ed sheeran

Just Ed, his tiny Martin and a looper pedal can fill the 02 Arena. Stu­art Ryan ex­am­ines this ver­i­ta­ble pop phe­nom­e­non’s acous­tic style.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON ACOUSTIC -

This month we are tak­ing a look at the gui­tar style of one of the world’s true pop phe­nom­ena. Sheeran, like John Mayer, is one of those fig­ures that some gui­tar play­ers love to de­ride but in today’s cli­mate of pre-pack­aged pop mu­sic it can only be a good thing that artists like Sheeran and Mayer are keep­ing the gui­tar at the fore of what they do. At just 26 years of age Sheeran is a globe-strad­dling pop star with mul­ti­mil­lion al­bum sales and world tours un­der his belt. And just imag­in­ing hold­ing a full 02 Arena au­di­ence in the palm of your hand armed with just an acous­tic gui­tar, a looper pedal and a vo­cal mic? Ed can, and has!

Born in York­shire and raised in Suf­folk, there is every chance that sev­eral of my fel­low GT colum­nists tu­tored Sheeran as he stud­ied at the Academy of Con­tem­po­rary Mu­sic (ACM) in Guild­ford in 2009. Just two years later he in­de­pen­dently re­leased his first col­lec­tion of songs, No.5 Col­lab­o­ra­tions Project, which quickly came to the at­ten­tion of El­ton John. His de­but al­bum + soon fol­lowed and the lead sin­gle, The A Team, gar­nered Sheeran world­wide at­ten­tion and an Ivor Novello award. His ex­plo­sion in pop­u­lar­ity was partly thanks to a slot as opener on the Tay­lor Swift tour across the USA in 2013. His re­cently re­leased third al­bum ‘÷’ has ce­mented his po­si­tion as a global pop su­per­star and sees him grow fur­ther as a song­writer and per­former.

Sheeran grew up lis­ten­ing to clas­sic artists like The Bea­tles and Eric Clap­ton but was also drawn to prom­i­nent mu­si­cal fig­ures from his child­hood – Damian Rice and Eminem be­ing the two most prom­i­nent ex­am­ples. Sheeran’s rise is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of how things are done th­ese days – af­ter some strong sup­port tours in the UK he took a trip to Los Angeles and played open mics around the city be­fore com­ing to the at­ten­tion of ac­tor Jamie Foxx. This pub­lic­ity and a grow­ing YouTube fan­base started off what has be­come an in­cred­i­ble suc­cess story.

Sheeran’s gui­tar style is more mul­ti­fac­eted than you may ex­pect – be­yond all the ob­vi­ous strum­ming stuff there is loop­ing, per­cus­sive stuff and fin­ger­pick­ing. He plays with great groove and at­tack gar­nered from so many years per­form­ing as a solo artist. Factor in some big ‘sta­dium’ chords to con­trast with thinned out dou­ble-stop parts and you have an artist who is wor­thy of some study time.

sheeran grew up lis­ten­ing to clas­sic artists like the bea­tles and eric clap­ton, but later was drawn to damien rice and eminem

Ed Sheeran: charis­matic per­former of great pop songs

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