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#1
I've been wondering about this for a very long time, but I've never asked any of my friends. I would like for everyone to give me there opinion on what they think classifies a guitarist as "good". What does it mean to you when you say something like: "He/she can REALLY play that guitar!" or "Woah that was GOOD!"

Just to get my 2 cents in, I know that a lot of people think that if you can play like Slash or Eddie Van Halen, then you must be "good", but my opinion differs from that. So, before I tell you my opinion, let me hears what you're thinking.

Oh yeah, I'm talking about Lead guitar and Rhythm..it doesn't matter.
#2
In my opinion a guitarists' technical ability doesn't make them a good guitarist, it's what they write that shows how talented they are. Imitating other guitarists' music, whether it's slash, van halen or anyone else, can only take you so far.

I mean, Jimi Hendrix isn't the fastest guitarist of all time by a long way, but hes probably one of the most creative, hence his reputation.
#3
I get a gut instinct there could be an argument with the whole 'feeling' or 'technique' thing.

Personally, a mix of the two if best in my opinion. Or if the guitarist is doing (Or was doing at the time) something new/unique. I have no problem with guitarists who can play 238472348237490234 notes a second, aslong as there is a bit of meaning behind it and isn't just showing off.

For rhythm playing, it must be pretty tight, and interesting. It's not hard to play palm muted powerchords for an entire song. But if they can mix it up and make it more intresting, thats in my opinion, thats the sign of a great rhythm guitarist.
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#4
Being able to get together with a band or one other musician and improvise a 5 minute song would be my 'good'. Means you're playing the guitar and not just covering which many people can do :P
#5
Being able to make, and play music with emotional content. You need to be able to transfer a feeling to the listeners.

You don't have to play something rediculously difficult to be great, but you do have to be able to captivate.
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#6
Being able to pick the thing up and just play it and sound good, as opposed to having to rely on playing other people's songs or constantly having to think about what to play.
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#7
ya i agree about rhythm guitarists, metallica's rhythm guitar parts for example are relatively simple to play but are so brilliantly put together, its the conception of the idea that makes it good music (or art, if ur fancy like that) to me anyway.
#8
If they can take some notes, and make them sound good, they are good in my books. Speed isnt really an issue, but it does make me say 'wtf' rather than 'wow'
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#9
A good guitarist is a guitarist who works together with a band, or on his own, to create the most creative and yet accessible music as possible. Why play some silly tapping solo when the only people who are gonna be impressed are guitar geeks. Equally, why play something simple and derivative when anyone with a shred of musical taste will be bored out of their skulls. One thing I DO know though, is that a guitarist should ideally be playing with his audience in mind and not for just his own enjoyment (I'm looking at you, prog rock).

At the risk of going slightly off topic, I guess the epitome of musical expression is a complex and creative piece that also can be seen and felt as a pop song, which appeals to as many people as possible. of course, this is near impossible and the trick is finding a good compromise between high brow, elitist music (death metal, classical music) and trashy mass produced junk (x factor anyone?).
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#10
What makes a guitarist good, is a guitarist who enjoys what they're doing. If you are just standing there, no one will like you. Jimi Hendrix didn't just get up on stage, and play in the corner. He had stage presence. I mean, you also need to be able to play, but it is mostly how you present your skill, and if you are having fun.
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#11
To me what makes a player good is not based on skill You can train any monkey to play notes fast or slow. What makes a player good is their rhythm and soul. All the greats had/have a spark in their soul that can make the easiest riff sound bad ass and pull you right in. Take Page, SRV, Dime, Zakk wilde, Randy Rhodes, Hendrix they all played simple riffs for the most part and millions of people play or try to everyday, their soul takes them to a level most of the millions will never get to.
#12
Since art is completely subjective, I think a guitarist can be considered "good" when they can play what they hear in their head.
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#13
Good is one thing there are a ton of good guitarists out there.

Being great is a whole different story. I don't care for a lot of guitarists that people seem to idolize I see much better in a lot of local bands and in kids who go to Berkley here in Boston. Sh*t, I got a little 8 or 9 yo Asian kid that lives next to me that is a true virtuoso on both the guitar and violin. Watching him play guitar sends shivers up and down my spine. The kid can do anything and all he has to do is hear it once and he can copy it note for note and after that he can improvise and make it even better his own stuff is just too hard to explain.


