© 1999 Harry Jacobson. All rights reserved.
that so much attention has been placed upon topics such as scale choice,
modes, and arpeggios. Granted, these are very important and valuable
topics that I will be addressing in future articles, but I would like
to take yet another approach by placing less emphasis on note choice
and more on ways to make your notes sound more interesting or have
more "personality", so to speak. The ultimate goal is to
develop your own sound or "voice".
are numerous techniques that we as guitar players have that can be
used to add inflection or personality to a note, one of which would
be vibrato. Lets examine the use of vibrato by using Mr. BB
King as an example. One reason that we can recognize BBs playing
so quickly is his very distinctive fast first finger pivot vibrato.
The operative word here is distinctive.
that so many of the younger players these days focus on emulating
their guitar heroes far more than developing their own distinctive
style. Lets face it, there is a whole crop of 13 year old kids
in every city that are doin a pretty good Stevie Ray Vaughn
imitation (cough, cough
are you playin 13s tuned
down to Eb?) As much as I loved Stevies style and sound,
I for one would much rather see these young talented players focus
their efforts toward developing their own new and fresh style. Do
you really want to practice for years to hear some guy say, "
listen to a little Stevie there guy?"
to some of your favorite players and examine just what it is about
their playing that makes them one of your favorites. Perhaps you like
Paul Gilberts picking technique. You can analyze and learn from
his picking technique without stealin all of his lines. Maybe
you like Eric Johnsons violin-like legato 3 note per string
style, borrow from that technique and blend it in with your own ideas.
Many great players have developed their own styles by borrowing from
a number of other players .You can surely hear Hendrixs influences
in Stevies playing as well as Eric Johnsons, but those
influences were blended with many others and over time evolved into
their own styles. If you are old enough (and managed to survive
the 70s with your memory intact), you may remember Robin
Trower as well as Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush. Both of these players
were also very influenced by Hendrix, yet they managed to blend those
influences with others and develop their own styles.
recommend expanding the range of your influences as much as possible.
An example that I use in my upper level blues classes at the National
Guitar Workshop is to listen to BB King. As much as I love his guitar
playing, I am referring to analyzing his vocals. So much can be learned
from his as well as other vocalists phrasing and inflections. Many
of the inflective qualities that we hear on the guitar were derived
from the voice in the first place. Vibrato, string bending, quartertone
or microtonal inflective bends all emulate the human voice.
myself as an example, one of my guitar influences in the early 70s
was Jeff Beck. As much as I loved Jeff's playing (and I still
do) I was blown away by the more jazz- influenced approach of
his keyboard player, Max Middleton, and began to listen very closely
and later analyze some of his lines. I thought it would be way cool
to hear a combination of the two of them. I liked Max's more chromatic,
and arppegiated lines, but couldn't live without Jeff's vibrato, killer
precision bending technique, inflection and that warm, sweet sound
of a Les Paul through a Marshall.
I found myself being influenced by both of them and to some extent
the merging of those two styles became the catalyst to developing
my own style.
delve into the subjects of technique development, note choice, phrasing,
ghosting and dynamics as well as share some of the exercises that
I have designed for my classes at the N.G.W in future articles.
Jacobson is a longtime faculty member of the National Guitar Workshop
as well as a private instructor and performer living in the Philadelphia
area. Check out his web site for more info.