Do You Have “Soul” In Your Guitar Playing 1


Rock Star by imagerymajestic

If you know anything about playing the Blues, Rock, Jazz – or any other genre for that matter – you’ve probably heard the phrase, “He’s got soul,” or “He really plays with a lot of soul.” But if you’re just starting out playing guitar, you may be scratching your head and wondering, “Just what does it meant to play with ‘soul’?” Simply put, playing with soul means pouring your heart out into your playing.

It works kind of like this: If you are fluent on the fretboard and have at least a small amount of scale knowledge under your belt, you can probably play a decent solo. However, you probably just play the same old stuff every time you pick up your guitar. You may have even gotten discouraged finding yourself in such a slump. But when you play with soul, you’re not just playing the same old stuff; you’re reaching way down inside and translating what you hear in your head and what you feel in your heart and soul and then transferring all that into your fingertips so that your guitar is now literally speaking for you. That, my friends, is true soul.

But what does that mean,” you’re probably asking yourself now. Well, think of it this way, let’s say you begin to sit down and want to play some Texas Blues Guitar. But instead of practicing the same scales and licks you’ve been practicing for the last few months you decide to experiment. I believe the first step to pouring out and playing with soul is taking what you already do and “spicing it up” a bit. Take that lick you like so much (you know, the one you may have even created the lick yourself but are frustrated that it sounds the same every time you play it) and try some standard techniques like those I teach in my course, Texas Blues Guitar by Eric Beaty, such as bending, sliding, raking, vibrato, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Lets just say you bend one of the strings in your lick up just a half-step (the distance of one fret) or a whole-step (the distance of two frets). It takes practice trying to get string bends to sound in tune, but believe me, this little technique alone will make your guitar playing sound ten times better. Now do the same thing, only use a slide to shift your finger the same distance (half- or whole-step). See the difference in the sound? It is a slight difference, you may think, but it’s there. And if you notice it, you’re audience will, too.

You can do this same thing with all the other techniques I mentioned earlier. Use the same lick though so you can really tell the difference in the sound of the lick with each technique; that’s the key. Pretty soon you’ll be noticing something; just like that, you’re creating something new out of something you already created (if you, in fact, created the lick). Now ask yourself, what technique or techniques sound the best with your lick? Furthermore, ask yourself, “How can I use these techniques to improve all my playing, not just riffs and licks?”

When you enter the creative zone in guitar playing, that’s where your playing with soul; translating what you feel into your fingers. That’s what separates the good guitar players from the great guitar players. Hopefully, now when you watch your favorite Texas Blues Guitar players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Albert Collins, Freddie King, etc., you’ll notice they don’t just play stiff, stagnant chords, riffs, and licks. They add all these little techniques to enhance and enrich their playing; to play with “soul.”

One last thing I want to add, not only do your favorite artists play with their fingers … they play with their faces! It’s true. Watch them closely when they hit “that one note”; the note that sends them into sonic ecstasy. Is it me or do great guitar players close their eyes and twist, contort, and scrunch their faces when they play? When I think of this, I’m always reminded of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV). When he played, his face did some of the weirdest things, but he was free. And when you can be free while you’re playing, your soul can soar to unlimited heights, and your audience will see the difference and thank you time and time again with their appreciation … and their wallets. It’s like my brother said – and I’ve always remembered this; it’s probably been some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten for playing guitar – “You can only play as good as your face will allow.” I couldn’t agree more.

For some examples of how to play with soul and feeling, check out these videos:

3 Techniques To Spice Up Your Licks

3 Red-Hot Licks


Best Wishes and Keep Practicing,

Eric Beaty

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