Starting his YouTube channel some years ago, Marty Schwartz has become so popular among beginners who are just starting out and taking up the guitar in their hands for the first time. Now famous for his very accessible and incredibly useful song lessons, Marty pointed out a couple of major mistakes that beginners tend to make. He speaks from his experience that goes way back, before he even started his YouTube channel.
“There are two things that come to mind,” said Marty while reflecting on his long career as a guitar teacher in a recent interview with Guitar World. “The first one is rhythm in general. Guitar out in the wild – not in your bedroom but performing and playing with other people – is 90 percent rhythm.”
As he adds, “a lot of people skip that stuff out,” pointing out that most live players and Instagram virtuosos impress people with lead parts. However, things are far from being that simple.
“But people forget great rhythm guitar will help make your solo sound better,” Marty said. “We tend to overlook the importance of it.”
We can say confidently that Marty is absolutely on point here. A guitar solo is usually just one component of a great song. On its own, it may not make as much sense. But when paired with a proper chord progression, as well as a proper groove of the rhythm section, it should fit the context.
With that in mind, Marty explains that having tight rhythm chops is something that all guitar players should aspire to.
“A great rhythm technique is way more valuable and important in any kind of band,” he continued, “unless you’re doing that guitar hero stuff like the Paul Gilberts and Polyphias of the world!”
While we definitely wouldn’t mind having the skillset of Tim Henson and Scott LePage, we also understand where Marty is coming from.
Apart from the rhythm issue, there’s also another one — things can seem incredibly complicated and complex to a new guitar player. Marty added:
“The other thing is taking in too much information. I remember before the internet, you’d get a chord book with 20,000 chords to learn, and that’s just overwhelming.”
However, it’s not just about having a lot of stuff to learn. You need to think about the approach as well. Instead of learning how to play all the scales in all positions or memorizing thousands of chords, one should understand how things work and how notes relate to one another.
“I’ve seen students where they’ve set themselves the challenge of learning every mode and every pentatonic position but when it comes to improvising a solo, they can barely get through.”
“And that’s because they’ve chosen the wrong order of things to focus on,” he explained. “It would be much better to play two notes really well, then add a third note and then a fourth.”
So the solution, in Marty’s opinion, is to filter out information and then learn the basic stuff and then move on to the next step. He continued:
“Limiting information helps you focus on those little skills that help you get better. I’ve learned this from teaching people privately rather than making videos on YouTube.”
“I wouldn’t want a student to learn any of the modes if they can’t play a basic blues solo. It’s not going to help them. There’s a certain order that will help you progress faster and not everyone knows that. “
But despite being a famous YouTube teacher, Schwartz admits that “there’s a downside to having all this content online.” Why?
“It makes people want to skip all the fundamentals and go straight to the ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ solo when really they should be covering the basics and building up their skills from the right foundation.”
What Marty said here reminds us of Steve Lukather had to say some years ago. Although one of the most impressive lead guitar players, Lukather also pointed out that rhythm guitar playing comes before everything else.
“It’s to the point now where kids learn all the tricks off the internet but they can’t play in time or play in groove because they never learn how to play rhythm guitar,” Steve said in an interview back in 2018. “Like that’s not important.”
“That is *the* most important thing you can learn how to play if you want to be a professional musician — to be a great rhythm guitar player. To have great time, to come up with great ideas, to stay out of the way, and have great sound and have great touch.”
“You find the groove and you find something that works and you stay on it. And you make that work and you make that part of the thing and that makes everybody sound better.
“If you just did it for yourself like, ‘Dig me, dig my chops,’ all that shit, you might as well sit on the edge of your bed and enjoy the rest of your life enjoying playing the guitar but not having a realistic viewpoint that you’re gonna be a professional musician.”