Learning how to play brilliant guitar doesn't happen over night or in one day. But there are some short cuts that I'll try to outline. The following are some methods I have found to work well for me when I practice the guitar. First, listen to every type of music you can get your ears on because you never know how it could inspire your playing. But wait!! You say; "I don't like - Mow'zart!" Rest easy because he probably would not like you just the same so get over yourself. But listen to him simply because the simple act of doing so could imprint a non-cognitive response in your gray matter that someday, down the road, might be the cache that is termed to be "your style." Listen to what your friends don't listen to daily. My reason behind this madness is to push you to be you. Music is a form of art and it is up to you as to whether you are a copy cat or a unique musician with a sound that is unmistakably - YOU!
Certainly, you want to know what your friends listen to so you can play together but at the same time I ask; do you get together with friends and play with zero harmony? Does each of the participants play the exact same material? Can you imagine how two lines combined could make one astounding piece instead of two? Listen to bands with two guitarist and you will witness them playing two symbiotic, yet unique lines where the final product begets a singular a piece of music. Therefore, combining two or more lines of music is a wonderful way to make music. But how does this help me play like my favorite guitarist Mr. Guitar Snob???
My study is simple, though my conveyance might be poor. I want you to open your mind to listen to (insert guitar hero here) and research the guitarist influences. This might mean listening to Duane Eddy if you like Brian Setzer or it might mean listening to Buddy Holly if George Harrison is your favorite guitarist. Understand that your favorite musician might like someone that you might not think is very cool. Get over it or stay in your rut, but don't complain because every musician who is worth his weight in salt has stolen from someone who came before them and unless they are a $%$%%$ they reference their influence. If Dimebag Darrell was here today (RIP), he'd tell you straight up that Michael Schenker, Randy Rhoads and similar musicians influenced Dime. I believe Dime listened to classical music because you could hear the influence in his playing. So.... Shut up and listen, and then practice!
Honestly, it helps to have a base platform from where you derive your inspiration. For me, Charlie (Yardbird) Parker is a huge influence but for me to sound like him would take a miracle. I can hear Bird's solo's in my head but I can only play a few lines. Oh, yeah, Charlie Parker played the saxophone - now go back to the beginning of this post...... Who said guitarist can't play saxophone music on the guitar? The fact remains that I play the guitar but that doesn't mean my influences must be guitarists. There is a vast universe of behemoth players which influence musicians, simply pondering the high cast of excellence itself can lead to a obsessive compulsive disorder that left unchecked, could quite possibly render you impotent in your quest for your own greatness. When you find yourself in times of trouble, mother mary.... Follow your intuition and revisit that music which gives you the greatest pleasure. Now wash and repeat!
Must do (no particular order):
- Cop licks from people who influenced your musical hero.
- Listen to everything with an open mind.
- Given some maturity, you might find what you once hated you now long to hear.
- Steal great riffs from great musicians
- Don't limit your inspiration to guitarists.
- Practice and practice more.
- Send me money - Kidding!