IF you only watch one guitar video this year, watch this one! It’s full of tone geekery and awesome blues and funk licks. I didn’t know Kirk Fletcher before watching, what a player!
As many of you know, my current main guitar is a Kiesel Vader V7. I love that little thing! It’s very comfortable to play and sonically very flexible. Kiesel has now followed up the Vader design with the Zeus, a slightly Telecaster-esque outline which addresses my one complaint about the Vader: that sometimes the way I rest the guitar on my leg interferes with the tuners at the back. And it’s not just a Vader with a different outline: the Zeus is bolt-on whereas Vader is a neck-through guitar, so the sound will be a little different. It’s available in 6, 7 and 8-string standard and multiscale, or 4, 5 and 6-string bass. You can learn more about the Zeus here and in the video below.
Roger Mayer is the Father of the Fuzz. Oracle of the Octavia. His early effects for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page changed the way we listen to and play guitar, and he’s still making great gear today. Join us for a chat about why analog is superior to digital, what it was like to work with Jimi Hendrix, and the emotion-heightening impact of a well-placed effect.
Listen to it on iTunes here, in the embedded player below, or in the podcast catcher of your choice. Let me know if you need me to add it to any podcast services that you’re not finding it on yet!
Be sure to visit Roger’s website at roger-mayer.co.uk.
If you’d like to help support I Heart Guitar, visit patreon.com/iheartguitar to support the podcast and gain access to subscriber-exclusive episodes, or donate to PayPal.Me/iheartguitar
I’m currently in the throes of a good old-fashioned riggin’. You may not be able to tell much from the pic but this is kind of my dream rig. Lemme explain how it will work.
First up, the heart of my tone is the Marshall DSL50 JCM2000. I love these amps because they’re totally no-bullshit: they put out whatever you put into them, putting that legendary Marshall stamp upon it in the process while remaining very faithful to your playing dynamics and phrasing where some amps mush all that stuff together. I usually stick to the Lead channel (in its Classic mode instead of the higher-gain, scooped-mid ‘Ultra’ mode) with the gain control at around 6.
I sometimes use other pedals to get a little more grrr out of the DSL50 though. My favourite pedal for this is the Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, which can be set to give you a simple gain boost but can also perform some basic but very powerful tone-shaping tricks via a switch that boosts or cuts the treble. Hit the treble cut and you’ll get a slightly rounder, more vocal-sounding tone.
Other pedals in my signal chain include a Jim Dunlop Buddy Guy Crybaby Wah, a BOSS OC-2 Octave and a Jim Dunlop KFK Q-Zone. And I have a Line 6 Relay G30 wireless and a Planet Waves tuner.
But here’s where it gets complicated/fun: I’m sending the signal from the Marshall into the Mesa Cab Clone – a load box and speaker simulator – and then sending that sound into a trio of stereo Seymour Duncan pedals: the Catalina Dynamic Chorus, the Shape Shifter Stereo Tremolo, and the Andromeda Dynamic Delay. The output from the last of those pedals goes into the stereo inputs of the Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp, which then plugs into my Marshall cabinet’s left and right speaker inputs. I can then use the PowerStage’s three-band EQ to further shape the sound. This setup also allows me dial in exactly the perfect amount of power tube distortion at any volume, because I can set the amp volume wherever I like for the best tone for whatever musical situation I’m in, then use the PowerStage volume control to set the final level.
Another bonus of this setup is that the Cab Clone has a Thru output which means I can send a dry signal to another cabinet. Actually what I’d love to do if I had the cash is to get a pair of Marshall 2×12 (or 4×12) cabinets and have those be my left and right effect cabs powered by the PowerStage.
I love this nerdy stuff.
Bar Room Blues is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by Steve “Red” Lasner covering classic blues songs from historically great guitarists like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, and many others. A new lesson will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often! Also, if you want more…
In December 1973, Frank Zappa & the Mothers performed five concerts across three nights at the Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Though portions of the recordings taken from these performances have been released in a couple of forms over the years—primarily in 1974's Roxy and Elsewhere and 2014's Roxy by Proxy—they have never been released in their entirety, until now that is.
