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What Defines a Great Guitarist?
Old 14th January 2020
  #1
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eternalsound's Avatar
What Defines a Great Guitarist?

Technique? Style? Writing? Showmanship? Looks? Uses tube amps? Uses sims? What?

Old 14th January 2020
  #2
one that plays what you want to hear.
Old 14th January 2020
  #3
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eternalsound's Avatar
So true, man. So true.
Old 14th January 2020
  #4
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Snorktop's Avatar
 

posting little riffs on Gearslutz.
Old 14th January 2020
  #5
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

One whose music moves you.
Old 14th January 2020
  #6
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A great guitarist is kind, polite, true to their word and respects their elders.

If you do those things and just happen to pick up a guitar once in a while, you're great!
Old 14th January 2020
  #7
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A non-musician once told the key to a great solo was that you could hum it. At the time I thought it was overly simplistic, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think it's true. Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Clapton, George Harrison, Pete Townshend etc were all very melodic. Even the great jazz players and classical composers came up with tunes that stuck in your head. It's also what separates the numerous technically-proficient players one sees on Youtube or wherever. Their licks are often as fast and technical as the greats, but they're just not as catchy.
Old 15th January 2020
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
A non-musician once told the key to a great solo was that you could hum it. At the time I thought it was overly simplistic, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think it's true. Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Clapton, George Harrison, Pete Townshend etc were all very melodic. Even the great jazz players and classical composers came up with tunes that stuck in your head. It's also what separates the numerous technically-proficient players one sees on Youtube or wherever. Their licks are often as fast and technical as the greats, but they're just not as catchy.
Absolutely.

Great guitarists are also usually a sum of their influences + something new. A lot of great players basically ‘steal’ from those great before them and composite multiple steals and put a twist on it to make it new.

They also usually have pretty great technique.

Look at Richie Blackmore ..he took Hendrix riffs broke em down rearranged and threw in some classical ideas boom legend. He had amazing technique.

Jimmy Page did it with the Blues and folk.

Slash did it.

“Talent borrows, genius steals” someone once said.

Also keep it simple , shredding a hundred notes a minute is boring, esp if it’s not telling a story.

Johnny Marr said “if you start with the idea to make the music overly complicated to impress or be showy , the end result comes out not sounding like music at all”. That was great advice for me.
Old 15th January 2020
  #9
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Same thing is a good singer or good song.

It/he/she makes you feel, makes you move, makes you think.
Old 15th January 2020
  #10
Old 15th January 2020
  #11
Gear Nut
 

I think EVH did it but I can’t make a good case for him..he did say Clapton\ Cream was a big influence for him and he knew all the solos note for note. And that was in his playing , so the guys who came after and copied his style didn’t get it ...
Old 15th January 2020
  #12
Gear Nut
 

And you gotta have a good look...
Old 15th January 2020
  #13
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Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eternalsound View Post
Technique? Style? Writing? Showmanship? Looks? Uses tube amps? Uses sims? What?

Ability to completely emulate guitar heroes of the past. With more notes/second
Old 15th January 2020
  #14
Gear Nut
You have to be a slave to the song at hand and give it nothing more and nothing less than it needs.
Old 15th January 2020
  #15
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what defines a great guitarist?

showing character, having a recognizable tone, being unique and yet inspire the public (and i'm not saying guitarists)!

hendrix, beck, holdsworth, carlton, lofgren, van halen, barre/(anderson), hackett/(rutherford), landau/(taylor), metheny, rypdal, kriegel etc.
Old 15th January 2020
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Always have your guitar in your hands when you watch tv ...and play the themes and the jingles that’s how Larry did it :D
Old 15th January 2020
  #17
Gear Nut
 

A lot of the greats used to learn by ear off the records, but change the speed settings on the vinyl player to play it half speed ..that really burns stuff into your brain forever
Old 15th January 2020
  #18
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I used to live in Escondido in the 90's, and JJ Cale was a good customer of mine when I worked in the music stores. A very nice man.

Old 15th January 2020
  #19
Panache...and earthiness/spacecat vibe.
Old 15th January 2020
  #20
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Snorktop's Avatar
 

1. Passion, soul, balls, excitement, emotional power, undying love and commitment to the music
2. Individuality, originality, innovation
3. Style, taste, aesthetic beauty (tone)
Old 15th January 2020
  #21
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zep4Eva View Post
“Talent borrows, genius steals” someone once said.
That was Stravinsky - soon after he stole the harmonic building blocks Debussy used in “La Mer” to make his “Rite of Spring” - which were premiered a decade apart.
Old 15th January 2020
  #22
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eternalsound's Avatar
Funny, because I think a lot depends on the era one comes from. Being a mid term dinosaur it was all about speed in the context of "Jamming", not "Shredding". There was a key difference between the two in that jamming came first .."dude JAMS!" and shredding came second. I've never liked shredding and I hate when they are socially bundled into one, now days. It's way to linear to me.

