Playing a two-hour concert for thousands of fans is the dream for many guitarists. At only 17 years old, Jasmine Star has got the second part of that dream down, but for now, she’s condensing it down to 15-second snippets.
Star is arguably the most popular guitarist on TikTok, with more than 113,000 followers. While some of the Californian’s videos feature her showing off singing and keyboard talents, her guitar playing, which would be outstanding for a player twice her age, is the main attraction.
“I think I started posting the videos to share my music and connect with other people and it turned out to be a really positive experience,” Star says. “I love being able to share music and interact with people online that love music just as much as I do.”
While YouTube’s guitar scene has flourished, TikTok’s is still relatively nascent. Part of that is due to the limitations inherent to the platform – while the platform has recently expanded its video time limit to a minute, that’s still not enough time for lengthy skits, in-depth lessons or complete playthroughs of Through the Fire and Flames.
While Star has gained a following on other platforms like Instagram (92,000 followers) and YouTube (91,500), she says TikTok’s limitations can actually be a plus.
“I think it makes me more creative because I have to figure out a way to get the point across in anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute. So it really makes me think and it can be a challenge for me. But it’s a lot of fun to try to think, “How am I going to get that solo into that timespan and do it in a way that connects with a lot of different people?”
Star’s repertoire is amazing not just in its complexity, but also its diversity – she’s got the near-mandatory shots of her playing some of Eddie Van Halen’s most famous licks, one video will see her copping some licks from legendary shredder Jason Becker, and in another she’ll be Scuttle Buttin’ like Stevie Ray Vaughan.
But there’s more populist content, too: unlike some guitar nerds, she doesn’t shy away from improvising a solo over some Justin Bieber.
Country, K-pop, hip-hop – Star has soloed over it all on her way to viraldom. And at her young age, many of the artists she’s covered had their heyday well before she was born, or, in some cases, had already died. She name drops SRV as her major inspiration for picking up the electric after years spent focusing on using an acoustic as a simple accompaniment for her singing.
“One of my favorite things to do in the world is look for good music, no matter the genre,” Star says. “Stevie Ray Vaughan, specifically – my older brother happened to be listening to him a few years before I got into guitar and I happened to remember it and I went back and listened to it again and fell in love with it. But for the most part, I search and search and search for all the music that I can find.”
For many content creators, of course, Internet stardom is the ultimate goal. Star, however, says she’s hoping to parlay whatever online fame she gains into something more. She’s already begun recording her own material, which highlights her vocals just as much as her guitar licks.
It’s just that she may have found a more fun way to reach a more conventional stardom than slogging it out through 1,000 bad gigs, a path that allows her to establish a true connection with her growing number of fans.
“My dream has always been to work with the best people on the planet, have my music heard around the planet and play Wembley Stadium,” she says. “I love connecting with people along the way.”
- Jasmine Star on TikTok