Technique and the Modern Guitarist - thoughts after seeing Guns n Roses

Ed Seith

Supreme Galactic Overlord
Staff member
Legend
  • Nov 11, 2019
    2,847
    2
    4,329
    51
    Marana, AZ USA
    soundcloud.com
    35
    So I went to Guns n Roses in Phoenix last night, and overall it was a really good show. Axl's voice is nearly shot - he has trouble enunciating, and his middle register is just... GONE, but still a solid showman. It was a nearly three hour show featuring several extended guitar spotlights among music that already features a lot of guitar. It was excessive and indulgent, which - honestly - fits perfectly with the GnR brand, so - SPOT ON.

    However, one of the things I was noticing, and it's something that comes up here a lot, when people are trying to find Syn's tone to sound like him. If you're watching a close-up of Slash's left-hand technique on a 30 foot screen, it looks like someone is randomly slapping four meaty, slightly burnt hot dogs against a fretboard. By all accounts, his left-hand technique would be considered ATROCIOUS.

    But THAT is exactly why he ALWAYS sounds like Slash.

    The amp and the guitar and the neck pickup, etc, are a tangible part of it (and they are how Slash gets INSPIRED to play his best), but the REAL reason Slash sounds like Slash is that his technique is sloppy, greasy, and ham-handed, and it's fucking glorious.

    Keep that in mind when you're trying so hard to play something EXACTLY according to perfect technique - there's a time and place for that, but don't forget that the two biggest parts of sounding like YOU are right down at the end of your arms, and don't try to practice all that originality out of yourself.
     

    Jamie London

    Campfire Attention Holder
    Staff member
  • Nov 11, 2019
    510
    1,130
    28
    Gilroy, California
    synn3r.com
    12
    I’ve always felt the same way about Keith Richards, especially when you look back at some of the old Stones concert footage. It’s not perfect, it’s a little dirty, a little messy at times, and it’s 100% Keith. And as you said about Slash, that’s why it’s so glorious.

    I’ve personally never been interested in replicating anyone else’s tone or sound, at least not exactly. Take what you do, meld it with your influences, and you’ll having something original that is wholly you, and that’s a very special thing.
     

    Steven Huth

    Campfire Attention Holder
  • Nov 11, 2019
    64
    90
    31
    13
    Keep that in mind when you're trying so hard to play something EXACTLY according to perfect technique - there's a time and place for that, but don't forget that the two biggest parts of sounding like YOU are right down at the end of your arms, and don't try to practice all that originality out of yourself.
    Amazing advice. A lot of people who play guitar at all skill levels tend to forget the fun aspect of having your own sound. Everyone wants to follow their idols, which is not a bad thing, but it's almost impossible if not down right impossible to replicate their sound because of so many different factors (as you mentioned).


    For me personally, my playing really took off when I started playing songs for how fun they were. I wasn't worried about how difficult a song was or anything like that. It was that feeling that really made me want to practice even more.

    Practice can be made fun and that's what got me over the initial mountain.
     

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    496
    1
    1,183
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    This is something I always mention to my students!

    I remember being in high school as a guitarist and thinking that Slash wasn't 'as good a technical player' as the likes of Syn because he wasn't sweeping and picking to perfection - but it dawned on me years later that it's actually so much more technically difficult to play exactly like Slash, with the phrasing of his bends and how he plays just a little rough around the edges. His characteristics can never be replicated to a tee, and either can mine or yours or anyone's. Great thread @Ed Seith!
     

    Noah Berends

    Stairway to Heaven Tab Studier
    Supporter
  • Nov 11, 2019
    375
    40
    Fort Wayne, IN
    13
    EVH's tremolo picking technique is a great example of this as well. He never missed a note doing it, ever, but you look at his right hand and go "what the hell?"

    It looks like he's just flopping it back and forth. But it's why he sounds the way he does. By all measures for "proper" technique, it's totally wrong. But damn, it sounds amazing.
     
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Brian Haner Sr.

    Administrator
    Staff member
    Nov 11, 2019
    694
    2
    2,784
    Tenchnique is nothing more than a means to an end. That end being "great music". Most people will benefit greatly from working on technique. But people with a natural gift may not, (obviously everyone needs a certain amount of technique to be good).
    Music is not a visual undertaking. It only needs to be pleasing to the ear. If you are one of the gifted, (like Slash), you can make great music with less than perfect technique. I could make a list of players, (like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, and countless others), who had shitty technique. But they were blessed with an inordinate amount of natural talent.
    There is an old saying in basketball - "Just put the ball in the hoop". Some did it with great technique, others with shoddy technique and great natural talent.

    Having said all that - there is one more type of player, (and my son would fall into this category) - a player who has a crazy amount of natural talent AND develops insane technique. These people are unfair.
     

    Muz Malek

    Hot Topic Tourer
    Legend
    Nov 11, 2019
    219
    620
    26
    Singapore
    www.instagram.com
    10
    Amazing advice. A lot of people who play guitar at all skill levels tend to forget the fun aspect of having your own sound. Everyone wants to follow their idols, which is not a bad thing, but it's almost impossible if not down right impossible to replicate their sound because of so many different factors (as you mentioned).


    For me personally, my playing really took off when I started playing songs for how fun they were. I wasn't worried about how difficult a song was or anything like that. It was that feeling that really made me want to practice even more.

    Practice can be made fun and that's what got me over the initial mountain.
    I second this!!!!
     
    • Love
    Reactions: Ed Seith

    Matt Wildman

    Free Bird Player
    Nov 11, 2019
    565
    23
    Liberty IN
    5
    This is such an interesting topic! Its so funny to think that a lot of these guitar players we all look up to, seriously didn't have good technique! Yet they were brilliant as far as style, originality, and just musically in general. However, I've seen MANY players that have outstanding technique but they have no "feel" or "emotion" in their playing. So for me, it's been players like Syn, Al Petteway (one of my favorite folk guitarists), ROY CLARK (this man was so very underrated as a guitarist) that inspire me to not only perfect technique and utilize it, but to also think outside the box and embrace "feel".