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What makes a great guitarist?


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Hi Y'all

Reading through all the posts over the last few days, I got to thinking about what imho makes a great guitar player. I have never been a great lover of speed playing but have always loved and been moved by players who concentrate on melody tone, vibrato and phrasing. What do you think are some of the above more important than others or is it speed alone for you? Who was the greatest influence in your early days?... Mine, Scott Gorham, Dave Gilmour , Brian Robertson and Gary Moore to name but a few.

 

Simon

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Yo Simon,

 

 

Well, A great sense of tone and playing for the arrangement and song.

 

But I think first and foremost is a player who really listens. Greats ears means the guitarist is really part of the experience. The more experience he/she has is just icing on the cake.

 

hey man by the way after thinking of Gilmore I put on " The Divison Bell" last night.

 

The last track - the name slips my mind-

How bout that slide solo - Man that brings tears to my eyes..

 

Cheers -- have a black and tan for me

 

BK

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I must admit, I've always been partial to guitarists who are technically strong. But it is more important to be original in tone, chord voicings and to be able to make the most out of a given song. Among my favorites would include: Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, Alex Lifeson(peace Lee http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif),Robert Fripp,SRV,Lee Ritenour,Larry Carlton, Al DeMiola and Steve Howe. All of who IMHO play with great passion and originality. The "shred option" is only one part of a well rounded player, but is often dismissed by players who most often couldn' do it if they tried. As for Gilmour, I've never heard him play a fast passage, and I'm sure I never will. He has played some of the most emotional solos I have ever heard. Just goes to show you that there is something out there for everybody, and then some.

 

Peace,Out...

 

This message has been edited by Khan Noonian Singh on 02-03-2001 at 04:02 PM

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The most important aspect I look for in a guitarist is creativity. He must set out to do something that can hold my attention because so much ground has already been covered. That's why a player like Kenny Wayne Shepard will never hold my attention because he is walking on the same path as SRV. He will probably grow out of that but I use him as one example...not to disrespect him, because he's probably a better guitarist than I'll ever be....or maybe not.

 

My favorite guitarists reached for something of their own. Steve Hackett, Jimmy Page, Trevor Rabin(flame on), Stanley Jordon, Robin Trower.

 

Robin maybe wasn't all that original but I love him anyway. Listen to his song "Spellbound" and hear his soul expose itself all over the acetate. He's still vital today and I recommend seeing him live if you never have. Just bring along some ear protection.

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God, I can't believe I forgot Hackett !!!!He was(and is) very tastful(if you disregard that whole GTR thing) http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/eek.gif
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Yeah I dig a guitarist, or any musician really, who really goes for phrasing, tone, and playing the right part for the song. I do downplay speed - don't think it's that important. (and not 'cause I can't play that way - if I'd wanted to play that way, I'd have gone in that direction and studied it, but since it has never interested me to listen to shredding, I certainly didn't wanna spend hours practicing it and/or performing it! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif OTOH if you like to listen to it, I'd think you would be motivated to play that way so that is probably the way it works.)

 

Actually most of my favorite guitar records have lots of different layered guitar parts in them, each of which may be very simple but when you put them all together it makes a killer tonal and dynamic tapestry. Electric Ladyland stands out in this category as do most of Zeppelin's and the Stones'. I'm doing a lot of recording along those lines myself these days and am doing that with drums and percussion as well as guitars... be kinda hard to duplicate live though! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

 

--Lee

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I posted this before reading any of the previous posts, so if I reiterate, tough, er, ah, I mean, I'm sorry.

 

What makes a great guitarists? The ability to translate emotion into the song so that you feel their joy or pain or whatever it is they are feeling. I believe that is the quality for any instrumentalist, even vocalist. It is not exclusive to the guitar player. A lot of people can play notes and chords all day without a mistake, even in timeing, but you don't feel a thing from them, then there are the guys like Jimmy Page who is one of the sloppiest lead players I think I've ever heard (this is not meant to criticize or put him down, it is just my estimation of things, because I play sloppy lead too), but man, can you feel what he is feeling! Because the emotions bring the message of the song together. When all the musicians in a band are feeling, so to speak, then whooooaaa!

