Same song different ways to play


Learning a few songs and I’ve noticed there are so many ways to play the same song…why?
Is it because everyone one has a different interpretation of how to play the song or to make it easier to learn?

Some Examples:
Hey Joe - Jimi Hendriks
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
Enter the Sandman - Metallica

Just curious :thinking:

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Any song I’ve tried to play is always different. :wink:

I play by myself. Many times playing a song that has multi parts. I have to interpret the song so it sounds like said song, w/many parts, to do it in one sitting. I feel I have to play it different since I am trying to play a song that is a full band, but it just me, leading to different.

For sure different ways to play a song depending on skill level too.
I’m thinking of the recent post of how to play twist and shout. Justin had 3 different ways to play it hints. Easy, kinda hard, and hardest.

To me, everyone is different too and will likely have a slightly different take on any song as to how to play it.

Variety, the spice of life?


Alot of it has to do with fact that the original is a finished, polished production, with mutiple instruments, often mutiple guitars. Then all the mixing and mastering on top of all this.
Often we amateurs have to play a guitar arrangement that incorporates the flavour of a song, without necessarily all the parts. You mention too that sometimes there are simpler versions, which is always good I think as it opens up more songs to more players.
I personally really enjoy peoples various takes on songs, particularly Blues stuff.

Cheers, Shane


Aside from the fact that there is probably no song already written that I am capable of playing exactly like the original production version, music is interpretive.

A song is how the artist expressed themselves with those notes. Not only will others express it differently, I doubt we all hear it the same. Even the author may play it differently at different times.

I notice that even learning classical, where there is emphasis on precision an replication, the dynamic interpretation is still up to the player. There is no right or wrong.

Play it within your skill set, play it the way it makes you feel, play it in ways that you enjoy, are fun and make it yours. (Right now, I am just trying to play it at all at this point).

I think there is a beginner feeling that we need to make it perfectly like how someone else is playing it, how the song is “meant” to be played, but that pursuit is a set up for failure. Maybe a very advance player can make part of their efforts to try to mimic a prior version perfectly, but that is a complicated task.


Even the artists themselves often have different versions of their songs. E.g., search on YouTube for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Johnny 99’. You’ll find the album version, which is just Springsteen and his acoustic on a bedroom recording, and different live versions, going from pretty much 1 man over small band to the extended E-Street Band (18 people) he’s touring with, and going from the simple acoustic version over jazz, bluesy and full on rock version. So I guess it’s safe to say there is not ‘one right way’ to play a song - any song. But isn’t that part of the beauty of music? That you don’t have to copy, but that you can try and give it your own flavour, or that, as a beginner, you can already play quite a few songs in a simplified version?


B.B. King said he never worried about playing a song the way he did on the record. He played it how he felt it at the moment.

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If its just you and one guitar you will never replicate those original recordings but that is ok, its your interpretation. Even with multi track projects you will still struggle to get near the original layering, let along replicating all the gear and even the acoustic effects of the recording studio and the impact of the recording equipment.

Just compare studio recordings to live performances.

If it sounds good …


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It’s never been any different for way more than your examples, you could watch Led Zeppelin play Stairway to heaven at 10 different concerts and none of them would be exactly the same and none of them the same as the Album version or the original official release; that’s music - there’s only one band I know of that performs the same (more or less) Studio and Live and that’s The Warning, if anything they’re better live there’s the energy that comes from their audience!
If you really want to play the most representative version choose the official release version.

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There is a degree of simplification with difficulty levels we have to take to be able to play a song, especially early on. Also, there is a degree of interpretation. What we consider an original recording is rarely a single instrument, so impossible to replicate on a single instrument.

However, even if you play exactly the same chord progression or melody, you can play it in different ways on a guitar due to the fact that exactly the same notes exist in different positions on the neck. I found this aspect very illogical and confusing in the beginning.

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Thank you all for the great comments and insights. Over the last few days I’ve come to realise with me practising the above mentioned songs, as long as it sounds good to me and close to what it should sound like, that is what counts and I’m getting to learn songs and improve my guitar skills :slight_smile:
Also on the plus side, as I play alone :disappointed: LOL, it allows me to practice using my looper so I can play both the rhythm and lead guitar, well as best as possible. One women band :rofl:


Me too, I really think that if you’re up for that challenge it’s a great opportunity to also learn other instruments - I’m learning Bass, a bit of Keys and Drum sequencing plus how to use the DAW to bring it all together. I’ve never really got on with a looper but am starting to try to get used to the idea of how to use it best.
Carry on with it as you learn, if it floats your boat go for it and learn how to elaborate on what you’re doing as you go; actually it’s a lot of fun and you’ll never get bored of it!

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Be curious no more.

My take from a previous topic:

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