Play like Guthrie!
We'll be absolutely honest... we can't make you play like Guthrie. We can show you some cool licks and explain the theory, but we can't recreate the years and years of practising, listening, composing, recording, experimenting and everything else that have made Guthrie the player he is today. What we can do is show you some of the main aspects of Guthrie's playing, to give you some ideas of what makes the Guthrie Govan sound.
MASTER THAT PICK!
It's well worth putting in the hours developing a solid alternate picking technique. You don't have to use it for blazing up and down endless harmonic minor scales; the technique gives you more freedom to make your own sounds. The important thing is being able to cross from string to string without losing the flow... sometimes this will be on an upstroke, sometimes a downstroke. You have to be ready for all combinations, and the only way to do this is PRACTISE! Check out this excerpt from 'Along the Tracks'...
DON'T FORGET THE BLUES
Guthrie is a master of complex fusion, but his playing is never sterile... he never loses sight of how much music history is based on the blues. Learning from the blues doesn't mean you have to play all those cliché licks over a 12-bar sequence in A... be creative! Listen to singers, slide guitarists, saxophonists, pianists. Learn as many licks as you can, and listen carefully to how they make use of phrasing and the space between the notes. In this excerpt from 'Trial By Fire', Guthrie uses double stops, muted ghost notes, subtle bends, open strings and lots of space!
One of the reasons people become bored with their own playing is because they use the same scale shapes all the time. It's very important that you learn the notes over the ENTIRE fretboard. Every shape, every position, every string has its own sound, and the more sounds you have, the more interesting your playing will be. Check out this excerpt from 'Arctic Roll'...
BEND THOSE STRINGS!
We all know how to bend the strings, right? Well, prepare to be amazed by Guthrie's bending prowess. Instead of picking those safe old notes from the pentatonic, Guthrie finds ways of bending any note in any scale, pushing them up a halftone, a quarter tone, two tones, three tones... sometimes right off the neck! Here's a cool passage from the Albert King Custom solo, where Guthrie uses a wide variety of bends, even doing three different bends on the same sustaining note.
Finally, the most important lesson you can learn from Guthrie is to keep learning. Try everything... new techniques, new scales, new chords, new styles of music. Keep listening, and keep experimenting. Don't be afraid to dig in and be aggressive, and don't be afraid to try the most ridiculous note or lick. Try this line from 'Bullet Blues'... the sound of one of the world's best players improvising with sheer abandon!