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Author: Subject: Who is the world's greatest guitarist?

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 04:24 PM
We all have our opinion of who is the world’s all-time greatest guitarist. But nothing can be given a superlative ranking without quantitative measurements. But how could you do this? What type of data could you measure and how would your account for variables. I’m not a guitar player, so I’m curious as to how actual players measure skill. Based on this type of observation, who do you think would prevail.

Possible data to measure:
1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

I thought about “How many records sold”, but this goes back to the opinions of those buying the records.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 04:58 PM
To be honest, there is no way to determine this.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 05:07 PM
My criteria are:
does listening to the player make me grin like an idiot?
does listening to the player make all the hair on my arms stand up?
does listening to the player make me spend all my mone travelling to the USA to see him?

it can only be Derek Trucks

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 05:09 PM
Another factor to have is living or dead, who they played with and how they fit into that.

Jerry, Jimi, Rory & Duane all are great by their accomplishments while living and the recordings are there for us to admire and appreciate.... but to compare them with someone who still has the ability to grow old and improve.

Buckethead has a quanative skill as being a talented and gifted musican, but to put him on the same list as such talents as already listed or with the likes of the current line up of any of our favorite jam bands would be silly, but that is based on opinion. The guitar magazines do a top 100 list and I am usually not to fond of the breakdown, but it is based on magazine subscribers votes which boils down to opinion.

Opinions are always opinionated.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 05:11 PM
art cannot have a greatest or a winner..if you dig it, it's beautiful

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 05:11 PM
quote:
My criteria are:
does listening to the player make me grin like an idiot?
does listening to the player make all the hair on my arms stand up?
does listening to the player make me spend all my mone travelling to the USA to see him?

it can only be Derek Trucks


Amen, except I don't have to cross the pond.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 05:35 PM
quote:
Another factor to have is living or dead, who they played with and how they fit into that.

Jerry, Jimi, Rory & Duane all are great by their accomplishments while living and the recordings are there for us to admire and appreciate.... but to compare them with someone who still has the ability to grow old and improve.

Buckethead has a quanative skill as being a talented and gifted musican, but to put him on the same list as such talents as already listed or with the likes of the current line up of any of our favorite jam bands would be silly, but that is based on opinion. The guitar magazines do a top 100 list and I am usually not to fond of the breakdown, but it is based on magazine subscribers votes which boils down to opinion.

Opinions are always opinionated.




Wow, I'm surprised someone mentioned Buckethead so quickly AND in a positive matter. He is easily my favorite guitarist to watch and listen to because of so many reason. He can play blistering speed but its melodic, not just blind shredding. It really hits you in the right spot if you let it. He plays beautiful ambient acoustic/electric music and although he's not known for it, he actually can play blues and does on occasion. The last track on the album Population Override is a little blues number and there is a video of him playing The Thrill is Gone at a private party, bluesy. So although I love every guitarist that has been listed, Buckethead is in my opinion the best because he can do anything at anytime with no problem. He can make you cry, and he can make you laugh.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 05:55 PM
This argument can and will go unsettled forever, but one guy who deserves attention by all that followed is Django Reinhardt.

A little from Wikipedia:
quote:
Many musicians have expressed admiration for Reinhardt, including guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, classical guitarist Julian Bream; country artist Chet Atkins, who placed Reinhardt #1 on a list of the ten most influential guitarists of the 20th century (he placed himself fifth); Latin rocker Carlos Santana; blues legend B.B. King; the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia; Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi; Jimi Hendrix; Shawn Lane; Stevie Ray Vaughan; Derek Trucks; Mark Knopfler; Les Paul; Joe Pass; Peter Frampton; Denny Laine; Jeff Beck; Jon Larsen; Steve Howe; Charlie Christian; George Benson; Wes Montgomery; Martin Taylor; Tchavolo Schmitt; Stochelo Rosenberg; Biréli Lagrène; John Jorgenson; Michael Angelo Batio; Richard Thompson; Robert Fripp; and Jeff Martin. Willie Nelson wore a Django Reinhardt T-shirt on tour in Europe in 2002, stating in an interview that he admired Django's music and ability. The British guitarist Diz Disley plays in a style based on Reinhardt's technique and he collaborated on numerous projects with Stéphane Grappelli.

Django Reinhardt also had an influence on other styles and musical genres, including Western Swing, notably in the work of Bob Wills.

