All guitar players around the world eventually ask the same question: why do guitarists make weird faces? What’s interesting, some people love them and some people absolutely hate them. And if you’re a guitarist, you probably even have your own weird guitar face! It happens to everybody and it’s totally normal. So what’s the deal with these unusual facial expressions?
Musicians make weird ‘guitar faces’ because they feel the music. This involuntary reaction is a result of concentration and emotions that follow them on stage. The guitar faces occur mainly during the solo parts that require a lot of attention and focus. Especially during improvising!
The scientific reasons behind it are pretty simple in this case. When you’re really focused, you don’t care about the outside world. When guitarists enter their own musical world during a live show, they completely stop being in control of their face. As simple as it sounds, the part of the brain that controls muscles in the face area is busy with concentrating on other things.
It’s all about the notes
What do professional guitarists say about the weird guitar faces and why do they do it? Well, it’s about hitting that specific note. Here’s a great quote from Carlos Santana from his interview with Guitar Player Magazine:
“You have to make ugly faces, pucker up your butt, and get to that note. You need to put different levels of brutal freakin’ force behind your playing. The next thing you know, you start getting into the territory that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck inhabit. Let’s face it, Stevie made some pretty ugly faces. And, hopefully, so do I. Anybody who goes for the note, makes that face.”Carlos Santana
What’s interesting, there are other guitarists who believe that it’s about hitting the right note. For example, John Mayer during his interview at Hot Ones (see the video below) said that doing a guitar face is the only way to get the sound he wants. Since he’s a master of funny guitar faces, perhaps that skill helped him to achieve everything that is possible in the music industry?
If you’re a guitarist, you probably know how important it is to stay focused. Especially during the live performances! That’s why focus is another reason that causes all guitar faces. What’s more, it happens to singers and athletes too! It’s just an involuntary thing that happens when you think about something else. Scientists actually call it a motor overflow. It’s a natural reaction of an organism during a high level of concentration.
When musicians are lost in their performance, they forget about everything else and they feel every sound and every note that comes out of their instrument. That really specific and rare momentum affects the facial muscles and result with a classic guitar face. Funny enough, Carlos Santana compared doing guitar faces to having an orgasm. Here’s what he said:
“It’s like having an orgasm. I don’t know anybody who looks nice when they have an orgasm. And if you’re not having an orgasm, then you’re not all the way into it like you’re supposed to be.”Carlos Santana
We totally agree with Carlos Santana. If you have a guitar face, it means that you’re doing something right!
Of course, there is a lot going on during a live performance when it comes to emotions. That’s all that music is about, right? While the audience is having fun and is feeling all different kinds of emotion, the guitar players feel it too. What does a guitarist feel while making a guitar face? Well, as guitarist who played dozens or even hundreds of different smaller live gigs I can tell you a bit about it.
When you play in front of people, you feel an indescribable and absolute joy and excitement. Although it’s frightening at times, it’s really rewarding. If I felt that way while playing in front of around fifty or hundred people, I can’t imagine how amazing it must be to play it for thousands of fans that cheer your name. Guitarists are busy with handling with their own emotions. That’s why they can’t control the weird and funny guitar faces!
How do you get rid of a guitar face?
If you have a weird or funny guitar face when you’re playing, there are a few ways to fix it. You can either try to record yourself or practice in front of a mirror. The more you practice while seeing your face, the more likely you are to control it. Still, it is worth to remember that guitar faces are totally normal. And even if you think that you’re in control, at some point you will play a guitar solo that will naturally cause a weird guitar face. To be honest, you will never be a 100% sure that you’re safe from it. It happens to every guitar player in the world. Especially the ones who love improvising!
The best guitar faces
What’s important, guitar faces happen to everybody – even to the most famous and professional guitarists! Check out the video below to see one of the most iconic and interesting guitar faces by such as guitarists as John Mayer, Rob Trujillo and many others! Which one is your favorite?
As you can see, guitar faces are really interesting topic. Why do guitarists make weird guitar faces? Well, it’s all about science and natural body reactions. Whether you like them or not, you have to agree that some guitar faces are really iconic. What do you think about them? Do you make weird facial expressions while you play too? Let us know in the comment section below. We’re really curious and we’d love to hear your thoughts about it!
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