Randy Rhoads = "jams"
Tony Iommi = "jams"
EVH = "jams"
Hendrix = "jams"
Brad Gillis = "jams"

Malmsteen = "shreds"
Impellitteri = "shreds"
Angelo = "shreds"
Modern YouTube dudes = "shreds"

Damn, I miss the "Jammers" and if you were there when the scale tipped you know exactly what I'm talking about - the key differences.

George ....JAMS!!

Old 15th January 2020
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattpyter View Post
That was Stravinsky - soon after he stole the harmonic building blocks Debussy used in “La Mer” to make his “Rite of Spring” - which were premiered a decade apart.
Oh true... cool!
Old 16th January 2020
  #24
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telecode's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by batsbrew View Post
one that plays what you want to hear.
^^ this!!

I am a fan of all the usual suspect of greats (Beck, Clapton, Cooder, e.t..c) but I also dig the work of various guys that are/were in bands who's guitar work IMO was key to what made the songs of those bands stand out from other bands. Guys like the RHCP player, Adam Jones (Tool),Johnny Greenwood, Claydes Charles Smith (Kool & The Gang) , Roland Bautista (EW&F), Jesse Johnson (The Time).. e.t..c . All sorts of stuff.
Old 17th January 2020
  #25
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PdotDdot's Avatar
I s'pose we each have our own ideas of what "great guitarist" means.

Certainly technique would be a consideration however for me it is all about the musicality and how it fits the tune and then relates to me - probably on an emotional level.

I will list some of my favorite guitar bits:

Waddy Wachtel's playing on "Johnny Strikes Up The Band", "Nighttime In The Switching Yard" and "Lawyers Guns And Money" are three of my favorites - both the rhythm playing and the licks. Tasty - full of tone, and the playing drives the tunes.

Another favorite is James Burton's licks and solo on "Ooh Las Vegas" off of "Elite Hotel".

Then there is the guitar stuff that Jerry Donohue does at the end of "Wastin Away" on Gerry Rafferty's "Snakes And Ladders" LP. Sadly when the label made the D version they cut off his playing at the end. Luckily I had copied my LP to CD and still have the full tag.

Clapton's intro on "Have You Ever Loved A Women" off the "Layla" LP - the phrasing is insane.

Of course Hendrix - I love everything about the tune "Dolly Dagger" and the stuff on "Nightbird" is also a standout for me.

I also loved a lot of David Gilmour's stuff - "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

There are of course many more but these are examples of guitar work that has really impacted me.

So while the technical ability of jazz and classical players has its place in terms of making players great players, for me and my taste it is more about the taste as it aligns with my musical preferences.

Personally I think Scotty Anderson out of the Cincinnatti area may be the greatest player ever technically as he stacks the fingers on his right hand and plays three part harmony at blistering speeds - I do not know of any other guitar player that can do that but while it is beyond impressive, it is not music I tend to listen to. He is certainly a great player but I'll take Waddy's stuff on "Excitable Boy" every time.

So there's my morning meander on the subject. And there are so many other guitar moments I could add to the discussion in support of my opinion. But it is nothing more than my opinion.
Old 17th January 2020
  #26
feeling is important, but I also like technical ability, you can have both in my opinion but there aren't many guitarists who can pull it off, I think scott henderson and guthrie govan do a good job of displaying absolute mastery without being too technical I really like mike stern as well and jimmy page, in fact the list could go on and on.
Old 17th January 2020
  #27
Old 18th January 2020
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zep4Eva View Post
A lot of the greats used to learn by ear off the records, but change the speed settings on the vinyl player to play it half speed ..that really burns stuff into your brain forever
We all used to do that back then - didn't turn many of us into geniuses, though
Old 18th January 2020
  #29
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by littleeden View Post
We all used to do that back then - didn't turn many of us into geniuses, though
What I'm confused by is how that would have worked pitch-wise. An LP at 33rpm slowed to 16rpm is roughly the same pitch - but what if your record player didn't go to 16rpm or you were working from a 45rpm single?
Old 18th January 2020
  #30
It's listening for the changes, the relative pitch between notes remains because of the nature of frequency and scales The point is more to work out how many notes and the intervals, subtle intonations, flourishes and details that might be lost at full pelt.

The real geniuses I've encountered are simply interested, always learning. See failure as a positive (unlike most who see it as a negative), an opportunity. So they dive in and fail faster, learn quicker. They just seem more gifted, but you didn't see the many hours and risks that got them there.
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