Psalm 33:3

The best instrument you have, is your heart.

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Jimmy Page is a great example of someone that really used the multi-track as an instrument. I found an interview he did where he discussed the recording of Black Dog. He over-dubbed the guitar parts 3 times (total) by going D.I. into the board using a Fender Telecaster. I never even hear it that way until I went back and listened.

 

His songs showed me that you can do more than just get in a room and improvise if you want. You can incorporate R&B, folk, metal, middle eastern, and strange tunings within a song, and not sound like they were gimmicks.

 

Steve Hackett is another diverse guy. His solo albums are hit or miss but he really pushs himself. He plays a Fernandes guitar that has pick-ups that can sustain indefinitely, kind of like the effect you get with an ebow, except that he can turn it on or off whenever he wants. He loves to hold a note and just milk the finger-vibrato for all it's worth. He's the un-shred guitarist.

 

His live album Time Lapse is a great one and his playing on the Genesis-Wind and Wuthering album are essential Hackett discs. I could discuss him for hours but I will spare you.

 

SteveRB

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Great posts, as ever, thanks to you all. You know one thing that always bugs the living crap outta me is the ability to forget some truly fantastic players when I post on this board. Steve Hackett yep the guy is a genius, same for Steve Morse, why is it that they never come to mind....Hmmm

 

Yeah your'e right about Mr.Gilmore he just has this way of communicating.

 

Listening is also critical, how can u play a part that will touch someone if you don't listen and play sensitively. I am also not a fan of the 'shredders' fraternity, I can appreciate their technical skill and as Lee says I could have gone that way if I had desired, and that is no disrespect to those very talented exponents of the speed players art, its just that I cannot remember a speed solo that truly touched me.

Keep 'em coming

 

Simon

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Well, as for the shredders thing, I don't shred, probably couldn't. My fingers aren't built for speed. Let me offer another idea, in that a great guitarist (or a great anything) is one who realizes their limitations and, while constantly striving to improve, doesn't push themselves publicly into territory they can't handle. People like The Edge come to mind, but they exist on all levels. What bothers me is to hear someone noodling a solo that should be done by someone more, uh, qualified. The solo on that Moby/Gwen Stefani song "South Side" kinda ventures into this territory, IMHO.

 

Personally, I like to record the guitar stuff on my tunes. But if a tune was screaming "SHRED SOLO", and I knew I couldn't handle it, I'd call in someone who could.

 

I liked John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls) quote: "I'd like to be better on guitar. My guitar tech blows me away".

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Hey Tedster

you've got it, makes total sense to me. I had a guitar tech some years ago on tour in europe who could and did completely blow me away at the speed shredding stuff. On the last night of the tour I got him up on stage and had him play.... Fantastic... I don't know where he went after the tour but he was one hell of a player. The funny thing was that he was always very complementary about my playing..........?

 

Simon

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Passion. Rhythm. Dynamics. Tension. Melody.

 

Fast or slow, whatever genre, the best players share these qualities.

 

A few people have criticized "shredders", but if you have the technical ability to play fast and the heart to play "great" you can use speed as an awesome musical paintbrush... I think of Al DiMeola's "Elegant Gypsy" album as a great musical statement that has some incredibly hot playing that "fits" the music and is not just for "show".

 

Even if it is "show", is that a bad thing? Pete Townshend's playing with the Who is great, partly because of his stage persona and physicality. Early Hendrix fans flocked to see the "wild-man" show as much as the guitar playing.

 

Ideally I love performers who do everything they can to put on a great "show"... If they can do it looking down at their toes all night, all right... but if they have a great show to match their great music... all the better!

 

guitplayer

I'm still "guitplayer"!

Check out my music if you like...

 

http://www.michaelsaulnier.com

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I saw Chris Whitley at the Troubadour last November . God damn I love him. his playing can be so sloppy but somehow he always makes it work. Not to mention his voice will tear you up. He just has the intangible gift that he was born to do what he does.

 

My sister's manager is Also Eric Johson's. She got the best tickets for one of his shows in Austin when Venus Isle came out. His show was wasn't a visual feast but I walked away just so inspired by his musicality and technique.

