The guitar is a wonderful instrument, it offers you lots of options but as a Guitar Player you need to make a choice about what it is you want to achieve. You can play Acoustic and aim for the Singer-Songwriter approach. You could learn to play Electric Guitar and get used to playing with a lot of Sound Effects. The actual instrument of choice, either Acoustic or Electric, does not make any difference to the physics of playing the guitar: Chord fingerings will be the same for either Acoustic or Electric, the lay-out of the notes on the fret board is similar for both the Acoustic and Electric. The big difference lies in the feel and sound of the Guitar. Most Acoustics will have larger neck and the strings may feel a little stiffer, but once you have learned to play the Guitar there is no real difference between playing a Acoustic or Electric instrument. The sound of a Acoustic guitar comes mainly from the body of the Guitar, whereas the sound of a Electric guitar comes mainly from the Amp you use. This Amp is usually placed a little further away from the Guitar, therefore the sound may be a little less intimate compared to the sound of a Acoustic.
Besides the differences in sound and feel of the Acoustic and Electric guitar there is also the difference in approach. Playing a Electric guitar with a lot of Sound Effects and using a Multiple Amplifier set-up require a different skill set from the Guitarist compared to playing Solo Finger Style Classical Guitar. For this article I will have a look at some of the styles a Guitar Player may choose to play, and what this choice means in terms of skills and approach to playing the instrument.
Since most people will get introduced to Playing the Guitar by the Acoustic Guitar let us have a look at Playing the Guitar on your own, using your Voice and Playing and Writing Songs.
For this approach you do need to be able to Sing with the Guitar at the same time. You could either play Cover Songs or Your Own Songs.
Writing your Own Songs can be a very pleasing experience, but it requires a new skill set: Being able to create your own songs. The beauty of this approach is: Your own songs do not need to fit any criteria. The standards you set for yourself are good enough, which means you can get started straight away and play with what you know!
The more you write the better your songs will become. Once you get hooked your standards may change, but this is only natural as it all forms part of the process of growth as a Musician and Song Writer.
Here is one way of the Singer/Song Writer approach.
Now check out this video here, a different way of Playing, more raw and less sophisticated. Still, it is using the Guitar in the Singer/Songwriter approach.
Needless to say, within the Singer/Songwriter approach a lot is possible, there are many unique styles, all of them can be as deep and pleasing as you want them to be.
For the Singer/Songwriter approach a Guitarist only need to have a guitar and sing, not much else in terms of additional equipment is needed, fantastic!
Let me now have a look at Playing the Electric guitar as a Solo-Instrumentalist approach.
In terms of skills, a Guitarist will need to be able to play melodies, improvise, and work with various sounds the Electric Guitar can offer. You do want to be able to change sounds, since this will make your songs not all sound the same from top to bottom.
Changing sounds on the Electric Guitar can be done as simply by changing the Pick-up selector: You could play your chords for the backing through the Neck Pick-Up. For Solos and Melodies you may want to choose the brighter, Bridge Pick-Up. All depending on your taste.
Another way to change sounds is by using Guitar Pedals or other Rack-Kind of Effects. This approach requires the Guitarist to have a interest in technical details about Sound and Effects Processing. It is a wonderful, deep world, but it may not be for everybody!
Here a short video of the Instrumentalist Approach:
Needless to say this approach to playing the guitar can be very deep and pleasing at the same time. The down side may be the need for additional equipment, but one can keep things as simple as possible.
So far we have looked at music which stays within the boundaries of one song-idea. What about playing music which is constantly changing as we go along. Music which is a bit like a symphony: There is scope for a lot of development within the music. How can this be achieved with one Guitar?
Well it can be done with the use of some Loop Pedals in combination with the use of some other Guitar Effects.
In terms of skills for this approach: a Guitarist will need to know a little Music Theory to create the music, have a awareness of Sounds and Musical Ideas which go together to make something sound like it all belongs and does not start to sound like a mess. In other words: You need to have a vision of what it is you want to achieve.
Here is a short video of this kind of approach:
In addition to standard playing I also use a Slide in this video. Slide Guitar is ,off course, another unique style of playing the guitar. It is a style with requires it own approach. It is steeped in tradition, but you can make it personal. Slide Guitar is very deep and there are many different artists out there who have a totally different way of using the Slide in their own music
A last style I want to highlight is: Making Sounds with the guitar by using gadgets. Gadgets such as day to day objects, like a cork, elastic band or paper clip.
Attaching day to day objects to the strings of the guitar is the called the art of Prepared Guitar. I have written about this approach in a previous blog, check it out here if you want to learn more about it: https://www.guitartutorleeds.com/prepared-guitar-and-extended-guitar-techniques/
The style of making sounds with the guitar is sometimes called: Sound Scape. It is possible to use those sounds into songs, or compositions. One could also just make sounds and not really relate those sounds to any music. Again the choice is up to the individual Guitarist, what you know and your own taste.
The styles I have high lighted here are only a snap shot, there are many many more styles known to the world of music. I have mainly used elements of styles I work with for myself from time to time. Check out the styles you like and see what you can do with them for yourself as a Guitar Player.
Once you have read through all of this you may wonder where it is you should start with your own playing? I would say, get started with what you know and what you like and build onto that style over time. Keep at it and keep working on the various elements which make up part of a particular style of playing. Yes I know, it does require a lot of time, but playing the guitar, and making music, is a life time skill. As long as you keep working on Music you Playing Style will grow.
Hope to see you all again soon in the New Year.