7 Easy Steps to Shape Your Guitarist Identity

Transform your guitar journey with simple steps to shape your guitarist identity. Uncover the keys to define your sonic persona. Get ready to have fun!

Steps to Shape Your Guitarist Identity

Defining Your Artist Self

Don’t just play the guitar; play yourself. ‘Artist identity’ matters from the start. 

Your art, your identity! 

It’s not about becoming someone else but becoming more like yourself. And though the output is the sound you hear, the very thing you are reflecting in the music you’re playing is all about you.

As a beginner guitar player, you might think that the topic of ‘artist identity’ is not your priority because you only want to learn how to play the instrument. Before saying no, give it a shot.

You have two choices:

  • Seriously, have fun with it.
  • Or be seriously professional about it and still have fun.

Whether you’re in it for joy or aiming for professionalism, embracing your unique musical self is the key. And go into it having fun!

Steps To Shape Your Guitarist Identity

I keep saying it’s fun because it’s not about starting from scratch; the joy in this lies in self-discovery.

You might have observed or considered things or done things without a solid understanding of yourself. Being intentional about this is genuinely rewarding and satisfying. So, don’t stress—let the process inspire you more.

Start shaping your guitarist identity with simple yet impactful steps. Follow these guidelines to create your unique musical style and improve your playing.

Now, get a dedicated notebook to document your journey effectively.

👉 Know Yourself

Discover and understand who you are as a guitarist. Uncover your unique strengths, preferences, and style.

  1. Make a list of your favorite songs and the artists you follow.
  2. Dive deeper into your music preferences. Explore your list and find out whether you lean towards fast or slow songs, and identify the emotions—whether happy or sad—that resonate with you the most. Recognize the cultural influences reflected in your song choices. 
  3. Write down what you notice and feel about the music. It helps you become more aware of the song and your listening experience.
  4. Identify the genres and styles on your list.
  5. Evaluate your current guitarist type.
  6. Know your WHY; it’s the first and vital step. We started with the basics, but now, go deeper. It sets your direction and helps you stay motivated or get back on track.

Use this list of some music genres as your guide for this step:

  • Pop captivates with catchy melodies.
  • RnB and Jazz groove with soulful rhythms.
  • Rock brings energy.
  • Reggae vibes with laid-back beats.
  • Hip Hop/Rap delivers powerful lyrics.
  • Country tells tales of life.
  • Electronic pulses with futuristic sounds.
  • Funk grooves with syncopated beats.
  • Latin exudes rhythmic passion.
  • Classical showcases timeless elegance.

Read this blog on ‘Different Guitar Playing Styles‘ for more insights.

👉 Define Your Musical Vision

Clarify and craft a clear vision for your musical journey. 

Step 1 laid the groundwork for better self-awareness. Let’s delve into your true desires and dreams.

  1. What do you want to achieve?
  2. What emotions do you want to evoke through your music?
  3. What impact do you wish to make on your audience?

Your musical vision guides your creative journey and shapes your unique identity as an artist. It’s time to write down your thoughts and dreams. This helps clarify your goals and set a clear path for your musical journey. It’s a tangible roadmap that will guide your efforts and inspire you to transform your dreams into reality.

Music Vision Example: I want to… 

  • Acoustic Guitarist: Create calming acoustic tunes that evoke good memories, bring peace, and inspire positive vibes, forming intimate connections.
  • Rock Guitarist: Channeling high-energy rock rhythms to ignite excitement and strive to deliver powerful performances that leave a lasting impact.
  • Jazz Guitarist: Create smooth jazz compositions to captivate with elegance and transport listeners into a world of sophisticated musical expressions.
  • Funk Guitarist: Infuse infectious funk grooves for a lively vibe, bring joy, and get people moving.
  • Latin Guitarist: Create rhythmic Latin experiences and transport listeners to the heart of vibrant cultural journeys.
Guitarist Identity

You can also use the following in crafting your vision:

  • Singer-Songwriter
  • Band Member
  • Guitar Teacher
  • Professional Musician

Your musical vision is entirely your choice. I strongly suggest being specific and purposeful with your gift. Remember, every gift is meant to bless others.

👉 Explore Diverse Influences

Watch and learn from different artists. Embrace a variety of musical styles and techniques to enrich your playing.

We’ve compiled a list of music icons for you to explore:

Check out various genres and discover artists in the specific genre you enjoy. Listen to their music, research their background, influences, and how they started in music.

