As guitarist, and musicians we are always looking for ways to learn, improve and just keep our playing fresh. For this reason we are ever expanding our pallet of influences and inspiration. We can all remember back to what event first gave us the desire to pick up our axe of choice. Whether it was seeing a certain band perform live or listening to the riffs in a song that sounds bigger than the world itself, these are all things that first shaped our musicality.
Since Guitar is the coolest instrument in the world with many great stylistic elements, I think there are a few places we all should visit in order to evolve. First of all don’t get stuck in just one bag, it is great to hit a bit of each style spectrum. Sure no one can ever play every type of music perfectly but hey, nothing wrong with being versatile and well rounded. I have read top notch players like Joe Satriani and Steve Morse listened to everything from Bach to The Ramones. It is with a balanced musical diet that we can create a sound that is cutting edge and find our weak points; here are a few good examples.
Some players can shred but miss the quality you can express with one well placed note. Others can play top notch solos but forget about keeping their Rhythm chops together.
The more you can do the more gigs you get.
Something quite beneficial is listening to instruments other than Guitar. You can pick up some sweet phrasing ideas from a Miles Davis trumpet solo, or hear how nice a saxophonist like Charlie Parker uses well hidden dissonance to color his solos.
It helps to listen to songwriters like Bob Dylan and The Beatles to learn about song structure. I love the way vocalist like Etta James and Billie Holliday weave a melody around a basic chord progression that catches the sweet spots of each chord change.
Today there are many places to find recordings and videos of great Classical, Jazz, Blues and Rock online. You Tube has many inspiring videos of hard to find performances and Pandora is a website that actually allows you to create your own radio stations for free!
I guess one can find inspiration by delving into one of the many styles mentioned along with an open musical mind. And remember it is kind of cool to look back at what got you interested in playing. It can sure show you how far you have come or how far you need to go.
Peace, Vinny Roth