I know that from the very beginning of me picking up the guitar, I have always been hell-bent on developing nothing short of my own style. Part of it starts to become pride, but it’s really just the nature of where I come from, and the kind of individualistic family I was raised in. I always looked up to my artist brother, who is ten years older than me, as well as my wonderful and encouraging father, also an artist as well as a cartoonist, who always encouraged me to be myself. Also, let’s face it, when you’re surrounded by that much creativity in your household you almost can’t help but turn out as a creative artist of some kind!
I also discovered over the years, that it has always been a better thing for me to let my own guitar style develop, as opposed to forcing myself into a cubbyhole I may not feel totally comfortable with. For example, Jazz always eluded me to a certain extent, but I knew that if I played enough and let myself evolve as a player, the Jazz aspects would start to “fall into place” within my playing. Sure enough, they have, and most of all, the theory knowledge I needed has also taken hold, giving me a deeper, as well as freer, approach to Jazz. I have always been a true improviser at heart, so this of course, also helped. Some of us though, are not so lucky, and even though this always takes work, you just never know how difficult this process may be for you. I think you have to be inspired by certain players along the way…this is important. Even I, at an early age, had periods where I just ate up styles, such as B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy and Clarence White. The difference was, I would take snapshots of their styles and techniques and then “plug them into” my own approach on the guitar, never losing sight of my real goal of originality! Because of this, I have always loved teaching. It’s rewarding to know that as I pass on my information to you, for example through Gibson.com, you are taking that material, and making it fir into your own developing style. One day, I want to hear YOU play, and want you to blow my mind!
In the end, we all teach ourselves, regardless of who helped us along the way. This is the true beauty of developing your own style, and you should relish every moment of it; it’ll only make you a much better player, and whenever people hear you, they’ll know it really IS you, and no one else! Best of luck on your guitar journey!