To me a great guitarist actually loves what he is doing more than life itself and can play literally anything anytime on any guitar and you feel it.


John
#14
being a good musician is different from being a good guitarrist so i think the music you write doesnt matters .

good guitarrist = good technique and own style .
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#15
Quote by wouldyakindly
A good guitarist is a guitarist who works together with a band, or on his own, to create the most creative and yet accessible music as possible. Why play some silly tapping solo when the only people who are gonna be impressed are guitar geeks. Equally, why play something simple and derivative when anyone with a shred of musical taste will be bored out of their skulls. One thing I DO know though, is that a guitarist should ideally be playing with his audience in mind and not for just his own enjoyment (I'm looking at you, prog rock).


In my opinion anyone who plays for other people is a tool. Play for your own enjoyment and if other people like it then it's all good.

My $0.02:

A good guitarist is someone who plays guitar that I enjoy listening to, categorizing or defining any further than that is moronic.
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#16
You cant classify a guitarist as good. They are only good in someone's opinion, which you can't really base classifications on.
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#17
its entirly dependent on who is judging it, if someone who has listened to shred all their life then someone slow like bb king isnt gonna sound good to them, but to someone who has listened to the blues all the time they are looking for feeling and raw emotion in the playing so someone like micheal angelo batio isnt going to appeal to them
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#18
Being able to express their feelings and emotions through their instrument (its the same for all musicans not only guitarists.) and being able to entertain their audience.
#19
This question seems to elicit a different response from everyone (myself included), and judging by various "top 100 guitarist of all time" countdowns I've read in the past, we're never gonna decide what it actually means to be a great guitarist.

For instance, Rolling Stone considers Jack White to be the seventeenth greatest guitarist of ALL TIME. For the love of GOD, you HAVE to be kidding me. Kurt Cobain NUMBER TWELVE!!! I mean, for real? They're gonna tell us that these clowns BEAT Vai, Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, James Hetfield (none of which even PLACED), Santana, Warren Haynes, Eddie Van Halen (number 70, sorry Edward, you're just not that good)...

Perhaps, we here at UG should make a set of criteria for what makes a good guitarist, here's my proposed list, ahem:

1. Historical significance - there are a lot of players who are more technically proficient than Hendrix, Richards, Clapton, etc., but these fine players have done much to advance the way we all play whether we like it or not. Is our player up to snuff? Perhaps overall success in the industry could be lumped into this category as well. Has he played on a kagillion platinum records or just for his friends?

2. Technical ability - You're little brother is at the low end and Rusty Cooley at the top of a long sliding scale of guitarist proficiency. Where does a guitarist in question fit in? Bashing out out of tune power chords with a classy set of e,b, and g notes ringing all the time? Melting faces with blinding 32nd note, four octave arpeggios on a ten string guitar? You get the picture.

3. Expression - Can our player effectively communicate through the instrument? Can he portray anger, sadness, joy, perversion, regret, etc.?

4. Creativity - Trailblazers are important in every aspect of human thought. They allow us to open our minds to new possibilities and break down walls keeping us from our overall goals as a species. Newton, Einstein, Tesla, all made tremendously significant contributions to humanity and were creative powerhouses. I mean come on, Gravity? Relativity? Alternating current? See where I'm goin' with this?

5. Wildcard - Here's a tricky one. This is for the little things that are hard to categorize like Eric Johnson's tone and overall OCD, Joe Perry's shear amount of panty dropping cool, Paul Stanley's superior artificial facial pigmentation and shimmering body adornment, a flaming strat at Monterey and a crazy black guy (race was significant at the time) making sweet sweet sex to it, Malmsteen's swaggering A-hole reputation and hilarious, inebriated accent, and Esteban's latenight, awe-inspiring infomercials.


Did I miss anything? Misstate any relevant points? Waste my time typing? Here's the Rolling Stone list, in case you were curious to see where your fav guitar god placed (or didn't in my case). oh and one last immature, LMAO moment.... JOAN JETT BEAT ANGUS, HAHAHAHA!!!!!

