A guitarist plays their guitar in live performances and shows. You usually work as part of a band and perform professionally or as part of a group that plays in church and other places of worship. If you are the lead guitarist in a band, you play a very important role in keeping audiences engaged and energized. In some bands, the lead guitarist also serves as the band’s vocalist so if this happens to be the position you find yourself in, you’ll have the dual role of playing the musical instrument and giving your best vocal performance at the same time.
If you become a lead guitarist, you will be playing the solos and adding layers to the song to make the music richer and more engaging. Some bands also hire a secondary guitarist. If this happens to be your designation, your role will be to provide rhythm for the songs.
As a lead guitarist, you are expected to have knowledge of equipment that provides effects to the guitar, such as pedal boards and amplifiers. Aside from knowing how to operate your equipment, you are also expected to set these up before your live performance and maintain them in top condition between performances. This entails knowing a little about equipment repair so that minor issues can be immediately addressed.
To succeed as a guitarist, the first prerequisite is being able to play the instrument skillfully. Since guitar technology keeps on improving, you should also be at the forefront of these advances so that you can improve your guitar playing and continue to wow audiences. You should also be dedicated to the craft since it will be challenging to audition for gigs and shows due to the fact that there are more guitarists than jobs available. Even in the face of rejection, you should continue to hone your craft and not be afraid to keep trying.
Why Become A Guitarist
A career as a guitarist is for those who find satisfaction and fulfillment in playing the guitar in front of a live audience. Despite the realities of the job—part-time work, constant search for new gigs and unstable pay—the person who loves to play the guitar and is a musician at heart will still find joy in this profession. Although relatively few guitarists reach superstar status, all guitarists who continue to hone their skills have the potential to play for a band that has reached international acclaim. This naturally translates to more gigs and consequently, higher income.
Guitarist Work Environment
Guitarists can play for bands, religious organizations or performing arts companies. They can also provide accompaniment to singers who are recording their albums in a studio setting. Concerts are typically done in the evenings, during weekends or on special occasions so guitarists must be ready to work during these times. A careers as a guitarist is not a fulltime job so these musicians have to constantly look for work or arrange for new performances to be able to earn.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have salary data specifically for guitarists. However, it does report that the mean hourly wage of musicians, singers and related workers is $29.92. Those who are part of bands that have released highly-successful albums and perform in major concerts around the world earn significantly more.
Guitarist Career Outlook
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically provide projections on the job outlook of guitarists, the agency does have data on the employment rate projections of musicians and singers in general. For the decade covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate for these professionals is set to grow five percent, a rate that is slower than the average for all job types. There will continue to be demand for musicians, guitarists included, who will serve to play the instrument to singers doing their recordings but orchestras and musical groups may not be able to hire that many of them due to funding constraints.
There are no usually no post-secondary degree requirements for aspiring guitarists. However, they are expected to have the skills needed to be able to play the guitar skillfully. Professional guitarists should also know how to read notes, chords and other musical notations. These can be gained by enrolling in formal guitar lessons or through self-study.