Chet Never Mastered The Guitar

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet Never Mastered The Guitar

Postby Doug Working » Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:00 pm

Got your attention, eh?

Now I for one second do not believe that. But Chet did. In an article, Chet said (of the guitar) : "I haven't mastered it, yet."

He sincerely believed it! I think that is a testament to his humility. Chet was SO self effacing, which was probably a secret to his success.

But think of it this way. If one truly aspires to master the guitar, and has a great work ethic, then one will work extremely hard to reach that elusive goal. We know Chet had the habit of getting up early in the morning and going into his home studio with his guitar, a cup of coffee and his cigar, and making those exquisite recordings that we now enjoy as "Solo Sessions." Chet's beautiful, final gift to us. And he thought "Nah. Nobody wants to hear that stuff." Boy, was he ever wrong! Again, he underestimated himself. His humility was in full force.

He also said "I never listen to my records, because I'll think "I could have done that part better. Or " I could have played that section differently." He was a die-hard perfectionist! And we are blessed with the end result.

I read on the back of one record (the liner notes, when they actually had such a thing) "Chet. If he had decided to become a farmer, we'd be taking six foot high green beans for granted!"

Amen to that.

But as far as Chet's "non-mastery", if Chet hadn't mastered the guitar, where does that put little me on the scale??" I KNOW that I'm still on the bottom rung, inspite of decades of assiduous practice and very sore hands. . But that's OK. I'm happy. I'm happy learning and practicing and trying. Even if I never get famous, I'm doing what I love, making music for the walls of my room, with my framed Chet photo (the one of him in Mexican attire, puffing on his cigar); looking on from it's honored spot on top of my TV as I practice. And if I nail a lick, I look and ask "Are you proud, Chet?"

I always think "Would he approve? Would he suggest a different fingering?" "Would he smile and say something complimentary?" "Would he be proud for being my inspiration?" "Would he be happy to see how faithfully I practice?" I can only dream.

Gotta love it.
Doug Working
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Re: Chet Never Mastered The Guitar

Postby DagerRande » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:47 pm

I think that there may be varied definitions of "mastering" the guitar. There is probably nobody who can do everything possible to be done on the guitar. Chet's ability encompassed all that most of us would ever aspire to do on the guitar. Yet there are screaming high speed rock licks that he most likely hadn't spent any time with and whether we personally like them or not, some might consider those as also being included in the definition of "mastery". Fans of any category of music are going to feel that expertise in that particular area must be included in the definition of "mastery". Personally I feel that Chet was a guitar master, but I've had this conversation so many times over the years with people who feel that people like Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani were "true" masters of the guitar. I think I could make a pretty good case as to why I feel that the technicalities of Chet's playing are much less attainable by guitarists in other genres than their techniques are unattainable for him!
Rande Dager

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Re: Chet Never Mastered The Guitar

Postby Roger Lane » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:17 pm

Chet’s humble perspective on his own playing is echoed by some other great musicians in other fields. The late great jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson stated, late in his career, “No one has ever LEARNED to play to play the trumpet”. Chet was very wise as well as humble. To claim total mastery of any instrument would mean there was no further room for improvement, nothing left to learn or share. We are all indebted to Chet for his continual innovation and boundless good taste. To us, there is no one better.
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Re: Chet Never Mastered The Guitar

Postby Doug Working » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:07 pm

Very good thoughts, guys.
Mastery is SO elusive. My hands are VERY sore from trying. But that's the wonderful part. I mean the fact that there is ALWAYS something new to learn (if one is open minded and pervious to new ideas and musical concepts.)

To me, the level that Chet was at kind of reminds me of the Rifleman.

I think that needs some explanation! You see, when I was like 3 to 5 years old, I loved the TV she the Rifleman with good ol' Chuck Connors. One day, my hero made an appearance at an amusement park. And I got to meet him in person. Well, he was well over 6 feet. And here I was a tiny boy, standing next to him. I only remember craning my neck up to see his face, and it was like I was looking up at a tall ponderosa pine! I was awed! "Wow!!! The Rifleman!!!!"

So that's the way I see Chet, as far as his mastery of the instrument. He is a tall ponderosa pine. I can only look up in wonder and do my very best to grow taller and try to play like him. Eddie Arnold said that Chet stood head and shoulders above other guitarists. That's not an exact quote, but it captures the gist of what Eddie said.

Does anybody here recall that quote from Eddie?

If he WANTED to, I'll bet Chet could nail those rock licks with minimal practice, but not a whole lot of "shredders" could do Chet's licks! Although Mark Knopfler gave Chet a good run for the money! ("Chet, you're never gonna get to play that rock and roll!)"

And Chet proved real well that he could do anything classical players do, if he so desired, but how many Classical players can do Chet's stuff? After all, mastery includes being able to jam with other players and groups. Chet did that real well. But it requires a prodigious inner map (in the mind) of the fingerboard, and not just the ability to play established pieces that are committed to memory. It requires on the spot improvisation, and only a guitar master can pull it off.

Maybe I'm rambling. Sorry.
Doug Working
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