Eric Johnson Names One Important Thing You Can Learn From Blues, Explains What Makes Him Unique as Guitar Player

If we’re talking about the most influential guitar players of all time, Eric Johnson should be up there. Sure, he doesn’t have that mega-super-stardom status that some other names might have. But he’s one of the guys who made a huge impact on those famous rock stars. In terms of the bigger mainstream picture, he might be underrated. But every dedicated guitar player is aware of Eric’s work.

Eric Johnson - Manhattan (Live In Concert)

And, not to mention that his playing is so unique in every sense. In a recent chat with Ultimate Guitar, Johnson was asked to explain what he loves about blues music compared to what he’s known for. He replied:

“Well, I think when playing the blues, you learn how to really articulate the strings right, and you get a good tone too. You learn how to stretch the strings in a very soulful way beyond any generic sound, and it gives you a little bit of a spirit and solace that you can add to your particular style of playing.

Eric Johnson - Another One Like You (Official Video)

“So, that’s what I’ve done over the years where I started with the blues, but I’m not a blues player, right? But it’s in my inflection, my tone, and it’s recessed in everything else that I do. Does it always manifest in my playing in a tangible way that people might recognize? No, not always.

“But I think it’s always there to a lesser or greater extent, depending on the song. I grew up listening to B.B. King, early Eric Clapton, and Freddie King, so there’s a certain approach to the playing. But then, within that approach, while I might use that approach, I tend to choose different notes to play.

[]

When asked how his playing has changed over the years, Eric said:

“I’d say a lot of it is the same; I try to find some kind of sound or song that’s exhilarating to the listener. Now, I don’t always succeed in that, but that’s always my intent; I always try to make my songs things that are uplifting and inspiring to hear.

“I try to retain everything I do and use elements of that in everything beyond, whether it’s a vocal piece or an instrumental piece. I mean, to me, any given track should be as exhilarating for the listener as it is for the person playing the guitar.

“With that in mind, I always try to do something that has a little bit of a slant or freshness to it and that has a positive type of charge to it. If it has a sound of exuberance, then it’s a win, and that’s what I always try to instill in my music.

Photo: Ejmerch (Eric Johnson 2017 ©John Bland)

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

David Slavkovic has 363 posts and counting. See all posts by David Slavkovic