The Roxy Performances—a seven-disc set capturing the performances in their entirety, in addition to recordings taken from rehearsals and soundchecks prior to the shows—will be released February 2, via Zappa Records/Ume.
The band's lineup at the time of the performance was comprised of Zappa, keyboardist George Duke, bassist Tom Fowler, trombonist Bruce Fowler, tenor saxophonist and vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, percussionist Ruth Underwood and drummers Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson. During the performances, the band mostly played material 1969 and beyond, including cuts from Uncle Meat, Hot Rats, Waka/Jawaka and Over-Nite Sensation. You can check out the full tracklist below.
“This is one of my favorite FZ line-ups ever. This box contains some of the best nights of music Los Angeles has ever seen with their ears at an historic venue," Ahmet Zappa—who co-produced the collection along with Travers—said in a press release. “Hold on to your hotdogs people. This box is the be-all-end-all. This is it. This is all of it. It’s time to get your rocks off for the Roxy.”
You can preorder The Roxy Performances here.
12-9-73 Show 1
1. Sunday Show 1 Start 4:59
2. Cosmik Debris 11:33
3. “We’re Makin’ A Movie” 3:16
4. Pygmy Twylyte 9:08
5. The Idiot Bastard Son 2:19
6. Cheepnis 3:44
7. Hollywood Perverts 1:07
8. Penguin In Bondage 5:54
9. T’Mershi Duween 1:56
10. The Dog Breath Variations 1:44
11. Uncle Meat 2:29
12. RDNZL 5:14
13. Montana 7:49
14. Dupree’s Paradise 15:25
1. Dickie’s Such An Asshole 10:29
12-9-73 Show 2
2. Sunday Show 2 Start 4:08
3. Inca Roads 8:27
4. Village Of The Sun 4:19
5. Echidna’s Arf (Of You) 4:01
6. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? 13:22
7. Slime Intro :59
8. I’m The Slime 3:34
9. Big Swifty 9:01
1. Tango #1 Intro 3:50
2. Be-Bop Tango
(Of The Old Jazzmen’s Church) 18:12
Son Of Mr. Green Genes 9:46
12-10-73 Show 1
4. Monday Show 1 Start 5:31
5. Montana 6:57
6. Dupree’s Paradise 21:26
7. Cosmik Intro 1:05
8. Cosmik Debris 8:05
1. Bondage Intro 1:52
2. Penguin In Bondage 6:54
3. T’Mershi Duween 1:52
4. The Dog Breath Variations 1:48
5. Uncle Meat 2:29
6. RDNZL 4:59
7. Audience Participation - RDNZL 3:08
8. Pygmy Twylyte 4:05
9. The Idiot Bastard Son 2:21
10. Cheepnis 4:49
11. Dickie’s Such An Asshole 10:21
12-10-73 Show 2
12. Monday Show 2 Start 5:13
13. Penguin In Bondage 6:33
14. T’Mershi Duween 1:52
15. The Dog Breath Variations 1:46
16. Uncle Meat 2:28
17. RDNZL 5:11
1. Village Of The Sun 4:05
2. Echidna’s Arf (Of You) 3:54
3. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? 6:56
4. Cheepnis - Percussion 4:08
5. “I Love Monster Movies” 2:10
6. Cheepnis 3:35
7. “Turn The Light Off”/Pamela’s Intro 3:59
8. Pygmy Twylyte 7:23
9. The Idiot Bastard Son 2:22
10. Tango #2 Intro 2:01
11. Be-Bop Tango
(Of The Old Jazzmen’s Church) 22:08
1. Dickie’s Such An Asshole 15:39
Bonus Section: 12-10-73 Roxy Rehearsal
2. Big Swifty - In Rehearsal 2:50
3. Village Of The Sun 3:13
4. Farther O’Blivion - In Rehearsal 5:34
5. Pygmy Twylyte 6:17
6. That Arrogant Dick Nixon 2:19
12-12-73 Bolic Studios Recording Session
7. Kung Fu - In Session 4:50
8. Kung Fu - with guitar overdub 1:17
9. Tuning and Studio Chatter 3:38
10. Echidna’s Arf (Of You) - In Session 1:22
11. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow - In Session 9:49
12. Nanook Rubs It - In Session 5:41
13. St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast - In Session 2:46
14. Father O’Blivion - In Session 2:31
15. Rollo (Be-Bop Version) 2:36
