Are you trying to be the next guitar god? Do you want to shape the course of rock with your epic shred skills? Do you want a tone that people will recognise instantly and know it’s you?
At some point in every guitar player’s life they have a dream of being the next, Hendrix, EVH or Slash and completely reshaping the course of rock. Each of the aforementioned guitarists have a very unique and recognisable sound and a totally unique playing style. It’s important to understand that these players had the same dream early on in their development and also had their own guitar heroes who they tried to emulate. So what actually contributes to the development of one’s guitar voice?
Listening to a wide variety of artists and musical influences
The more guitarists, bands and musicians that you listen to, the more diverse musical examples you will be able to draw influence from. it is highly likely that you will pick up tips, tricks and sneaky licks from many guitarists and the more you listen to the more that you will learn. Guitar great Frank Gamble developed his unique style by listening to a lot of horn players and recreating their solos on guitar while Marty Friedman of Megadeth fame draws influence from listening to traditional Japanese stringed instruments and trying to emulate their sounds. Draw influence from whatever you think sounds good, it will all contribute to your own unique sound.
Emulating your favourite players
Pareto’s Principle states that 20% of the things we do account for 80% of our results. Applying this to music you’re probably going to draw the most of your influence from 3 to 5 of your favourite players. 80% of the music you listen to, learn and play will be front this handful of guitar players and their style will have the biggest influence on your unique voice. Aim to learn all of the tricks and stylistic features that make your favourite guitarists stand out and sound like them. Eventually when you create your own licks and ideas your own unique style will sound like an amalgamation of your favourite guitar heroes.
Always seek out new music and try to improve
Music is a constant journey toward perfection, the closer you get the further away you become as ever increasing self awareness shows you everything you need to improve. It’s important that you never rest on your laurels or believe yourself to be done. Looking for new music and new sources of inspiration is a great way to constantly evolve your style and avoid becoming stale and predictable. There is so much music in the world that even with a hundred lifetimes you’d never get to hear everything. Start looking for musical inspiration with other guitarists, film scores or genres you find you dislike, you never know what you can learn and evolve into your own.
Developing your own voice is a never ending musical journey and something that is uniquely special to each individual guitarist. By taking into consideration some of the ideas presented in this article you’ll be well on your way to developing your own voice on the guitar and who knows, one day you may shape the history of guitar players for the next generation.
About the Author
Michael is a guitar teacher from Melbourne, Australia and makes it his personal mission to help aspiring guitarists find their own voice on guitar. If you need help developing your own unique sound sign up for Strathmore Guitar Lessons and become the next great guitar hero. Your first lesson is free!