As one of the most unique and respected guitarists in the world, Allan Holdsworth has influenced countless others, including legendary artists. If you’re a wee bit confused, you’re in luck because Holdsworth explains it all in the video. In the process, he identifies 10 “really usable scales”. Well, Allan Holdsworth not only mastered horn-like phrasing and tone, but he managed to do it whether he used Gibsons, Fenders, Charvels.
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He copped his horn yoldsworth by using distortion—which he hates, instructiional the way—and tremolo bars, and by avoiding picked notes. I can’t empty my head.
Then, I won’t have to talk to anyone. Allan Holdsworth Interview with Guitar Player. His pick is a 1mm Dunlop. The other thing I like to do is to put my hands in a bowl of hot water. I throw them in a suitcase, and off I go. We were working with an incredible engineer named Bruce Botnick, and he was great at understanding exactly what I was looking for.
If I hit the guitar hard there’s a little growl in there. Things haven’t changed a whole lot. I start with a hairy sound, give it a shave, and see what’s left. Couple that with the fact there are hundreds of bootlegs of my gigs out there, so it’s like, why bother?
And it’s not because I don’t want to. Once you push an amp into distortion, you’re essentially turning it into a little compressor, which means you really have to concentrate on not making extraneous noises between notes. As identifiable as Holdsworth’s reedy lead tone is, his expansive clean tone is just as much a signature. And that recipe hasn’t changed from that day on: That would be a very nice legacy.
When a horn player or allam violin player picks up their instrument, they automatically have sustain without having to plug into a fuzz box. Most of them are classical composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Copland, and Bartok—particularly his string quartets. I haven’t toured the States for more than ten years. At what point did you realize that achieving the ideal of horn-like tone would require a different approach than that of the other players who were searching for the same thing?
I must have Attention Deficit Disorder or something.
I like talking to the fans, instructionap, before the gig, I start thinking more about their concerns, rather than my own. And then there’s the tone—guys like Cannonball Adderley and Charlie Parker produced some of the most expressive, organic timbres you’re ever going to hear from any instrument. It’s a constant balance for me, and I’m just waiting to see which way the scales fall.
Do you ever get into prolonged ruts? Beginning with his release, I.
Allan Holdsworth – Guitar Instructional Video () – Forgotten Guitar
If you’re a wee bit confused, you’re in luck because Holdsworth explains it all in the video. We were going to record two nights. Somebody must have liked something I did. However, the guitar is obviously a lot different from a saxophone. I get to a certain point, and then I get fed up and go do something else.
Allan Holdsworth – Guitar Instructional Video (1992)
It’s about the emotion, rather than what the piece actually is. Ugh [ laughs ]. You’ve always been hyper-critical of your playing. As a result of his studies and other influences, he realized chords are merely parts of scales that are being played simultaneously. I had an AC30 and a Gibson SG, and I used to like to turn up the amp until it was right at that point where it would get real throaty and fat, but without a ton of distortion. Do you find it easier to get your sound these days?
Have we become more progressive since then? To get anywhere near that ideal with a plank of wood and six strings is a Herculean task, because guitarists don’t have the steady stream of wind that a horn player uses to nimbly deliver lines that dance across measures with an Astaire-like grace.
Whether it’s Charlie Christian drawing inspiration from tenor giant Lester Young, or John McLaughlin channeling the spirit of John Coltrane, guitarists of all stripes have been infatuated by the endlessly inventive improvisations and tonal complexity of modern saxophone masters.
I’ve always wanted this sound—and I can hear it in my head, which is a good thing—where I’ve got all the sustain and beef one gets with a dirty sound, but without all the crud you have to deal with. As one YouTube commenter put it, Holdsworth could be considered a test case of “reinventing the wheel.
You’re not a big fan of live records. It’s like I’m trying to give the sound a shave. Actually, I holfsworth that really early on. Well, because I’m always looking for something else, the answer is no.
I started to get an understanding of how to record a guitar when I was with Tony Williams in the Believe It days. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but there’s more likelihood now of me being frustrated with my own ability to a point of not wanting to do it anymore, than there is of it pushing me forward. I don’t know what it’s like for everybody else. And, you know, eight out of ten guitarists who saw me play it would come up and ask if I could make it sound like a Fender Stratocaster.
Have you always approached the instrument like that? Is there anything you do before a gig to put yourself in the best headspace to improvise?
Do you feel onstructional a high level of self-criticism has helped you evolve your playing, or has it hampered you? The Collection  Gong, Expresso  U.
vudeo It’s very flattering, obviously. So I’m constantly trying to find a way to make the sound give me everything I need to get the sustain, but have none of the fur around it.