1 Jimi Hendrix
2 Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band
3 B.B. King
4 Eric Clapton
5 Robert Johnson
6 Chuck Berry
7 Stevie Ray Vaughan
8 Ry Cooder
9 Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
10 Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones
11Kirk Hammett of Metallica
12 Kurt Cobain of Nirvana
13 Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead
14 Jeff Beck
15 Carlos Santana
16 Johnny Ramone of the Ramones
17 Jack White of the White Stripes
18 John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
19 Richard Thompson
20 James Burton
21 George Harrison
22 Mike Bloomfield
23 Warren Haynes
24 The Edge of U2
25 Freddy King
26 Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave
27 Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits
28 Stephen Stills
29 Ron Asheton of the Stooges
30 Buddy Guy
31 Dick Dale
32 John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service
33 & 34 Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth
35 John Fahey
36 Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG's
37 Bod Diddley
38 Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac
39 Brian May of Qeen
40 John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival
41 Clarence White of the Byrds
42 Robert Fripp of King Crimson
43 Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic
44 Scotty Moore
45 Frank Zappa
46 Les Paul
47 T-Bone Walker
48 Joe Perry of Aerosmith
49 John McLaughlin
50 Pete Townshend
51 Paul Kossoff of Free
52 Lou Reed
53 Mickey Baker
54 Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane
55 Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple
56 Tom Verlaine of Television
57 Roy Buchanan
58 Dickey Betts
59 & 60 Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien of Radiohead
61 Ike Turner
62 Zoot Horn Rollo of the Magic Band
63 Danny Gatton
64 Mick Ronson
65 Hubert Sumlin
66 Vernon Reid of Living Colour
67 Link Wray
68 Jerry Miller of Moby Grape
69 Steve Howe of Yes
70 Eddie Van Halen
71 Lightnin' Hopkins
72 Joni Mitchell
73 Trey Anastasio of Phish
74 Johnny Winter
75 Adam Jones of Tool
76 Ali Farka Toure
77 Henry Vestine of Canned Heat
78 Robbie Robertson of the Band
79 Cliff Gallup of the Blue Caps (1997)
80 Robert Quine of the Voidoids
81 Derek Trucks
82 David Gilmour of Pink Floyd
83 Neil Young
84 Eddie Cochran
85 Randy Rhoads
86 Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath
87 Joan Jett
88 Dave Davies of the Kinks
89 D. Boon of the Minutemen
90 Glen Buxton of Alice Cooper
91 Robby Krieger of the Doors
92 & 93 Fred "Sonic" Smith, Wayne Kramer of the MC5
94 Bert Jansch
95 Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine
96 Angus Young of AC/DC
97 Robert Randolph
98 Leigh Stephens of Blue Cheer
99 Greg Ginn of Black Flag
100 Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
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#20
Control over the instrument. Doesn't matter how fast your playing. But it's blatantly obvious when someone is even slightly struggling with what they are playing.
#21
to me its always been about how i can honestly rate myself. i know that technically im improving and better than most of my age group (late teens) but im not going to consider myself 'good' until im happy with where i am in terms of playing. when i can think of a solo in my head and play it out, when i can move up and down the fretboard without ever having to doublecheck im going to the right places, that kinda thing. ill be good when im ready to be good haha :]
#24
Surely it is the same as being a good musician though. I would say that that means you are comfortable in almost (if not) all musical situations.
(Which encompasses both technical ability, as well as emotion. But personally I would say emotion and feeling are far more important.)
Adam
#25
Quote by TheQuailman
If you can make your instrument sound the way you want it to.

And we have a winner!
Techical ability is great, but you have to use it well, make that guitar wail like you want it to.
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#26
For me, to be a good guitarist, you need to be a good musician. You should know some basic theory, be able to stay in time easily, and keep a steady beat.

I usually classify someone as good if they play clean, not as in no distortion, but as in they're not sloppy and let all these additional notes ring out. I definitly don't think I fit this category
#27
Quote by 3rdActguitarist
For me, to be a good guitarist, you need to be a good musician. You should know some basic theory, be able to stay in time easily, and keep a steady beat.

