Monday, June 28, 2010

Great Guitarists

As promised, I will veer away from movies for a bit. I have to restrain myself, though, as I watched Rush - Behind the Lighted Stage this past Saturday and want to review it for you. (The DVD comes out Tuesday - if you're a fan, it's a MUST!)

It did inspire me to consider my favorite guitarists and those who inspire me to play better.

Six Great Guitarists

1. Alex Lifeson (Rush)

I think it's clear by now that I am a huge Rush nerd. Alex's guitar work has always been amazing to me. His smooth and effortless fretwork, along with the great songs and memorable riffs put him among the elite.

Essentials to check out: Natural Science, The Spirit of Radio, La Villa Strangiato

2. Joe Satriani

I was in college when a friend suggested I pick up a rock, instrumental album called "Surfing With The Alien". The album was a masterpiece of precision and beauty. I was hooked and have been a Satch fan ever since. Watching him in concert is like watching a star athlete at the top of his game. If you enjoy rock with a hint of Jazz and Blues, then Joe should be high on your list.

Essentials to check out: Satch Boogie, Always With Me (Always With You), Summer Song, One Big Rush

3. John Petrucci (Dream Theater)

The readers of Guitar Player Magazine just voted him Best Metal Guitarist. What more can you say about a guitarist who keeps upping his game with every release. Not only technically impressive, John seems to feel music like you and I breath air.

Essentials to check out: The Count of Tuscani, Octavarium, Constant Motion

4. Dimebag Darrell Abott (Pantera)

Before his tragic death (he was shot to death while performing at a club) Dime changed the sound of metal music. His snarling, growling, vicious style of playing has influenced every guitarist that followed. His playing always reminds me of fighting because it's so aggressive and explosive...simply amazing.

Essentials to check out: Mouth for War, Cowboys From Hell, Cemetery Gates, Walk

5. Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme)

If you've ever seen "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" then you've heard Nuno. Remember the crazy guitar work playing during the mall chase scene, it's actually an Extreme song titled "Play With Me". Nuno reached elite status with the next album "Pornograffiti". Without a doubt, some of the best riffs and fills that you will ever hear can be found on this disc.

Essentials to check out: Play With Me, Flight of the Wounded Bumble Bee (He Man, Woman Hater), Decadence Dance, Warheads

6. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)

One listen to "Rust in Peace" is all it takes to convince any guitar aficionado that Dave deserves to be on this list. The amazing fretwork of Dave and fellow guitarist Marty Friedman is truly epic. The lineup has changed over the years but Dave continues to shred with the best of them.

Essentials to check out: Holy Wars...The Punishment Due, Wake Up Dead, Symphony of Destruction, Train of Consequences

Here are few other great shredders and riffers to check out:

Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)

John Sykes (Whitesnake, Blue Murder)

Jesper Stromblad, Bjorn Gelotte (In Flames)

Steve Rothery (Marillion)

Steve Vai

There are other great guitarists, but these are the ones I felt were the most diverse and talented, and who continue to improve and progress musically. And bottom line, they're my favorites!


Jayne said...

My friends are more into their guitar heroes, but now I can join in with their conversation, and drop some names! Have you see the film 'Crossroads' by the way? That was my first real introduction to Steve Vai. :)

The Old Silly said...

As a guitarist myself for some 46 years now, and an avid fan of the instrument, you KNOW I loved THIS post!

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to play the guitar... I did try once or twice but managed to trash 'leaving on a jet plane' and gave up ;0)

Will Burke said...

Great selections! After hearing "Rhythmeen" by ZZ Top, I was sold on Billy Gibbons as a 6-string slinger extrordinaire! And Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine is arguably the first inovative guitarist since EVH.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm only going to admit to this because I like you so much Alex. I only have one tattoo. It's a home-made number that my roommate gave me in boarding school when I was a sophomore in high school. We used Indian-Ink and a sewing needle.

It's on my right ankle. It's a small cross. Above the cross is the word "Free". Below the cross is the word "Will".

Hannah said...

Gawd, I love a good rif.

