Great guitarists who are far more interesting to watch than to listen to.

stueycaster

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Back in the late 80's I was in a band with my best friend. He and I both played a fairly mean lead guitar. The problem was we both felt the need to play solos in every song. The band really wasn't that well liked. later on I got in a good band with me as the only lead guitarist. Then the rhythm guitarist/band leader would play 3 or 4 fiddle solos. The crowds ate up his fiddle playing. We became one of the most popular bands in the area. By that time I had realized the crowd was there for the singing, not the lead guitarist.

We knew this guitarist who was actually the hottest guitarist in the area. We let him sit in with us a couple times. He would run the crowd off every time. He played too much too fast and crowds couldn't stand him. I ran into him once and he told me he'd been trying to find a band for a couple years but no one would let him join their band. It was really sad. He just couldn't grasp the fact that the crowds wanted to hear good singing with harmonies more than his guitar.
 

h2lifesaver

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Absolutely. You have entertainers and you have musicians. Occasionally we get one who is a great bit of both and "they" are amazing.
I know one...check out Aaron Lee Tasjan. His music is fantastic. Fabulous songwriting too. Then go find some YouTube videos of him live...holy moly he is so damn good.
 

Greggorios

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Molly Tuttle. I love her playing but I also love watching her play. Just so damn likeable and is a great performer who just oozes personality on stage. I also learn a lot from watching her, particularly her right hand technique. Her instructional videos are good too.

 

Area51

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We all know that there is a perfect balance between good guitar playing and good songwriting that = a great song. We also probably agree that a great song is still a great song without incredible guitar playing. Then there are guitarists who are extremely good on the instrument, but their songwriting isn't the greatest.

In these cases, I'm noticing that I enjoy watching them play, but the songs themselves do absolutely nothing for me.

Joe Bonamassa. I can't name one song that he does, but I instantly recognize his playing which is obviously incredible. I like to watch live videos of him, but I can't sit through an audio CD. I've tried.

SRV. I can only name like two of his songs, but again, I recognize his style immediately. I like watching live videos of him, but there's no way I can sit through a CD of that.

Michael Angelo Batio. I'm glued to the monitor watching him play. The guy is super human, I can watch that for hours. I couldn't imagine having to sit through an album of that stuff, though.

Yngwie Malmsteen. Same thing. I can't name a single song he does, but I instantly recognize his style and I am enthralled by watching him perform on video. I tried sitting through an album once and couldn't take it.

Ted Nugent. Never been known as a deep and meaningful songwriter, unless you consider "she pulled my thang so hard it stretched", etc. meaningful songwriting. But again, instantly recognizable style and I could watch him perform concerts on video for hours. He's not released one album I can sit through.

Steve Vai, Satriani. I group them together, because I consider them similar. Same story: amazing to watch, I've tried listening to their CDs and simply can't do it. Except "Eat 'em and Smile", but anything with DLR it's going to be fun to listen to.

[NOTE: these are obviously my opinions, I am no expert and I'm not making any declarations as to the song writing capability of any of these guys.]


Yeah, this can go many ways too.

I love Steve Lukather's playing. Yet, I really don't like Toto. Some of his Jazzier stuff is great however.

Likewise, I went and saw John5 the other night. Actually a great show, great and very versatile guitarists. He played country, jazz, and metal plus some old school rock. He didn't miss a note all night long. I also liked that he said something along the lines of I do my own shows to play guitar music and show off. I make money playing with/for other people.
 

dspellman1

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The guy plays great.
He’s also ANNOYING as all get out.
Same with Greg Koch.
I've had a beer or two with this guy at the LA Amp Show (dang, if that were still happening, it would be coming up the beginning of October) with a couple of other people. Absolutely nice guy. Oops, and he made me promise not to tell anyone.
 

Lef T

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John McLaughlin with the Mahavishnu.
I saw him twice.
The music was tremendous and although he did not have a lot of stage moves, he was mesmerizing to
look at.
Kind of like looking at a diving rod connecting to the elsewhere.
 

timobkg

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I never understood the hoopla over Prince’s solo in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I once saw it listed as one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. I mean it was physically exciting, but if you close your eyes, it strikes me as proficient but not killer (at least in my worthless estimation).

