Self-improvement and guitar mastery


haha, this is interesting timing. Thru looking at Claus Levins vids I sort of got re-interested in the whole “success” or “personal optimization” field and have been checking out some stuff recently. Seems most of it is almost directly applicable to guitar mastery type subjects

Starts to get into all the threads about “practice routines” whereas what we really need is a larger vision about what we want to accomplish on guitar and how we plan to do it.

Tom Hess's Picking Technique

Split this into its own topic — if anyone has books, videos, or other suggestions for self-improvement / personal development + applications to guitar learning, go ahead and share 'em here!


its common sense in a way. Since we now have clearer understanding into the mechanics of picking, we need to start focusing on what other things are holding us back


He’s most likely referencing something like this idea coupled with having a change in your belief system that shifts your identity totally like something from this

It’s more shifting the thinking about why we’re doing what we’re doing, and that’s where the larger vision comes into mind.

How do you think of yourself?
Are you a guitar player and your goal is to practice 5 times a week for 2 hours a day, and get better and faster and learn some techniques and songs?

Or are you a musician who wants to achieve mastery in their instrument?


yeah im trying to make a CLEAR goal but its actually pretty hard to state it clearly.

to say “achieve mastery”…whats that even mean? its way too vague.

but how can one actually state a goal of achieving greatness on guitar? obviously the way most people think is really weak sauce like “i want to get better”. Whats that even mean? youll be better next month…will u stop then?

but how else to put it?

  1. I want to be the best in the world? how do you measure that? its subjective and maybe presumptuous lol

  2. I want to be a world class alternate picker? Well at least thats more specific in a way but what about legato and other techniques? So this might be a sub goal but how then do you define “world class”?

  3. I want to be as good as Vinnie Moore, Yngwie, and Eddie. ok, maybe, but still sort of subjective

Its so easy to say “I want to weigh 168 with a decent 6 pack showing” or “I want to have a net worth of 1 million by the end of next year.” But its a bit harder to state clear goals for guitar mastery

kind of hard to hit the target if your mind doesnt have a good target to latch onto


I attemped to expand on what I thought Claus was getting at. At the very least, I know what mastery means to me, and it’s not vague, the aim is understanding the your Why


yeah im mainly speaking from my own experience and for others benefits. if the last 6 months didnt get me to world class level…if I do more or less the same for the next 6 months (or years) will that get me to world class level?

even the 10000 hour “rule” means very little. 10000 scattered and unfocused hours wont do all that much

I definitely agree with Claus when he says we massively underestimate the sheer number of repetitions it takes lol

without at least some sort of clear vision and goals, all of those repetitions will get boring quickly and we will drift into aimless noodling


You’re a weightlifter, right? I think maybe your best bet is to pick something from one of the seminars with a decent goal tempo and keep that as a core item in your practice routine. 10 minutes a day or so.

Similar to weightlifting, It gives you something to really shoot for. And once you’re there, you’re there. No one can question a 1.25 x bodyweight bench for 5 reps, and no one can question a cleanly-played repetition of The Pop Tarts Lick at 200 BPM.

A lot of self-improvement comes down to holding yourself to a standard or goal and not switching focus until you’re there. I think this is why cover guitarists on YouTube generally become very proficient provided they keep covering songs. They learn the song and can’t consider it complete until they play it all the way through.


well what I was referring to above was more of a clear mission statement or overall goal or “wildly important goal” as pertains to one’s overall guitar achievement. For example one might say “I want to be the best alt picker in the world”

its actually somewhat hard to craft such a statement that gives one something specific to aim for yet isnt doofy sounding

now, underneath that would be sub-goals such as “I will have the Yngwie 6 note to 160 bpm by December” etc


I would recommend Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel as the similarities between archery and plucked stringed instruments and any skill mastery are instantly recognizable.

I find in the midst of moving to achieve a goal in technique and/or musical expression the goal changes as true mastery transforms you and the goal, so perhaps the actual attainment of some finite vision is not the/or only point/goal. How’s that for a complex thought.


I recommend any books by Cal Newport including “Deep Work” and “Digital Minimalism” for learning to develop focus amid distractions.