How To Manipulate The Guitar As It Is Your Own Voice

By Antony Reynaert

Playing blues guitar is all about telling a story. In order to do so, you need full control over your guitar phrasing elements. Many people believe that the blues is an ‘easy’ style to play and that’s exactly why so many guitarists struggle to ‘master’ the blues. It’s true that you don’t particularly need amazing technical skills to stand out from the rest. The most important factor here is that you need to develop an original and personal guitar playing style. In order to achieve such identity while playing, it is essential to focus on your guitar phrasing elements while practicing. In this video and article I’ll explain how you can manipulate the guitar as it is your own voice.


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How To Make Your Blues Guitar Playing Stand Out

According to the definition, contrast means the difference between two opposites. For example the brightness between light and dark.

This most important element to make your blues solos sound more interesting and powerful is by bringing in dynamics. Contrasting ‘loud’ versus ‘soft’ is such an important aspect in guitar solos as you can build up energy and releasing it again just like you would tell a story.

Listen to an example of different dynamic levels in blues guitar in the video above.

Blues Guitar Phrasing Exercise: Take or create a simple blues guitar lick with only a few notes. Start by playing the lick as quiet as possible. Repeat the lick over and over again and slowly build up the dynamic level until you hit the ceiling and went as loud as you could. Being able to play in these different dynamic levels will make you more aware of what you are doing and what the possibilities are with only a few notes. Go back and forth to playing loud and soft while you repeat the lick over and over again. You will figure out the extremes of the dynamic levels (loud and soft) but also your dynamic levels in between those two extremes.

A good idea to emphasize soft and loud notes is by using hybrid picking. With your fingers you can play subtle and soft notes while you can create more power with your guitar pick.

This exercise will open the first door in your ability to tell a story on guitar. You want to be able to manipulate the instrument as it is your own voice. You need to scream (loudest dynamic level) when it’s necessary, but also need to whisper (softest dynamic level) once in a while during solos.

You will find more exercises to improve your picking technique on guitar in my free ebook that’s filled with guitar picking exercises so you can practice from the best possible resource in order to achieve that freedom of expression.

About the author
Antony Reynaert is a guitarist and guitar teacher born in Belgium. Besides his local guitar schools in Flanders, he teaches the blues worldwide through his website BestBluesGuitarLessonsOnline.com. This website on how to play blues guitar is designed to instruct you on various aspects on blues guitar playing and is packed with tons of free resources, ebooks, articles, videos and many more crucial advice about the blues.