"Creating Your Own Style"

Jordan Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.

Welcome to our Guitar Tips Newsletter and thank you for taking the time to tune in. Join us as we examine the joys of blues guitar and the influence it has had on modern day music.

In this edition:

We have finally made it to the end of our most recent series focusing on various genres of music. While we didn't cover every style, we took a look at some of the most prominent in the music industry. This all leads us to one point: making the music our own.

Throughout this series, I have encouraged you to put your own flavor into the music you create and play. In this edition, we will show you how to integrate all of the various genres we have covered into your own unique style.

Learn how to manipulate and mold your sound into something that will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. We'll reveal some great ideas on how you can make some simple changes that will give you a very unique style.

Our site review this week is on the Black Belt Guitar Ring. Learn about this priceless resource that will get you any site you desire. A perfect companion for those who are seeking accurate and up-to-date sites.

As always, you can see what your fellow subscribers are saying in our Feedback Booth. See some truly awesome comments that have piled in over the last two weeks.

With all of that in mind, let's get started!

Being Yourself

Who are you?

We all remember a point in time where we wished we had the talent and the sound of another guitarist. For many of us, this comparison takes place on a daily basis and can either drive us to work harder or bruise our self-confidence. Unfortunately, the end result usually concludes with us feeling slightly depressed and envious. We fail to realize our own potential and ability to create our own sound.

The harsh reality is that 95% of us will never sound like our heroes. Why? Simply because we don't have the time, the money, or their brains. That may sound cruel, but it's actually a good thing when put into the context of our own playing. Anyone can pick up a tab book and play a song but it takes a true guitarist to make it their own.

If you take a moment to examine some of your guitar heroes now, you'll find that they created their own style that made them famous by integrating various techniques from other guitarists and fusing them together. Many also took the core idea of a few different genres and combined them to create what would then become a new style.

Some great examples of such players include the likes of Santana, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Kurt Cobain, Pete Townshead and many more. You may be asking yourself why I mentioned money as one of the reasons that the majority of us will never sound like the players I have pointed out.

While you can emulate many of those tones, it's hard to duplicate them perfectly because they own thousands of dollars worth of gear.

However, don't be discouraged. With some simple fixes and a few innovative ideas, you'll be well on your way to creating a new style and tone that will make you shine.

Listen.

Before you embark on your journey to creating your own unique style, I highly recommend you look through our past articles and do some research. Don't be afraid to try new styles and genres to see which ones you enjoy the most.

Do some searches for diverse styles of music on Google. Another great resource is billboard.com. They have charts of the latest top songs that will give you an idea of what's available to you in modern terms. A trip to your local music store will also help you out immensely.

From that point, make a list of your favorite artists from these various genres. Try to seek out the similarities and differences. Ideally, you should listen for the little things that you like most. That could range from a certain way an artist strums, to how they move their fingers across the fretboard to create a certain effect.

Take the traits that you really like from these artists and combine them. Everyone has their own touches that they add and how you use them is up to you. It won't happen overnight but with practice and patience, you will find your groove. The end result will produce a style that reflects you and the music you love.

Look at the pros.

Taking the above tip to a higher level, let's look at some professional guitarists and the music that they play. Many come from varied backgrounds, which is what makes them unique. Perhaps seeing some genres that these familiar names are associated with will assist you in choosing some different styles.

David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)- Gilmour has been viewed as one of the most unique guitarists of the 20th century. Originally, Gilmour was a backup guitarist for the band until Syd Barret left due to personal issues. From there, Gilmour started to mould his sound into a piece of art via the use of a Strat, HiWatt amps, and a barrage of effects pedals.

How he used those effects pedals is what put his name into the forefront of style. He performs tricks that many have yet to emulate. He is truly a great guitarist to look up to.

Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) - If you aspire to incorporate a nice variety of diametrically opposed styles, then Ritchie Blackmore is the man to aspire to be like. Blackmore had the ability to incorporate country and classical music into rock guitar. This is very suiting considering he started on a classical guitar and then made the switch to electric later on.

Who inspired him? His main influences were players such as Hank Marvin and Duane Eddy, amongst many others. Perhaps you haven't heard of them but Hank Marvin was the front man for the 60's group, The Shadows.

Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) - Jimmy is an extremely versatile guitarist that combines numerous techniques from various aspects of playing to form his own material. He is the master of experimentation, using everything from violin bows to acoustic playing styles on an electric guitar. He has a history of using some very cool effects pedals as well, although he doesn't need them to sound good.

In fact, one of his earlier custom effects units happened to be one of the first fuzz boxes introduced to the world. It spread like wild fire amongst the world's most popular guitarists. Unfortunately, not even the likes of Jeff Beck could truly bring out its sound quite like Jimmy could.

Django Reinhardt (Quintet of The Hot Club of France) - Anyone who knows jazz knows this name. While Django was considered a gypsy guitarist, he primarily played the role of the mentor, not the one who was taking ideas from others. Over the years few have managed to replicate his lightning fast riffs and intuitive phrasing style. To top all of that off, his strumming patterns were insane!

