Episode 22 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at how to get started trying to find your unique voice on guitar and why it matters.
If you ever feel stuck, lack motivation or feel bored with guitar, it may be because you haven’t found your unique voice on the guitar yet. This episode explains why this happens and what to do about it.
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The below videos are a good starting point to help you figure out what techniques you might want to incorporate into your playing style.
Watch the below videos then pick out one technique you want to focus on for the next week. By the end of the week, you’ll know whether you really want that technique to be a core part of who you are as a guitarist. Then you can pick another technique that grabs your attention and do it again.
Watch a few of these videos because each of these guitarists demonstrates the techniques in different ways. So while you may not like the sound of a specific technique in one video, you may like how a different guitarist uses that technique.
While the above videos rush through the techniques, the below video spends more time on each one to give you a better idea of what you can do with the techniques.
While there are a lot of different techniques you may be interested in learning, take your time. Focus on one technique at a time and make sure that technique does fit your playing style.
Podcast Episode 22 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 22 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.
In this episode, I’ll talk about how to get started finding your unique voice on guitar and why it matters.
You’ll learn three things in this episode:
- Why some guitarists gradually get bored of guitar or lose their motivation
- How to shape your playing style to better suit your personality
- Steps to get started
This episode is more suited for intermediate or advanced guitarists who already feel comfortable with their guitar abilities. But I suggest beginners listen to this episode so you know what you should keep in mind for the future.
When somebody learns guitar, at a certain point, you cover all of the basics. You know how to play a decent amount of chords, you learn to string some licks together so you can jam with other guitarists, you’ll know how to play a bunch of songs, you learn a little bit of everything.
While some guitarists will fly past this point and work hard at mastering a lot of techniques and pushing themselves further, a lot of other guitarists get stuck.
You might feel like you don’t know what to do next, or you start to feel bored with guitar. You may even find that you gradually pick the guitar up less often or you might lose motivation while you’re playing.
While I talk about overcoming plateaus and ruts in an earlier episode, this is a little different.
When you start to feel bored with guitar or you lose your motivation to play, it’s less likely due to being stuck in a rut and more likely to be because you haven’t found your voice on guitar yet.
This is a tricky topic to talk about, so I’ll give you an example of why it happens.
Think about the music you listen to. There’s probably a song you love listening to, but when you went to learn it on guitar, it didn’t really click with you. You don’t really enjoy playing it on guitar but you still love listening to the song. If you’ve had this happen to you before, it was probably confusing. How can you love listening to a song but not enjoy playing it?
Your Voice on Guitar
There are a few reasons why this happens, but the reason worth noting for this episode is because everybody has a different playing style that fits with their personality. I call this your voice on guitar. If you love listening to a song but you don’t enjoy playing it, it just means that song doesn’t perfectly fit with your own unique voice on guitar.
I’ve had a lot of students over the years come to me after being confused by this. They decided to learn to play the guitar so they could play all of their favorite songs, but then they found that some of those songs just weren’t fun to play.
Even if you’re a die-hard fan of a particular guitarist, it doesn’t mean your own playing style will perfectly match up to that guitarist’s style. There are plenty of guitarists out there who learned guitar solely due to Jimi Hendrix, but the music they play doesn’t sound anything like Hendrix.
Think about your own guitar playing in the same way. You need to work out what your voice on guitar actually is.
There are some things on guitar you will enjoy playing, and other things you won’t enjoy playing. You need to slowly work out what combination of techniques and playing styles match your personality.
Maybe you enjoy songs that play long and slow lead phrased with wide vibrato and slow bends. Or maybe you hate that style of playing and you prefer tight percussive rhythm parts. Or maybe you enjoy fast alternate picking, but you hate legato.
Everybody has different preferences in playing style, that should seem obvious. What isn’t obvious is the exact combination of techniques and abilities that perfectly match your personality.
