Unusual guitar practice

As a follow on from my post here on being unusual, having something unique and not running with the crowd I thought it might be good to run a short list of unusual guitar related ideas. Being unusual really, really helps stylistically. Here’s a few interesting players off the top of my head!

Keith Richards – 5 strings only and G tuning – D, B, G, D, G (high to low)
Django – predominantly two  finger playing style as other fingers were badly burnt
Robert Johnson – almost supernatural physical technique beyond the horizon
Mississippi John Hurt – earthy brown-dirt piedmont picking souds like  molasses, treacle and golden syrup
Charlie Christian – pioneer of amplification
Jesse Lone Cat Fuller – one man band blues-folk player who invented the Fotdella bass machine
Jeff Healey – Being blind the guitar is played on his lap
T bone Walker – played behind his head, with teeth and before Jimi
Jimi Hendrix – uses teeth, lighter fluid, art-destruction, plays behind head,  attacks amps and heavy feedback
Jeff Beck – one of the early feedback pioneers, also uses unorthodox approach to neck-scales-tremolo etc
Frank Zappa – watermelons in easter hay and shut up and play your guitar – theme from the 3rd movement of sinister footwear
Stevie Ray Vaughan – uses half step down tuning
Eric Mongrain – a highly melodic tapping style (see also Kaki King for a percussive style)
Jimmy Page – used a violin bow and a theremin on occasion
Alvin Lee – completely unique English sound and style  – live, using a drumstick for a right hand, incredible
Johnny greenwoodAdrian Belew, Reeves Gabrels – completely insane sounds
Robert Fripp – loops and frippertronics
Frank Gambale, Alan Holdswoth, John Maclaughlin – jazz fusion of various degrees
Paul Ubana Jones – mind blowing and unique style
Fred Frith – avante garde un-guitar playing
Richie Havens – open D tuning tour de force
The Edge -underrated master of skeletal arpeggios soaked with melodic feeling – redefined rock/pop guitar sounds
Adrian Legg – idiosyncratic individual picking style complemented with technique and taste
Son House – unimaginably authentic individualism

So, do what feels best even if it`s unusual and strange!

Do what suits you.  Do what you like. Use your limitations to your advantage & if you only know a few scales – there`s no limit to what you can do – explore them fully in all senses.
You dont have to be blind, crippled or named after a fruit, but it might help…a little.

Here are some pictures of me practising underwater, great for making those  leagues below sea-sounds.
Later this week I`ll be travelling to the earth`s core to conduct electromagnetic, heat exchange, tone experiments.

Personally, Ive got my Strat` set up with the bridge in a unique way that should leave the guitar out of tune. It came about through an accident where I ripped the unit out of the body years ago and the tremsetter fell apart. It`s now become part of my overall style…it`s great.

Cheers, Jake.


  1. Greg Keith

    Take a moment to remember how Art Tatum- blues pianist first learned the piano:
    the only music he heard were his father’s records. His father only had piano -duets;
    so Art thought it was only one person playing only those notes ! That’s how he began
    to learn the piano, with those duets – he thought that’s how the piano playing should
    Also, Tommy Emmanuel the great guitarist from Australia. He first heard Chet Atkins
    records, but he didn’t know about 2 track recording at the time. He thought Chet was
    playing all those notes in one take ! So, that’s the way Tommy should play the guitar.
    Cheers, G.k.

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  4. fruit machine fan

    Wicked blog – the guys commenting here are full of it! I’ll be keeping up with your posts 🙂

  5. Ricardo Jahbroney

    Don’t forget Tony Iommi who customized ‘thimbles’ for 2 finger tips he cut off when he was 17

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  7. Jake Edwards

    Mondo, Hi there. There is never a set time to come up with the best stuff. I spent most of the `90`s hanging out all night at a mates studio jamming and jamming with the steady stream of itinerant musicians that would come through the door. Could never remember any of it. But that doesn`t matter it`s all still playing just the same and it`s in your head and your hands somewhere. No time with the guitar is ever wasted.

  8. mondo

    I don’t know if this is unusual but – Sometimes some of my best practice sessions or jam sessions happen when I wake up at like 4am and can’t get back to sleep. So I pick up my guitar and just start messing about. It’s amazing what I play and come up with. What is it with that half brain dead tired jam? Just me? The bummer is I can never replicate it in the day. :S Weird…

    You ever had that when learning?

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