 

So from one extreme to the other - Its all good. So many great players to check out - so little time.

 

best

 

BK

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>>The funny thing was that he was always very complementary about my playing..........?

Simon

 

Well, Simon, he probably did admire your playing, as maybe you had a couple of tricks he didn't...or maybe he was just in a position to appreciate that you were good in your own right. In my younger days I knew a kid who was turning into a very proficient guitarist (he's now one of the top instructors at GIT, so I hear). He was in the audience one night when our band was doing a blues tune...the solo was going back and forth from minor to major pentatonic ala BB or myriad other blues players (one thing that always bugged me about SRV is he always stayed in the minor, but hell, he was Stevie, y'know)...well, that aside, I came off the stage on break and he was very complimentary about what I was doing, in particular, the minor to major blues thang, which he'd never been really aware of up until then, and that was a point where he had chops hand over foot over me, but the kid learned a new trick from this ole dawg...(makes finger chalking up a point gesture) http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Tedster

Thanks for that ( hangs head and looks embarrased) I've never really thought about it like that. Yeah I guess he may have picked up the odd tonal/vibrato kinda thing but hey his speed playing was an art form to me and I really thought he deserved the limelight. I'm gonna post on your topic in a min so I won't go further than that and yeah I guess us older dogs can come up with the odd surprise yet!! ( smiles & lights another one)

 

Simon

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Hi,

Late reply on my part...I just joined up and have been cruising the topics. To me a great guitarist defined is a musician first and foremost. He (or she) is creative, visionary, bold, emotive, interactive, and sensitive. Also at one with the instrument. Finally, the great guitarist is totally connected AND subservient to the music. He (or she) brings the best playing out of others through his or her playing.

Compositional chops also matter as much as playing chops. Some examples to me: Jimmy Herring, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin,

Steve Hackett, Todd Rundgren, Trevor Rabin, Steve Howe, Dave Gilmour, Chet Atkins, Jerry Donahue, Will Ray, John Jorgenson, Danny Gatton, Jimmy Bryant, SRV, Jimi Hendrix, Terry Kath, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Snuffy Walden, Pierre Bensusan, Don Ross, Michael Hedges, Jimmy Page, Steve Morse, Jeff Beck, Leslie West,

Steve Lukather, Dave Grissom, Alex Lifeson, Steve Masakowski, Wes Montgomery, Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz, Derek Trucks, Duane Allman,

Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke, Sonny Landreth, Daniel Lanois. Oh man, I could really go on, and I'm sure I'm leaving someone out!!!

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Bill Frisell, Tuck Andress, John Petrucci, John Scofield, Steve Vai,

Andy Summers, Lowell George, Jay Graydon, Ali Farka Tour, George Harrison, Brian Setzer, George Benson, Chris Whitley, Jon Herrington, Carlos Santana, Joe Perry, Gary Moore, Freddie/Albert/BB King, Larry McCray, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Keef Richards, Hank Marvin, Dick Dale, Joe Walsh, Don Felder, Jim Messina, Mike Campbell, Pat Martino, Charlie Christian, Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel.

O.K., enough for now. Still tons I havent mentioned! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

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My definition of a great guitarist is someone who can play expressively. and to me, expression can come in many forms - chops, tone, harmonic content, phrasing, good musical instincts, etc... the list goes on. That's why my list of favorite players goes on and on.......Van Halen, Rhoads, Ace, Slash, Scott Henderson, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, George Benson, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Jimi, Stevie, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Neil Geraldo, Rick Derringer, all the Steves - Vai, Morse, Lukather, Stevens, etc... the list is endless.
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Originally Posted By SteveRB

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The guitarists named in the last few post were all men, so I will conclude that a great guitarist also needs to have lots of testosterone.

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LOL Steve

So avoiding the sexism stuff, who can point us in the direction of some great players without the volume of testosterone?

 

Simon http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

...remember there is absolutely no point in talking about someone behind their back unless they get to hear about it...
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If your talking about a guitarist that plays and makes a guitar "sing", instead of just trying to fry their fingers, I like Garry Rossington!!

He gets a great tone from his quitar/amp. And his playing isnt under the influence of a "Big Muff" or other heavy distortion.

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