Watch a range of artists in action, especially those beyond your usual genre preferences. Discover what truly feels like home for you. Identify what uniquely connects with your persona as an artist. Learn how you can shape your artistic journey.

👉 Know Your Audience

Assuming you are starting from scratch, view everyone as part of your audience or potential listeners. Identify and connect with your audience by looking at your city, the people, and what’s happening around you.

  • Local Flavor: Consider the unique characteristics of the city or cities and observe the local culture, landmarks, or vibes.
  • Trend: Stay updated on music, fashion, and entertainment trends. Be aware of the evolving trends to understand better.
  • Situation: Assess the emotional state or situations your audience may find themselves in. Consider how you can connect with their emotions or be a part of their significant life moments.

👉 Set Goals

Goals provide direction and motivation for continuous improvement. Set clear goals for yourself and others involved in your musical journey.

  • Master Fundamental Techniques: Lay a solid foundation by mastering fundamental techniques such as chords, scales, and fingerpicking. Building technical proficiency will empower you to express yourself fluently on the fretboard.
  • Craft Your Signature Sound: Experiment with different tones, effects, and gear to discover the sonic palette that resonates with your artistic vision. Your signature sound is an integral part of your identity on guitar.
  • Create Original Compositions: Channel your creativity into crafting original compositions. Writing your music allows you to infuse your identity on guitar into every note and rhythm, establishing a connection between you and your audience.
  • Embrace Improvisation: Develop improvisation to enhance your spontaneity and expressiveness. Improvising allows you to explore new musical territories and reinforces your style.
  • Connect with a Community: Joining a community of fellow musicians provides opportunities for collaboration, feedback, and shared experiences. Interacting with others can broaden your perspectives and contribute to the evolution of your guitarist identity.
  • Document Your Journey: Keep a musical journal or record your practice sessions. Documenting your progress allows you to reflect on your growth, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate your achievements.

👉 Build Your Music Brand

Express yourself through creative branding. Show or share your unique style, creating a distinct identity that resonates with your audience.

This time, let’s add visual identity to your signature sound. It’s a way of revealing more of your inner self.

artist identity

We’ve already covered factors in shaping identity on guitar — understanding yourself, defining your vision, exploring other artists, and knowing your audience — essential for effective branding.

Watch how people dress, talk, and express themselves, like artists creating unique worlds with their music. Observe what sets them apart and think about your life and artistic journey to create your style.

Use the insights you’ve gathered about yourself and others to begin branding with these basics:

  • Consider clothing and color choices.
  • Use the chosen color on your website or social media and materials.
  • Reflect on internal and external aspects of how you sound, move, and look.
  • Stay connected to yourself as you evolve.

👉 Perform Live

Let your unique sound be heard and celebrated!

The final step is to showcase your guitarist identity and gain confidence by performing live. Embrace the stage as a platform to showcase your evolving identity on guitar and connect with your audience tangibly.

Following these steps doesn’t just shape your guitarist identity; it also takes you on a rewarding journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and artistic expression.

Becoming A Great Guitar Player

Here’s Marty Friedman’s take on developing your unique identity on guitar.

There are a lot of thought processes, but one of the most important things is you deciding how you wanna interpret what you are doing.

Try to think of what you want to represent yourself with, the story you want to tell, and the notes you want to choose.

Everyone has the same theory; how do you sound different from everybody else?

You have to intend on everything that you do. The more you ‘intend’ to do something, the more personalized it is because that’s you making that decision. 

You have to want to do something, have those intentions, and you have to make those decisions. Each note is a decision; how long you hold that note is a decision.

That’s where you start to develop your own identity.

“Listen and have a conversation with yourself.

Listen 90% more than you play. You want to hold yourself to a higher criteria. Listen to yourself critically and keep playing until you get to that point where you are impressing yourself as if you were impressed by somebody else.

It’s one thing to practice, and practice, obviously, is extremely important. But at the same time, thinking of your own, ‘Why am I doing this? What am I making music for? What do I have to say? What do I wanna say? What is my expression gonna be?’ And it doesn’t have to be all figured out at once. You learn it as you go. It changes as you go. You don’t have to be as technically accurate as the latest TikTok guy who’s just unbelievable. What you have to be is exactly yourself, what you want to represent yourself.

Learn all of your favorite music as best as you can. Find out what makes it tick. Learn that part and get in the habit of doing that. Learn what you enjoy and try to create your own identity.”

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