What is important to you and your direction in guitar playing?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by padavis, May 20, 2011.

  1. padavis

    padavis Member

    Jun 22, 2007
    What is more important to you?
    The ability to play any style, genre, or sound?
    Sounding like you and making YOUR sound work in any style, genre, or sound?

    Does that make sense?

    I guess this stems from my inability to find one keeper guitar or keeper amp. I just keep buying, selling, trading, and wanting.

    Anyway, I have been thinking about my question a lot tonight and I guess I don't know what I think. What do you think?
  2. mediocreplayer

    mediocreplayer Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    I am pretty sure that for either direction, "buying, selling, trading, and wanting" is not part of making a meaningful achievement in that direction.

    I have no direction, I just play to enjoy myself and write songs.
  3. padavis

    padavis Member

    Jun 22, 2007
    haha yea you're probably right
  4. shane8

    shane8 Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    as far as i can see most 'great' guitarists limited themselves to a fairly narrow scope - to sound like 'you' u prob have to try lotsa things and reject most of it - i don't see how being well rounded can make you great

    it's not something i think about much because i've already heard most of the things that are likely to interest me and i'd rather concentrate on what i like - there was a thread about not getting rush or something and my response was life's too short to try to 'get' something - maybe u will come back to it in the future and maybe not
  5. KillerV

    KillerV Member

    Mar 13, 2007
    Ladismith WC, South Africa
    It's been sort of a journey for me. Earlier on there was a side of me that really wanted to be a fast, technical player. In high-school I played 6-8 hours a day. The absolute boredom of practicing scales and building speed opened my eyes to get to where I am today. I realised that guys like Vai, Malmsteen, etc. does nothing but bore the crap out of me, while guys like Buddy Guy, Hendrix, David Gilmour, etc. can play one note that moves me to my very soul. I also love the excitement and versatility of players like Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Kirk Hammet and Slash. They are probably at the point I aspire to - they can play really tastefully to fit just about anything, but they can really let rip if they need to. I also realised that people who listen to you couldn't give a damn about how fast/well you play if the actual song you're playing doesn't move them. Luckily, at the same time, I realised that I like songs better than I like just the "guitar bit" of the song. The riff has become all important to me. You can change the world with a good riff.

    I think at the end I'd like to be able to play something that can move somebody else in a way that gets what I hear in my head across to them. I don't want to be the most technical/fastest player, but I want my playing to be on a level where it doesn't get in the way. I'm a record producer and I get to play guitar on many sessions, which has taught me the value of being versatile while still being yourself. It's a hard concept to explain, but I've never felt that I've "betrayed" my own style, regardless of which project I've played on.

    As far as the whole keeper guitar and amp-thing goes: I used to be a LP/Marshall guy. Now I'm just a Marshall guy who's getting used to single coils :D. Seriously, though, I've learnt to play for the song, which sorta dictates the gear I'm using. I've built up a nice collection and I enjoy each piece thoroughly. I never thought I'd love my partscaster Strat that gets used on sessions more and more as much.
  6. padavis

    padavis Member

    Jun 22, 2007
    shane88 and KillerV -- awesome answers. Really good things to think about there in both of those answers.
  7. mjm59

    mjm59 Member

    Oct 22, 2009
    Chicago area
    I've always looked to the people that came before me to provide the material I needed to become the player I am/wish to become. The more that I learn from other players and composers, the wider my own vocabulary becomes; one does not learn in a vacuum. After you successfully learn the styles and tunes that preceed you, it is then possible to branch out and forge your own path. If you examine the early formative stages of the greats: Bird, Miles, Coltrane, Jimi, Jeff Beck, they didn't start out sounding like they became, they spent time learning the material that came before them and then branched out on their own journey, but only after having a firm grounding in the fundamentals.


    P.S. I've just joined an "oldies" band and due to the fact that I understand the mechanics of playing, I'm able to learn 60+ songs that I've heard, but never played before. Yes, I'm now playing Brown Eyed Girl, but hearing it as a 7 year old when it was new, I always dug the sound of the guitar, except now, I can play it for real.
  8. TheReverendCommon

    TheReverendCommon Member

    May 2, 2011
    In the corner of your Reverb Tank
    i've always wanted to develop my own sound... and then impart my fingerprints on everything i do...

    it's gone so far as to say "that's an E chord... but this is MY E chord."

    i'd like to think my playing has moved people... or inspired people to pick up a guitar or even push a musician to experiment further and not be afraid of his/her own imagination and drive to achieve their own vision of what they do...

    but until that happens... i'll just keep doing what i do... and not apologize for it
  9. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Feelings....its expressing the 'feeling' I have to get out...the technique and notes and amp or guitar and pedals are not important...it is expressing the 'feeling' with what I have....conveying that message.

