You Either Got It Or You Don’t

Kid With Les Paul

As I learn my scales, chords and try to learn a some easier sounding songs that I like, I start to wonder if you either have it or you don’t when it comes to playing the guitar.  Just when I think I’m starting to make some progress I head over to youtube and see a 12 year old belting out some amazing  guitar.  Clearly, that kid has it.  Then I look at my videos and think, clearly I don’t.

Whenever I’m on a lesson website or video, someone invariably says,”if I can learn this, so can you” or “these lessons are so easy, anyone can learn to play the guitar.”  I just don’t know if that’s the case.  It would be like picking up a camera and thinking you’re going to be able to make a shot as good as Irving Penn just because you know how to properly expose an image.  There are some things that go beyond just learning the techniques.

Then I think, maybe it’s like learning a language.  I can say “bon jour” in French pretty well, but if I were to try and say anything else, it’d sound like crap or I wouldn’t even know what to say.  As it stands right now, I can badly say “bon jour” in guitar, but that’s about it.

It’s rather frustrating not to be able to play the way I want to play.  Or at least consistently play the things I can play.  But then again, I have no goals or aspirations of being a professional musician.  I’m doing this because I love the guitar.  I guess I need to stop going to YouTube… because kids like this are reinforcing my feelings of inadequacy.

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18 Responses to “You Either Got It Or You Don’t”


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Guitar News, Never TooLateGuitar. Never TooLateGuitar said: You Either Got It Or You Don't […]


  1. If I had started playing guitar (or any instrument) as a kid, I would have a LOT more time to practice.

    Younger brains also just learn new things more easily. It’s never fair to compare yourself to a kid on YouTube!

    I completely understand what you mean about not feeling like you can say what you want to with your instrument, but that is something that will come with time and attention.

    For as long as you can hear how bad you sound, you will continue to get better!

  2. Anton says:

    Nice post. I dont think there is any reason to get down because there is some 12 year old prodigy on youtube. Yes, i think some people are more gifted with a good ear, started young, etc. People like Chris Thile come to mind. He started playing mandolin at 3 or 4 or something. I know a 10 year old with perfect pitch, its amazing. But then there are musicians like Scott Nygaard who play amazing flatpicking guitar, and i read he didnt start seriously playing till college.

    I think due to natural ability and starting young some may be able to speak the musical language faster and more fluently than others, but that does not mean you cant make your own musical statement with what you know. Some of the greatest songwriters were not amazing technical musicians. In the end its about heart and passion.


  3. Brad Fravel says:

    I temper my frustration with my playing ability by concentrating on the songs I want to play. I recently learned how to get that Keith Richards sound on “Gimme Shelter” by tuning the guitar to open “e”. As a huge Stones fan, that made me happy.

    After all, I am just playing for my own fulfillment. My progress comes in small steps and with discoveries.

    But, yeah, damn that kid! (Just kidding, he’s great.)

  4. Retro Hound says:

    I started playing this summer. My 12 year-old son started serious practice about a month ago. He’ll be better than me in about two more weeks. I’m OK with that, I just play because I find it relaxing and it’s fun. Besides, my kids have genes from my wife’s side of the family which is much more talented than mine. Her dad played in a country bar band most of her growing up years.
    .-= Retro Hound´s last blog ..Superhero Catalog part 3 of 5 =-.

  5. Robert in Santa Rosa says:

    You need to read some of Jamie’s essays. I also subscribe to her free newslettes and they are always full of very good advice. ->



    hang in there 🙂

  6. Matthew Brown says:

    You’ve got a great site here. Yes, some people learn more quickly than others, but everyone gets better with practice. This kid is terrific, but he’s not doing anything you won’t do, if you stay with it.

  7. brokeastunes says:

    I’ve always believed that what we call talent is really just desire. The more badly you want it the more time you will put in and the better you’ll get. It takes A LOT of hours to get really good at anything! Then again, I also believe there is a spectrum where this works for the vast majority, except for a small percentage of people who are actually tone deaf or in some way, unable to benefit from dedicated practice. At the other end are the lucky few who are truly extra-talented and they are the ones who progress much faster than the average person and who just seem to get more done with less time. Mostly though, the better musicians I have known are those who just put in more time.

  8. Iliana says:

    I can totally relate with that! So I give up on the guitar for like 2 days and then I feel the need to pick it up again! it makes me happy! 🙂
    .-= Iliana´s last blog ..Madonna wins Billboard Touring Awards! =-.

  9. Hi Folks,

    You really need to listen to Robert up there above. My method of learning guitar is scientific, based on the laws of body learning, and it works for anyone, any age.

    \The Principles System\ of learning guitar has turned thousands of people from frustrated wanna-be players, into real players. Many have become teachers. I know it sounds too good to be true, but sometimes those things are true! And this is….check it out……

    Thanks everyone!……….Jamie Andreas

  10. Joshua says:

    Well, if that is the standard then I definitely don’t have it. LOL. I really need to learn some more blues stuff though because that looked like a lot of fun.
    .-= Joshua´s last blog ..Learn and Master Guitar Full Review =-.

  11. I’ve been playing since guitar since I was 10 yrs old. Stayed with it, all though off and on, and more and less seriously at times…for the past 28 years. I’ve never been as good a player as I want to be, but as long as I stick with it I do progress to greater levels all the time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the guitarist I aspire to be. All I can do is try to be a little bit better tomorrow than I was today.
    .-= Andy (ajp71555)´s last blog ..Custom House Coffee Open Mic with Gary Fish =-.

  12. Larry says:

    All great posts. I’ve been playing on and off (mostly off) for 50 years. I became totally obssessed with guitar about 6 years ago and have played every day for at least 2 hours since them. I’ve made a lot of progress but will never be more than a mediocre player. Doesn’t matter because I am having a blast!

  13. Bacov says:

    You’ll also be a much better player if you don’t wear white sox with shorts. But I’ll cut the kid in the photo some slack because he’s probably a MUCH better player than I’ll ever be. And he has plenty of time to improve the coolness factor…..just, please, DO NOT wear your pants below your cheeks!

  14. Chris Lambert says:

    If you started learning how to play the guitar recently then there is no need for you to give up for just seeing a 9 year old boy play perfectly. The boy must have also taken quite a while before he reached perfection, and therefore you should trust your skills. They will grow as time goes by.
    Chris Lambert´s last blog post

  15. JT says:

    I’ve felt that same feeling often over the past 22yrs. I started playing at age 20. I’ve managed to achieve mild “success” as a guitarist by touring and playing on a few major label recordings. However, I still think I suck. Living in LA, where everyone and their mother is a professional musician, quickly shows you what you posses and what you may lack. The one thing to keep focus of is that if you pursue “your sound” no one will ever be as good at being you. That kid is great but is he doing anything you haven’t heard before? He may develop in to one bad ass guitarist and he may get bored with in it a few years and do something else. Who knows.
    An old friend said something to me yesterday when I was feeling down about my playing: “If we knew it all… then there probably wouldn’t be much reason to play anymore..”

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