Is there anywhere else to go with guitars, distortion, and skill?

TheCheapGuitarist

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Guitars are still pieces of wood with metal and wires, distortion does the same thing that it always has, and guitar-playing skill probably peaked in the late 1980's. Is there anywhere left to go with any of this? After a few people post-EVH (Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc.) nudged the goalposts a little further, nobody has really moved past that point. Distortion (ahem.... "overdrive") pedals come in all kinds of paint designs, shapes, sizes, with all kinds of cool names, but what are they doing any differently now than say, 30+ years ago?

It even became unfashionable for a while to be a good guitarist. That wore off, but I digress.
 

ndcaster

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Guitars are still pieces of wood with metal and wires, distortion does the same thing that it always has, and guitar-playing skill probably peaked in the late 1980's. Is there anywhere left to go with any of this? After a few people post-EVH (Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc.) nudged the goalposts a little further, nobody has really moved past that point. Distortion (ahem.... "overdrive") pedals come in all kinds of paint designs, shapes, sizes, with all kinds of cool names, but what are they doing any differently now than say, 30+ years ago?

It even became unfashionable for a while to be a good guitarist. That wore off, but I digress.
speak to their souls
 

bgmacaw

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eyoretoogoodtobetrue00.gif
 

thunderbyrd

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the super-technique of those you mentioned didn't even begin to exhaust the possibilities of guitar, IMO.

the area of guitar i really care about is not in technique, but in the instrument's evocative qualities. this has only a little to do with technique. i think of the 1st time i heard Santana's Black Magic Woman. it absolutely carried me away. it was the most exotic thing i'd ever heard and all these years later, i haven't ever come close to getting tired of it.

another example of what i see as evocative is Mick Taylor with the Stones, mainly the live bootlegs from 71-73. there is no highly evolved technique there, nothing like shred, but it just delights me to hear. much, much more than any fast shred guitar i've ever heard.

there are still many miles to go before guitar is exhausted. the way forward is in song construction, not hyper technique, in my humble opinion. putting licks on songs that excite something deep in the heart. that'll never end and guitar can do it very well.

(Professor Blunderturd's lecture concludes)
 
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Happy Enchilada

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If you can write a song whose lyrics have meaning and whose beat and melody people dig ...
And if you can strap on an electric guitar and play and sing your a$$ off ...
And if you don't pass out and fall over or forget the words or notes halfway through ...

Then you're a better guitar player and musician than me, and I'll shake your hand and toast your health. 🍻
 

edvard

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not really, no
great songs have never really gone out of style, though
wah pedals, two handed tapping, soft/loud/soft/loud formulas have all come and gone-
great songwriting is still very much in demand
^^ This ^^

I'm a sucker for a loud distorted guitar to a fault, but it won't hold my attention for more than a few seconds if it's not in the context of a well-written composition.



Well... maybe a little more than a few seconds...
 

cometazzi

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Good topic.

I think there are a few things going on...

1) There was plenty of guitar music in the 90s, and the 'grunge' or 'alternative' forms of rock brought out some good songwriting (and some not so good songwriting). To some extent, the guitar work then sounded a bit like a 'grown up' 60s psychedelic aesthetic, but without the psychedelics.

2) After the 90s, "guitar music" sharply falls out of fashion. Sure, more people are playing guitar than ever (probably?) but when you turn on popular radio, you don't really hear guitar music per se. Sometimes there's a guitar in it, but sometimes not. There are people doing neat guitar stuff somewhere, they're just not as visible.

3) Like any instrument, the guitar has limitations. More importantly, it only plays one or two parts in a whole song full of parts. Sometimes the song isn't about guitar. Great songs can be written with all the guitars or no guitars. A great song is a great song, regardless of what's used for the instrumentation.
 

