Have you ever wondered what makes a guitarist unique? Chances are, that’s what brought you to this article. Ask any player, and you’re likely to get a different answer. However, here is everything you need to know to get started on the right path to success!
Keep reading to learn more. You’re really going to enjoy it!
You can use the table of contents below to take you to the area that interests you. Click on the little box to open it, and then click on the section of the article you want to read, or you can read from start to finish if you want the full guitar style experience!
The Short Answer
Developing a unique playing style requires discovering what you must achieve to help create your musical identity. Therefore, it’s essential to study the approaches of your favorite musicians. Learn all you can from them but take it to the next level to make it your own! Don’t let one particular playing technique totally define who you are as a musician.
Keep On Reading (Below) To Learn More
Why Is A Unique Playing Style Important?
It’s important to develop a unique playing style because it’s a reflection of who you are as a musician! It’s your “musical calling card!”
Just think about it. All the guitar greats have an unmistakable sound. So, how long would it take you to recognize your favorite guitar player in a song?
Three or four notes, and you know you’re listening to the great B. B. King, right? Nobody has Santana’s tone and phrasing, and who can possibly sound like Jeff Beck?
Developing a unique playing style is one of the best things you can do to jumpstart your musical career!
However, you don’t have to be a professional musician to have a unique sound and playing style. My uncle played a cheap electric guitar he bought at a local discount store every Sunday afternoon. He didn’t have impressive chops or even a good voice. Nonetheless, he played Country music as I’d never heard it before, and his family and friends loved it!
Keep reading to discover the essential things to consider while you’re trying to develop your unique playing style!
Key Assets That Make A Guitarist Unique
This table lists eight key assets that can help make a guitarist unique. You can click on each asset to learn more about why it matters.
|Asset||Why It Matters|
|Preferred Musical Genre||Can take what others have done to the next level|
|Influence And Inspiration||Multi-style influence can increase playing complexity|
|Creativity And Songwriting||Songwriters tend to be creative guitarists|
|Playing Multiple Instruments||Really makes the player stand out|
|Technical Ability||Can associate someone with a particular playing style|
|Musical Equipment||Can help players develop a unique tone|
|Experimentation||Takes players in unique musical directions|
|Musical Collaboration||Exposes players to other playing styles and genres|
Keep On Reading (Below) To Learn More About Each Topic
Guitar Players That Stand Out
Here are twelve guitar players whose unique playing style stands out from the rest. There are so many incredible and innovative guitarists that I can’t possibly include them all!
You can click on the name of each guitarist to learn more.
Keep On Reading (Below) To Learn More About Each Player!
Preferred Musical Genre
Guitar players that stick to playing a single musical genre, like Rock or Blues, are more likely to develop more focused expertise in that area. Standing on the shoulders of past musical innovators can allow you to see further and take that genre to the next musical level.
For example, B.B. King was a scholar of many great blues and gospel players before him. However, B. B. took the Blues to the next level by combining traditional minor pentatonic riffs with major pentatonic and jazz phrasing to come up with his unique style of playing.
Nobody sounds like B. B. King! He could tell an entire musical story with a handful of notes!
Guitarists that play in most any musical genre may be less likely to acquire a sizeable musical following and may be more likely to cover other people’s songs versus writing their own.
Influence And Inspiration
Being influenced and inspired by a large number of musicians can often lead to a more complex and adaptable musical style.
On the other hand, being primarily influenced by a single or small number of musicians can make a player’s style more obvious.
For example, you can hear a lot of Albert King’s style in Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie worshiped Albert, and the two became close friends over the years.
Albert played his guitar upside down without changing the string order, so the high-E (thinnest) string was on the top. Bending the thinner strings down instead of up was part of what gave Albert his distinctive sound.
You can hear this in Stevie’s playing as he tries to imitate him by the way he bends the thinner strings up.
Although Albert King was also a big influence on Robin Trower, you can prominently hear Jimi Hendrix’s playing style and tone in Robin’s playing.
