How to Find Your Voice on the Guitar
Beginners are typically flabbergasted by the sheer number of techniques they want to try; intermediate-level players are slowly getting into the geek world of guitar gear while professionals who've gapped those hurdles know that these two are not as important as having an authentic touch.
We're here to help you discover your voice in small, easy steps, so let's begin.
You don't need an expensive guitar or amp
It's all too common to hear someone who owns a budget guitar say 'well, it's easy for pros, they have super-expensive guitars'. While having a better guitar may help you in more ways than one, you don't exactly need it to find your own voice on it. The same applies to amplifiers and any other pieces of gear.
The first and most crucial element of finding an authentic voice on any given instrument is getting more familiar with it; testing the limits and bounds of what it can and cannot do. If the guitar is playable, it's suitable for this task. Frankly, the only way a boutique guitar can help you, in this case, is by being a bit more attractive in the sense that you'd be more inclined to pick it up.
Get familiar with control knobs
Now that you've bridged the idea of needing an expensive instrument, it's time to get familiar with the technical aspect of playing guitar. You may feel like you want to learn as many songs as possible, and this will certainly make your journey more entertaining, but understanding how to achieve your own tone is just as important.
In truth, this process could take years and decades, so a great place to start would be to familiarize yourself with your guitar's onboard knobs (and the control knobs of your amp). The 'volume' serves the obvious purpose, but not many guitarists know how to properly adjust the 'blend', 'pickup', and 'tone' knobs.
Basically, these knobs are both the foundation and the finishing touches of an authentic tone. While the amplifiers and pedals may warp and to some extent even define your sound, your guitar is ultimately what provides the bare bones for your voice.
Draw from your influences
Every guitar player is influenced by other guitar players to some extent, and you'll hear every professional and seasoned musician speak at length about this topic. The quest for your voice on the guitar begins the moment you find your favorite bands and performers.
The more you play your guitar the more you will develop your own style, which will certainly have a massive impact on your voice. However, being cognizant of your influences will help narrow down the object of your search.
'Listen' to other guitar players and what they do in songs, how they craft their solos and riffs, and what emotions they are trying to convey.
Experiment with different techniques
Most musicians have 'go-to' scales, notes, and techniques they turn to (even subconsciously) whenever they pick up their instrument. Leaving your comfort zone and expanding your arsenal will make you more 'eloquent' on a guitar.
At a certain point learning how to shred and play as many notes as fast as possible starts feeling like telling the same story over and over again. On the flip side, sticking with a couple of techniques will leave certain parts of your story 'unspoken'. Try out as many techniques and stick with what feels the most comfortable, but keep an open mind for new, fresh ideas.
Play with other people
One of the most useful advice a professional musician can give you is 'never stop playing with other people'; whether it be jamming with a friend or participating in bands or projects, no harm can come out of it.
As a matter of fact, playing in groups will expand your awareness of other styles and influences that you may have not been exposed to before. Furthermore, other players will help you progress faster in virtually all spheres of performance and inspire you to pick up your guitar more often, which will help your 'voice' reach out sooner.
Try a different guitar or amp
The easiest way to understand that your voice is emerging from your instrument is to use a different guitar and be cognizant of how different it sounds and feels.
It's the same as using your best friend's bike for the first time. It may be more expensive and better, but for some reason, the unfamiliarity of it makes it different to you. Using different gear pieces will help you make a clear distinction between what sonic aspects you can draw from and which are not exactly usable to you.