The perspective we take towards learning, plays an important role in our success. The question I would like to address in this regard is: “Do we study the instrument to get to a point where we completely know the neck and techniques involved with playing?” I would suggest the answer is “no.” Even at mastery level there is not complete knowledge. What a master improvisor, musician, or guitarist has done is reached a threshold of familiarity that suggests unquestionable competence to fluently negotiate this complex system.
I think it is very helpful to see practice and performance from this perspective. We can take our focus away from goals we may have, and set them towards process. This process is to become increasingly familiar with the many facets of the guitar over time. We don’t need to discard goals, but we may need to change what they are. I would suggest that the goal is to investigate and take interest in the guitar. Identify weaknesses and work at strengthening them. Become increasingly familiar with the guitar and music fundamentals.
I have seen too many guitarists get frustrated with their practice. I hope, with this subtle adjustment in perspective, we can all benefit from the enjoyment of practicing with process-orientation and increased familiarity in mind. When we understand fundamentals and take influence from a variety of musicians we enjoy, a unique voice will emerge in our own playing.