12-8-73 Sound Check/Film Shoot
1. Saturday Show Start 2:20
2. Pygmy Twylyte/Dummy Up 20:25
3. Pygmy Twylyte - Part II 14:25
4. Echidna’s Arf (Of You) 3:42
5. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? 6:01
6. Orgy, Orgy 3:39
7. Penguin In Bondage 6:30
8. T’Mershi Duween 1:53
9. The Dog Breath Variations 1:45
10. Uncle Meat/Show End 4:01
Danny Gatton. who was born in Washington, D.C., September 4, 1945, began his career playing in bands while still a teenager.
Danny Gatton. who was born in Washington, D.C., September 4, 1945, began his career playing in bands while still a teenager.
He began to attract wider interest in the D.C. area during the late Seventies and Eighties, both as a solo performer and with his Redneck Jazz Explosion.
He also backed Robert Gordon and Roger Miller. He contributed a cover of "Apricot Brandy," a song by Elektra Records supergroup Rhinoceros, to the 1990 compilation album Rubáiyát.
Gatton’s playing combined musical styles such as jazz, blues and rockabilly in an innovative fashion, and he was known by some as the Telemaster. He was also called the world’s greatest unknown guitarist, and the Humbler, based on his ability to out-play anyone willing to go against him in “head-cutting” jam sessions.
His skills were most appreciated by his peers such as Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle and his childhood idol, Les Paul. However, he never achieved the commercial success his talent arguably deserved. His album 88 Elmira Street was nominated for a Grammy 1990 for the track “Elmira Street Boogie” in the category Best Rock Instrumental Performance, but the award went to Eric Johnson for “Cliffs of Dover."
Check out the video clip below for his appearance on the TV show Nightwatch, where he gives some interesting insight into his career at that point, as well as an excellent performance to close the show.
Jonathan Graham is an ACM UK graduate based in London studying under the likes of Guthrie Govan and Pete Friesen. He is the creator of ForgottenGuitar.com, a classic-guitar media website, and is completing his debut album, Protagonist, due for release in 2016. Updates also can be found at Graham's YouTube channel.
Guns N' Roses — "Coma" (10:16)
When Guitar World asked new Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke which song in the band's back catalog was the toughest to learn, he answered with no hesitation, "Without a doubt, 'Coma.' I still don't know it. It's like this 15- or 20-minute song with no repeats."
On a pair of albums with no shortage of long, challenging songs, "Coma" stands out as perhaps the most challenging and definitely the longest. While the live version could peak at nearly 20 minutes in length, the studio version came in at just over 10, plenty of time for Axl, Slash and Co. to pack in everything but the kitchen sink — and that includes a defibrillator.
As Gilby implied, "Coma" lacks any semblance of a definable chorus, all the more fitting for a song that sees the band taking listeners on a visceral journey through the mind of a coma patient.
Oh, and when we asked Gilby what his favorite Guns N' Roses song to play was, he said, "Oddly enough, 'Coma.' I really love playing it because it's different every time."
Iron Maiden — "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (13:43)
The list of bands that could write a 13-plus-minute song based on an 18th-century poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and make it rock is pretty short, and the only one ballsy enough to try it — and succeed — was Iron Maiden.