Another neat fact about this brilliant musician is that he started his musical life by playing other instruments such as the violin and banjo. This explains a lot about the music he produced. Notes that are close together on a violin tend to be far apart on a guitar but Django broke that barrier and carried over many of those techniques. I believe his strumming style was adapted from the banjo.

I highly recommend you look into some of his masterpieces in order to test your technical ability and to grow as a guitarist. He used only two fingers to play guitar seeing as his first two were mangled in a fire.

Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley) - Moore transformed the guitar world by introducing driving rhythms and interesting chord progressions. He kept things basic and that's what made him famous. His music was compatible with Elvis because it didn't dominate the vocals and he didn't strive to be in the spotlight.

The coolest piece of gear that set Moore apart was his Echosonic amp. Only 68 were ever made in the world and he still has his to this very day. It featured an impressive built in delay system that gave him his characteristic sound. No one can beat these amps that were made by hand. Truly a rare, once in a lifetime find. Without it, Elvis wouldn't have the same sound on his records that revolutionized music history.

It's all in the fingers.

When I first started my journey in the musical world, I heard a saying that goes something like this: FIND SAYING. What allows us to have the ability to sound decent on virtually any guitar is our technique. What allows us to have great technique? That's right, our fingers!

Our fingers can be compared to soldiers on a battlefield. They are our first line of defense and set the tempo for things to come. Training them to be the best that they can be is an essential step to creating your own style. Sloppy fingers will get you no where fast in the guitar world.

Ideally, your fingers should be strong enough to handle bar chords with ease and have enough agility to navigate the fretboard with little to no difficulty. Agility and strength are key and often overlooked by guitarists because we treat fingers as muscles that are already developed.

False! Just because you may have larger fingers, it doesn't mean that they can stand up to hours on the fretboard. Not unlike an army, you must train each one individually to achieve maximum success.

Luckily, there are a lot of great technical practice runs to help you out and get you into the swing of things. Here are some examples to get you started:

Study Non-Guitar Music.

One of the most innovative and interesting ways to broaden your possibilities as a musician is to listen to other musicians who play different instruments. Every instrument has it's own unique style and voicing, which lends itself to creating different styles and having unusual licks.

More often than not, learning how to play the music written for another instrument will open up new horizons and give you a fresh beginning to your music. If you find that you are continually playing the same thing over and over (i.e. playing in a "Box") this is a great way to escape.

While some of the licks that you will face may scare you to death, it requires you to take a new approach to your instrument. It also develops your personal style by integrating traits of other instruments. While all of the toys that we have available to us to shape our sound are great, they don't turn us into well rounded and cultured guitarists.

What's the easiest and most convenient instrument to start learning from? Quite simply put, the piano is one of the easiest and most assessable instruments to get new ideas and inspiration from. You will need to learn how to read music for many of these endeavors but it will be well worth your toil! Plus, we will soon have some tools to help you along that road.

Try the gadgets.

Everyday, new gadgets are being designed to shape your sound. In many cases, these new sounds come in the form of effects pedals. These pedals add extra flavor to the music that you play and allow you to create sounds that would be impossible otherwise.

Some of the more popular pedals that are around today include the following:

Wah Wah: The wah wah pedal does exactly what the name implies... It makes your guitar go "Wah Wah" giving it a voice like quality. It can also be used as a tone pedal, adjusting how high or low your guitar sounds. It's great for any rhythm or lead guitarist and is a tonne of fun to use. Here is what it sounds like:

Distortion: There are dozens of various kinds of distortion but they all serve one common purpose: to distort. They make your notes sound dirty and add attitude to your sound. It's perfect for a number of applications but is primarily heard in rock.

Reverb: Reverb is a great effect. It essentially makes you sound as if you were playing in a huge concert hall. It truly adds shape and vibrance to your tone. In my humble opinion, it is essential for every guitarist to have!

Chorus: This effect adds a warm layer to your tone. It's been known to give a bell like quality to each note and is really nice for numerous rhythms and lead riffs.

Delay: Delay does as its name implies. You can add a number of different delays for different purposes. One of the bands that is known for using delay with class is U2. I can't think of a genre that doesn't use a touch of delay here and there. Great for playing with and using to sound like another guitar. It also gives the impression that you can play a lot more notes fast as well, which can be a plus for those of us who aren't great shredders.

If you want to hear a great selection of pedals, log into our members only area. An alternative to that would be to go to Boss's website and try their interactive pedal board, while slightly limited it still does the trick. Click here to go there. Once on the home page, go to the interactive link and click on pedal board.

Slides: Slides are a lot of fun to use but are difficult to get a handle on. They give a twangy quality to your tone and the notes come across as tied together.. You can hear the use of slides in quite a few country songs. Personally, I enjoy watching Sheryl Crow's guitarist use his slide for her more modern day rock.

...Using a slide can prove to be extremely frustrating and awkward. Shubb has devised a solution by introducing a slide that can easily move out of the way. Click here to check it out.

Site Review

Black Belt Guitar Ring

The world wide web is a huge resource for musicians and offers many opportunities to learn how to master your instrument for little or no money. However, locating a good site that offers valuable and accurate information is not an easy task. While some sites look well put together, are they everything they portray themselves to be?