SixStringSlinger

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I think the notion of guitar "going" anywhere is flawed in the first place. Most of guitar playing is not subject to "progress", and whatever part of it is (speed, acrobatics, whatever) is beside the point. '80's shredding is seen as "beyond" simple acoustic strumming. But you know what '80's shredding is terrible for? Simple acoustic strumming. We weren't strumming cowboy chords because we were waiting for something "more" to come along. We did it because it sounded good and it was the sound we wanted to make.

Of course, '80's shredding is fine too. But there have always been fast guitarists with great technique and deep understanding of theory. And any idiot could turn their amp up till it distorted. My point being that there's more to the phenomenon than simple "progress".

Write good songs and work so that there is no barrier between what your brain imagines and what you physically accomplish. If that involves technique then great, get that, but realize it's also secondary to making music. Unless, of course, you want to be a specific type of guitar nerd, which is absolutely fine and valid. Just recognize that that's a different conversation that you're having with a different group of people. It's like fine-tuning a car to move the curve on a graph past some theoretical point vs. what makes a difference in enjoying driving the thing.
 

micpoc

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Shredding—at least of the 80s hair metal variety—appears to have faded away, except for YouTube and some online forums (not here), and that’s mostly a good thing.

But the fact that instrumental music in general had also faded in popularity troubles me. People seem more concerned with the text of lyrics than chords, melodies, and rhythms, even the actual singing; they’re all just excuses to say something with words, as if that is Music’s primary reason for existence.

For a different example that’s close to home, Jimmy Wilsey’s Music (El Dorado) says more to me than all the hack “pro” songwriters in Nashville combined. That’s one thing country and rap have in common: in most of it, the Music is just a delivery system for words… and that’s a shame. Guess it fills the bars, though.
 
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Refugee

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Yep, everyone is stuck in 70's blues rock. Again and again and again and again. Nothing else even comes to close to the same old classic rock that the 60 somethings cling to. Same as the blues. Don't...players, especially get tired of hearing the same old 1-4-5's for the bazillionth time? I did when I was 17, or so. I was grateful that guitar playing evolved into what it has become. Instead of finding ways to bash it, maybe listen to it more closely, you may actually find melodic and harmonic interactions that do more than the same old thing over and over and over again. Doesn't your neocortex beckon for more stimuli than perpetuated sameness? Why aren't you sick of it? Do you not listen to more recent bands out of sheer necessity because you need differing input of sort? I just don't understand how some can listen to
Zeppelin, Genesis, Beatles, Stones over and over and not get sick of it. Is it nostalgia? Like my parents who are 80'ish now, used to listen to the golden oldies of 50's music that they loved in their high school days. Yet, one day they got sick of it and went country. At least musicians in the 80's known as shredders were charting new paths and taking chances, rather than regurgitate the same old song and dance just o make money. I, for one am very grateful for guys like Mike Varney who had enough vision to give those players an outlet to explore new musical territories.
 

Lou Tencodpees

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If music is a competition then Beethoven won that in 1809 after composing his Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor). IMO.

There's always room for music that is derivative, repetitive, even low on the skill level if it resonates with people. Its why despite our weak moments we don't actually build a bonfire with our guitars after listening to (name the guitarist).
 

Mowgli

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With the advent of digital distribution of music and the relative demise of LPs and CDs, the popular music industry has shifted such that those who have commodified the product, to a large extent, control its content.

I heard an industry insider describe how one online music distribution company is trying to decrease singles to about 35 seconds in order to both influence the consumer to embrace shorter songs and, surprise, surprise… have a scheme where they could make more money on a “per song “ payment format. I guess they’re betting on shorter attention spans.

Until it becomes possible to wrestle the reigns of popular music away from the digital predators I suspect popular music content will suffer for all legitimate musicians.

I can recall when you could regularly hear an instrumental (no lyrics) on the radio. That seemed to die out in the 80s.

That being said, I’ve seen some GREAT young talent across the board on many instruments from all over the globe who impress the heck out of me. In fact, I think there are more technically impressive players now than ever before… I just hope they develop over time and become, for lack of a better word, more “soulful.”
 




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