The band's longest and perhaps most-ambitious undertaking to date, Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" closes out Powerslave with a re-telling of Coleridge's epic tale of a maritime curse, which includes a pretty grim scene of a sailor stuck at sea with the corpses of his shipmates for a week after he allegedly brings a hex upon the ship for killing an albatross.
The track put an exclamation point on the classic Maiden era, serving as a fitting bookend to an astounding trio of albums that also includes The Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind.
Led Zeppelin — "Achilles Last Stand" (10:25)
Listening to the pummeling, proto-Maiden gallop of "Achilles Last Stand," you'd never know the song was written during one of the darker points in Led Zeppelin history.
Most of Presence was written and recorded while singer Robert Plant was in convalescent period after suffering serious injuries in a car crash in late summer of 1975. Despite all the trials and tribulations — which included Plant being wheelchair-bound for most of the rehearsals and recording sessions — the band miraculously recorded Presence in just 18 days.
Plant would later say that "Achilles Last Stand" and "Candy Store Rock" were the album's saving grace, thanks to "the rhythm section, on that it was so inspired."
Indeed the track is a testament to the raw power of Zeppelin's dynamic rhythm duo, with John Paul Jones holding down the galloping rhythm while Bonzo pounded away in furious fashion.
While the track and the album are often looked over by casual fans, Jimmy Page — who recorded the orchestral overdubs in a single session in Munich, Germany — would later call Presence the band's "most important album."
Tool — "Rosetta Stoned" (11:11)
Even without its nearly four-minute intro, "Lost Keys (Blame Hoffman)," Tool's "Rosetta Stoned" still clocks in at an impressive 11 minutes and 11 seconds of acid-tinged hard rock.
Among Tool's downright heaviest numbers, the song pushes and plods its way through a lengthy narrative, backed by Adam Jones' grinding, off-kilter guitar riffs and the always-potent rhythm section of bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer extraordinaire Danny Carey.
While much of singer Maynard James Kennan's opening spiel might be lost on listeners, the track tells the tale of a high-school dropout encountering an extra-terrestrial that looked like "a blue-green Jackie Chan with Isabella Rossellini lips and breath that reeked of vanilla Chig Champa." The alien then proceeds to inform the song's protagonist that he is the chosen one and imparts the secrets of the universe unto him.
The narrative ends with our hero realizing he's forgotten his pen and must return to Earth remembering nothing of the meaning of existence. A fitting end considering Tool's strength as a band has always been the ability to write complex, thought-provoking rock music without ever losing their sense of humor.
Pink Floyd — "Dogs" (17:04)
We couldn't have gone wrong picking any of Pink Floyd's sprawling compositions — hell, Animals alone has three — but "Dogs" somehow manages to capture the vital energy, wordly cynicism and pent-up frustration that makes Floyd more than just another mellow prog band.
Originally written in 1974 by Gilmour as "You Gotta Be Crazy," it took only a change of key, a slowing of tempo and the mighty pen of Roger Waters to transform the song into a its final form as arguably the centerpiece of Pink Floyd's underrated classic.
Gilmour turns in his lone vocal appearance on Animals during "Dogs," but his majestic, double-tracked guitar leads are the real star, adding a dreamlike quality that seems to further the metaphorical blur between businessmen and farm animals.
While you may be tempted to think the guitar sound of "Dogs" is all Gilmour's fabled Strat, he's actually playing a Fender Custom Telecaster on the track, which he pairs with a Yamaha RA-200 cabinet containing three rotating speakers for most of the song.
Dream Theater — "Octavarium" (24:00)
With five movements and three lyricists, "Octavarium" remains a crowning achievement in the back catalog of a band who have made a career on always topping themselves.
After heading into far heavier waters than ever before on 2003's Train of Thought, Dream Theater set out to create "a classic Dream Theater album" on Octavarium, which means essentially pulling out every trick in the book while still serving the songs. (It's well-documented that the band wrote each of the album's eight songs in a different key.)
