Posted by: worshipguitarguy | September 13, 2006

Playing UK Inspired Worship Part 1: Overview

union-jack.jpgThis is the first post in a series on playing Brit inspired worship guitar. What follows is an overview of that sound.  The other posts in this series will get into actual techniques involved in playing.


It’s impossible to listen to modern worship without hearing the influence British rock’s had on it.  Jangly delay filled chords and percussive rhythms fill songs from many Christian worship artists.  This UK influenced explosion has come largely from the philosophy many Brit bands have taken… that of being minimalists, or playing simple riffs that give texture to a song. This stay in the backseat approach has influenced recordings from artists and bands such as Delirious, Chris Tomlin, Starfield, the Robbie Seay Band, Mercy Me, and Matt Redman.

Most musicians would tell you that the Brit sound that influences worship originated with the Irish band U2. Interestingly enough, U2 was originally influenced by punk rock, and bands such as the Ramones. In time, their music evolved organically into something completely different. The Edge, (U2’s guitarist) has often been quoted as saying the sound came out of necessity, because when they began, he didn’t have the technical or musical talent to play stuff like other guitarists. So he began exploring simple two and three string chord forms on the G, B, and high E strings of his guitar.  By playing percussive style rhythms and adding delay, he created huge sonic walls of texture that filled album releases such as “The Unforgettable Fire” and “The Joshua Tree.”  But U2 was a band that was largely ahead of it’s time. That sound flew in the face of the technically virtuous hair bands on the US scene at the time. U2 themselves completely shifted gears entering a dark electronic post-pop period in the 1990’s, with albums such as Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop. It wasn’t until the early part of this decade, when U2 released “All that You Can’t Leave Behind”, and British supergroup Coldplay came on the scene that the jangly British rock sound experienced a rebirth.

In worship music, the Brit influence is largely traced to worship pioneers Delirious and their Cutting Edge albums. When Delirious began making waves in the U.S. with the 1997 release of their album King of Fools, they spawned a “Worship British Invasion” as UK artists such as Matt Redman and Tim Hughes  crossed “the pond.” Along with them came their sound, and it quickly made its way into the music of their American counterparts.


Next Wednesday in Part 2 will discuss some chord forms that are essential in UK inspired guitar.



  1. Hey man – great stuff! Can’t wait for the next installment!

    Perry, Ohio

  2. I agree with Drew. Great stuff GERRY! Oh how the British have changed the world of music. We wouldn’t have the genres we have today if it weren’t for them. Just think, the beatles started it all.

  3. We shouldn’t forget, though, that Delirious is heavily influenced by Radiohead, another landmark Brit-rock band. In fact, some of thier basslines and drum structures are pulled almost directly from The Bends.

  4. Excellent ! More i read your blog, more i love it ! Thank you !

  5. Your right about the Radiohead influence Nialie. I think that influence is best heard on Mezzamorphis, which was the follow up to King of Fools. It was also a huge departure from the sound on KOF.

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