Musicians have paid tribute to Reinhardt in many other ways, such as by invoking his name in their own work or personal life. Jimi Hendrix is said to have named one of his bands the Band of Gypsys because of Django's music. A number of musicians named their sons Django in reference to Reinhardt, including David Crosby, former Slade singer Noddy Holder, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richard Durrant, and also actors Nana Visitor and Raphael Sbarge. Jazz musician Django Bates and singer-songwriter Django Haskins were named after him.

Songs written in Reinhardt's honor include "Django," composed by John Lewis, which has become a jazz standard performed by musicians such as Miles Davis. The Modern Jazz Quartet titled one of their albums Django in honor of him. The Allman Brothers Band song Jessica was written by Dickey Betts in tribute to Reinhardt — he wanted to write a song that could be played using only two fingers. This aspect of the artist's work also motivated Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, who was inspired by Reinhardt to keep playing guitar after a factory accident that cost him two fingertips.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 06:11 PM
quote:
We all have our opinion of who is the world’s all-time greatest guitarist. But nothing can be given a superlative ranking without quantitative measurements. But how could you do this? What type of data could you measure and how would your account for variables. I’m not a guitar player, so I’m curious as to how actual players measure skill. Based on this type of observation, who do you think would prevail.

Possible data to measure:
1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

I thought about “How many records sold”, but this goes back to the opinions of those buying the records.




I remember several years ago, Letterman had "the world's fastest typist" on his show. They allowed her to demonstrate her talent - gave her about a minute or so.

She absolutely ripped, typing faster than anyone I had ever seen.

When Letterman looked at the sheet of paper - it was absolute gibberish. No words, no sentences, no paragraphs. Just as many characters as she could pound out in the time alloted.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 06:44 PM
quote:

I remember several years ago, Letterman had "the world's fastest typist" on his show. They allowed her to demonstrate her talent - gave her about a minute or so.

She absolutely ripped, typing faster than anyone I had ever seen.

When Letterman looked at the sheet of paper - it was absolute gibberish. No words, no sentences, no paragraphs. Just as many characters as she could pound out in the time alloted.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.




So what you’re alluding to Droogie, is that it is not about speed, but about soul, style and grace. Include with that the era and vision of the player. As subjective as this argument is, I think the list could be narrowed down to no less than a top 50. It is those 50, or those still living on that list, that should be given the final vote for the all-time top five. To narrow it to one, in my opinion, would be impossible.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 06:50 PM
I think you start with this question:

Can this player give you a great 2+ hour show playing guitar without the need for vocals? Honestly, I think many of the greats you see on lists of great guitarists (Jimmy Page for example) couldn't pull off a 2 hour show of guitar greatness without the help of a singer. That is why I think players such as Joe Satriani and Dick Dale don't get the credit they deserve in these questions. Those players play - no lyrics needed. Oh, and if have the skill to play like this guy I guess you could say your pretty good too:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rutyA12z3Ok&feature=related

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 06:59 PM
quote:
art cannot have a greatest or a winner..if you dig it, it's beautiful


Amen Brother Lefty

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 07:07 PM
quote:
We all have our opinion of who is the world’s all-time greatest guitarist. But nothing can be given a superlative ranking without quantitative measurements. But how could you do this? What type of data could you measure and how would your account for variables. I’m not a guitar player, so I’m curious as to how actual players measure skill. Based on this type of observation, who do you think would prevail.

Possible data to measure:
1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

I thought about “How many records sold”, but this goes back to the opinions of those buying the records.


Hate to bust your bubble, Rhonda, but your "criteria" for a "great guitarist" doesn't hold water. The only criteria that's between a "great guitarist" and "a technicial guitarist" is that a great guitarist know how to make that "emotional connection" and do so with as few as notes as possible. Sh*t, B.B. King can say more with two or three notes, than many guitarist who can play fast, long, and do all the "technical" tricks that you "think" make a great guitarist would ever be able to say with their playing. Bottom line, when it comes to guitarists, often times what separates the "greats' from the "technicial I know all the tricks" is often not what they play, but in many cases is "what you they don't play". The "greats" make it look simple, because they know what to leave out, and that's a lesson that many guitarists never learn. Technical skills NEVER make a great guitarist, but heart and soul and feel sure can go a long ways in making a guitarist great.

