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The Three Second Guitarist

You have exactly three seconds or less to capture your listener's attention or you have lost them forever!

Think about that for a moment, let's imagine you are in a CD store listening to a few albums to decide which one to buy. How long does it take for you to decide? When you check out each track, if it doesn't grab you immediately, what do you do? Skip on to the next track, or even try a different CD.

Fact: People lose interest very quickly!

All successful bands/ artists know the secret, here's some classic examples:

Start Me Up - Rolling Stones Brown Sugar - Rolling Stones Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin etc

Try it out, put any of these songs on and time them with a stop watch ……you will be surprised to find how quickly they "grab you". You will find it very hard to pause the song after the first two or three chords.

I first noticed this very important fact of musical life when I observed a record producer reviewing demo recordings submitted by up and coming artists. This particular producer personally reviewed approx 400 demo's per week. The company he represented received around 1,000 recordings per week, his staff were given strict criteria to follow when reviewing the material and narrowing the submissions down to the 300-400 recordings forwarded to the producer for the next stage in the elimination process.

Watching this guy at work was an amazing learning curve for me. He would put the recording in his playback machine listen for a couple of seconds, stop the machine then place the recording in one of two piles. One pile was very large (this was the pile heading for the bin), the other very small pile qualified to proceed to the next stage of the submission process.

"So what has this got to do with me?" you ask.

EVERYTHING .............. image if you knew the secret to holding your audience's attention, this applies to all levels of performance, whether you are playing to a small group of friends at a party, submitting a demo recording to a record company, or writing your own material. If you do this properly you'll be on your way to a successful and memorable performance.

The secret?: Make sure have a semitone movement (preferably in the bass) within the first three seconds.


If the given chord progression was:

G D Em

You could strengthen the progression as follows:

G D/F# Em

The semitone movement would be between the G in the first chord and the F # bass note in the second chord.

Fortunately it's easy to spot the semitones on a guitar, if you know what you are looking for …..the guitar fretboard is divided into semitones by the frets i.e., the distance from one fret to the next is a semitone.

Performance Tips: If you are planning to perform in public, these hints will help you develop a solid professionalism that will bring immediate results.

Be Prepared: The first thing you should do is make sure that your equipment is in order. Have new strings on your guitar, but be sure they are well stretched out so they don't slip in the middle of a tune. It also helps to have a performance checklist of everything you need: tuner, picks, strap etc., When you know your equipment is in order, you can concentrate on your music.

Play something easy: If you're not accustomed to playing in front of an audience (or even if you are), strange things can sometimes happen, your hands get sweaty, your knees get weak, and you start to shake all over. This is perfectly normal, it happens to everyone, the best way to combat these symptoms is to play a tune that you are absolutely, undeniably sure of, especially for the first number.

The audience won't know the difference, and they'll appreciate the fact that you're relaxed and in control.

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About The Author: Mike Hayes is a guitar teacher, author, performing musician and session guitarist with over 30 years of professional experience. Find out more about how to learn guitar fast with his popular free ecourse, available at: =>

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