    I play the get the 'feel' but I acquire gear because I'm OCD....two very different things...
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  10. defcrew

    defcrew Senior Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    I don't think the two concepts we are being asked to choose between by the OP are mutually exclusive and, actually, I think they are necessarily pretty much the same. You are most likely going to sound like yourself no matter what genre you play. But I think I get where you're going. Being able to master multiple genres doesn't really hold any special appeal to me...certainly not enough to work an inordeinate amount of time to do it. My focus is mainly on my writing or writing and playing with other writers/players so everything is seen/used as an adjunct to this.
  11. arthur rotfeld

    arthur rotfeld Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    white plains, ny
    I teach a variety of students in lots of styles, and while I may never be a master of some, I need to have a handle on just about anything. I get a kick out of adopting a player's approach and communicating that in my demos and helping the student capture the spirit.

    On the gig, I'm more interested in doing my own thing, but I sometimes find myself thinking of certain players on certain tunes, if only for inspiration.

    Gear doesn't figure into it that much. I sound the same pretty much regardless. I have some drastically different amps and the guys I play with often don't know what I'm using or what the difference is, so it's a subtlety for some listeners. Gear is fun, but I buy "slowly," a guitar or amp every couple of years. I'm not big on selling, so stuff does pile up.
  12. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    musical direction & my instrument-choices may be woven together, but:
    to date,
    i can clearly say that my direction is the leader, the motivator,
    the instigator of my choices in instruments.

    i do not typically choose "new gear" in order to find-my-musical-way,
    but choose it to either reinforce (or, potentially, reinvigorate) an already-existing direction.

    it might be a good idea to find the musical direction with what-you-already-have;
    investigate & explore what-you-already-have as rigorously & fully as possible, before resorting to "blaming the tools" for your lack-of-direction.

    this is def true, BUT:
    clearly, there are intensely varying degrees of how-much-like-yourself you're gonna sound.....
    ..... surely, it must be that if a uniquely, personally expressive voice is truly sought,
    much more work (& a different kind of focus for that work) is probably required.
    i guess.

    as far as multi-idiomatic, multi-styled proficiencies are concerned?
    anyone can learn what they like of a pre-existing style,
    with work, perseverance & persistence.

    while that really doesn't interest me for its own sake,
    i do still enjoy absorbing some musically idiomatic expressions (& clich├ęs)
    from a variety of musical styles;
    but, i simply don't care about trying to fulfill anyone's expectations-of-stylistic-perfection much, if at all:
    i learn for the sake of my own expressivity, only,
    and apply every (suitable!) thing of myself into every piece i'm playing..... with some aesthetic judiciousness, i hope.
    maybe so....
    ..... but, hopefully, never from the "1 from column A, 1 from column B!!!"-etc perspective:
    from a personally-integrative perspective, for sure, though.

    dt / spltrcl
  13. lhallam

    lhallam Member

    Mar 4, 2004
    Since I dig all styles of music my goal has always been to be able play anything with my distinct personality readily apparent.

    I've achieved it to a certain degree but I can't play anything put in front of me.

    Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
  14. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

    Jul 29, 2005
    I buy gear to make something more musical. It's all about the music, melody is king (not many of those around any more) and everything else is just a means to an end.
  15. Schroedinger

    Schroedinger Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    The phrase "life's a journey, not a destination" comes to mind. I learn whatever excites me, and makes me want to keep learning and improving. It might be a new guitar style- bluegrass, travis picking, whatever. It might even be a new instrument; I've been playing a lot of fiddle and mandolin lately.

    I don't understand the point of "trying to sound like me". It's unavoidable! Whatever I do, it's going to sound different from everyone else. As an example: I've been studying the guitar of Rev. Gary Davis for a long time. My mentor is Andy Cohen, who studied with the Reverend for years. Take a song like "Slow Drag"; Andy learned it note-for-note from Davis, and I learned it note-for-note from Andy. But if you listen to a recording of each of us playing that song, it might even sound like three different songs. Then listen to Stefan Grossman, Jorma Kaukonen, David Bromberg, Woody Mann, Ernie Hawkins; they all learned it from Rev. Davis, and they all sound completely different too.

    Tempo, timing, embellishments, phrasing, different licks or chord inversions; that is your musical personality. Even as a beginner, you have "it" and "it" defines your sound.
  16. gstan

    gstan Member

    Oct 15, 2009
    Darkest Depths of Mordor
    Facing South.
  17. CowTipton

    CowTipton Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Haunting Mid-west
    As long as I keep learning new ways to improve my playing I'm pretty happy. Whether it be a new technique or some piece of theory that I had previously been unaware of I get a kick out of finding ways to incorporate what I've recently learned into my playing.