Robin uses a Univibe and Octavia pedal to get that “Hendrix sound,” which is very obvious in many of his songs.
Creativity And Songwriting
Creativity and songwriting can go hand-in-hand. Guitarists who are songwriters tend to be more involved in the creative process and may change band members frequently to accommodate their needs.
For example, Frank Zappa was the super-creative genius behind his musical empire.
He played the guitar, wrote the lyrics, and orchestrated the parts for all the instruments in his songs. As a guitarist, he had an incredibly diverse and unique style!
Frank worked with many musicians and backup singers over the years to get the sound he was after.
Playing Multiple Instruments
Multi-instrumentalists have a special advantage because they usually have a better understanding of the musical process as a whole. Guitar players who change instruments on stage can really stand out among an audience as being “extra-talented.”
Prince is an excellent example of a multi-instrumentalist and a creative genius. His music appeals to people of all musical tastes and ages because it is so varied.
Prince played guitar, bass, piano, clavinet, drums, bongos, congas, wind chimes, and orchestral bells.
I’ve never heard a Prince song I didn’t like!
Technical ability can really make a guitarist stand out!
Things like timing, speed, slurs, hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato, string bending, tapping, and slide playing can all help a guitar player develop a unique style.
String vibrato is one of the playing techniques that can really characterize a player’s style since everyone does it a little differently. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to spend as much time as it takes to master this technique. It takes some players years to develop their unique string vibrato.
Yngwie Malmsteen is a technical wizard on the guitar, and he uses that to a great extent as his calling card! He fuses Classical scales and arpeggios with Rock, Metal, and Blues to create his unique style of NeoClassical shred.
Eddie Van Halen took one and two-handed guitar fingerboard tapping into mainstream Rock and Metal to develop a whole new style of playing!
His techniques have been copied by players in some of the biggest bands, but no one has ever been able to match his depth of feeling or melodic complexity successfully.
Some guitarists use particular types of guitars, amps, and effects pedals to help them create a uniquely definable tone.
Carlos Santana relies on his Paul Reed Smith guitars, as well as his Mesa Boogie and PRS amps, to give him a unique brand of midrange-dominant sustain. It can emulate a sound similar to a brass instrument, like a saxophone or trumpet.
But, of course, most of Carlos Sound comes from his heart and hands. Playing through his equipment won’t make you sound like Carlos! He can play with any equipment, and it will still sound like him!
Some guitarists are particularly known for experimenting with multiple musical styles to give them a unique sound.
Jeff Beck is one of the shining examples of this type of player! Jeff’s career has taken him from Rock, to Jazz Fusion, to Metal, to Techno, to Reggie, to Opera, you name it, and Jeff has put his special spin on it as only he could do.
To me, Jeff was one of the greatest guitar players that ever lived! His style is “uncopyable!” What he did with the whammy bar, volume swells, and tone adjustments was beyond amazing!
When Jeff left us, he took a piece of me with him.
Some guitarists stretch out their playing style by collaborating with other musicians, which gives them a unique perspective on musical ideas and phrasing.
Eric is an excellent example of a guitarist who has collaborated with an impressive list of musicians and filmmakers.
Some of his musical collaborations include:
- Jimmy Page (Miles Road)
- Jeff Beck (Little Brown Bird)
- Buddy Guy (Every Time I Sing The Blues)
- B. B. King (Key To The Highway)
- Santana (The Calling)
- Aretha Franklin (Good To Me As I Am To You)
- J. J. Cale (Don’t Cry Sister)
- The Who (Eyesight To The Blind)
- The Beatles (While My Guitar Gently Weeps)
- Steve Winwood (Voodoo Child)
Eric’s playing has also been featured in a long list of Movies, including:
- Back To The Future
- The Color of Money
- Lethal Weapon I, II, III, & IV
- Wayne’s World.
Don’t Let Style Stifle Your Progress!
As you try to develop a unique voice on the guitar, it’s important not to let a particular playing technique or style get in the way of who you really are as a person and a player.
