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From their 60s heyday to 70s blues-rock, 80s neo-classical, 90s shred and beyond, instrumentals have supplied some of guitar music’s most evocative and exciting moments. We asked some top guitarists for their take on this iconic movement. This month: the
GT: What type of guitar tone do you prefer for instrumentals?
JS: I create the tone to fit the song’s meaning. The possibilities are endless!
GT: Do you have favourite keys or tempos?
JS: No. I like them all!
GT: Do you find minor or major keys preferable to write in?
JS: It doesn’t matter one way or the other. The important thing is a strong melody over some inventive harmony.
GT: Do you have any favourite modes?
JS: No. Modes are just tools to express your song’s meaning to the audience. They should all be ‘favourites’.
GT: Would you say it’s important to modulate into new keys?
JS: I try to find new ways to use modulations. I respect the way composers of yesteryear made their modulations work and be effective, but I always try to accomplish key changes in a more modern way.
GT: Do you view the backing in a different way than you would on a vocal track?
JS: It depends on the song, vocals or not. However, if the main melody is played on an electric guitar with a lot of gain then one might want to go easy on other high-gain guitar tones playing at the same time, to avoid frequency competition.
GT: What are your views on harmonising melodies?
JS: Only if necessary. It can be very effective, but the more you harmonise the less space you leave for the listener’s imagination.
GT: What three guitar instrumentals would you consider iconic, or which ones have inspired you over the years?
Rumble by Link Ray, Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny and Where Were You by Jeff Beck.
I respect the composers of yesteryear, but I try to accomplIsh thIngs In a more modern way.