EDIT: In other words, I found the solo to be "far more interesting to watch than to listen to."
I've seen the "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" guitar solo listed as one of the greatest solos of all time, and it's one of my favorites, but I've always seen that in reference to the original solo by Clapton.

That said, I think Prince's solo on that video is pretty epic, but that's absolutely because of the performance. He comes in out of nowhere, plays an almost 3 minute solo with all his style, attitude, and charisma - you can see how much he's enjoying it, and how much the other band members are enjoying it - then caps it off by throwing his guitar up in the air and walking out. It may not be the best solo musically (though it's still really good, considering - it's the rare 3 minute long solo that both fits the song and doesn't completely outstay its welcome by the end), but as a performance it's fantastic.
 

timobkg

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I'll add Tom Morello - I got to see Rage Against the Machine recently, and he's always moving on stage - prowling, dancing, jumping, grooving. Zach was injured during the show I caught, and thus limited to sitting in a chair, and Tom absolutely picked up the slack in dancing around on stage and giving the audience something to watch in addition to the music.

This isn't the show I caught, where he was much more active, but gives some idea (I linked to Wake Up):

Plus, he plays a Tele, which I think is automatically worth +100 points towards being interesting to watch. ;)
 

padreraven

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I'm not clear where we wandered from the original question -- I can't get enough of SRV on albums or video, but his lyrics are annoyingly pedestrian. John Mayer can play the guitar wonderfully but watching him live made my face hurt as he mugged during his solos. And when I bought some CDs and started listening to his lyrics I lost interest. Angus Young is a kick to watch but when AC/DC comes on the radio I change the station. Mick Taylor's playing melts me like butter but he NEVER moves anything but his hands. I still like the old blues guys. I saw Albert King live and that memory sticks with me. I don't mind if a good musician doesn't move around much but it's fun to watch a good musician who does.
 

BrazHog

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If a guitar player is more interesting to watch than to listen to, I would not bother to listen to them.

I agree.

Having said that: Jennifer Batten



I mean, a laser in the lower cutaway AND a fiber-optic Christmas tree balancing on her head... that's show business!

Edit: according to one of Batten's interviews, when approached by Jackson to be his guitar player, she told him that she wouldn't be able to dance and play at the same time (you can see in the video she is looking at the fretboard the whole time).

Jackson's reply was, "No problem, here's your fiber-optic Christmas tree headgear."
 
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VintageSG

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I'll add Tom Morello - I got to see Rage Against the Machine recently, and he's always moving on stage - prowling, dancing, jumping, grooving. Zach was injured during the show I caught, and thus limited to sitting in a chair, and Tom absolutely picked up the slack in dancing around on stage and giving the audience something to watch in addition to the music.

This isn't the show I caught, where he was much more active, but gives some idea (I linked to Wake Up):

Plus, he plays a Tele, which I think is automatically worth +100 points towards being interesting to watch. ;)

Tom is great. I've never seen him live, but I do have Audioslave and 'Rage..' on DVD. Always a good watch.
Tom, like John 5, isn't just a great player and entertainer, but a thoroughly nice, intelligent guy too.
Well worth scouring YouTube for interviews with Tom. Can't help but love the guy.
 

twotone60

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I’ll go the other way. I like a lot of Julian Lage’s playing, although not on this tune so much, but I cannot tolerate his cutesy, nerdy stage demeanor.
 

twotone60

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Back in the late 80's I was in a band with my best friend. He and I both played a fairly mean lead guitar. The problem was we both felt the need to play solos in every song. The band really wasn't that well liked. later on I got in a good band with me as the only lead guitarist. Then the rhythm guitarist/band leader would play 3 or 4 fiddle solos. The crowds ate up his fiddle playing. We became one of the most popular bands in the area. By that time I had realized the crowd was there for the singing, not the lead guitarist.

We knew this guitarist who was actually the hottest guitarist in the area. We let him sit in with us a couple times. He would run the crowd off every time. He played too much too fast and crowds couldn't stand him. I ran into him once and he told me he'd been trying to find a band for a couple years but no one would let him join their band. It was really sad. He just couldn't grasp the fact that the crowds wanted to hear good singing with harmonies more than his guitar.
This post explains it all. Also, audiences are seemingly indiscriminately enamored of fiddle, saxophone, slide guitar, mandolin, and (ugh) banjo.
 




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