Magazine article Guitar Player

Jazz Guru Mike Stern: Making Single-Note Solos Sing

Magazine article Guitar Player

Jazz Guru Mike Stern: Making Single-Note Solos Sing

Article excerpt

I tend to listen to horn players a lot more than I do guitar players. I love the singing, vocal sound horn players get, so I'm always checking out those cats and hanging out with them. Even horn players themselves strive to get that vocal quality. Miles Davis told me that Frank Sinatra was a huge influence. He said, "Frank was a motherf--er. I love his phrasing." Similarly, I try to get a lyrical sound on the guitar, and I unconsciously write singable lines. In fact, vocalists often say to me, "That's a nice melody. Can I put some words to it?"

The immediate risk you face as a guitar player--particularly if, like me, you pick nearly every note you play--is that your single-note runs will have an overly percussive "tick tick tick" sound, and your solos will sound like they're being played on a typewriter. I didn't realize it at first, but other guitarists have told me that I give lines like Ex. …

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