How to Become a Session Guitarist


If you are passionate about your guitar playing, and looking to take things to the next level, one of the top ways to turn your passion into a profession is to learn. Unlike becoming a songwriter or a creative force of a band, the position of a session guitarist is more tangible in terms that there are more specific steps on reaching it than when we talk about becoming a successful creative unit.

Anyhow, based on years of experience, we manage to jot down several crucial points on this matter and sum them up into a nifty brief guide. It awaits below.

Get your chops right

If you are assigned to be a session guitarist, you are expected to deliver. You must know how to play everything your employer might drop at you, and you must know how to play it good. Scales, theory, technicalities – you must know it.

If you’re a songwriter or a prominent performer, you don’t need to tighten up your guitar skills to the top level simply because you have other valuable attributes that will draw the audience. But as a session musician, your chops are all you have, and you better perfect them.


Learn to read

So you enter a studio and your employer has a piece of music he’d like you to record. How do you think your employer will hand you that piece, as a guitar tab? Nothing against tabs, but musical notation is the way to go in the realms of professionals. Needless to say, mastering notation will also drastically improve your musical skills in general.

You are a professional, not a member of a high-school garage band

This one is about attitude. Musicians tend to be a careless bunch of folks, and when they are a member of a musical group, they often retain that same mentality they had in high school upon starting their musical journey. The attitude that everyone in the band is equal and deserves an equal share and an equal right of saying and contributing.

Well, no. As a session guitarist, you are paid to do a job. You were not a member of that specific project from the beginning, you did not get it where it is right now, and you simply don’t have the same right of saying as its main individuals. Many people are aware of this, but some aren’t, so we though we got this thing sorted out before you did something stupid.


Networking + Standing out

Perhaps the most crucial step is to know people. If your songwriting isn’t setting you apart from the bunch, there are many good guitar players in this world, and they’d all like to get that nice gig you’re aiming towards. Therefore, develop connections, know people, so that when someone needs a six-string wielder for a project, you get to be the one who’s called.

Also, stand out in every way, but without becoming annoying. Whether it’s your tone, exceptional skills, proper attitude, theory knowledge, good looks, strong references, you need to have something to make you stand out above the rest. Preferably each of the listed points.


Get a music diploma

A serious debate could be started on the matter of importance of formal education these days. We will not delve into in right now, but much like any domain, employers often discard people based on the lack of qualifications.

Once again, there are quality players out there, and filtering is always required. Somehow, one of the first waves of filtering sees people with no formal education discarded and rejected. It may not be fair, but it is how it is.

Conclusion – How to Become a Session Guitarist

Thus we slowly reach the end of our journey about how to become a session guitarist. The listed steps are an absolute must-have for any session musician, and you should do your absolute best to fulfill them. As always, there is plenty of room for creativity, so don’t take the rundown as a strict set of rules set in stone either. Unleash you inner creative dragon, but bear in mind that you are not jamming with a group of lads from your high-school class, but that you have a job to do. Get working now!