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Shred Guitar Maturity

Angel Zamora

How many times have you heard someone saying these sentences? :

“I was into shred when I was younger but now I’ve matured and it is boring”

“I was a shredder and now I’m into Jazz because I’ve matured”

“I was a really good technical player but now I’ve matured and play with my heart”

“You bore, play some Jazz or Blues”

“It doesn’t matter if you can play fast, what matters is the music”

“The shredding has no feelings”

“All shred sounds the same”

“The shred is boring, predictable, repetitive, the notes are not understandable, …”

“A shredder is not a guitar player”

“Why do you want to be fast or faster? There’s no point with playing fast”

“The shred is just gymnastics for the fingers”

Well, I’ve heard/read those sentences A LOT and you know what I think? All these people have SERIOUS misunderstanding.

Let me explain you why these sentences are NOT WISE. In fact they are old bad “advice”. Unfortunately many guitar players have been, are and will be influenced by those people who “almost” claim themselves guitar/music “experts”. Ok, I know some recognized shredders from the 80’s say similar sentences but I bet they have been placed out of context or they have misunderstanding too, like an obstinate old man.

Also some people do not really understand what shred is and they just repeat what they have heard/read from the media without asking themselves – “Is this REALLY true?” -. In addition, these people are just trying to look wise or intelligent or mature guitar players repeating what they hear or read.

Ok, now I’ll take these sentences and explain why they are not wise.

“I was into shred when I was younger but now I’ve matured and it is boring”

Probably this guy had a frustrated experience and he’s taking an unconscious revenge for that reason. Shred is not boring, perhaps he never liked shred and he just wanted to attain skills (because shred needs many skills to be expressed). Shred as any style is a matter of taste. So this guy is confusing maturity for sincerity to himself, also he’s not better he’s just different.

“I was a shredder and now I’m into Jazz because I’ve matured”

It has nothing to do if you’re a shred lover or jazz lover about being mature, both music lovers are different and not necessarily better than the other technically or theoretically. It’s a matter of taste. So this statement is completely immature. Quite often age has nothing to do with maturity.

“I was a really good technical player but now I’ve matured and play with my heart”

Again, some guitar players seem to confuse sincerity for maturity, don’t get confused. If somebody ask me if I am playing with my heart when I’m shredding I’ll say OF COURSE!!!!! Now MATURITY REFERS TO A GOOD JUDGMENT NOT JUST TO A CHANGE OF OPINION, so it doesn’t matter if someone with 20 more years of life or experience tells you that shred is not a style played with the heart, if you FEEL and play shred then you’re playing with your heart. Some feelings demand techniques to be expressed.

“You bore, play some Jazz or Blues”

DON’T GET ME WRONG, I like jazz and blues but some people are too close-minded and/or speak faster than what is needed to think and talk like “everybody feels like me”. Ok perhaps your current music is boring even for you but you know what you want and you’re developing your compositional skills. It’s different if someone says that your shred is boring than you say that your shred is boring. If your audience is opera lover, it doesn’t matter if you play shred or jazz or blues you’ll bore them. So you have to choose between play what you like or play what others like.

“It doesn’t matter if you can play fast, all that matters is the music”

Do you want compositional boundaries? If your answer is yes then support such sentences. Do you want performance boundaries? If your answer is yes then support such sentences. We know the music matters (rhythm, melody and harmony) but the speed matters too. Imagine the “Flight of the bumblebee” played at 30bpm, it’d lose its feeling. Now imagine any musical piece played at 1/10th of its “normal” speed, it will lose its feeling. And yes the speed is not much without a good composition and clean technique but the fast playing matters.

Ok, I hope this is opening minds because sometimes is unbelievable how many people are influenced by the wrong people or by the correct people in the wrong moment.

See you later!