    For example I'm currently trying to work more arpeggios into my playing. Both for leads and rhythm.
  18. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
    Neither of those interest me very much. I'm really only interested in sounding like me and making it work in my own style and genre. I suppose I walk a very narrow path but I walk it as far as I can.
  19. gixxerrock

    gixxerrock Member

    Apr 25, 2005
    Parksville, B.C.
    I am fairly comfortable I have found my own voice and am finding my own way. I work very hard studying or playing in bands with a huge variety of different styles. When I listen to recordings of myself, they sound convincing in that idiom, but retain a common thread I know is always "me". The guys who impress me are the ones who play parts that sound killer in the context of the song, but you dig deeper and realize the guy is a total monster player with a deep well of chops (i.e. Brent Mason, Carl Verehayen, Eric Johnson ... ).

    I love to cop a convincing SRV, Yngwie, Vai, EVH, BB King thing, but I would never dress up and try and sell myself as one of them.

    As to gear, I would own a small number of versatile quality pieces and then focus on playing. I find that every change of guitar/amp sets my playing back many months until I absorb it and get back to making music.
  20. nondeplume

    nondeplume Puppet For Prophet Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    Well for me....now....mind you after having gone to G.I.T. and Berklee and gigging for many years.

    I stopped learning and/or critically listening to 'other' players. I made/make a concious effort not to play licks/patterns, or a least, licks/patterns that were recognizable as 'somebody' elses and/or guitar-typical 'germane'. As best I can.

    I don't 'work' on any one thing, but will work on things that are 'odd' as they usually will lead to 'different' ways to approach the...thing. Like bending with the index finger....everywhere....as opposed to using it as a faux 'capo', it becomes a faux whammy bar...and more...:)

    But, to that end, I mostly 'write' these days and all focus it bent on the playing catering to the music/song, adding a voice to it....because it's the only voice I got.

    And to that end.....I do ALOT of recording and 'critical' listening of my own playing. It's sometimes very grueling, demeaning and damn near breaks me/my spirit. It's a no mans land at times....it would be so much easier to gratify myself by learning 'somebody' elses 'solo/work'....but....for me...the time for instant gratification is over and that method isn't 'self fulfilling or rejuvenating of me/my spirit.' And it never really was, once I was honest with my self about it, and stopped 'listening' to what 'others' thought I should be doing.

    And this might come as a hell of a shock, but pretty much all players bore me to tears now, though, I seen Jeff Beck recently at my friends bequest, and he didn't bore me, he gives me hope, though, I wished he didn't play 'Little Wing', he'd said he didn't really want to....and I can hear why, he added nothing to it. He's got his own shoes to fill. And if I never hear a guitar player splooge that song up again, it would be the like winning the lottery.

    Sometimes....alot of times....I wish it were possible to have picked up the instrument without ever hearing or being exposed to the accepted 'norm' of how it is 'suppose' to be played, or being influenced by the cacophony of what is 'suppose' to be good/bad....and just played it as it came natural....to me. That is an everyday battle in this hyper-media-over-exposed day/age. There is absolulty NO reinforcement or encouragement for that task at just about every turn. Everyway you go, you are encouraged to be derivative, to mimic, to 'sponser' somebody elses idea(s).

    I've discovered I have an inner 'sonic' tic that has nothing to do with any of the predefined methods/patterns of playing the guitar, that we all just rank & file like it's some manifest destiny. And I'm trying now to expose that tic for what it is, away from thirty + years of 'licks and accolades'.

    The 'culture' of guitar is killing the guitar, it's become stagnant, and I try to avoid it, like, not spending so much time here etc..:bonk. It's the same culture that pigeon-holes any instrument, like the violin etc..can you be the next big blues srv (and lord we've got many)....on Oboe.....didn't think so. Nevermind, should you even be messing with blues in the first place.

    Anyway..that is what I'm trying to get to...

    ....I'm getting better, more recognizable, having a voice/personality and my playing has definitely....leveled up, because I'm not trying to 'live up' to other standards and discovering my own.

    But the cost has become pretty lonely, 'jam' sessions are a rarity, because I refuse to rehash bad habits/reinforce tired statements and phrases over a 12 bars blues or some classic rock riff ad-infintium. Hell I don't wanna hear other people playing that stuff. And I can't play in a band as I can't expect people to deal with my 'idiosyncracies' related to this.

    But it's 'ok', because I've become happier than I ever have with 'my' playing, not having to appease anybody, anymore. I hope to reach a point someday whereby, 'somebody' might actually like....what I sonically spew. Or I may give up entirely out of frustration, but I'll tell you this, I aint ever going back.

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