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The term guitarist is a general term essentially referring to anyone who plays the guitar. This means that becoming a guitarist is as simple as buying a guitar and learning to play it well. The steps involved in becoming a professional guitarist, however, are more difficult and will take an investment of time and persistence as well as a good amount of talent. Before venturing down the path toward becoming a professional guitarist, spend a significant amount of time learning to play guitar well.
Some musicians play for several years before finding work as a professional guitarist, while others have a natural aptitude for the guitar and set forth in the professional setting immediately. In either case, one must develop significant skill and proficiency in his or her playing ability. If you are new to the guitar and are just setting out on the path to becoming a professional guitarist, it may be worth your while to sign up for some guitar lessons. Even if you are not a beginner but instead an intermediate player, you may benefit from lessons that will get you to the next level of your playing. Once the guitarist has accomplished this, you must decide in what setting to best use their talent.
One option for the aspiring professional guitarist is to become a studio musician. As a studio guitarist, you may sit in on recording sessions for a variety of artists that run the gamut of all different types of music. You will play the guitar either as a lead guitarist or a rhythm guitarist, and you can collaborate with other musicians to write and perform songs. Studio musicians network with many other musicians while recording or even filling in as a temporary live player, which can often lead to more permanent gigs. Contact local studios to ask for an audition. While this option may not provide you with steady work, it's a great way to get your foot in the door.
Another option to consider when becoming a professional guitarist is simply joining a band and performing live. While it isn't easy to make a living doing so, playing with a band can be a fun and rewarding profession that can allow you to establish crucial contacts within the music world. The best way to land a job as a professional guitarist is to make yourself heard, so playing live can be a crucial outlet for getting your name out there for other musicians to hear. Open mics and battles of the band are good places to start.