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What makes guitarists great?

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Lava Man
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Over the years I have heard a lot of great local players, just heard an outstanding one this week, who IMO play absolutley fantastic. For instance, the guitarist I heard this week pulled off "Satch Boogie" note-for note and with a lot of emotion and great backing band. He is a graduate of the Atlanta School of Music and an all around great player, but will probably never make it "big" so to speak.

I hear players like Dereck Trucks, Dickie Betts, Kenny Wayne Shepard, and others in the blues vein (short list), along players like Y. Malmstien, Jason Becker (again short list) and others in the shred vein, and many others in between...and again I have heard local or small time players who, IMO play equally as well - some of them even better.

So what separates these players? What makes these guys great, especially given the fact that others (small time players) can play their stuff note-for-note, and have what IMO are a similar set of skills.

Thoughts?

Lava Man
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Anonymous
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the big ones are the creative ones and innovators. i'm not robert frost just because i can photocopy one of his poems. there's also a lot of luck and pr involved.


   
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m07zm4n
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Just the fact that you can play complicated stuff flawlessly doesn't mean that you are a good player or even composer. That needs other abilities. What good is it for if you can play all of Vai's stuff while doing a handstand if you have not even a basic idea or motivation of composing/theorie etc...

and on the other side: to get famous doesn't even require any of the skills mentioned above.

So the questin in general is: how to get famous?
well, just get spotted :lol:

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um...
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MaxRumble
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So what separates these players?

The same thing that seperates professional athletes, singers, nobel winning scientients, and self made billionaires from the talented masses - Drive -

Cheers,

Max


   
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StormyMonday
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Satch wrote and performed "Satch Boogie" first, the other guy just played it. Not to say that playing it isn't impressive, but anybody can spend all day every day learning someone else's stuff note for note. It'll improve your skills and will be helpful, no doubt, but it's not particularly creative. Nobody wants a clone of another guitar player. Being original is important, but as was said, there's a lot of being in the right place at the right time that comes into play for anyone.


   
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Lava Man
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Satch wrote and performed "Satch Boogie" first, the other guy just played it. Not to say that playing it isn't impressive, but anybody can spend all day every day learning someone else's stuff note for note. It'll improve your skills and will be helpful, no doubt, but it's not particularly creative. Nobody wants a clone of another guitar player. Being original is important, but as was said, there's a lot of being in the right place at the right time that comes into play for anyone.

I think the right time/palce thing has a lot to do with it, that and drive with sme innovative playing. A lot of it I think is that intangeable "it' or "X" factor too...

Lava Man
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Wes Inman
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I think it is important to be original. There are some guitarists who you recognize the moment you hear them.

Anybody can tell when they hear Hendrix. Hendrix was playing the same Blues riffs that many others played before him. But he played them in a very creative and individual way.

Carlos Santana is another guitarist you can recognize the moment you hear him.

But that is not always the case, Eric Clapton is not always so easy to recognize.

Great players hit great notes. A lot of it has to do with being musical in your mind. I think a lot of this comes from listening to a wide variety of music.

David Gilmore is a great guitarist. He doesn't play particularly fast, or do anything that most intermediate guitar players can't do. But man, does he hit the right notes at the right time. He uses very subtle nuances in his playing.

Great Blues players are like that. Blues players are generally all playing the same notes over the same progressions. But the great Blues players have a way of making their guitar talk. That's what BB King says, playing guitar is like a conversation. So, much of this is in very subtle nuances and little tricks with your hands like slides and bends.

Be yourself on guitar and make it talk.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Lava Man
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Topic starter  

I think it is important to be original. There are some guitarists who you recognize the moment you hear them.

Anybody can tell when they hear Hendrix. Hendrix was playing the same Blues riffs that many others played before him. But he played them in a very creative and individual way.

Carlos Santana is another guitarist you can recognize the moment you hear him.

But that is not always the case, Eric Clapton is not always so easy to recognize.

Great players hit great notes. A lot of it has to do with being musical in your mind. I think a lot of this comes from listening to a wide variety of music.

David Gilmore is a great guitarist. He doesn't play particularly fast, or do anything that most intermediate guitar players can't do. But man, does he hit the right notes at the right time. He uses very subtle nuances in his playing.

Great Blues players are like that. Blues players are generally all playing the same notes over the same progressions. But the great Blues players have a way of making their guitar talk. That's what BB King says, playing guitar is like a conversation. So, much of this is in very subtle nuances and little tricks with your hands like slides and bends.

Be yourself on guitar and make it talk.

Well put!

