to answer that.” replies Hedras;
“I think that all the great players in history have something in common, they brought something new to the world of music, so I could say that’s mastering the guitar. If you’re beginning to play guitar and you wanna master something, you can do it as much as you want. It depends on you.”
Is listening to music just as important as practicing?
“I believe it´s much more important,” he answers, “Music is the head and heart, music is information, and the best way to learn is listening. You speak English because you listened to English when you were a baby, so practicing is for your fingers and listening to music for your brain and soul.”
What’s the best piece of advice you can offer for the aspiring guitarist?
“To listen to music, even if you don’t like it at the beginning, you will understand and like it with time. You don’t learn Chinese or German in one day, it’s a natural process.”
Hedras Ramos, at only 19 years of age, has composed and produced two different albums. His latest album, Atoms And Space, was contributed to by amazing talents such as Jennifer Batten, Andy James, Billy Ashbaugh, and more. See fantastic video of Hedras performing on his YouTube channel.
Check out these links for even more info on Hedras and to follow all of his latest activity!