 
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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 07:17 PM
I agree with others that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to decide who's the world's greatest guitarist. Especially given that modern guitarists can benefit from the ground-breaking work of their predecessors (Hendrix, Duane, and Clapton didn't have a Hendrix, Duane, and Clapton to listen to when THEY were growing up).

With that said, I think any conversation of greatest guitarists of all time would have to include Duane, Warren, Derek, and Jimmy Herring. When I think about the fact that the ABB has had what I would consider to be 4 of the best guitarists to ever live, I realize that I'm pretty lucky to have seen them as many times as I have. The ABB has been an institution of guitarists who match basically every criteria that could be applied in judging a guitarist (in terms of technical skill, emotion, soulful playing, timing, phrasing, ability to bond with other musicians for the good of the music, etc.). We ABB fans have been spoiled.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 07:24 PM
quote:
We all have our opinion of who is the world’s all-time greatest guitarist. But nothing can be given a superlative ranking without quantitative measurements. But how could you do this? What type of data could you measure and how would your account for variables. I’m not a guitar player, so I’m curious as to how actual players measure skill. Based on this type of observation, who do you think would prevail.

Possible data to measure:
1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

I thought about “How many records sold”, but this goes back to the opinions of those buying the records.




What about "feel"? While it takes skill to play 7200 notes per second, music like that is pretty much devoid of feeling. A note bent just right can make people cry - not unlike a great violinist.

Greatest guitarist? You could probably create a series of exercises, or a competition consisiting of a series of "copy what I just did note for note" performances (kind of like playing H-O-R-S-E in basketball) to help determine the winner.

But determining a "greatest guitarist" is like trying to name a best tasting food or prettiest girl. A good bit of it is in the ears of the beholder!

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 07:32 PM
quote:
I think you start with this question:

Can this player give you a great 2+ hour show playing guitar without the need for vocals? Honestly, I think many of the greats you see on lists of great guitarists (Jimmy Page for example) couldn't pull off a 2 hour show of guitar greatness without the help of a singer. That is why I think players such as Joe Satriani and Dick Dale don't get the credit they deserve in these questions. Those players play - no lyrics needed. Oh, and if have the skill to play like this guy I guess you could say your pretty good too:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rutyA12z3Ok&feature=related



You made a great point that I didn't think of earlier, which once again makes it an easier choice for me...Buckethead. Sometimes all he tours with is an ipod playing his songs with the lead guitar cut out so he can play along to it. Other times he tours with a drummer and bassist, but still makes time for about 5 or 6 "ipod" songs per show.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 08:19 PM
quote:
quote:
We all have our opinion of who is the world’s all-time greatest guitarist. But nothing can be given a superlative ranking without quantitative measurements. But how could you do this? What type of data could you measure and how would your account for variables. I’m not a guitar player, so I’m curious as to how actual players measure skill. Based on this type of observation, who do you think would prevail.

Possible data to measure:
1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

I thought about “How many records sold”, but this goes back to the opinions of those buying the records.


Hate to bust your bubble, Rhonda, but your "criteria" for a "great guitarist" doesn't hold water. The only criteria that's between a "great guitarist" and "a technicial guitarist" is that a great guitarist know how to make that "emotional connection" and do so with as few as notes as possible. Sh*t, B.B. King can say more with two or three notes, than many guitarist who can play fast, long, and do all the "technical" tricks that you "think" make a great guitarist would ever be able to say with their playing. Bottom line, when it comes to guitarists, often times what separates the "greats' from the "technicial I know all the tricks" is often not what they play, but in many cases is "what you they don't play". The "greats" make it look simple, because they know what to leave out, and that's a lesson that many guitarists never learn. Technical skills NEVER make a great guitarist, but heart and soul and feel sure can go a long ways in making a guitarist great.


Don't worry - you're not bursting my bubble. I was thinking about how I could defend my position that my choice for this honor is clearly better than your choice. If you don't think we can collect quantitative data, do you think it is even possible that we could come up with a test, even with subjective questions, that everyone could agree upon? I'm not suggesting that we actually do this, just offering food for thought.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 08:24 PM
I agree with those who have said it's impossible to name a "greatest" but I just wanted to say that Jimmy Herring combine the mind-blowing technical skill (highly regarded by people like Satrani, etc) and the "soul" of blues/jazz artists. He is the consummate overall guitarist in my opinion.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 08:24 PM
what is the worlds greatest painting , there is no right answer its all art and a matter of taste , same goes for musiic more or less .

