Friday, October 30, 2009

Learn How to Improvise, Play Guitar Solos & Create Your Own Style

One of the most common questions guitar players ask is, "How do you learn how to improvise, pick your own licks and phrases?" The answer is to learn songs. That's why I include so many song references in my guitar theory book and videos. Each guitar riff, solo and bass line you learn will teach you something new about picking and phrasing. After you develop some common guitar technique, and a good repertoire of licks, you can begin to rearrange phrases in your own order.

Is Copying Cheating?
Some guitarists feel that this approach is simply copying and not a legitimate way to create an original style. Nothing could be further from the truth. You'll never develop lead guitar technique or understand how to use and apply scales correctly without first learning some examples by other players.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Albert King
Why do people say you can hear Albert King in Stevie Ray Vaughan's playing? Because SRV learned how to phrase by first copying what he heard on King's records. That's how all great guitar players got started and developed their style.

Eric Clapton "Hideaway"
To help further demonstrate my point, listen to this very early recording of Eric Clapton playing the song "Hideaway" with John Mayall's Blues Breakers.

Freddie King "Hideaway"
Now listen to the original version of "Hideaway" played by Freddie King.

Did you notice that Eric Clapton copies many of Freddie King's phrases note-for-note? And Freddie King is just one of Clapton's many influences. Eric Clapton spent his early years listening to, learning and practicing licks and phrases by other guitar players. Is it any wonder that he has become so proficient? Do you honestly think that you can skip this step and progress to the same level? Think again!

Why Reinvent the Wheel?
If you want to develop good technique, draw from a good arsenal of licks and phrases, and become a good improvisor then you absolutely must learn songs and copy other players. There's no short cut to getting good. This process requires patience, hard work, dedication, and lots of practice. In time you'll start to rely less on copying and more on your own creativity. This will ultimately lead to you composing and improvising in your own unique style.

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna


Anonymous said...

This is exactly why students of painting (especially those who go on to become great artists) spend years studying the works of the masters. Carefully observing their technique, choice of color, perspective, and yes, copying them -- until their own style breaks through.

Mr. Desi Serna said...

Great point. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this idea. The only problem I see is that some players just don't know how make good use of that to actually create their own style and end up playing just like their heroes.

Jerome said...

the clapton video has been removed from youtube..

Bert said...

Many continued thanks for the ongoing lessons; it really helps to tie the videos together.
Peace b with u!

Mr. Desi Serna said...

Jerome, I changed the Clapton link to one that is active. Embedding has been disabled for the Freddie King video but you can still click on it and view it at YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! Was just what I needed right now. Love the comparison videos.