Arlen Roth

Many folks can find the world of professional music paved with many hardships and difficulties, and no matter which way you turn, your reputation and how others perceive you is always at stake. It is especially important if you really want to build confidence in your ability to really be there for people both musically and physically, and for others to know if you can really be counted on to do the right thing.

No matter how many guitar players are out there, and there are a lot, the really truly “great” ones still only boil down to a precious few (although admittedly, there are more of those than ever too!), and even then, the ones who get the real work in places like Nashville, L.A. and New York are even a smaller clique which can take years to break into. This is because they do become a little club in which they all know each other, and feel comfortable playing with each other, but also that the “powers that be”, such as the producers, engineers and record labels themselves feel most comfortable with these certain players. This can be a real annoyance to those who are really trying to break in because often they are the only ones who really are aware of their abilities, and the ones at the helm are really the last folks to know!

This “being the last to know” can also be a frustration when trying to book yourself into a club or other venue since it always seems that the person who does the booking also may have no idea who you are, even though you know you can pack the place! The real test comes when you actually do seize an opportunity to prove yourself, and it really works. Then it’s up to you to keep up the momentum, and to make sure that jobs and is start to come your way, no matter what they may be like. Sure, you, just like I did, will have to do some fairly distasteful gigs as you’re coming up, but all in all it will do nothing but help your reputation in the long run. You certainly do not want a reputation as a player who is too picky about which jobs you’d do, or if you’re dropping gigs for higher paying ones. Once you are booked, you truly are booked, and you have to live up to that responsibility. I was also lucky in the sense that even though I had to really jump around from one to another in my early years, and would’ve much rather had a more steady gig at times, the variety taught me more at an accelerated pace than I normally would’ve experienced. It also proved to help that reputation of mine as a real trooper, and as a journeyman player who could be counted on to go above and beyond when it came to the kinds of gigs I did, and continue to do even today.

So be responsible, be someone who can be counted on and you will see your reputation grow and grow so well that one day you’ll be the one “calling the shots!”

Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.