Don’t chase flashy attention-getting guitar tricks or mold yourself as a carbon copy of another great player. Instead, learn from each guitarist you admire, choosing what suits you, and then take it to the next level.
This is one of the best ways to find your unique voice on the guitar!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions I get asked about guitar playing.
If your question does not appear here, please put it in the comments, and I will get right back to you with an answer.
What Qualities Make A Good Guitarist?
The most successful musicians have a passion for playing the guitar. So, create a practice schedule and stick to it. It’s essential to make a consistent effort. Advance at your own pace, and don’t get discouraged with your progress.
Once you learn the basics of rhythm, harmony, and melody, you can begin to get creative and develop your unique playing style.
Are Some People Naturally Gifted At Guitar?
Yes, some players are naturally gifted, but anyone can learn to play the guitar or any other instrument. It takes practice, determination, and self-confidence!
Related Article ➡ Is Playing A Guitar A Talent Or Skill? – Secrets To Success!
Why Is Playing Guitar Attractive?
Playing the guitar can be attractive because it showcases your musical ability and gives your listeners an opportunity to enjoy music. However, it depends on things like your playing style, song choice, confidence, and charisma.
How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Good Guitarist?
That is highly variable. It depends on things like your dedication to learning, your musical ability, the difficulty of the material you play, and your definition of “good.”
What Theory Should Every Guitarist Know?
Music theory can be helpful, especially if you play professionally, but it is not necessary to become a successful player. Some of the best guitarists in the world play totally by ear. I recommend beginning with chord and scale construction if you want to learn some music theory.
Who Is The Most Unique Guitarist?
That depends on many things, like individual preference, musical genre, and your definition of “unique.” In my opinion, it would be Jeff Beck. However, there is no right answer!
Now that you know what makes a guitarist unique, you can work on the particular area that will benefit your playing the most!
The key assets that make a guitarist unique are Preferred Musical Genre, Influence And Inspiration, Creativity And Songwriting, Playing Multiple Instruments, Technical Ability, Musical Equipment, Experimentation, and Musical Collaboration.
Each area may have something to help you mold your unique sound. You can add them to your daily practice routine and continue to develop over time. However, it’s important not to let a particular style define who you are as a musician.
Take all the things you like best about each of your favorite guitarists and take them to the next level to create your own special sound! In the long run, it’ll be worth all the effort and dedication!
Here’s a great video by Rick Beato on who has the most recognizable guitar tone. It features a fantastic discussion on who uses various guitars, amps, and effects pedals and how they help players get their unique sound!
This video is almost 30 minutes long, so grab your favorite beverage and enjoy!
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article, have any questions about guitar style, or want to give your point of view. I will be happy to help you.
- How would you characterize your guitar style?
- What do you think is most important for developing a unique sound?
- Who are your biggest musical influences?
- What else is on your mind?
4 thoughts on “What Makes A Guitarist Unique – The Secret To Standing Out!”
Thanks for this article! You have inspired me as a novice player to pick up a guitar again and give it another try.
I agree that many famous guitarists have a unique sound that separates them from the rest. Also, Prince’s music is fantastic, and he never failed to put on a good show.
Thank You for your comments!
I’m thrilled that this article has inspired you to give the guitar another try! The key to playing well is to create a learning method that works well for you and practice consistently.
I agree; Prince was a fabulous musician and entertainer!
Best Of Luck!
As someone who is interested in music and guitar playing, I found your article on what makes a guitarist unique to be very informative and thought-provoking. I appreciated your exploration of different aspects of guitar playing, including technique, style, and personality, as well as your personal experiences and insights.
One experience I have had with music and guitar playing is that it can be a deeply personal and rewarding pursuit, but also one that requires dedication and hard work. Your article provides a valuable exploration of what makes guitarists unique and what factors contribute to their individuality and success.
Thank You for your comments!
Creating a unique playing style and sound requires following your musical vision, dedication, and hard work. However, it’s definitely worth it in the end! 😎
Rock On 🤘