Do I really need to master all the skills and techniques presented here, to be able to consider myself a good and capable guitarist?
For many years my own personal goal as a guitarist was complete mastery of the instrument. I put what I had learned into these books to shareas much as I possibly could. So in some cases, they raise the bar quite high -- especially a book like Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar. But the "standard" they set is not the norm. Master everything here and you'll bean exceptional player, not merely a competent one.
Also, realize that different techniques are vehicles for different types of musical expression. That is to say, technique is largely style-specific. For example, Stanley Jordanís jazz-based, two-handed tapping technique is worlds away from Kurt Cobainís guitar work in "Smells Like Teen Spirit." But I, for one, like them both. They are both perfect expressions of what they are intended to be.So do you have to learn Stanley Jordan's two-handed, jazz techniques... or Satriani's pitch axis techniques... or Dimebag's picking technique... you see, the list could go on and on. Where do you stop? Well, the only truly important thing is that you gain the ability to play the styles that you want to play, well.
Even within a particular style, mastery may not be necessary. In the end, the real goal of all this stuff is simply to play and create the music that inspires you. The choice is yours. Only you know what you like, and what you want to become. The music that turns you on may require just a little technique, or a lot. Now in the metal guitar methods, Iíve laid out a system whereby you can learn what about what goes on in the world of metal guitar playing. In Speed Mechanics, I took it a step further and laid out a format to develop the kind of technique where you can literally play anything, as fast as you want to. But you, ultimately, pick your own destination. And your goals donít have to be my goals.
My advice is to veiw everything you learn -- from my books and elsewhere -- as the Ďpaletteí from which you assemble the skills for your technique. When your technique allows you to express the kind of music you want, the way you want, then Iíd say you have succeeded, whether you are playing punk rock or virtuosic fusion.
Actually, I think people who are wondering about this question are really just trying to get a grip on how to view themselves. Iíd say, trust yourself. Why is any sort of "rating" system important to you, anyway? How many people have to regard you as "good" before you believe it? One? Ten? A hundred? One million? Isnít it a kind of dangerous thing to put your view of yourself into the hands of others? Why would you do that?
Do you need to master all these skills to consider yourself a guitarist? The answer is a big, phat N-O.