Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shredding the Blues

Steve Vai, shred master

It takes quite a lot of skill and technique to play shred guitar (playing rapidly with quick successive notes and sweeps, scales and arpeggios); I certainly don't have this ability. Shred guitar is not only used to to effect in certain musical genres like metal, but, in my opinion, to also show off in front of people.

We've all been in that situation where in a jam session someone will be the 'guitar master' and will shred the guitar so hard that it looks like it will explode and will leave everyone in awe. Unfortunately to many, it seems that if you don't have such skills, it means you suck as a musician.

To me, I can care less if people play better than I do (of course it doesn't hurt to be an all round musician) but I play what I like and feel. It's not just about skill, but also about the message. I've been in situations where I've played with great classically trained musicians but they were playing off of sheet music while I was winging it. They were rigid. I was flexible, and had more fun because I was playing what I felt, and not what someone else told me to play.

It's about taste.

So what if you got a shredder and put him in a blues situation? Again, the skills are top notch, but musically, I call it wanking, because all I hear is a barrage of notes flying at me with that distorted humbucking destruction. The blues is not about technical showmanship, as most of the old (and new) blues musicians were not musically trained and they learned how to play just by imitating others. It's about the song and the feeling; blues solos have some breathable space in between.

Here's NOT how to play the blues:

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