You have a knack for playing the guitar, so what’s next for you? Do you want to continue your guitar playing with a band? Or become a session guitarist?

There are pros and cons to each side of the coin. But in order for you to decide, you have to know what you really want and what your goals are. So let’s just take a look at the differences between both and hopefully, you can decide later.

Solo or group

Some people like to work alone, while others are more comfortable with a team. Which one are you? Do you like to play the guitar by yourself, practice alone and perform on stage alone? Or, do you prefer practicing with your mates and performing on stage together, which also means having fun gigs together.

Popularity and fame

This is where making a decision gets a tad tricky. Ask yourself, is popularity and fame very important to you? Or do you just like to play the guitar and get paid, with popularity or fame being just a bonus.

The main difference is that if you want to be popular with people screaming your name, you are better off in a band. In a band, you are front and center. As opposed to being a session guitarist, for example, being part of a TV show band or anything to that effect. So, what appeals to you more?

Creativity, talent and direction

Every musician wants to express his or her feelings and thoughts through a song. But if you choose to be a session guitarist for a job, you’re less likely to do this. As a session guitarist, you are paid to play tunes that your employer wants. Of course, there are a lot of instances that guitarists are also given their artistic freedom. Nevertheless, if you want to be a session guitarist, be ready to set aside your creativity and artistic freedom.

On the other hand, bands have more freedom in making music. They have more control of the musical direction they want to take. They rarely take orders from someone about their music (at least at the beginning of their journey they don’t). They write their songs, tunes and play them, however they want to.

In terms of talent, both are in the same boat. Whether you are a session guitarist or a band guitarist, your talent will still be acknowledged. It will just boil down to how much you value artistry and exercising your own creativity.

Work and lifestyle

For a band, the price of fame is more expensive. Bands work longer hours and are constantly working even if they’re not playing a gig. They have to sign autographs, go to photo shoots, rehearse, write songs, go to social media to interact with fans and much more.

Session guitarists have a much different lifestyle than this. They work for a couple of hours, but after that gig, they don’t think of anything else. There’s no pressure to write a new song, smile at the cameras, sign autographs for fans, talk to fans in social media or rehearse regularly with the band.

Essentially, having a low-profile job entails more freedom in one’s personal life. The price of fame is having less time for yourself and less privacy.

Credit and praise

Bands love it when they make a hit and credit is given to them. They take pride in their work and there’s really nothing wrong with that.

Session guitarists do not really mind if they’re given credit or not. Their love for music and playing it outweighs being praised or adored by many.

Which one are you?

So, which one fits you more, the band member who loves the fame, the artistic freedom, the money, the adoration of fans, the high-profile job? Or are you someone who just wants to be low-profile, enjoy life like what it always was but still be able to play music and get paid?

Head photo by bnsd / CC BY 2.0