Playing the Guitar with Passion!

Playing the Guitar with Passion

Article by Stefan Joubert (All rights reserved)

Playing the guitar is all about expressing emotion and taking your listeners on a musical journey.

Many seasoned guitarists get so bogged down with the details of playing the guitar that they actually forget their initial flame of inspiration.

As a consequence, their solos often lack the emotive qualities that listeners are drawned to.

Here’s five steps to making your guitar playing more passionate and exciting:


STEP 1: Spend time looking for an amazing guitar tone that TRULY inspires you!

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen playing his guitar with passion, emotion and expression! Setting the World on Fire!!!

Eddie Van Halan – 77 in New Haven” by Carl Lender – originally posted to Flickr as Eddie Van Halan – 77 in New Haven. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

A great guitar tone is one of the secrets to playing the guitar passionately.

If you listen to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tone in the movie “Twister” (right at the end of the film at the credits) you will hear a tone that inspires greatness.

Robin Ford’s blues tone inspires greatness. Having a tone like that will make you want to play the blues with passion and fire!

Wes Montgomery’s jazz tone reached generations of fans. He used the inside flesh of his thumb instead of a plectrum to play the guitar.

He also frequently doubled up his melodies by playing melodic lines in octaves.

A tone like that inspires great jazz guitar solos.

STEP 2: Practice expressing different emotions with the same lick or phrase

Steve Vai

Steve Vai expressing his emotion through the guitar!

You probably practise technique, memorise chords/scales and learn new repertoire.

But do you spend time practising your emotions on the guitar?

Steve Vai in his musical meditation sessions advice this.

Basically you take a musical idea such as a bend or a vibrato and express various emotions on the same note. Via explains that mastery comes from doing the same exercise for hours at a time. I agree 100% with him.

You can express love, anger, satisfaction, frustration, success, joy on the guitar by practising doing a vibrato on the same note.

The only difference is the way you play the note.

By learning how to express your emotions on the guitar you will definitely become more experienced at the art of passionate guitar playing.

STEP 3: Become a master at understanding the degrees of scales and their sound (emotion) against the underlying harmony

Tres GUITARRISTAS (así, con mayúsculas)” by Stoned59 – originally posted to Flickr as Tres GUITARRISTAS (así, con mayúsculas). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

3 Great Guitar Masters

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía performing in Barcelona, Spain in the 1980s

This is not a simple task and will take time and effort from your part.

Here’s how to do it.

Play an underlying chord such as A minor on a loop pedal.

Now play the note “B” on top of the chord.

It’s vital to really listen to the emotion that a “B” note produced on the A minor chord.

You should experience a nostalgic, longing rather sad feeling.

The note is called a Tension 9 as does not form part of the chord tones (ACE).

(I do not have time to go into how it all works here, so if you don’t understand just take it in and it’ll make sense in the future…)

Now I want you to play a “D” on the same looped A minor chord. (Please play an upper register “D” note with some vibrato – preferably with a nice lead guitar distorted sound)

Now note down the emotive feelings that you get from playing this particular note. (Pun intended!)

This particular note is called a Tension 11 note on the A minor harmony.

Even if you do not understand the theory behind the music, knowing the emotion and the feeling that a particular degree produce is the most important thing.

There’s a lot more examples but this should get you moving in the right direction!

STEP 4: Use your body and facial expression to confirm your sound

Yngwie Malmsteen performing i Gävle, Sweden, July 7th 2012” by MickeMaiden – I made this photo while standing in the audience. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen performing!

If you look at the greatest guitarists, whether that’s BB King, Shawn Lane, John McLaughlin, Johnny Fourie, Mike Stern, Joe Pass, Paco de Lucia, John Williams, Slash, Yngwie Malmsteen all tend to make a facial/body expression to enhance their sound.

By expressing your sound through your guitar with the help of body movement and facial expression you are often able to produce a stronger more convincing tone.

Please don’t overdo your facial expressions otherwise you might end up looking silly – do it where it make sense!

The truth is, if you involved your entire body in your guitar playing, your sound and tonal expression will most certainly be more convincing and effective.

STEP 5: Become a master artist by mixing all the right elements into your guitar playing

Mona Lisa

Just like Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa, YOU MUST mix all the right elements to create great PASSIONATE guitar playing!

If you diligently practice your passionate side of playing the guitar, you will eventually become a master artist mixing the right elements to create an absolutely gorgeous tone.

You need great knowledge, technique and experience to produce great guitar improvisation.

If you add emotion, colours and passion to your playing you will be able to touch the very fibre of the human heart and win over more fans listening to your guitar playing.

At the end of the day touching emotion is what it’s all about.

So make sure that each and every week you schedule some guitar expression and emotion practising time.

When you perform on stage you will most certainly be able to express yourself to a much greater degree – by practicing the emotive and passionate side of your guitar playing.

I wish you the greatest of success with your guitar development!

Stefan Joubert
If you really want to make a radical difference to guitar journey, join my online correspondence guitar lessons today.

Have fun playing the guitar, and remember not to judge the day by how well you ‘feel’ you are playing (your harvest), but rather by the effort (seeds) you put into your guitar playing! (your field)

Try and apply one of the methods above immediately on the guitar and send me a mail to let me know how you getting along:

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