The Player or The Craftsman – Which one are you?

The Player

Most of us focus on playing songs when we start playing guitar. Learning the chords or the riffs of our favorite songs seem to be a good place to begin for most people.

The Player never deviates much from this path. He moves from song to song – from open chords to bar chords – from simple strumming to more advanced strumming. But it is the individual song that guides his development.

At some point The Player wants to move on to single note playing. And, again this is guided by the songs he listens to and plays. He moves towards the themes and solos that inspire him to learn and play new things.

His path is guided by the songs he likes.
His path creates song playing skills

The Craftsman

The Craftsman starts out by learning songs like anyone else, but then relatively early on he begins to wonder about how these songs where put together. He finds himself interested in the mechanics of music – how chords are built and how you learn all of them.

Instead of merely replicating other people’s themes and solos, he seems more interested in learning the tools of soloing: The scales, the sequences, the licks and the techniques of playing – so he can understand and master soloing in general.

His path is guided by the love of music.
His path leads to becoming a musician and a master of his instrument

What does your actions tell you?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of these personalities, but the question is this:

From looking at what you have done in the past, would you say your actions mostly resemble those of The Player or The Craftsman?

And is that behavior taking you in the direction you want to go? Are you headed in the direction of becoming a fully developed musician or a song playing music box? (Music boxes are great if you want one)

This is not about “getting serious” or “learning the boring stuff” It’s just about getting clear on what you like and what you want and adjusting your behavior so that it takes you in the direction you want to go.

Claus Levin

The Player or The Craftsman – Which one are you?

17 thoughts on “The Player or The Craftsman – Which one are you?

  1. Vincent mahe says:

    Thanks Claus
    Definitely The player in my case but a desperate want and need for craftmanship.
    Can you help with musical theory?
    Vincent (London)


    1. Hi Vincent. I only talk about and teach music theory when it is relevant to what we are trying to do. It mostly appears when you ask the question of what scales and arpeggios to use for soloing over a particular chord progression. Or when you want to compose songs. Then it becomes a natural explanation of the mechanics behind the music. So it’s everywhere in my programs and in my free posts. I hope that answers your question. Claus Levin


    2. Michael Scherer says:

      You should be very excited, you just stumbled onto the website of a man who is not just a virtuoso guitarist, but a one of kind teacher. Claus can teach you not only the physical part of playing guitar, but more importantly he’ll show you the mental side of the whole art and how to practice to get real results, as evidence in this article. If you want to learn anything guitar you just found the ultimate teacher. Brilliant article Mr.CLS!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You become the player to become the craftsman if you are so inclined. Maybe some get stuck in the player mode doing covers, but I always preferred original and artistic approaches to music. To examine why a certain string or melodies “hooks” you. The pictures they evoke, when played. Craftsman for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ira says:

    The Craftsman seems to fit how I developed. I really have learned a lot from your courses. I have Pentatonic Violation, Neurotic, Scotoma and just purchased The Razor last night. The way you teach makes it easy and fun to learn. The concept of the power lick is brilliant !! Taking small sequences, learning the mechanics of the lick, then combining sequences to expand that simple idea. Thank you for putting out an excellent product. Ira (Las Vegas)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kevin says:

    I have never really wanted to play other peoples music always liked making stuff up sure I learned songs when I was in a band but never enjoyed it and when I would change the song any it would not go over well with the others and one other odd thing is I do not hear vocals as words but as notes anyone else that way

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. You can become very good at replicating someone elses music, so good, you are no longer original. One guy I knew was a phenomenal player but he wrote “Frankenstein” songs; one part of a song from a band, then another part of another song from another band etc his it was predictable wallflower boring material. The lyrics were tired and unoriginal. But the guy was killer flawless, on guitar. When he threw enough against the wall, some of it stuck, but for the most part he wasnt original or passionate about it. It really has to come deep from within a soul that seeks whatever is out there in the universe that you want.
      You be can in these wedding bands, be awesome, but you will never get past the 6 nights a week gig unless you can write killer originals. You will be working, but doing others work. So, Booo . . . Great players dont nec make great song writers. Most guitarists “over compose” and lose the groove.


  5. You describe the process that I think most of us who aspire to play solos go through Claus. But only a few of us will get to that stage that you are at – I guess that would be called master craftsman. I think many people find that they can get so far and then the gas runs out and somehow they can’t go the extra mile despite all the practice they put in. I think that’s what defeats a lot of people. It’s better maybe to have the philosophy that if someone else can do it then so can I etc. Perseverance, patience and devotion are both king and key to continued progress along the road,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. James says:

    Craftsman all the way,
    I broke my wrist early in my ongoing guitar learning curve,
    (8 months of not playing, and when i play now my pinky cant be commanded so i know i will never be as good as i might have been) so for me craftsman came naturally and still does, i can arrange parts into a song structure or add something new to your song if asked, but i am always learning, just now i am studying abba songs and structures.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Vladi Vostok says:

    I think the overwhelming majority of guitarists have no desire at all to do anything other than play a few Nickelback and Silverchair songs, and maybe Iron Man.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rusty says:

    I’m the craftsman. Right from the beginning I would start learning other peoples songs but after a few minutes I would get bored with that and go into coming up with my own stuff. To this day I would rather create than cover someone else’s songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rruu says:

    awsome teacher i am 40 and because of him i play like i was 19 again combine Clause technique with timing and theory and one can do any thing thanks so much ……Rogue customer

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Craftsman all the way for me. I hardly know any songs at all front to back (kind of a weakness actually) but I can solo and build chord progressions until the end of time. I started studying the mechanics of music early on in my education. I actually need to start learning songs finally! The good news is with such a foundation into the mechanics of music learning songs comes much easier for me, both by ear and manuscript. I understand when I’m playing a song what key it’s in, what scales can be applied over each chord, etc. That is second nature to me now… just need a bag of songs to work on!


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