How to Master the Habits of Stevie Ray Vaughan

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PHOTO: David Redfern | Getty Images

When you hear certain guitar players, you just “know.” Whether it’s the nuance of a half-step bend, the subtle pick slide between phrases or the mammoth single-coil scream invading your eardrums, some guitarists have an unmistakable voice.

One of the most common questions I'm asked is some form of, “How do I sound like guitar player X?” After hearing this question over and over, I now have a programmed response: It’s not beneficial to sound like other players, because you’ll always sound like a lesser version of that person. Learn their habits, not their licks.

It’s extremely valuable to understand their mindsets and approach to the instrument, so that you can find what you’re looking for on the technical side of things, but also be able to apply that knowledge to your own playing. This helps you find your own voice.

I’ve decided to do a “Habits of…” video series, and it has become an in-demand lesson style on my YouTube channel. The series began with Steve Vai and continues today with Stevie Ray Vaughan. From rhythmic devices to pentatonic modulation to downright angry picking attack, SRV’s habits are teased out in the video below, so put on your best mean mug and let’s go!