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Here's a few secrets I just wanted to brainfart at you. Feel free to disagree with me if you enjoy being WRONG. Take these notes on board and I guarantee you will be a better musician.

Throw your toys away

Start by taking that £500 digital effects processor outside and burning it. Or eBay it and find a moron to impress with it. Seriously. You don't need it and it's stopping you from learning to be a better player.

Anyone can press a button and select a multi-tapped flangerdrive from a rackmount piece of crap with flashing lights on it. You could train a chimpanzee to throw bananas at a guitar plugged through a modern effects unit and it wouldn't sound much worse than you do. One of the secrets of being a great guitarist is the ability to produce a distinctive and recognisable tone that is entirely your own. Never mind what the man in the shop says, he's trying to make his sales commission by selling you a toy that does nothing except disguise sloppy playing and turn you into a push-button clone of every other idiot guitarist on the planet.

Does BB King need one? No, he needs a guitar and an amp. He doesn't need effects processors and neither do you.

Raise the action at least 1mm and move up a string gauge

Yes, you heard me right. If you're using 009 gauge strings or god forbid 008's and you've got the action set so low you can fret it by wafting a fart across the fretboard then you might as well give up guitar and play keyboards. Or recorder. A higher action not only eliminates buzzes and choking, it actually allows you to hit the strings harder, makes finger vibrato more effective and lets the notes ring out more. Heavier strings have the same effect, there's more vibrating metal and that means stronger tone. So it hurts your fingers a bit, boo hoo hoo. Use 010 gauge as a bare minimum and 011's if you're feeling adventurous, anything else isn't worth considering.

Hardtail it

Oh yes, I forgot how everyone in the world is in love with those locking trem systems. Well here's a newsflash, it's not 1989 any more. Even the best trem systems will make your guitar harder to keep in tune and prevent you from doing double bends or bending one string against another. Why? Because when you bend one string up, the trem block moves forward and the other 5 strings go flat. Try it for yourself - bend 15th fret of the B string up a tone with your third finger while fretting 15th fret E string with your fourth finger. Hear the high note go flat? Now try the same trick on a telecaster. Now stick a block of wood in the trem cavity and start learning to play properly.

SLOW DOWN and learn to SHUT THE FUCK UP once in a while

Here's a revelation that will shock most guitarists - Joe Public doesn't care about your guitar solo. Not one bit. You could be the bastard child of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page but the guy in the audience doesn't care because he's not a guitarist. He wants to hear a song, not some distorted 900 mile an hour widdle and trem divebombs with pinched harmonics. Ask a non-musician how a song goes and 99 times out of a hundred he'll sing you the chorus, not the guitar solo. All of which begs the question, why even have a guitar solo? It's usually because a) the guitar player wants to show off some chops and b) the singer can't write another verse.

Learn the craft instead of the art

This is related to the SHUT THE FUCK UP note above but subtly different. Really there are two types of guitar player, the artist and the craftsman. The artist type is an accomplished soloist, masterful technician and a fretboard wizard who can play Bach's Toccata and Fugue left-handed while accompanying himself (note: always HIMself) by playing bass with his toes. The craftsman type writes songs, plays chords and may occasionally venture as far as a riff if that's an integral part of the song but most of the time he's happy to chug along, bashing out the tune or SHUTTING THE FUCK UP as the song requires.

And which type of guitarist gets more gigs? Go on, have a WILD guess.

Stop farting around with "alternate tunings"

Just stop it. Guitars are tuned EADGBE and that's the law. Need to do slide? Learn to play slide in standard tuning, then you can call yourself a real guitar player.


Throw your solid-state amplifier off a bridge into a ravine

Transistors are the work of Satan himself. This is an established FACT and no guitarist worthy of the name will dispute this. Don't be fooled by names like Valvestate, there has never been a transistor amp that sounds half as good as even the worst valve amp and there never will be.

And when I say valve amp I mean all-valve. Don't be fooled by transistor power amps with a single valve in the preamp, the only good amp is one that has valves all the way through the signal path from pickups to speakers.