Nowhere is this more evident than the album's title track, which serves as a microcosm for what the band was trying to accomplish on the album. Beginning with a lengthy lap steel guitar solo from keyboardist Jordan Rudess, the track navigates through five distinct-yet-connected narratives, quoting from and acknowledging many of the band's influences along the way.
One could spend hours dissecting the themes and references found within the 24-minute track, and if you're inclined to do so, you might want to start with the song's lengthy Wikipedia page.
The Doors — "The End" (11:41)
When their eponymous debut album came out in 1967, no one quite knew what to make of the Doors and their bizarrely charismatic frontman Jim Morrison.
What began as a simple break-up song eventually evolved into an ominous, Oedipal and occasionally ravenous performance from Morrison, particularly in the song's spoken-word portion that begins, "The killer awoke before dawn ... "
"Every time I hear that song, it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song," Morrison told Rolling Stone in 1969. "Probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don't know. I think it's sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be. "
Robby Krieger also turned in one of his most memorable guitar solos on "The End," which was good enough to make Guitar World's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos, coming in at No. 93.
Jimi Hendrix — "Voodoo Chile" (15:00)
While they both appear on 1968's Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" has far earlier roots than its close cousin, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)."
Coming in at 15 minutes flat, the more traditional blues of "Voodoo Chile" started life as "Catfish Blues," a live jam and homage to the great Muddy Waters, of whom the young Hendrix was a great admirer.
Recorded in only three takes — and at 7:30 in the morning after a night out on the town in New York City, no less — the song incorporates tricks and licks from all eras of the blues, with Hendrix guiding the listener through the genre's pedagogy as he pays his dues to his heroes.
Today, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" may be known as one of Hendrix's definite songs, but its original version still holds the distinction of being the legendary guitarist's only song to reach No. 1 in the U.K. singles charts.
Rush - "2112" (20:38)
After having an album come over as a commercial flop, most bands under pressure from their record labels would turn in a nice batch of short, easy-to-digest songs for their next album.
Instead, after 1975's Caress of Steel didn't move a substantial number of copies, the Canadian prog-rock trio turned in their most challenging — and ultimately one of their most successful — albums to date.
Eclipsing the 20-minute mark, the title track to Rush's 2112 album kicks off with a sci-fi-themed overture before guiding the listener through a storyline not dissimilar to the one found in Ayn Rand's 1938 novella Anthem.
Through seven movements, Rush's unnamed protagonist who sees the light, so to speak, after finding a guitar in a cave by a waterfall, shaking his perceptions, igniting his creative spirit and eventually pitting him against dark forces that seek to stifle original thought.
If that's not a rock and roll epic, we don't know what is.
Lynyrd Skynyrd — "Free Bird" (10:08)
You've yelled it out at concerts. You've held your lighter in the air to it more times than you can count. It makes you tear up whenever you see Old Glory. How could we not end this epic list without "Free Bird"?
Whittled down to under five minutes for the single and just over nine on the album — 1974's (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) — the "full" version of "Free Bird," in all its majesty, only barely eclipses the 10-minute mark.
Lynyrd Skynyrd's crowning achievement has its origins in a keyboard piece played during a high school prom, one which netted then-roadie Billy Powell a job as the band's keyboard player.
Armed with a Gibson SG, a glass Coricidin bottle for a slide and a small piece of metal slid under the strings to raise the action, lead guitarist Gary Rossington set out to pay tribute to Duane Allman on the song's tender intro, doing more than OK by his late hero, who passed away in 1971.
Rossington ditched the SG for a Les Paul by the time he joined fellow guitarist Allen Collins for the song's trademark ending, a marathon guitar solo that somehow always leaves the audience begging for more.
Fills, those brief instrumental runs that occupy the spaces between vocal lines, no doubt have their origin in the call-and-response vocal tradition associated with country blues, gospel, work songs and field hollers. On records, guitar fills can be overdubbed, but you can enhance both your rhythm playing and soloing by learning to alternate seamlessly between steady chord patterns and well-placed melodic phrases.
