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Why You Struggle To Express Emotions On Guitar
By Tom Hess - 08/03/2015 - 05:40 PM EDT

Ever felt like expressing true passion and emotion with guitar is an ability you must have been born with or you’ve better forget about it? What almost no guitar player realize is that playing guitar with feeling is a easily learnable skill that you can develop with the right approach.

Next are the most common mistakes that many guitar players make when looking to add feeling to their licks or phrasing and how you can prevent them now:

Mistake One: Not Using Enough Creative Approaches

Many guitar players usually think that vibrato and string bending are the only ways to add emotion to a guitar phrase or lick. They stop practicing too soon without exploring all the guitar phrasing variations, like:

  • Utilizing many vibrato styles (there are at least four kinds of vibrato)
  • Creating many variations of guitar licks that utilize string bends
  • Using different approaches to articulate the notes (using legato vs. picking the notes for example)
  • Utilizing slides creatively to come up with several expressive variations
  • Creatively changing the rhythm of the notes
  • …and countless more possibilities that most guitar players don’t try because they don’t force themselves to think creatively to find them

Your creative skill is like a muscle: if you work to improve it daily, you will make it stronger and become a more creative musician in the process.

Find out how good you are at adding emotion to guitar licks. Take the following lick and come up with at least twelve variations to play it in the most expressive and contrasting ways possible - can you do it?

Hear several possible variations

The vast majority of guitar players struggle to come up with lots of cool variations. If you struggled to do it, you’re not alone. The good news is, anyone can improve and master creativity in order to become a highly expressive guitar player. Get this guide and learn how to make your guitar playing more emotional.

Mistake Two: Not Working On The Most Important Notes In Your Guitar Licks

Your guitar licks only sound as good as the notes you end them on. People who listen to your guitar licks will barely remember every note you play, but they WILL notice how good (or bad) the final notes of your licks sounded.

When you practice your guitar licks, focus on the final notes of each one and find many ways to ornament them, just as you heard in the audio example above.

Mistake Three: Thinking You Already Know Vibrato

Guitarists fall into three categories when it comes to practicing vibrato technique:

Category #1: Guitar players who never practice vibrato.

Category #2: Guitar players who have practiced vibrato before but don't practice it anymore because they believe they have already mastered it. By assuming this, you greatly hurt the expressiveness of your guitar playing. Learn how this mindset hurts you by reading this article about how to get better results from guitar lessons.

Category #3: Guitarists who are always looking for ways to improve their vibrato. Such guitar players make huge improvements in their overall guitar playing faster and become better, more expressive guitarists as a result.

As with any other guitar technique, schedule some time to practice vibrato and you will witness huge improvements in the expressiveness of your guitar playing. Discover which is the best way to practice guitar vibrato on this article.

Mistake Four: Not Focusing On The Right Things

Most guitar players are focusing on what notes they need to play instead of focusing on what is the best way to play those notes. In other words, they focus on “what” to play but not on “how” to play it…

Usually, they think that if the lick they are playing does not sound good, they need to change its notes. Truth is, you can make any guitar lick or phrase sound amazing if you know how to get the most out of it.

Learn how to do this by watching the following video:

The emotions that can be expressed through any guitar lick are made 50% (or less) by the notes of the licks and 50% (usually more) by the way you play those notes.

You now know the most common mistakes that keep you from fully expressing yourself through your guitar playing. Now it’s time to learn how to add passion and fire to your guitar solos... even if you can't play fast yet. Download this free guide on how to play badass guitar solos filled with emotion and learn how to express yourself on guitar.

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