Creating a Guitar Playing Style as Distinctive as You
Author: Leslie de Winter
At some point in your guitar-playing career, you'll want to start working on your own style. Naturally, you will have to get the basic guitar skills and strategies under control first. Can you imagine anyone not wanting to express themselves in a way that's uniquely "them"? If you want to really learn how to play guitar and sing, you will at some point need to do better than merely copy different guitarists' sounds. You're the one and only "you" out there. You are the only one who can have "your" sound. It's time to uncover your own style and discover the methods to express it!
We Say "There's No One Like Him" For A Reason
Striving to develop your own style is something you really ought to set out to do, no matter what style you presently identify with most strongly (blues, country, jazz, classical, metal, slide, finger-style, and so on). Indeed, one huge tip for locating your personal guitar playing style is to listen to guitarists across a spread of genres. Make a concerted effort to shake up your musical diet.. Listen to classic albums from some of the greats like B.B. King, Chet Atkins, or Andre Segovia. Those guys are giants of their chosen styles (blues, country, and Spanish classical, respectively), and had wide-ranging influence throughout other styles, too.
Or take guitarists like Tommy Emmanuel and Eric Clapton. These two could be playing with a wall of amps behind them or unplugged and you just know who it is. They both have an extremely distinct sound all their own. And the only method for you to develop this type of sound is by educating yourself on the entire body of knowledge that has gone before. Soaking it all in and letting it get under your skin; letting it become part of you.
If you have the desire for it, there's no explanation for why you, too, can't have a unique style that people instantly recognise. However, you're going to need to approach things in a different way to everyone else. Being different and fresh and unique is something all of us aim for as musicians (or artists, on the whole), and if you'd like it, you can have it. However, when you keep listening to the same old MP3s you have been listening to your whole life, your chances of uncovering your own guitar playing style are, I'm sorry to say, pretty remote.
The Synergy Of Placing All Of The Pieces Together
Only by overcoming the resistance to listen to and play various things (and to essentially feel it) will you begin to find and draw out your own personal and distinctive style. Having said that, I do not advocate gritting your teeth and trying to play a bunch of tunes that do not move you in any manner whatsoever. But I do recommend that you simply have a go at different things: borrow other guitars and pay attention to (really listen to) how they sound, rearrange your pedal rack (or simply unplug it!), string your guitar with some different gauge strings and pay attention to the differences in tone and whether or not you like it, and so on... But never forget who you are and what you would like the music to express. You can get started on that goal today with the free online guitar lessons here: http://www.guitarwizardry.net/free-online-guitar-lessons.php.
When you first start this form of experimentation (particularly if you've been playing for some time already), it won't really feel like "you" and "your style," yet the fact is if you had already developed a singular style of your own, you'd know it. And then you would simply be searching for new sounds and techniques to enhance it. If not, you are still copying to a greater or lesser degree. So take it all in and over time it should all begin to bubble and churn round and become something fresh and new. And yours.
There will be a "synthesis" of all that outdated and bizarre and experimental stuff and all of a sudden your playing will begin to sound like never before. You probably won't notice it so much, but somebody who hasn't heard you play in a very long time will. That's when you'll have finally accomplished it. The goal that the majority of guitarists hope to sooner or later achieve, and which most, sadly, fail to do, will be yours: your own individual, distinctive guitar playing style!
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