Hip Tip From Jewel

“Don’t ignore your idiosyncrasies as a guitar player, because they can lead you to interesting songs,” says the celebrated singer/songwriter Jewel. “My guitar playing is very important to me when it comes to getting a song across. I tend to write lyrics, melodies, and guitar parts when I sit down to play, and all three elements kind of work off of each other pretty much simultaneously. My guitar playing is really intricate.

I don’t know how to describe it, but I’m the only person who can play guitar for myself! The way I attack the strings matches the way I attack syllables. My muted strums and fingerpicking techniques usually either counterbalance or complement a staccato line, or whatever I’m doing melodically. I use a lot of vibrato, too. I’ll sort of shake my left hand to emphasize certain notes, which, in turn, will inspire my vocal approach or phrasing. And I also slow down and speed up, depending on the emotional crescendos of the piece. When I’m playing solo, I use the acoustic guitar as my band. I thump on it, and play very percussively. The benefit of all this is that when I play as diversely as possible, I’m pretty confident that I’m writing something that will keep people’s attention.”
—Michael Molenda