BRETT ON Developing Individuality
I believe most players have a unique voice built-in, it just depends on how profoundly unique it is. It could be a completely radical approach to playing the instrument (Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale or TJ Helmerich for example), or it could be in the subtlety and nuance of their note choice, phrasing or vibrato. I was frustrated that I couldn’t sound exactly like my favourite players. No matter how hard I tried, this ‘other’ sound would come out and I was sure I was just doing it all wrong. My good friend Phil Buckle was the first person to tell me that I had my own thing going on and after he informed me of this, I paid a lot more attention to this ‘other’ sound and embraced it.
I went through a long phase where I didn’t transcribe or copy anyone else’s licks or lines and instead tried to come up with my own ideas. It’s a lot of fun and all those personal ideas will come in handy if you fid yourself playing on albums or doing live shows alongside your major influences, as I ended up doing many times. Not for a minute did I ever think I sounded as good as my heroes, but I definitely sounded like me.