This is why some intermediate and advanced guitarists can slowly lose motivation or get bored of guitar. If you’re not playing something that matches your own unique voice on guitar, you’ll gradually lose interest. If you don’t even know what your voice on guitar is, you might even get frustrated by guitar.
If you can work out what makes up your unique voice on guitar, you’ll avoid slowly burning out or getting bored.
So let’s have a look at how to find your voice on guitar.
Pick a Technique
There’s an easy way you can slowly work out what your unique voice on guitar is. This is something I’ve done with my students for years.
What you do is you pick a technique and focus on it for at least a week. Incorporate the technique into everything you play on guitar and see how it feels. After a while, you’ll know whether that technique plays an important role in your playing style or not.
As an example, let’s say you choose tapping as the style to focus on. Over the next week, try as many different tapping patterns as you can think of, learn some songs that use tapping, and incorporate tapping into songs you already know. Really dive into tapping and see how it fits as if it were a core part of who you are as a guitarist.
By the end of the week, you’ll know whether tapping really should be a part of your playing style. Even if you’re still trying to learn the basics of the technique, you’ll know whether you want to keep working on it or not.
More importantly, you’ll also know whether tapping isn’t interesting to you. If you struggle to get through the week and hate the sound or feel of any tapping parts you come up with, you know that tapping isn’t part of your unique voice on guitar.
Knowing what techniques you don’t want as part of your playing style is just as important as finding the techniques you do want as part of your style.
Then the next week you do this again for another technique. After a couple of months, you’ll have a clear picture in your head on what techniques and abilities help you enjoy guitar more and what techniques make you enjoy guitar less.
As someone who has gone through this process, I can tell you it has a big impact on how much you will enjoy playing guitar. Once you find the combination of techniques and abilities that perfectly match your own voice on guitar, your enjoyment will shoot up.
If you do this, your playing style will change, but it’ll change for the better.
A great way to put into practice what I’ve been talking about is to watch a video that showcases a wide range of styles. I’ve included a couple videos on the page for this episode at guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-22/
You’ve probably seen one of these videos shared around. They usually have titles such as 30 guitar techniques in 3 minutes or similar.
These videos do a great job at showing how different techniques allow you to express yourself in different ways. If you watch one of these videos, some of the techniques will grab your attention and others won’t. Pick one of the techniques that grabs your attention and over the next week, make that technique your main focus in everything you do.
You might find that you love incorporating that technique into your playing. Or you might find that while it sounds great in songs, you don’t enjoy playing it.
Either way, you’ll be better off by focusing on that technique for a week.
Think of the video as a buffet where you can pick and choose whatever techniques you want to take with you. Imagine a buffet at a restaurant and instead of picking out the foods you want, somebody randomly chooses the foods for you. That meal will be pretty hit and miss. You’ll enjoy the meal far more if you get to pick out the foods you want.
It’s the same with guitar. If you’re not completely enjoying guitar now, it’s probably because you don’t have the right food on your plate so to speak.
Set a goal to find five different techniques you can work on to form your main voice on guitar. There may be more techniques that you want to include in your playing style, but for most guitarists, five techniques is more than enough to focus on.
The key lesson to take away from this episode is that finding your own unique voice on guitar will help you enjoy your guitar playing more. If you ever find yourself bored with guitar or you feel stuck, it may be that you just haven’t quite found the key ingredients that fit your playing style best.
This week, watch the videos on the page for this episode and work on one technique per week. Find the techniques that you enjoy using and make those techniques a core part of your playing style.
Also, find the techniques you don’t enjoy playing and don’t force yourself to use them. If you learn a song that heavily uses a technique you don’t enjoy playing, modify the song to replace that technique with something you will enjoy playing.
I might talk about this more in a future episode because changing a song to suit your own playing style can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Check out the videos at guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-22/ and pick one technique to focus on over the next week.
Once you do this for a week or two, you’ll see what I mean when I say it can have a big impact on how much you enjoy playing guitar.
Give it a try and I’ll talk to you next time.