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David Hodge

Since joining Guitar Noise in 1999, David has written over a thousand articles, lessons, interviews and reviews here. He also serves as the site's Managing Editor, supervising all content in addition to the continued writing of his own lessons and articles. And if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, David is also the author of seven instructional books, the most recent being Idiot’s Guide: Guitar Theory.

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  1. Bobby Kittleberger
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

    I agree with Tom and would second his motion that rhythm and timing are probably tops. After that, I’d say technique.

  2. David
    May 26th, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

    I firmly believe that technique is the most important thing for one reason. With it you can play anything, without it, you can play nothing.

    I think most people conjure up these images of shred guitarists running up and down scales when you mention the word technique, but a technique can be anything that produces a sound on the instrument. Bending, sliding, plucking, and vibrato are all techniques that give the sound of the music a different “feel”. That’s right, you have to use technique to execute a certain feel.

    When it comes to music itself, rhythm is the most important thing, but if we’re just talking about the instrument specifically, it’s all about technique.

  3. stellabloo
    May 30th, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

    imho rhythm IS part of technique and so is tone, we’re not just talking about running up and down the fretboard but the moment when the musician speaks to us through the instrument. That’s what people want to hear.

    • David
      May 31st, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

      I can see what your are saying, but when I think about the word “technique”, I think about the METHOD that is being used to produce the sound. Rhythm is the musical element to which technique is applied. You obviously have to have both to produce a good sound, but without using some form of technique, no sound will ever be produced.

      This doesn’t mean you have to practice technique in the way that most people teach it. I think there is this misconception that technique somehow means unmusical. Playing actual music can be a great technical exercise.

      Even a non-shredder like B.B. King has technique. He wouldn’t be able to play anything if he didn’t.

      A good parallel is painting. The painter may have a vast knowledge of colors and a clear vision of how he wants his painting to look, but if he doesn’t know how to use the brush, it will never come to light.

      Like Picasso once said “The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it.”

  4. Mark
    July 4th, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    I know all three are important like you said. But where does the sound come from? The amplifier of course. So I think the Amp has a great input into the whole equation. Of course it takes more then an amp to make good sounding music, like timing and rhythm…..without that your going to sound terrible not matter what gear you have. So it takes a rounded complete package to get what you need to be successful…Have a great day!.

  5. Dan Thorpe
    July 29th, 2013 @ 4:27 am

    I agree with the guys above. Without a doubt, rhythm is the most important element of music for me. Technique is obviously useful and as long as you have the fundamentals down, and can create good rhythm, then you are in business. Most intermediates obsess over tone. Everybody wants great tone, but to others our tone isn`t really that important, unless we are Hendrix or another great they are trying to emulate.

  6. Guitboy
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 1:40 am

    I think that from a perspective of a guitar player the technique is the most important. I am convinced that playing the guitar means the constant learning and technique learning is the most challenging between the mentioned so it should be the most admired.
    It’s just as the learning the foreign language. I am convinced that if you know words you can build a sentence and even if you do not know grammar very well you will be probably understood by the others. ANd try it in the opposite direction: if you know grammar but do not know the words you can’t say anything.

  7. Dave M
    December 20th, 2013 @ 9:02 am

    I have to agree with the order taste, tone, technique. This is assuming that both tone and technique are adequate to not distract the listener. Of the three, I think taste is the most important with respect to generating an emotional connection to what is being played. Take a song like “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen. Tone isn’t great. Technique isn’t advanced. Boy, it sure taste great!

  8. Victor
    May 28th, 2014 @ 7:00 am

    I though for a long time that technique was the most important thing but now I realise it is taste. Yes I agree that without technique I wouldn’t be able to play anything but once a guitarist has developed his style then additions to his technique are just that, additions.

    Once you have enough technique under your belt to have a style then you can create music with true feeling and not be held back by your playing ability.

    If you ask yourself who would you like to appeal to the truth will likely be the masses. Creating tasteful music that suits your style AND appeals to the masses is the dream of many musicians and it can only be achieved with a combination of great taste, good tone and passable technique.

  9. Tesha
    June 3rd, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

    Great tips. I’ve been playing for a couple of years and tone is definitely a challenge for me.

  10. Bobby Kittleberger
    December 9th, 2015 @ 8:24 am

    I love Tom’s answer here and I wish more guitar teachers/gurus would say this.

    Rhythm is “under-taught” (if that’s a word) and doesn’t get nearly enough attention from an academic standpoint. It’s absolutely the most important aspect of your guitar playing.

    Otherwise, I’d say tone, taste and technique exist side-by-side in terms of importance.