Lava Man
http://www.lavacable.com


   
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simon@home.co.uk
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Well shred isnt as hard to learn as you'd think if you really work at, and want to work at it. Myself and thousands of other unknown guitarists out there can do it. But its all about wether you can write something that makes you stand out.
Essential to that (in shred terms) is either slow down every now and then to get something more melodic (or more musical depending on your veiws) OR the golden carrot, the thing that to me is one of the signs of a great guitarist - Making shred playing a peice of musical geinius and not just something that looks impressive


   
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JasonColucci
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being innovative, being lucky, and being appealing to the mass populus I would say are the biggest three. But, there are things to be said for bands who aren't innovative but are very famous (think Green Day). Musically, not very creative, but they are entertaining nonetheless. So, I guess that's another big thing, being more of an entertainer than a musician. But, there's also something to be said about being catchy. Take a look at Johhny Cash. Had many many albums, over 1500 songs, and was by no means a great guitarist, but his stuff was really catchy and appealed to a lot of people. So, to summarize this rant, if you can get someone whistling your song, and people generally like you, you probably have a good shot.

Guitarin' isn't a job, so don't make it one.


   
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kingpatzer
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Being popular isn't the same as being a great musician.

The things other musicians recognize as greatness are almost all about training and dedication.

Picking technique and finger strength are two of the more frequently over-looked things that matter. Having a well-trained ear isn't hard to achieve either, but is lacking in alot of players.

My personal favorite guitarist, and an undisputed genius, is a Django. He didn't swing as hard as some other guys in Paris at the time he played. He didn't play the fastest licks. In fact, he probably wasn't the best in any one area. But he was highly compitent across the board, and that well-roundedness set him above everyone else.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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Anonymous
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I think any musician that can take their instrument and kick some serious butt with their poetry is a good guitarist, or musician.

I don't think technique makes a good guitarist. Normally when I hear Jimi Hendrix come on I say "Wow good technique..........I'm gonna go listen to something with more attitude now."


   
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NoteBoat
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David Gilmore is a great guitarist. He doesn't play particularly fast, or do anything that most intermediate guitar players can't do. But man, does he hit the right notes at the right time. He uses very subtle nuances in his playing.

I remember hearing Gilmore in an interview some years ago. The interviewer complimented his 'tasty' licks, and Gilmore said "I can't play fast. I've tried, but I just can't. So I have to play with taste instead."

For any one 'great' guitarist you can name, you can identify something in his or her playing that really stands out: Santana - controlled feedback. Malmsteen - precise speed. Segovia - incredible control. Kaki King - percussive effects. Michael Hedges - tapped harmonics. B.B. King - vibrato control... etc etc etc.

I've come to believe that in any field there are two hurdles - first, you need to get ALL the basic demands to a minimum level. If you're a painter, you need to mix colors. If you're a guitarists, chords, scales, whatever techniques you need for your genre. Surgeons, economists, whatever - there are basic skills that you MUST have to even consider working in the field.

Once you have that, the hurdle of greatness doesn't come to the guy with the most skills - it comes to the one who identifies his or her particular strengths, and exploits them relentlessly. There's very little technical difference between a great like Segovia or King (any of the Kings!) or a competent non-great. I'm sure it's the same with accountants, carpenters, or anything else - all the greats have all the basics, but they also have at least one aspect that REALLY stands out above the rest... even though they might be only a little bit better at it!

It's not even a matter of being innovative. Listen to Billy Gibbons' solo on La Grange - it's a pentatonic minor scale in a descending triplet pattern. Blues players have been doing stuff like that as a warm-up exercise for decades!

So you can be great without innovation. You can be great without a distinctive tone. You can be great without speed, or exotic scales, or (insert your favorite angle here). But you can't be great without something that you do better, with more confidence, and more convincingly than anyone else does.

Gilmore is a great case - he doesn't have distinctive speed or tone or complicated chord progressions. What he's got is that intangible ability to put HIS voice out and not try to be anyone else.

In the end, I think that's the only common denominator: all the greats play like themselves.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Anonymous
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Guitars , girls and geeks....

You want more reasons :lol:

Actually yes , playing guitar really makes you stand out in the musical crowd and if you can sing even just OK , then nothing like that.

In my country where primary language is hindi, guitar playing sometimes becomes tough because most people don't understand the english songs .... or they only know the backstreet , westlife , boyzone, linkin park type crazy stuff....

So either you play that or they wont listen to you...and i don't like to play hindi songs on guitar...because they are not meant to.Still nowadays people are listening to more and more traditional english songs.. so i can sometimes find an audience to appreciate..But i really need to learn 10 or so hindi songs too.

Even then guitar playing gives me something to learn , something i know i will never be fully mastering so there is always a scope of getting better..always a possibilty of being the next hendrix :lol:

Not only guitarists are great even people playing keyboards, drums , bass and even trumpets are great , i.e. if they can play it so that everyone in the band or the audience feels good , involved in the event.

Rahul


   
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greybeard
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I think you may have a problem playing hindi music on a western guitar - don't you use different chromatic scales and intervals to us?

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