I usually classify someone as good if they play clean, not as in no distortion, but as in they're not sloppy and let all these additional notes ring out. I definitly don't think I fit this category


Personally I agree with this most. Being able to keep time and play cleanly is crucial to being able to play with other musicians or even create enjoyable music, so I think this is what makes a good guitarist before anything else. This thread was about being good, not about being advanced, great, or good enough to make a list in a mainstream publication.
#28
Quote by alex0203
I've been wondering about this for a very long time, but I've never asked any of my friends. I would like for everyone to give me there opinion on what they think classifies a guitarist as "good". What does it mean to you when you say something like: "He/she can REALLY play that guitar!" or "Woah that was GOOD!"

Just to get my 2 cents in, I know that a lot of people think that if you can play like Slash or Eddie Van Halen, then you must be "good", but my opinion differs from that. So, before I tell you my opinion, let me hears what you're thinking.

Oh yeah, I'm talking about Lead guitar and Rhythm..it doesn't matter.


In some towns...Playing br00tally fast (not clean) and turning your gain up to 11, and MAKE SURE, you have good hair and tight pants. Mindless women will flock to your crotch
#29
It all comes down to the shirt test, if the guitarist is playing and women still have their shirts on, then he needs to practice a bit more, if they're taking their shirts off, that's when they're good. Getting the pants off is a story for another day...another day in The Pit.
#30
my opinion is that a good guitarist can feel what he or she is playing, and can just improvise without thinking about what he or she is going to do next. Heard of the 'Questions and Answers' Technique.
But what i dont think makes a good guitarist is someone who can just play a billion notes a second and people who dont know good music go "Wow he must be good he can play like 2345665 notes a second he is fast so he is good" Just because your fast and cant do anything else it doesent make you good

^ Tis my opinion.
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#32
Probably the earlier posts have the point. The ability to write good music. But if you mean sound like a good guitarist to regular non-guitarists, then just play cannon rock like funtwo and theyd be impressed.
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#33
Being enjoyed by the audience.

Technical prowess don't mean shit if you don't have any fans to enjoy it.
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#34
Being able to make it sound the way you want. Being in control. The reason people find fast players impressive is because they can retain control even when playing so many notes. Playing sloppily isn't the same thing.

It's basically like fluency with your instrument. When you speak a language fluently, it's fairly evident. Same when you play guitar.

EDIT: ah, Quailman already said it
#35
Gilmour and Neil at 82 and 83 :S

And Zappa at 45 :s

That's seriously mucked up.

Like someone above said,

A good guitarist should be able to play what he hears inside his head.

Of cause, good is completely subjective
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#36
Having the ability to play what ideas you come up with in your mind makes you good. If your idea of music comes out as a three chord song, you are good if you can play the hell out of it. There shouldn't be a set bar for measuring guitarists at, it's all about how they measure themselves.
#37
Gilmour and Neil at 82 and 83 :S

And Zappa at 45 :s

That's seriously mucked up.



And Joey Ramone at 16????

seriously?

on topic, i agree that it is subjective to the person you ask. i mean, non guitar playing people say im amazing at guitar, because i can bash out a few chords and one or two impressive licks, whereas, im more or less average in the eyes of someone with experience of the instrument.

in other words, i think its all opinion
#38
A good guitarist is someone who can play guitar well. They may well be able to play a wide range of musical styles or they may just stick with one. They should be able to play with feeling that suits the kind of music they choose to play. Whether they write their own songs or play covers is more a question of their song writing ability than how good a guitar they are.
#39
I would say that a good guitarist is one who can write good original songs. Sure you can brag about how you learned the solo to Stairway To Heaven all the want, but the fact is that Jimmy Page wrote that song and put his heart into it, which is something no one can duplicate. You can't recreate the passion that a guitarist put into writting a song. You may have their exact guitar model and same amp, but that doesn' matter when you talk about the emotion.
#40
What a ****ing pointless exercise putting guitarists in a "100 best" list. Seriously: does anyone really give a ****? ****ing human quality of having to rate and classify everything makes me ****ing sick. Don't get me started on journalists.

Anyway a good guitarist? Control, fluidity, innovativeness, touch, feel, communication. The list goes on.
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