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm going to check out the ones I haven't heard on the youtube.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Definitely a great list. At the top of mine? David Gilmour. Sigh.


If you heard me play Alex you wouldn't want to play the guitar again.

This was an excellent post and very informative, Thanks for sharing.


DEZMOND said...

Alex, have you ever though of making a band and recording an album, or are you just playing the guitar for relaxation?

Carol Kilgore said...

Stevie Ray Vaughan. Of course I'm a Texan.

Ted Cross said...

For me it was Jimmy Page and David Gilmour above all others.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jayne, that final scene in Crossroads with Vai is amazing!

Matthew, that is AWESOME!!!

Dezz, I just play to relax.

Zoe and Ted, Gilmour has a great bluesy sound and his phrasing is awesome. He knows how to sustain notes without filler.

Arlee Bird said...

This was a different post, but good. I'm also in the Dave Gilmour crowd and I do like Steve Vai. Not real familiar with the work of Pantera, Megadeath, and Extreme, but have certainly heard of them. One of my favorites is Neil Young for his rawness and emotion, not so much for technicallity.

On a more mellow, but technically superb level is Bruce Cockburn and Phil Keaggy-- these guys can really play nicely. For jazz there's Gabor Szabo and Grant Green among many others --- and of course Les Paul.

Tossing It Out

Jamie Gibbs said...

Good call on Mustaine, Petrucci and Dimebag. Metal guitarists are always at the top of my lists :P

I went to see The Big 4 event in the cinema (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax) last week, and Mustaine's shredding was insane. His vocals were below par, which was a shame, but you can't deny that dude can play the guitar!

Don't forget good old Slash too, that guy is nuts when it comes to the strings. Some personal favourites of mine are Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth, Thomas Youngblood from Kamelot, and who can forget Herman 'I play Pac Man on my guitar' Li from Dragonforce :P


Alex, I was telling my son about your book which goes on sale in October, He is into sci fi , iss the book going to be sold on Amazon? or just in the US.
Thought I would get him one.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Arlee, maybe we can both discover some new guitarists, then.

Jamie, that sounds like a kickin' concert! Considering how Mustaine growls his lyrics, it's a wonder he hasn't lost his voice already.

Yvonne, it'll be on Amazon and I think as an eBook, too. Thanks!!!!

Donna B. said...

I enjoyed this post...but what about the great Jimi Hendrix, Brian May of Queen, Carlos Santana of Santana and David "The Edge" Howell Evans of U2? Am I dating myself???

Southpaw said...

I don’t know guitarists by name but I know when they are good!

Hart Johnson said...

I know so little in terms of specifcs, but I do have an observation... my husband, a former punk rock singer, used to make fun of my heavy metal roots--then he decided to learn guitar and I come home and he is cranking AC/DC (go Angus!)--guitar appreciaters become metal appreciaters because I think it is the style that best features really kick-ass guitar playing. (I like it for the screamers myself)

Saumya said...

Ah! I am trying to learn to play the guitar and it has given me a newfound appreciation to great guitarists. Thanks for sharing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Covnitkepr1, I just started following.

Donna, they are great, too. I just went with ones relevant to me. You're not dating yourself.

Hart, you were a good influence then!

Saumya, I've been playing about four years now and I am in awe of these guys.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I enjoyed my guitar lessons as a teenager (many years ago), but unfortunately I had no musical talent. All I can say about your list is that I have heard of a few of these, but not many. Guess I’m hopelessly stuck in the golden oldies rut.

RaShelle Workman said...

Oh boy, I'm so out of my league on this post. I'm just going to say, "Hey Alex," and I'd better run over to youtube.

Jemi Fraser said...

I never know the names of the musicians, but I love the sound of a well-played guitar! My son has been learning guitar on his own for the last couple of years, and I could sit and listen to him learn and play for hours. :)

Chuck said...

I could do my own post on this subject 'cause I think it's a great idea.

I would like to offer up two more, one old-school and one more current:

The guitar God of all time is Jimmy Page. Period. His evolution of music is epic. Nothing has been the same since. The things he did with a guitar were ground-breaking. Zeppelin has spawned everything that has taken place in rock music since the late sixties.