Fills, those brief instrumental runs that occupy the spaces between vocal lines, no doubt have their origin in the call-and-response vocal tradition associated with country blues, gospel, work songs and field hollers.
When B.B. King, for example, sings a line and answers himself with a lick on his guitar, he’s merely echoing what he heard in church as a child growing up in Mississippi.
On records, guitar fills can be overdubbed, but you can enhance both your rhythm playing and soloing by learning to alternate seamlessly between steady chord patterns and well-placed melodic phrases.
Rhythm-plus-fill parts were popular among 1960s soul and R&B guitarists like Steve Cropper (behind Otis Redding) and Curtis Mayfield (with the Impressions). Jimi Hendrix was also a master - his introduction to “Little Wing” is essentially a compendium of classic R&B guitar fills.
This rhythmic approach works as well on acoustic guitar as it does on electric, and solo performers find it to be an especially effective way of enhancing the interaction between their rhythm parts and vocals.
While a fill may potentially draw on all of the same technical and conceptual ingredients as a full-blown solo, we’ll concentrate on a single, versatile resource: the major pentatonic scale. Comprised of just five notes - those of the major triad (root, third and fifth) plus the second and sixth degrees of the major scale - the major pentatonic somehow seems just right for creating concise fills based on major chords, and it falls easily under the fingers, to boot.
Figure 1 shows a four-bar example of ballad-style rhythm. The basic feel is 12/8, or four eighth-note triplets per bar. Typically, the guitar pattern consists of broken chords and is played with consecutive downstrokes on the first three notes and upstrokes on the next three, all with a flatpick.
On the fourth beat of each bar, the rhythm pattern is replaced by a fill built from the major pentatonic scale based on the root of the chord. In each case, fret the hammer-on between the first two notes of the fill with you first and third fingers. (Note that while each fill is based on a different root, the finger patterns are all identical.)
Figure 2 shows the same progression with fills extended to occupy the last two beats of each bar. These also include such embellishments as doublestops (bars 1 and 3), a rapid hammer-on/pull-off combination (bar 2) and a slide up to the next position (bar 4).
The same approach to blending rhythm and fills can be adapted to any key by using standard barre-chord shapes. Figure 3 shows a progression in the key of C. The fingers for the fills and the box pattern are the same as those in open position; the only thing you’ll find challenging is shifting your first finger from the root of the chord to the fill and back again in a smooth manner.
The F chord is typically the most difficult to fret cleanly, so one you’ve got that mastered, the rest should come fairly easily.
In practical terms, the placement, frequency, length and complexity of fills can be judged only in the context of a vocal. Flls are, after all, intended to answer to the main melody rather than stand on their own. But with a vocabulary of bite-sized phrases like these you can lengthen or shorten them as needed.
A little while ago, TC Electronic brought a camera crew to Mr. Big's show at the Budokan in Tokyo. While there, they asked the band's guitarist, Paul Gilbert, to take viewers on a tour of his live rig for the concert, which he happily did.
In the video, Gilbert takes you through his setup, not only showing viewers his pedals, but how exactly he uses them.
He also gives viewers a look at his amp setup for good measure.
You can watch the video above.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of "Johnny Guitar," a new song and music video from King's X guitarist Ty Tabor. The track is from Tabor's new solo album, Alien Beans, which will be released January 12 via Rat Pak Records.
“'Johnny Guitar' just kind of came to me," Tabor says. "I originally was just writing fiction, just a story based on real things. Then, as I was writing, it just became real things—it became me. It’s definitely a song that all musicians trying to make it can identify with. You have to be able to deal with rejection to be able to have a chance of making it as an artist. There’s not a choice for me; I have to do this. I'd go crazy if I didn’t do this."
