John Petrucci Explains Why He Holds Guitar So Up High, Shares Opinion on Instagram Guitarists Today

Recently, Dream Theater guitarist caught up with Ultimate Guitar’s Justin Beckner to chat all things guitar. After his solo tour, which included ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Dave LaRue, Petrucci will be back on the road with Dream Theater early next year. You can read one portion of the interview below.

As far as your playing goes, are there things that keep pushing you forward, or even people that inspire you, and keep pushing you forward to learn new things and new techniques?”Yeah, constantly. I mean, all you’ve got to do is, at any given time is go on Instagram, and there’s just so many guys and girls playing incredible stuff at all different ages. The bar has been raised so high, it’s just incredible. It’s inspiring playing with other people, like on this tour [solo tour], playing with Dave [LaRue] and Mike [Portnoy], it’s awesome. I say it every night, I feel like I’m back in those days when we were teenagers jamming but we’re doing it on stage, and people are watching it.”That’s inspiring, that makes me want to push myself. I think it’s also sort of internal with me, I never get bored with playing guitar. I always want to try to get better and I still really love playing guitar. It’s fun for me, so I think that’s part of it, too. I never get to the point where I feel like I don’t need to try. I always feel like I’m not trying hard enough, you know?”Yeah, that makes my next question a little more difficult. I always like to ask, you know, when you’re playing live, is there ever a part that you know is coming up where you’re like, ‘oh, man, I’ve really got to concentrate on this one.’?Yeah. Those moments happen like every 16 bars or so. Now, when there are the parts like that, I practice those a bit more before I go on stage, and a lot of times I still don’t nail them and it’s like, ‘oh shit!’ and then I say, ‘Okay, well, I have tomorrow to try again.’ Which is a fun thing about touring.”But yeah, there’s tons of stuff like that, that’s a bit more challenging. That’s why you’ll see me… I’ve been doing this for the longest time I have these big foot rests and I put the guitar on my left leg, get in a classical position and really try to focus, and I wear the guitar up high and nerdy so I can play some of the stuff. But yeah, that stuff is all over my music.

I’ve had guitar students that really struggle with that notion of failure – like when you’re trying to get a part or you’re playing live and you screw it up? How do you cope with that internally?

“I don’t think about it any longer than the time that it had happened. It’s just like, ‘that happened.’ It’s like hitting a pothole, it’s like, ‘Oh shit, that sucked,’ but it’s not like you’re going to keep thinking about the pothole for the next day. We’re all just chasing this thing. You just try to be as prepared as you can and practice as much as you can.”But you never know, live performance is a whole different thing and we all try our best, you know? So, yeah, my encouragement there would just be that you can’t get caught up on it, you’ve got to sort of let it go and move on, and hopefully, if you’re performing a lot, you have another chance to try again.”

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