One of my new heavy rock favorites is Tony Rombola of Godsmack. I love their music (yeah a lot of people say their songs all sound the same, if so, you ain't listenin'). I have a DVD of their Faceless show in Philly that is absolutely balls to the wall.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for sharing your list!
Have a great week,

The Man-Cave said...

Great list! Dimebag and Petrucci are excellent picks. But if I could offer one, I would offer David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. His solos are incredible.

Powdered Toast Man said...

seems like you are really into metal.

I came to your blog today to see some movie stuff and now you decide to take a break, just my luck.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Chuck, Page was definitely a pioneer!
And Rombola knows how to play some great riffs.

Geof, Gilmour has received several mentions here. A great guitarist.

Sorry, Toast Man!


Alex should you go to my blog page there is an award awaiting you.
Your Movie fest brought in the most comments I ever recived. I thank you.


Unknown said...

I have played the Guitar just once. Let's say it ended badly. Nice to know a bit about great guitarists.

DEZMOND said...

Alex, what about Santana, I forgot to aks you that, he's the first guitarist that falls upon my amateur mind :)

JournoMich said...

I'm with Dez, Santana pops into my uneducated mind.

I'll have to share this with my husband. He's the guitar guru in the family!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yvonne, I saw that, and thanks!

Santana is good! I appreciate good guitaring even if it's not my style of music.

Michele, he probably knows all of them, then!

Glynis Peters said...

I recognise a few names on the list. I enjoy a well played guitar tune.

DiscConnected said...

I am shocked to find Lifeson and Petrucci on your list!

Who would have seen that coming?

I kid, of course. Interesting list.

There are a whole lot of good guitarists out there, and if you allow yourself to genre-hop a little, you'll find a lot of diverse music worth listening to.

While the guitarists I am thinking of (Buddy Guy, Clapton, Ry Cooder) may not have the technical chops of a Satch, they make up for that in timing/feeling.

I was a little surprised to see Rothery on your list! I would have thought Marillion a little 'light' for you!


Talli Roland said...

Oh, Rush! I love them!

Glad to find another Rush fan out there. I thought we were all old and decrepit...

TS Hendrik said...

I had no idea that was Nuno in that Bill & Ted's scene. I love the guitar in it.

Helen Ginger said...

Alex, this proves it. I am such a slug. I've not heard any on your list.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're right about those you named. And even a metalhead has a softer side. I also enjoy Porcupine Tree and Catherine Wheel.

Talli, you are NOT old and decrepit! And just plain refuse to get that way. Rush rules!

TS, that scene in the mall with Extreme's "Play With Me" is what led me to that band and Nuno.

Helen, would you rather be a snail? At least they have nice shells...

Unknown said...

I don't know much about guitarists, but my son plays guitar and bass. He just got a new guitar the other day and was playing it in the living room. I didn't know he was as good as he was. I remember him plinking away playing the same couple of chords over and over. lol.

Anyway, I grew up listening to Rush. How can anyone not love Permanent Waves? When I hear it, I'm immediately back in high school. lol

Pat Tillett said...


Making a list of 10 or so is as hard as coming up my favorite 12 movies. However, off the top of my head here are ten of them that I LOVE..
Jimi Hendrix
Jimmy Page
Ry Cooder
Joe Satriani
Alvin Lee
Duane Allman
Tom Morello
David Gilmour
Steve Howe
Tony Iommi

Jules said...

I play a little and am a fan of the "ax." But I'm sorry to say I am not a big fan of heavy.

Here is who I would nominate:
Dickie Betts
Eric Clapton
BB King

But then I'm old school. Good post.

Eric said...

Great list and great post. Did you know that Steve Vai was actually playing the guitar solo that Ralph Macchio pretended to play in that last scene? I looked it up once just to see who was actually playing it (since I doubted Mr. Karate Kid could handle things personally).

The Yard Bard said...

After my own husband, my favorite picker is Tommy Emmanuel. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mary, how can anyone not love Permanent Waves?!

Jules, Clapton is a guitar hero.

Little Stevie Vai was pulling double duty then!