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Why are players so under-appreciated?

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kingpatzer
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Yet another "list your top-whatever guitarists" post appeared, and yet again the lists being submitted over-flow with guys like Page, Clapton, Beck, and basically only people after them in the Rock/Blues genres.

This has raised a question in my brain.

Why are so many of the truely great guitarists so under-appreciated today?

My first idea was that the focus is on players who were active during the lifetime of the people responding. But then I realized that Joe Pass as a player easily competes with Clapton, Page, Beck, and EVH on the grounds of technical skills, melodic ability, solo ability, and harmonic ideas, and he was every bit as fast. He was very active in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Why then is he almost never mentioned?

I also notice that if you're not in the rock/blues lineage, you're pretty much hosed in terms of being appreciated. Hardly anyone mentions Chet Atkins, or Merle Travis, or Grady Martin. You're more likely to see Brad Whitford mentioned before folks who have guitars and techniques named after them . . . (And yes, I realize that Martin guitars and Grady Martin aren't the same, I'm thinking of Atkins' signature guitars :) )

And heaven forbid we talk of formative guitarists. Again, rock/blues linage prevails. It's not that uncommon to see someone toss Robert Johnson into a list with Clapton, the 3 Kings, and whoever else. But how many people list folks like Charlie Christian or Maybelle Carter?

Lastly, I've even noticed that within the modern Rock/blues genre there are names that seem conspicuously missing almost all the time. Hardly anyone mentions Steve Crooper, Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield, Robert White, Eddie Willis, and many others, whose lack of inclussion seems odd given that they are in the lineage of the most popular genres and during the appropriate time-frames.

So why the hegemony of opinion among us listeners?

It's clearly not one of talent or influence, so what is it?

* edit: I just noticed my own list of examples did not include a single classical player . . . irony is a cruel mistress! :)

"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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TwistedLefty
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2 words. "air play"
unfair, but it sums up the fact that the common names you see on these "lists" are people who got air play.

as to the others you mentioned the same applies but only to the degree of exposure, for instance i am a fan of nearly all those mentioned but only vaguely familiar with several. mostly because my exposure was limited to the am radio when i was a kid.

#4491....


   
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Alan Green
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It's cetainly a fair question.

Rock music is very popular right now, having enjoyed a renaissance after years of prefabricated pop and boy bands (who, despite being called bands, can't actually play anything between them) and having been through a few incarnations over the past 50 years. Against that, a number of musical styles have slipped in and out of public vogue in that time. There weren't exactly many nu-metallers in the replies, and that's only just gone out of fashion.

Nobody doubts that George Benson is an excellent guitarist, or Nile Rogers; or Scotty Moore. Chet Atkins and Merle Travis became legends in their own time, but their music is niche music these days and (yes, sad but true) they don't get the airplay. There are excellent musicians to be found if you have the courage to wander off the beaten track. The trouble is that it's easier to walk the well trodden path than do something imaginative.

Maybe the original question would have been better phrased if it had said "Who is your favourite non-rock guitarist?" and we could all have debated whether Django was better than Jimi or whether Paco de Lucia could give EVH a run for his money. Sadly, there would always be one drongo who would fail to understand the question and say "Kurt Cobain - cos he woz grunge, weren't he?" and there's nothing you can do about morons like that. I would happily debate whether Segovia would be considered any good compared to today's Classical Guitarists, and wonder why Liona Boyd plays bad tremelo in everything I've heard her do, but it would be a very small group talking about it.

Pose the question, though, and let's see what comes up.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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pearlthekat
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it irks me that joni mitchell never gets mentioned. it may be the airplay thing or the female thing. the question becomes why does she not get the airplay she deserves?


   
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StormyMonday
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I don't think it's a matter of a guitarist being under-appreciated as much as it is that they just didn't/don't play the kind of music that some people like. I appreciate Django and am cognizant of his importance in music, but frankly, his music just doesn't do anything for me. Maybe someday it will, but not now.