Alien Beans is a double album featuring 10 new studio tracks (including "Johnny Guitar") and a best-of disc with 11 re-mixed/re-mastered tracks—selected by Tabor—from his previous releases. You can see a full track list below.
“I wanted to do a rock album and put some new, heavier stuff together," he says. "Along the way, we decided to remix some of the older stuff and make it a double album. Everything just fits together like it should.
"When it comes to what I write for solo material, I don’t really think about bands or anything like that," Tabor adds. "I just write music that makes me happy, and I’ve ended up with an album I really love."
For more of Tabor's thoughts on the new album, be sure to watch the official trailer below (bottom video).
Alien Beans Track List:
1. Alien Beans
2. Freight Train
3. Johnny Guitar
4. So Here’s to You
5. Back It Down
6. Somebody Lied
7. This Time
8. Heavily Twisted
9. Until This Day Is Done
10. Deeper Place
1. ‘Cause We Believed (Blame It)
2. Free Yourself
4. Senseless Paranoia
5. Money Mouth
6. Fast Asleep
7. Politician’s Creed
9. Bring It on Back
10. Nobody Wins When Nobody Plays
There's no set path for a guitarist to find his own sound. Finding your own signature and take on what has come before will always be a subjective and personal endeavor.
There's no set path for a guitarist to find his own sound.
Finding your own signature and take on what has come before will always be a subjective and personal endeavor.
Here's a short list of things I've managed to learn over the years, things that have helped me develop a sound and style I can call my own.
01. “Work with what you have ...”
In this age where every guitarist seems to have a mammoth pedalboard taking up some serious real estate at their feet, I find many young players feel they must invest a small fortune on pedals and equipment. As long as you have a somewhat decent guitar and amp, you’re ready to start creating.
I’m not dismissing how cool certain pedals can sound and their usefulness in kicking out some killer tones. I’m simply saying that your favorite guitarists will most likely sound like themselves no matter what they might be playing out of. Besides, working with limitations and striving to get past those limitations often will push you to develop in new and interesting ways.
The Beatles recorded Revolver on four tracks. Robert Johnson has nothing but an acoustic guitar and a slide. Their limitations pushed them to develop all sorts of new techniques and sounds.
02. ”It’s OK to show your influences.”
Developing your own sound doesn't necessarily mean you have to come out of left field with something absolutely unheard and new. There are no new emotions. Often, it's a matter of altering what came before just enough so that you can once again tap into that emotion.
Whatever you might be into, there's most assuredly a long chain of guitar players who have helped to shape the way you play. You don't have to forget these guitarists or pretend they don’t exist. It’s a question of putting together your various influences and adding to it. I don’t mind a guitarist who wears his/her influences on his/her sleeve, as long as he or she is adding something to it or changing it in some interesting way—and not simply copying.
03. ”Stay open wide and ready to receive.”
Not to get too deep, but creativity and the act of creation continually blow my mind. In some ways, it's the very apex of humanity and being human. Whether you are a physicist or a guitarist, the great ideas (or riffs) often seem to drop out of the sky.
Many times it seems to be more a matter of being open and ready to receive the ideas that come than a forcible act of creation. Jump up and take advantage of these inspired ideas when they come. Keith Richards woke in the middle of the night with the opening riff of “Satisfaction” running through his head. He promptly sat up and recorded it before falling back to sleep.
04. ”If it sounds good to you, go with it.”
If what you're playing sounds powerful and you're exciting to be playing it, then that's what you should be playing. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. You have to be your first fan. Basing your playing on what you think other people like misses the whole point and more importantly, it isn’t very fun.
05. ”Play as much as possible.”
This one is a “no-brainer,” but there's simply no way around putting in the playing time. Spend time playing by yourself and playing with anyone around who wants to jam. It’s important to do both. Learn your favorite songs, try writing some of your own, or just noodle around on the guitar while you're hanging on the couch. It will help. The more you play and mess with different ideas and styles, the more you'll start to carve out a niche for yourself.