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You're The Best, Around: Guitar

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Posted by know ID yuh
Mar 27, 2011 20:55:51 GMT -5
Nothings gunna ever keep you dowwwwwwwwwwwwwn.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the greatest guitar players of all time. He was having this discussion with some hippies a couple nights prior, and they all seemed to think Trey Anastasio and Jerry Garcia were the best (of course). This lead me to making an analogy about guitar players v. runners. It's hard to compare sprinters to marathon runners, but we should try anyway.

The sprinters would be the ridiculous, those who can play with speed and amazing dexterity, those who are too good to be in bands (exclusively). This would include Joe Satriani, Buckethead, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Stevie Vai. Then there are the marathon runners, those who rely on precision and jams, rather than the ridiculous, Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King, David Gilmore, Derek Trucks, and the two hippies mentioned earlier.

So who are the best guitar players of all-time? Are they the underrated (Frank Zappa, Prince), the overrated (Slash, Kirk Hammett), the commercially unknown (Tommy Emmanuel, Stanley Jordan), the unknown (the dude from Tera Melos, the dude from the Quick & Easy Boys), or someone else (Jack White, Jimmy Page, Tom Morello)?

Furthermore, is Jimmy Hendrix even one of the greatest, or do people think he is because of his image and upside down guitar? And yes, I didn't mention Eric Clapton. For some reason I never liked the guy outside of Cream.
Mar 27, 2011 21:03:40 GMT -5
I've always been a firm believer that there's no point in saying "This person is the best guitarist." Instead, I prefer the phrase "you could make the argument that this person is the best guitarist."
That being said, my arguments would go for Nick Reinhart (who know so kindly included in the list as the dude from Tera Melos (not sarcasm)) and George Harrison. I do think that the argument could also be made for Jimi Hendrix. Part of the problem with this question is: Do you include songwriting ability when making this decision, or is it based on technical ability only? If you allow songwriting ability to be part of the equation, then I would also put forward Jimmy Page, a man who pours his soul into every solo he plays. I'm not a fan of sprinters, personally. Now go ahead and rip me to shreds here.
Posted by Drew
Mar 27, 2011 22:25:58 GMT -5
After seeing her live, Marnie Stern.
Posted by Blacksmile
Mar 27, 2011 22:30:07 GMT -5
I am 100% positive that J.Macis is the quintisential guitarist! Be it studio produced or live, his guitar solo's are unmatched.
Mar 27, 2011 22:30:26 GMT -5
I'm sorry, but Marnie Stern does not hold a candle to Nick Reinhart, something she would willingly admit herself. When my friend said to her, "you're an amazing guitarist," she replied with, "you think that, but its really mostly smoke and mirrors."
Posted by Drew
Mar 27, 2011 22:38:11 GMT -5
Disclaimer: I know nothing about playing the guitar and I have no interest in this argument.
Mar 27, 2011 22:40:04 GMT -5
When did you see marnie stern?
Mar 27, 2011 22:58:22 GMT -5
Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp (King Crimson), Marc Ribot (Tom Waits in the 80's), Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead), Peter Buck (R.E.M), Larry LaLonde (Primus), John Neff (Drive-by Truckers), Nels Cline (Wilco since 2005).
Posted by know ID yuh
Mar 27, 2011 23:15:04 GMT -5
Drew Avatar
After seeing her live, Marnie Stern.

I think Marnie Stern has an impressive style, but I didn't think she had an impressive sound. I thought the same about the Tera Melos dude. It wasn't the sound that would make me rush out and buy their records, but I'll be damned if I ever miss a Tera Melos show.

I caught Buckethead a couple years ago, and that guy is seriously a freak. I guess I like sprinters. He even pulled out nun-chucks, just to show his coordination skills. I overheard someone at the show refer to him as "Shredzilla." Nice.

In my mind, Joe Satriani wins. "Summer Song" is one of the greatest guitar songs out there, and he mixes the jams with the ridiculous better than the other sprinters. I've missed seeing him three or four times, just because that $35 ticket price always scares me away, but I need to see him live.
Posted by know ID yuh
Mar 27, 2011 23:22:48 GMT -5
Friendly Destroyer Avatar
Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, Mark Ribot, Johnny Greenwood, Peter Buck, Larry LaLonde, John Neff, Nels Cline.

I don't know a couple of those names, so I'll have to check them out. Isn't it amazing how people don't realize how great of a guitar player Frank Zappa is? His legacy is being weird.

Also, Nels Cline, yes. Sasquatch 2011! Just to throw out another couple names, Smiley Zappa, Eddie Van, Destroyer, and mutha fuckin Deaner.
Posted by emptyfox
Mar 27, 2011 23:31:23 GMT -5
know ID yuh Avatar
...$35 ticket price always scares me away...