I'm not even sure air play has that much to do with it, at least not in my case. Good luck trying to find any of the Kings, Mike Bloomfield, Roy Buchannan, or much Peter Green on the radio. Even the Clapton stuff I really like doesn't get airplay. Heck, a lot of the guys I like died before I was even born, or while I was very young and unaware of them, so I don't think it has much to do with guitarists living in my lifetime.

I'm getting more and more interested in jazz. I enjoy listening to jazz guitarists like Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, John Scofield, George Benson, and really enjoy listening to Chet Atkins as well (not technically jazz but you did mention him). But, it's not my favorite kind of music, and their playing doesn't do to me what Clapton's, Duane Allman's, or Peter Green, etc, does. Now, like I said, I enjoy those other players and certainly appreciate their talent and contribution to music, but in listing my favorite players, they just don't come that close.

I can't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty aware of who's who in the world of guitarists, and have heard a lot of their stuff. But in the end, if their playing doesn't really touch me in a significant way, then they're not going to be listed in my favorites. Doesn't mean I don't appreciate them though.


   
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pearlthekat
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One of the reasons, I think, that Page, Clapton, Hendrix et al gets mentioned so much has to do with timing, or rather the time in which they beame popular--the 60s & 70s. they were sort of there first. They were the ones playing to a large while middle class audience of what we now call baby boomers--the largest generation.


   
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Taso
 Taso
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My list mainly consisted of players that have influenced my own playing. Clapton and Carlos heading the top of that list...While I enjoy Joe Pass's music, and I think he's one of the best players in the world, I have not applied any of his techniques to my own playing, if only because I have not yet studied his techniques. Which would probably be a result of my only recently discovering him.

If I listen to mainly blues/rock, it is more likely to list blues/rock artists as my favourites.

http://taso.dmusic.com/music/


   
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Nexion
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I have to agree with StormyMonday. I appreciate a lot of the guitarists that you mentioned (the ones that I have actually listened to).

They are exceptional players but they just didn't do enough to affect me in a way to deserve my top 10 spot, doesn't mean I don't appreciate them.

"That’s what takes place when a song is written: You see something that isn’t there. Then you use your instrument to find it."
- John Frusciante


   
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Anonymous
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I actually heard something similar to what pearl said about timing. My teacher, who is a baby boomer, said The Beatles were big because at the time, the baby boomers were all teenagers.

I think top 10 guitarists is a popularity thing. I mean, my top ten list, would be guitarists I like. Sure you can say "I don't like this guitarists style/music but I still think they are good guitarists." Well, it's still popularity. If something about them did not impress you in some way, you wouldn't think they were good.

If it's any consolation, I don't like blue/rock, or the guitarists. It's all smooth and flowy............where's the heavy driving riffs?*

*In reference to my taste, not to what music should be.


   
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kingpatzer
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No offense, OWA, but to me Grunge is just a sub-genre of rock :)

But I think you hit the nail on the head -- popularity.

But I do wonder as to WHY that is.

When I think of great guitarists, I don't necessarily think of people I listen to alot. Al DiMeola get's a pretty high spot on my list of really great guitarists, but I don't particularly like his music. Ditto Wes Montgommery, who I think was the quintisential sell-out and a waste of increadible talent.

I know a lot of other people who are influenced by people they don't listen to or like, but in whose playing they found something of value.

I'm just curious as to why other people think that is.

And I'm not looking to pass judgement . . . heck it might be that Albert, BB and Freddie are the only guys worth a dang in someone's book, and frankly that's not bad company to be in!

But it seems odd to me, that's all.

"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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Alan Green
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Heck, a lot of the guys I like died before I was even born, or while I was very young and unaware of them, so I don't think it has much to do with guitarists living in my lifetime.

This will be true for some people, and there will be others who have no desire to delve back into the history of the instrument. No problem with that, after all if you switch on the radio or go down to the local record shop what's presented to you is what's selling "now". And who can blame them? We all have to make a living, and why waste time championing someone who might have been good in their time but hasn't done anything new for years?

