Whether you've been playing for one day or for forty years your guitar playing is all about expressing yourself. Think of your guitar as your voice. It's already unique whether you realize it or not. Just like your speaking voice. Friends and family who know you can recognize your voice immediately. And if people hear you play enough times they come to recognize your playing also. Your playing style, your tone, your feeling, your sound and your influences all combine to be your own unique voice.

A guitar player can be incredibly expressive and recognizable even by playing just one note. My proof. All you need to hear from B.B. King or Carlos Santana is one note and you know instantly who it is. There are other players you can recognize by their shear speed and technical prowess. That's their way of speaking. It's like getting to know someone's voice. Whether it's B.B or Jimi Hendrix or John Petrucci, if you're familiar with them and hear them enough times you naturally come to recognize their playing.

Every guitar player wants to have his or her own unique identifiable style and sound. You can develop a more distinctive playing voice by injecting your own original and unique signature licks and techniques into your playing; like B.B.'s strong vibrato or Santana's endless sustain. Creating and inventing your own licks and tricks is extremely fulfilling and exciting. Don't be afraid to experiment on your axe and push the boundaries. There are no rules of expression. A lot of beginning guitar players (and experienced players for that matter) focus on achieving speed and technical precision in their playing. Nothing wrong with that. But, remember that if you play only one single note for a whole song or tons of speed & technical licks it's still you expressing yourself. And that's what it's about.

Anyway, I guess my point in all this is; to pursue your musical goals no matter how lofty they are but never get discouraged or frustrated. Guitar playing is not a contest of speed or acrobatic fingering techniques. The idea is to speak and express your feelings through your guitar. And you can do that at any playing level. As for me, I think I know my limits and try to learn and improve everyday. But, if I never play at the level of some of my guitar heroes I know that what I am playing now is my way of expressing my music; and it's mine alone. Actually I prefer to live by the old cliche "less is more". That works for me but whatever or however you play just remember that it comes from inside you and out through your fingers. Guitar playing gives you the freedom to say anything you want through your playing. And that voice is totally and uniquely yours.

Copyright 2004 Johnny Roth

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