In the long run, it will be your establishment of your “own” sound and style on the instrument that will really speak for you and your musical reputation. I was always careful, and found it basically unavoidable to develop my own style and technique, most of all “sticking to my guns” in terms of keeping my own identity on the guitar. What this meant to me, and continues to mean is that the outside influences, although extremely important, must have an effect on your style in such a way that you are “borrowing” from, and being inspired by the styles and techniques of the players you admire. I guess this might even be part of what is philosophically behind the fact that I have taught my licks to the entire world. I somehow always knew that I’d never actually create “another Arlen Roth”. It was clear to me that the fact that just as I “borrowed” from my favorite players, so would other players do that by borrowing from me.
Granted, it can bother me when there is someone I hear who puts none of their own spin on things, and just sounds like they’re copying me…I hear my influence on hit records played by other people all the time! But that to me, comes off as a compliment. I generally tend to stay away from guitarists who sound way too “derivative”, and whose influences can so obviously be heard. There are a lot of these players around, some who sound just like all the licks they’ve ever heard, but with very little originality thrown in. This can be very frustrating, because when I hear another player or a student, I want to hear their originality shine through! That’s why many of Gibson homework assignments (which I hope you’re doing!) ask for a broad sense of creativity from you, so I can hear what really makes you tick. I want to see how my lessons, and other “outside” influences have been assimilated and digested by you, the students, but more so, I want to hear how you are truly developing a style that really represents your own personal take on the guitar!
Any way you look at it, you really can’t help but come up with your own sound on the guitar. With that in mind, you’re so much better off always trying to stay true to yourself, and your own style. In the long run, and even the “short” run, it will always pay off, and the sooner you develop your own identity on the instrument and as an artist, the better off you will always be. So, with that said, stay inspired!!