The guitar has been a force in popular music for more than 60 years, helping to shape a number of popular genres.
Technological advances and the effects pedal boom of the 21st century have continued to push the instrument in completely new directions.
Perhaps most impressive of all is the way in which professional guitarists have been able to bring new and highly inventive perspectives and approaches to the guitar.
Vents spoke with one such guitarist: Adam Skeppar.
Skeppar has toured internationally with the likes of Bianca Ryan, The Reasn, and Abbarama, in addition to recording in the studio.
Skeppar had a lot to say about how guitar playing has changed, how much he enjoys adding something special to every project, and finding ways to make an old instrument sound brand new.
Whether you’re a guitar player yourself or an aspiring musician looking to pick up a guitar for the first time, we hope our discussion gives you a new perspective on the instrument that helped shape the music of our time.
As a child, why did you choose the guitar over other instruments?
Guitar always sounded the coolest, and there’s just something unique about bending a string. It was really when I started watching concert DVDs of Europe, Iron Maiden and Kiss that I got really fascinated by the guitar players. My dad also played guitar, which definitely influenced me.
Do you feel that the guitar has maintained a significant role in popular music?
The guitar’s role has definitely changed, and the way that it is used has changed, too. But I still think it has a significant role and I want it to have a role moving forward.
Someone playing a solo on a guitar is still a very powerful thing which popular music today likes to replicate in some form. And for live shows, it still makes for some exciting moments.
How do you usually decide which effects, if any, will work for a particular song?
I try to figure out the vibe of the song. Can I add a new color or dimension to the song? I try to make every song feel alive and unique. But it also depends on the situation. If I’m playing a cover or in a certain genre, I might want to have a certain tone or effect that really nails that style.
However, when writing music in the studio or when adding guitar parts, the effects can create a whole different vibe and lift the song to another level, so in that environment, I might be a bit more creative and try new things.
Do you prefer working in the studio or performing live? Do each have their own benefits?
Both have their benefits, for sure. In the studio, you can focus on perfecting the art, trying new things, and letting the creativity flow.
The mindset when playing guitar is different, too, which is very interesting. When playing live you get to connect with the audience and it’s all about vibing with the band, listening to each other. I love playing on stage, but I also love working on something until it’s finished and I get to add whatever the song needs.
Who are some contemporary guitarists that you feel are pushing the boundaries of the instrument?
There are lots of great players out there, like Melanie Faye, Yvette Young, and Mateus Asato, of course. I believe there is a new breed of guitar players coming up and it’s very exciting to be a part of that.
You’ve played across many different genres. Is there one genre that you tend to enjoy more than the rest?
I grew up with rock music, but nowadays I play a lot of R&B, neo-soul, and funk stuff. That’s why I like playing pop music because it’s like a combination of lots of different genres at once.
What do you think is your most important trait as a guitarist and as a musician?
I know the material and I’m very versatile, but I believe I bring a unique sound and a personal touch. I try to lift the song to new heights. I hope I can bring a certain energy and skill that will make the experience better.
by Giorgio Chang