The Black Belt Guitar Ring solves this problem by giving you the raw data. It lists the worlds most popular sites in order of how many hits they receive. Naturally, only the hottest and most professional make the front page. As you scroll through the hundreds upon hundreds of sites, you will have an idea of who is who in the online community and know the people you can trust.

I think this site is a shear stroke of genius and offers something that isn't bias and truly reflects the best companies. It doesn't stop at guitar lessons either. They actually include ear training software, tablature, further resources, gear and much more.

You won't be disappointed in what this site can offer you and the best part of the deal is that it is 100% free and will never cost you a cent.

Click here to begin your journey into a more musical cyberspace.

Feedback Booth

Every week we receive hundreds upon hundreds of emails from many of you who write in with your questions, comments, and concerns. This week we will be taking a look at many of the common questions that we have been receiving in addition to some comments and concerns.

We strongly encourage you to keep us updated. Email us with whatever is on your mind! After all, how could we have a Feedback Booth without you?

Lets start off with a great question from Jessica:

Dear Jordan Warford, Thank you very much for those worth subscribing newsletters. It helps a lot for me. I just want to know if it is advisable for me to have a 6th stringed, 24 fret bass guitar? Well, I just want to know because my father told me lately after the battle of the bands here in our town that he's willing to give me the bass guitar that I need. But now, I'm so excited to have it., Thank you!! More power!! and God Bless!!! Truly yours, Jessica S. Mariazeta

I can honestly say I haven't had many of these questions, but it's so interesting I thought I'd share the answer with the rest of you. First off, 6 string bass guitars are rare and usually quite expensive. However, when placed in the hands of a pro, they can produce some amazing sounds.

However, for your purpose Jessica, I suggest that you go with a four or five string bass. Using a six string bass requires incredible finger strength and they have an extremely large neck, making it hard to reach the notes. You'll also save money and have more fun. Save the six string for the future.

Steve sends in a tip for playing the G7 chord that was handed down from his Father:

Hi Jordan, This last Guitar Tips was great. Getting into blues is something that is easy and if everyone will listen to various rock and/or country music, they will find a little blues added in from time to time. Here is a trick my Dad told me about playing G7 chord. Instead of using you first three fingers, us your last three fingers, this will allow you to go from G chord to G7chord easily, plus you will be able to catch the C chord quickly.

Doing this sometimes while playing my G chord, I'll play a combination of G and C chord. Starting with my middle finger on 6th string third fret, second finger on fourth string second fret, first finger second string first fret, then last finger first string third fret. I don't know if this is a chord, but in some of my playing around in G chord, it seems to adds a little extra flow to my playing. Just thought I'd add my two bits. Your guitar tips articles has helped me to progress in something I enjoy doing as a hobby. I'm 53 years old, playing off and on since I was 14. Thanks, Steve Givens, Oklahoma City, Ok.

Davis is about to purchase a new guitar and has this question:

Hello Jordan, I am preparing to purchase my first guitar - an Acoustic Guitar. Can you advise on some tips what to look out for, what features etc, when selecting. Best regards Davis Kanju

My suggestion to Davis is to hold on for our next edition which will focus specifically on acoustic guitars. We'll cover all of the commonly asked questions and give you plenty of things to think about and learn from.

Jordan has this popular question:

Hey is Behringer a good name in guitars? Jordan Nease

Behringer is known for their amps, audio, DJ gear, mixers, computer based recording and some effects. However, they are immerging onto the scene with guitar... I wouldn't name them the number one in this department. They do have an assortment of beginner packs and other instruments but nothing high end. In short, I would go to another company for a guitar.

Melissa wanted to make mention of some of the blues pioneers that started the revolution:

Jordan, thanks for the blues guitar newsletter. I'm a little disappointed that you only gave Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn credit as originators and innovators of blues, please keep in mind that their teachers and influences were Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin Hopkins, etc. Many african-americans, people borrowed from and claimed credit for the work. It's still not right. Thanks and keep up the good work. Melissa Fowler

I couldn't agree more Melissa. For that illustration I was using them as an uptodate example that the majority of subscribers could relate to. We'll have to look at doing a newsletter that pays homage to these great musicians.

Lawrence sends these words of encouragement:

Hi Jordan, I just want to thank you guys for such a great news letter this week. It was just what I needed to give me an inspirational boost. I love it; thanks a million. Rockin'ly yours, Lawrence Morgan

Conclusion

Unfortunately, this brings us to the end of our Guitar Tips Newsletter. We hope that you have been inspired and took something away that will last you for years to come.

Taking a look at the various genres found in today's music gives you an edge that many musicians don't have. You now know a little bit about a few of the many styles available and how to apply them to your own playing.

I encourage you to take a chance and push yourself to be the best that you can be. You never know, you might just be the next Stevie Ray Vaughan!

As a side note, we have been notified that Carole Amore (contest winner from our survey last Summer) has received her special order guitar from Guitar Trader. Stay tuned to hear an update from her in our next edition.

Until next time, keep on picking!

 


WRITTEN BY GUITAR TIPS
If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit http://www.guitartips.com.au