Anything cheaper than that is a rarity for a decent band in BC.

Electric 6 was $26 and Foals, Freelance Whales and The Naked and Famous will be about that much too, but those are the two cheapest shows I've seen in a long time.
Posted by Rusty
Mar 28, 2011 1:37:30 GMT -5
I think a lot of what defines a great guitarist is being able to tell who it is instantly; being able to pick them out of a line up. The majority of the great players out there are playing the same scales, but only a few make it there own. In my mind the greatest either have a trademark style, or a very distinct tone.

For example, Jimmy Page plays the same blues scale on basically every song, but he plays it with this reckless, sometimes extremely sloppy style, and I can tell it's him instantly. SRV played the blues so straightforwardly, but paradoxically it sounds like he had invented something new.

Jack White has developed an unmistakable tone, originally based on the shitty (by choice) gear he was playing. But it has evolved into part of his unique voice.

I was obsessed with Jimi Hendrix in high school,and I think if he's not included in a best ever list there is a big problem. He was just playing the blues, but how he learned it was messed up, so he used all these totally weird disjointed chords and phrases. ( on a side not Know, I assume you understand he didn't actually play his guitar upside down, it was just a right handed guitar strung as a lefty; which guitar mags have spent countless articles describing how that effected his tone).

I think that Tom Morello was amazing simply because he didn't use his guitar as it was intended. People assume he does this because he can't play, but I've seen him shred the fastest, most intricate of solos. He rewrote the book on what a guitar can be used for, and I can totally appreciate that. The same can be said for the fellow from Tera Melos, he plays his guitar like an alien, and has so many pedals that he makes you double take, "is that sound coming from his guitar?"

Santana arguably has the most distinct tone/sound, that guy can play one note, and any body can tell it's him. He lost whatever credit he had when he started doing duets with chad kroeger.

As for those guys you listed as the Usain Bolt's of the guitar world, I cannot stand to listen to the majority of what they do. I'm not saying they can't play, they can arguably play technically better than anyone on this list. But the guitar is (arguably) the most unique instrument because it is one of the few that you can really transfer emotions through your fingers and into those strings; those guys are to busy stroking one off as fast as possible to really use the guitar as the weapon it can be. Lots of people get off on those guys, and that is perfectly fine and understandable; it's just not for me.

Having said all this, and setting aside that I'm a Huge NY fanboy, I find him to be one of the greatest. If you asked him he would say he can really play for shit. He isn't fast, he is sloppy as hell, but he knows that. He gets these tones and harmonics out of his pickups that astound me. He could play (and does often play) a solo with one or two notes, but he plays them like they are the last two notes he has left in his fingers before he expires. I could listen to him all day, everyday, for the rest of my time.

In conclusion, I don't believe you can say definitively that "insert legend" is the best. Some play fast, others play technical. Others play slow and sloppy. Some just play the blues. I think it just comes down to personal preference, and what type of playing really moves you personally.

Posted by wompwomp
Mar 28, 2011 9:17:27 GMT -5
I like my guitarists to compliment the overall sound and not become the focal point. I'm not really a fan of solos at all, I find jam bands to be insufferable and those "virtuosos" (Vai, Satriani) are basically un-listenable.

So on that note, Keith Richards is my favorite guitarist of all time. No one could compliment a song better and still maintain a unique sound.
Posted by Switch
Mar 28, 2011 10:17:07 GMT -5
Dave Matthews. I know you all did a double take right now. In my opinion I believe that Dave is one of the best. He doesn't bust out the killer solos but his knowldege of chords and chord structure is off the charts. His buddy Tim Reynolds is one of the greatest as well.

My other favorites: Tom Morello, Dimebag, Slash (he is not overrated), Trey, David Gilmore.
Posted by StormyPinkness
Mar 28, 2011 10:18:58 GMT -5
I think it would be hard to argue that all of these people are amazing on guitar, but my favorite is Deaner. I will preface my explanation by saying that I cannot play guitar nor do I know much about it technically speaking. I do know what I like and what moves me, though. When I saw him play live for the first time I heard the guitar, and Ween, in a completely new way. He can start playing and I get absolutely swept away in whatever story he is telling me. I saw Tera Melos and that guy blew me away on the guitar, but what it didn't do was make me feel something. It was amazing technically, but I didn't walk away emotionally spent like I do from a Deaner solo. When he fucking raged on Voodoo Lady at the most recent show we saw I was left weak in the knees. He makes it look so effortless to be totally on and also just ready to let loose and make love to the instrument.