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 08:43 PM
quote:
art cannot have a greatest or a winner..if you dig it, it's beautiful


That's about where it's at, good call Lefty.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 08:54 PM
quote:
I was thinking about how I could defend my position that my choice for this honor is clearly better than your choice. If you don't think we can collect quantitative data, do you think it is even possible that we could come up with a test, even with subjective questions, that everyone could agree upon? I'm not suggesting that we actually do this, just offering food for thought.




Rhonda,

Music is about conveying emotion and feeling , and those emotions and feeling cannot judged by collecting "quantitative data". Your criteria:

1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

is purely techinical. Many, many guitarist can do all of the above, but that does not make them great. I'lll give you a good example of a guitarist, who IS CONSIDERED GREAT, but in many ways is a very limited guitarist, simply because he only plays in ONE KEY, and an "open" one at that, doesn't have any real knowledge of chord structure, couldn't play in many genres of music because of these limitations, probably doesn't even read music, IWO from a "technical" point of view would not be considered a good guitarist. But nevertheless, this musician IS CONSIDERED GREAT because of what he CAN DO in that ONE KEY he plays in and in the genres of music that plays in, and is able to do so with a great deal of "feel". But get him outside that his musical box, and chance are he wouldn't be considered all that great. Care to guess who that musician is? Here's a hint, you're probably a big fan of his. And I like him a lot myself, although I'm aware of his limitations. Oh his name, Derek Trucks.

Basically YOU CAN'T by quantitative data" or "quantitative analysis" judge something as "subjective" and "emotional" as music or even the ones that make that music. To try to do so, is to be "ignorant" of what music is about at it's most fundemental level.


[Edited on 2/5/2008 by cleaneduphippy]

 
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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 08:58 PM
quote:
My criteria are:
does listening to the player make me grin like an idiot?
does listening to the player make all the hair on my arms stand up?
does listening to the player make me spend all my mone travelling to the USA to see him?

it can only be Derek Trucks


surley you must have mistyped the name you meant to type Jack Pearson because he does all the above to me...

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 09:03 PM
quote:
quote:
art cannot have a greatest or a winner..if you dig it, it's beautiful


That's about where it's at, good call Lefty.


exactly - music is not a competitive sport.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 09:04 PM
quote:
quote:
I was thinking about how I could defend my position that my choice for this honor is clearly better than your choice. If you don't think we can collect quantitative data, do you think it is even possible that we could come up with a test, even with subjective questions, that everyone could agree upon? I'm not suggesting that we actually do this, just offering food for thought.




Rhonda,

Music is about conveying emotion and feeling , and those emotions and feeling cannot judged by collecting "quantitative data". Your criteria:

1. How long can an artist play without a break?
2. How fast can they play (i.e., how many notes per minute can they play)?
3. What is the total range of notes played?

is purely techinical. Many, many guitarist can do all of the above, but that does not make them great. I'lll give you a good example of a guitarist, who IS CONSIDERED GREAT, but in many ways is a very limited guitarist, simply because he only plays in ONE KEY, and an "open" one at that, doesn't have any real knowledge of chord structure, couldn't play in many genres of music because of these limitations, probably doesn't even read music, IWO from a "technical" point of view would not be considered a good guitarist. But nevertheless, this musician IS CONSIDERED GREAT because of what he CAN DO in that ONE KEY he plays in and in the genres of music that plays in, and is able to do so with a great deal of "feel". But get him outside that his musical box, and chance are he wouldn't be considered all that great. Care to guess who that musician is? Here's a hint, you're probably a big fan of his. And I like him a lot myself, although I'm aware of his limitations. Oh his name, Derek Trucks.

Basically YOU CAN'T by quantitative data" or "quantitative analysis" judge something as "subjective" and "emotional" as music or even the ones that make that music. To try to do so, is to be "ignorant" of what music is about at it's most fundemental level.



Don't get me wrong, I'm not sure that what I'm suggesting is even possible, just curious about what technical and emotional ways we make these judgements. I was not aware of the Derek info above, nor do I think that my simplest of measurements would weed out the great from the greatest.

 

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  posted on 2/4/2008 at 09:07 PM
I agree with Lefty.

One solo that has always riveted me would be Jimmy Page's solo in "Ten Years Gone". Not technically perfect by any means...but so full of soul and emotion. Love it! Love Jimmy!

 

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