Surprise! The Brains of Guitarists ARE Different!

If you’ve ever been in a band, you’ll know that the guy with the guitar is a little…off.  (To be fair, each member of a band had their eccentricities and quirks. Don’t get me started about us drummers.) And it’s not just your imagination. Science proves it!

From Guitar Player:

Whether it’s playing “Stairway to Heaven” until your fingers bleed or always finding yourself in the center of a group of people intent on singing “Wagon Wheel,” some things are common to all guitarists.Including, as it turns out, their brain chemistry.

For starters, guitarists literally have the ability to synchronize their brains while playing. In a 2012 study in Berlin, researchers had 12 pairs of guitarists play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned. They discovered that the guitarists’ neural networks would synchronize not only during the piece, but even slightly before playing. So, basically, guitarists can read each others’ minds better than they can read music.

That synch happens in the areas of the brain that deal with music production and social cognition, so it makes a real difference in how tight a band sounds. When people talk about a band’s chemistry, this may well be what they’re seeing. It also explains why brothers are the core duo in so many famous rock bands.

But part of this ability to synchronize actually comes from one overarching truth about guitarists: they’re more intuitive than most.

Continue reading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “Surprise! The Brains of Guitarists ARE Different!

  • May 1, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Yeah, but they’re still a little odd….

  • May 2, 2014 at 10:42 am

    As a guitar player, it’s nice to think we’re special but I’m sure this applies to all types of musicians. I’ve always found some musicians rely heavily on sheet music while others don’t, I think this is what the article is really talking about. My wife always finds it weird that when I play piano I tend to just look at the guitar chords and fill in the blanks rather than following the music exactly. She was classically trained, while I learned mostly on my own. Both are great skill-sets to develop.


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