Three Major Types of Guitarists

This comes from my own experience with many different musicians that play many different instruments. If anything seems a little biased I apologize for it's not my intention.

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I like to think that there are three types of guitarist in this world; this also applies to any other musical instrument however it's easier for me to convey myself in a way that is familiar.

The first type, the "Scholar" or "Disciplined" guitarist are the ones you see performing all these crazy licks and double tapping at insane speeds, they just naturally "get" the instrument. These type of musicians can sit down and learn a song in a good amount of time be it either by tab or ear. The problem I find with these musicians is that they don't seem to be very "creative" in a sense; sure they can play through a whole Metallica and Steve Vai album however I've found that they have a hard time creating music of their own. I'm not assuming either, I have sat down with other guitarist who want to jam and they seem to be very reluctant to try anything that doesn't have to do with set theory rules or outside of their musical genre. This isn't bad though, say if a leader of a band writes out a whole song that they want their guitarist to learn, these types of musicians are perfect for such a role. They can efficiently and quickly learn every little detail of the song with ease. 

Now for the second type, I'd like to think of these as the more "creative" but "reckless" or as some would say "lazier" guitarists compared to their counterparts. When I think of this type of musician I like to relate them to people like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Buddy Guy, and Buddy Holly. These musicians always have the same recurring theme within their music. Sure, they can't shred a lick at 300+ bpm however they always have the same if not similar story; they started playing guitar to have something to do, as a source of comfort and relaxation. Kurt Cobain was an insanely sloppy guitarist compared to the great shredders of today yet his music was comparatively much more influential. Buddy Holly's music in his early youth is very simplistic compared to the complex technical styles of today. Yet again, he was very influential in his prime. However these guitarist did and do lack the discipline to create insanely complex musical feats. 

The third type is more or less when the first two types are combined together in this form of musical perfection. Musicians like Buckethead, Beck (reasoning for adding Beck to this list is due to the fact he is an amazing composer of many types of music and is a multi-instrumentalist, I know I'll get shit for saying that but it's my opinion), Paul Gilbert and Joe Satriani. The reason the list is so short is because these types of guitarists are the rarest to come across. They combine the creativity and discipline in such a way it that it creates a whole new sound that was previously unheard of. Buckethead and Paul Gilbert both have a whole different mindset when it comes to guitar due to the fact that they use very strange and new techniques that produce sounds that you can only hear them play in their music. Beck in my opinion is the modern-day Bach or Mozart. He composes interesting and ingenuity-filled pieces of art. However with beck he seemed to be the 2nd type of musician with his earliest albums but with his newest albums you can sense the careful thought put into every note.

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    *kill'emall*
    I can't take this seriously. You called Brian May a lazy guitarist despite the fact that he is widely regarded as a virtuoso of the instrument.
    wateyy
    I agree with you that this categorization is meh, but he didn't call him lazy, he said some would call him "lazier". If I am the second most hardworking person in the world, I'm lazier than the first person.
    janolevonhart
    Ohh come on! That's reatively -like ecerything is . Compared to me he might be super hard-working but for example compared to Buckethead (I once read that he's practicing 12 hours a day) he's a little lazier. And you can't deny that Buckethead is far beyond May.
    tom11
    Why is the first type the ones that 'get' the guitar and not the 2nd type? Just cos Dave Grohl can't shred doesn't mean he doesn't 'get it', he just approaches the guitar in a way ones the first type don't. On what planet is Kurt Cobain in a category with Jimi Hendrix? And anyone who thinks any of those guys are lazy is just a moron.
    Wutu
    Whether this article can even be taken seriously or not, who cares? In what world does it matter what 'types' of guitarists there are? It doesn't matter if you play sloppily or mechanically, writing good music is what matters.
    Hyacinth House
    I understand where this article is going, but I have to disagree with a few things. Mainly I would say that depending on the sound or genre one is going for is what type of guitarist they are. I'm sure your Steve Vais and Yngwie Malmsteems could write amazingly soulful blues songs, but they choose not to. Two things bug about stuff like this and it's intricacy =/= creativity or emotion, and simplicity =/= lack of skill.
    josh.s.l.brough
    It does not equal, but usually implies. from my personal experience, people who can't play can't write and visa versa. even a guitarist(who can play well) who writes simple songs will often add a flourish or decoration to sections because simplicity=boredom. and these flourishes and decorations are often many times harder to execute than the rest of the song.
    wolfehpoohs
    Clearly an article written by someone who doesn't have the slightest clue about music.
    xmdsx2
    You were doing quite well before you compared Beck to Bach. Delete that last paragraph and this article can be taken seriously.
    selrisitai
    I feel like things like this are spoken by people who have no real knowledge of music. I listen to Beethoven and Bach and hear catchy melodies and moderate technical proficiency. I hear the same thing when I listen to, say, Galneryus.
    wolflen
    Hendrix lazy?? really..three albums in two years..they influenced just about every guitarist in the country..and possible the world..his "career was all of 3 to 4 years-all innovative and influential to this day..he opened the door to much of what guitarists only can dream of achieving in their lifetime
    pAWNlol
    i feel like this article had a lot of potential, but just simply went downhill. I agree with the 3 main categories, but not so much parts of the description or the examples
    alexjolivas
    lol i mean i agree with the top comment that my opinions aren't the most common but i'll take whatever feedback i can get
    Diego Carnero
    typecast people is just stupid, especially in 3 categories for the huge amount of guitar player you can come acorss
    Coppercash
    The complexity of the music has nothing to do with how good or bad a song is. Its a matter of perspective, really. It goes by what the musician feels, not by a set of rules or structure. Not that there's anything wrong with rules or structure, but what really makes something a good song is the feeling that the musician has and the emotion put into it. That being said, can there actually be "sloppy" playing? Often its simply a choice people make. If that's what someone likes, its what they like. Not everyone has to like it, because usually someone writes a song that has a personal connection to them or that they can relate to.
    vayle
    for the love of god, I doubt you listen much to vai's music, he is a very creative guitarist... listen to something like whispering a prayer and you know what I mean, the thing is that guitarists like that play stuff that people just really have to love, all the techniques and such, it's music made to listen to, rather than music to just play to have music playing while you're doing something...
    ElviDo
    Sorry mate but there is a lack of something in this article. Like you were forgetting facts or stuffs or making a bridge between two ideas quite different... Also I consider that there is many other profile of guitarists/Musicians. Not only for their technique, but also becauser there is not only Rock in life...