– Angel Zamora

©2006 Angel Zamora All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission

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  1. Clearly those great guitarists who you call obstinate old men have realized something that you haven’t. When they say that they have matured and turned to jazz, they don’t mean their age, idiot. They mean that they can better express themselves in a complex and more refined style such as jazz. Their musical tastes have matured as they have tried different things. Now, I agree that personal tastes will obviously determine what style of music you feel you best express yourself in, but saying something like, “its not how fast you play, its about the music,” is a lie, is just misleading. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC. 99% of wannabe shredders wanna play fast, for the sake of playing fast and looking cool. The sentence doesn’t mean if you play a song at 1/10th of its normal speed but keep its musicality, it’ll sound good, it means its better to WRITE a song with an average speed and musicality, than play lots of random notes in a small amount of time. If you can achieve musicality first, IT DOESNT MATTER HOW FAST YOU PLAY. Its completely personal – whether you hear fast notes and melodies in your head, or whether you hear slow notes and melodies. But it is about the music first.

  2. Hmmm. My beef with shredders is based on the fact that they ignore chords in their pursuit of single string mastery or whatever they want to call it. To be an effective, interesting, and accomplished soloist requires an excellent harmonic/chordal knowledge whereas most shredders practice their arpeggios, taps, and string skipping in minor keys only. And typically then only over vamps and static drum beats so they can avoid turnarounds or chords they find to be “complicated”. I didn’t realize that guitar has become so specialized that you can actually ignore chords and play ONLY lead.

    What about being able to comp behind a soloist or vocalist, play chord melody, or as part of band while being able to adjust the chords for the occasion (i.e. pick the right inversions to stay out of the way of the pianist or bassist), or play melodically ? I’d much rather be able to do this so I can get the gigs and make a living out of music as opposed to posting youtube videos showing me noodling in my garage over some rehashed 80s shred licks that sound like those of everyone else. Don’t these guys want to ever actually play in a band or do they really think its cool to have scale playing contests with the metronome ? Is this what its come down to for shredders ?

    And for whatever reason, shredders like to make a big deal out of “diminshed scales”, which, (despite what they claim), aren’t “exotic” or “mysterious” at all – their use and function in western music has been well established for centuries so its not like this is arcane knowledge. Same for the modes of melodic minor. Intro jazz studies get to this in short order, so again, its not like a big deal yet shredders think its somehow “mystic” and represents some “advanced” knowledge. At least jazzers learn modal chordal progressions along with their solos and NOT just the solo concepts.

    Their other outlet is going to Guitar Center and sitting there for hours running arpeggios for when someone new walks in with the desperate hope that they’ll attract praise and adulation from a visiting record company executive – “Dude you sweep faster than anyone I’ve ever heard. I’m going to give you a million dollar record contract and a super model girlfriend. Don’t worry about chords or actual songs, we’ll hire someone to do that for you. Also never mind that you’ve never actually played live or know how to interact with a crowd “.

    And, after sitting there forever, playing loudly, they get up and leave the guitar covered with sweat, without ever buying anything – AGAIN ! (Guitar Center should start charging these guys a cover. And if the actually buy anything they’ll get the money back). I suppose that there is some use to sweeping against a metronome but I’d rather be coming up with interesting chord progressions that can be used to develop songs for playing live. Then I’ll worry about what kind of solos to play. Shredders want to develop solos and THEN find a chord progression for it (usually they ask someone else to do it for them).

    I know where this goes. Someone will then start invoking the names of guys like Vai, Malmsteen, or Satriani to try to defend the legions of far less able amateur and “semi-pro” (whatever that means) shredders. In reality they wouldn’t even mention those guys preferring rather to name check some up and coming “fast player”. Its like hipsters trying to out cool each other by picking the most obscure band they can find. Same with shredders – it never ends – “Dude, check out the new guy from Estonia, he is the fastest in the world. He can pick faster than the speed of light”. What’s next ? Playing sweeps while riding a unicycle ?

  3. Look, it seems Frank has matured!
    You didn’t get it at all and your statements…. who said they meant age? more refined style? did you read what he previously said? its all about the music? who said its not? 99%? really? random notes? hmmm…
    You sir are viciously misleading the lesson.