24 November 2008

My Guitar Inspirational Moments

A few days ago I wrote about a guitar inspirations exercise that can help discover the kind of guitar music you want to play. I promised to post my own inspirations as an example of the exercise, and today I'm keeping my promise.

The exercise helps you identify the essential elements of guitar playing that make you want to pick up a guitar and play. Focus on these essentials helps you to learn and choose what you practice from among the myriad styles and lessons available.

In today's post I'm using the exercise to help me work out my own guitar direction and get focused on the essentials of what I want to play. So on to my shortlist of five inspirations. Believe me, there are plenty of other great guitar moments I love to hear, but I've ruthlessly honed that down to just these five.

Tribute to the Late Reverend Gary Davis, Martin Stephenson

I heard this song years ago on the Boat to Bolivia album. It's an acoustic blues in the style of, well obviously, Gary Davis. It's a lively style with lots of bounce given by the alternating bass. The percussive scratching and tapping on the guitar is also a sound I love.

Into the Night, BB King

The first time I heard BB play was in this 1985 film on which he performed in the soundtrack. The power and feeling in BBs music has remained with me ever since.

I think BB King shows us all two worthy lessons. Firstly, it doesn't have to be complicated. BBs guitar style is essentially quite simple, but this takes nothing away from its beauty and power. Second, BB plays just one thing, and does it really well. He doesn't try to be the world's best guitarist and master many styles. I think we can all learn a lot from that.

Good Mornin' Little School Girl, Folk Singer, Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters and his band are best known for their shaping of the Chicago electric blues sound. But the day I came across this acoustic recording in the midst of the three volume Chess Box I was struck by the beauty of his acoustic sound. These recordings with Buddy Guy were made in the 1950s when the folk music revival was in full swing.

They are full of nuances that are not present in the more forceful electric playing. Good Mornin' Little Schoolgirl also has a nice upbeat feel to it. This was one of the first recordings that got me on to the idea that you don't need an electric guitar to play in a blues band.

Rhythm Is Love, Keziah Jones

As a long time fan of the acoustic guitar sound I am thankful to Keziah for showing us all that funk guitar doesn't have to be played on an electric. Rhythm Is Love is a great example and one of my favourite funky tunes.

Intro to Good People, Jack Johnson

This intro on the 2005 album In Between Dreams sums up the sound and feel I want in only 12 seconds. It is bluesy and funky but played on an acoustic guitar and sounds great. It is followed up with a similar solo that lasts about ten seconds half way through the song. Another important lesson here, the best solos are short and sweet.

Putting it All Together

You probably already noticed, but I have a marked preference for acoustic guitar sounds. But my taste is not so much for solo finger style pieces, although I do like plenty of those. What I really like is the sound of the guitar within a band, and preferably one who's playing is funky and bluesy, something to get people up and dancing.

How about your guitar inspirations? Do you know what they are? Are you building your own unique guitar style that you can play with passion, or are you just following what somebody told you to do? Share your inspirations with us in the comments...

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Anonymous said...

hi nice post

Anonymous said...


Indeed: A nice post.
I will have to say that my inspirational guitar moment was when I had the chance see a DSO show: http://www.darkstarorchestra.net. This was about 7 months ago. Thanks to the concert and them, I am back to playing my guitar. I know that this is not exactly what you are saying in your post, but I need to find inspiration any where I can find it. Another reason why I head back here: http://www.notplayingguitar.com/

Anonymous said...

Mike, I think that kind of moment is very important. The ones that make you want to pick up your guitar and practice for all your worth.

Chances are, that they are also strongly linked to the kind of music you want to play, too. But they don't all have to be. I eliminated some of these moments to get more focus and avoid stuff that requires more effort than I want to spend.

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