The search for your own style, guitar-wise is what we’re all really looking for, and truthfully, it’s just around the corner, if you keep on playing.
I found that in my beginnings as a player, I always fell in love with certain artists whose sound really turned me on…people I wanted to play like, and literally be like. All of that would quickly wane though, because my true passion and need was to “plug in” what these heroes of mine had, and make it into my own distinctive sound. Maybe some of that was simply meant to happen anyway, and was my pre-destined journey, but a lot of it just comes from the true artistic desire I have always had and a “need” to play.
I know a lot of you are into your guitar “heroes” and want to sound and be like them. Well, just remember, they all had and have heroes too, and if you listen carefully, you just may be able to see where their inspiration came from. In my early days of falling in love with players like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry and Clarence White for example, I would immediately try to deepen my knowledge by going to THEIR sources, listening to people like Son House, Robert Johnson, Merle Travis, Roy Acuff, you name it. Anything that would bring me closer to the “roots” of what I loved, was what would further my own development, and open my ears to many more unique and new sounds.
Still, even after all that, it was always MY sound I was going fo … and I stayed true to that approach, and to my own way of learning by ear. To this day, I am still learning, and every once in awhile I hear a little phrase or some idea from a new player that turns my head around, and makes me want to understand just what he or she did.
Even in the old days, I liken my learning from my heroes as “snapshots” I would grab of their styles. Sort of like just grabbing enough of a glimpse into their playing to capture the essence of it, while not having to obsess about it, and especially not getting involving in “note by note” learning or copying of solos, etc. I can see where you may feel a need to “get inside” of someone’s playing so much that you need to copy them note-for-note, but after awhile, I think all you’ll really need is to grab that “snapshot” of them I was mentioning earlier, and then move on, with that new sound digested and assimilated into your own unique approach.
I hope this helps you. I know it’s very individual for each of us, but sooner or later, you must remain true to your own style and sound, which by the way, is something that you can’t HELP but end up having, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and keep playing! Take it from one who really knows, and who has been down that road many times….stick with it and be true to yourself, your own sound and style shall prevail!