Often after I do a concert guitar players ask me what pedals I use, what year is my stratocaster, what amp is this and that. Some don't ask any of that but look me in the eye and ask "how do you find your own unique sound and style?" I always say "Tell the story" when you play.

At a Merch stand there's never really time to elaborate, but I will here and maybe open up a cool discussion. Firstly, let me tell you something that the Italians discovered about singing back in the 19th century. They called it "Bel Canto" (meaning Beautiful Voice), and believed that the best singing derived from totally immersing oneself into the story and to hell with tone. They believed a great voice and tone was only a by product of singing from the heart and telling the story. They were taught to never try and sing like anyone else and that their own individual voice was the key. They were taught to not think of notes or keys but the very words that you are singing, and to not listen to your voice the same way you don't when you're talking. The Bel Canto singers became the greatest opera singers of their generation and literally blew every one else away. i.e. Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Jussi Björling, John McCormack. They were the highest paid rock stars of their day and no one really knew their secret, how they sang so well, and many of them did not have big voices, (no multi Marshall stacks to be seen :-))  just pure emotion. Later on I read that Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett said they owed their singing style to the Bel Canto method they studied, and the list goes on.

Could it be that the Andrés Segovias, the Django Reinhardts, the Wes Montgomerys, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrixs, Eddie Van Halens, Rory Gallaghers of our world were in fact, to coin a new phase, "Bel Canto" guitarists? They wore their heart on their sleeves and TOLD THE STORY in their playing, in their own unique way and did not get caught up wasting years trying to acquire the exact same equipment as someone else so they could sound just like that other person. No, they all cherished their influences but found their own way and TOLD THEIR OWN INNATE STORY when they played.

I believe if you really want to find your own unique voice on the guitar, stop thinking about your hero's equipment and stop analysing and learning their every note and phrase. Their solos... were their story!

Ok, as students we all learn a few solos note for note from someone we like, but don't make a way of life out of it unless of course you want to play in a tribute band.