That last statement is also impacted by another factor - floorspace. My local HMV shop sells CD's, films and music on DVD, books, computer games and posters on one floor. It's also what's selling now. Queen albums jostle alongside people I've never heard of in the bargain buckets - and nobody doubts Brian May's ability although I was one of the very few to mention him and Freddie Mercury shuffled off this mortal coil in 1991. The jazz/blues/classical section is so small I can stand at one end and reach along to the other end. I was in the Virgin Megastore on Times Square earlier this year; each floor was huge and the blues/jazz/classical section was the size of my local HMV (I came away with three Andres Segovia CD's that I haven't been able to find in the UK).

So there you go, more fuel for the fire. Add that to rock music's popularity right now and you find that the same old names will keep coming up - Hendrix, Page, Clapton yada yada yada - because they were the outstanding names of their time and genre. We can even buy pedals now that reproduce the exact sounds of Hendrix, Slash and Brian May (yeah!) on particular songs, without us having to shell out for the exact same kit, at a couple of hundred quid apiece. They're what's selling now.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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soundgarden
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Speaking of under-appreciated guitarists, i'de like to mention Izzy Stradlin. So many people rated Slash in there favourite guitarists even though a lot of whats on the Guns and Roses albums is by Izzy Stradlin. Izzy Stradlin was Guns and Roses main lyricist and rythm guitarist and is in my opinion one of the most talented lyricists you will every likely hear. I was wondering why there is such emphasis on Slash (sweet child o mine might have something to do with it) and other soloing lead guitarists whilst perhaps the more musically talented band members are ignored.

It could be that people go for what seems the most technical and thus theoretically difficult aspects of music, for instance have you ever heard someone ask you who you're favourite bassist is or you're favorite drummer is. I think that it would be a strongly believed view amongst beggining guitarists that it takes more skill to belt out a fast tearing solo than it does to maintain a constant baseline. People are going to base their opinions on whos is the best based purely on what seems to be the most difficult to imitate.

Just something else did anybody mention B.B King?

Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with with your self esteem. Kurt Cobain
Have you seen the roses? There's a whole lot of colours. Syd Barret


   
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gnease
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Despite my dislike for generalizing, I'll do it: This forum has a fairly young demographic, and younger tastes tend to be narrower and (at least perceived to be) more rebellious. I think it's a safe to say the older among us have found our tastes and appreciations broadening with "experience."

I expect there will be some responses to the tune of "but I DON'T fall into that categorization and I'm old/young and like ..." As Capt'n Jack Sparrow says: "Generalization." (sic)

Pearl: Joni Mitchell is a very good guitar player. But she is known for her much greater and exceptional talents in songwriting and performance. Those seem a lot more important than her guitar playing, which is just one component of her skills. The same applies to many other singer-songwriters who are very good on guitar: Paul Simon, Ani DiFranco, Lyle Lovett, David Bromberg ...

-=tension & release=-


   
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sdolsay
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I agree with the Izzy post, even within blues/rock the rythem guitarist gets shafted in these lists and they anchor the band and keep the groove going.

AC/DC is one of my fav bands and when I was younger it was all about Angus, but as I got older and am now playing myself(man got to watch how I word that :) )I really appreciate what Malcolm does.

And I have to make a comment about blues/rock not having hard driving riffs, more than likely this opinion comes from just not being exposed to it enough cos I don't see it.

Scott

I havn't found my tone yet, and I have no mojo....but I'm working on it :)


   
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Anonymous
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And I have to make a comment about blues/rock not having hard driving riffs, more than likely this opinion comes from just not being exposed to it enough cos I don't see it.

Actually I have heard a lot of blues/rock. My radio station has been doing classic albums each night for the last couple weeks. Hendrix, Zepplin and all them have had a few songs played. I didn't hear any heavy driving riffs. But you could have a different definition of heavy. So my opinion comes from taste.


   
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