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how come nobody can play the guitar anymore?


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  • how come nobody can play the guitar anymore?

    having grown up in the era of jimi hendrix and jimmy page (from yardbirds onward), and having watched the evolution of serious guitar mastery progress all the way up through the two wnderful guys from def leppard, van halen, steve lukather, and up to steve vai, there was hardly a time through the 60s, 70, 80s, and 90s when there werent scores of people who could play the guitar like crazy with truly skilled fingerwork and creative solo work. IMO, steve vai, after working with frank zappa, took the art of guitar to a near ultimate level of complete mastery, and i am still astounded by what he can do not only with the instrument, but combining that skill with compositional powerhouses, playing in 11/8 with polyrythms, etc., as in "windows to the soul" and "blue powder" and many others.

    nowadays, and seemingly starting with the grunge movement, riseof the garage bands, i feel like there arent any real guitar players left anymore. it is as if steve vai, bu being so incredible, scared everybody off from trying to be not just good, but great on their isntrument. i mean, i dont even hear any guitar solos in popular songs today. one exception - there seem to be some darn good players in some of the country groups with rascal flats and a couple other groups. but as far as cutting edge pop/rock, i just am not hearing anybody creative or masterful on the guitar.

    i suppose i could carry this same gripe over into the whole issue of composition and lyric content also - nobody seems to be writing anything with any meaning either, nor anything truly creative - it is just rehashing of the same old melodic devices and worn out chord progressions. like, where are the joni mitchells and james taylors, or groups like Yes, jethro tull, steely dan, rush, queen, gentle giant, etc?? people who pushed the boundaries forward - not backward. i am sure plenty of you will disagree with me on these issues, and tell me how great the smashing pukings or dave matthews or some rapper is, but i might expect that from younger people who have little perspective on the history of this genre. from those of you who do feel like you have some perspective, what are your thoughts on my above ranting? i will be interested to see what kind of responses this gets. thanks.
    sunridge studios
    salem, oregon

  • #2
    The problem is audiences.

    They decided they were no longer into thinking too much during their precious recreation hours; it gets in the way of getting laid.

    Thus, bands like Tull and Yes who used to fill stadiums now play to a few thousand people. Naturally, the incentive to become a monster on your instrument (or at least to make an effort to share that virtuousity) diminishes when no one's listening.

    "Your own limitations render you incapable of realizing that not everyone is as limited as yourself."


    • #3
      There are a lot of amazing guitarists out there right now.

      What we're not hearing is a lot of ones with distinctive, adventurous personalities. It's not because of guitarists necessarily...it's because it's not being heard. And when people don't hear it, we don't know about it. And when guitarists also don't hear new stuff, they're not inspired to explore different areas. Cyclical...
      Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven


      • #4
        Oh... I never could.

        I think there can be a disconnect between musicians with fabulous technique and the audience, a lot of times.

        Other guitarists may go ga-ga over some crazy, over-the-top technique, but unless the guy can harness all that technique into making music that means something to folks, he's going to continue playing to a small audience of other fretgrinders.

        For every album like Jeff Beck's Wired there are a couple hundred by technique mavens that don't hook up with people's emotions.

        Really, a whole lotta guitar solos don't have much emotional content. They may have histrionics -- but all too often there's not a lot of substance.

        music and social links | recent listening


        • #5
          Ah, this is cyclical.

          I mean, I appreciate complex music, but somewhere along the line, progressive turns to pretentious.

          On the other hand, the grunge movement (and punk before that) started out as refreshing, but eventually turned to patronizing, placing style over substance.

          I think the dominance of business aspects is effecting the swing of the pendulum. Large media conglomerates like conservative predictability, not revolutionary ideas.
          Music for your busy day.

          All the info you need.

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          • #6
            B. B. King is still playing.



            • #7
              I'd rather be remembered for songwriting and style than for virtuoso technique.


              • #8
                There's still some players....John Mayer can play.

                Have you heard Buckethead?

                You DO have to look hard, 'cause the music scene is so scattered, genrefied, cultified, and overshadowed by the corporate hype pushing a tiny number of minor talents.

                Also, rock music has now been around a pretty dang long time for a popular music form - even if you cut out "rock 'n roll" from "rock" you've still got what, 45 years at least? Not to start an academic debate (please Lord, not that ) but sheesh, the "Classical" period of orchestral music lasted only 50 (1750 to 1800) or at most 90 years (1730 to 1820) depending on which history you read.

                In 1975 when you went to the record store, I bet you had heard of maybe 90% of all the bands in the bins. Now you've got 30 more years of bands - hundreds and hundreds of bands - and who has heard of even 40% of the bands in the bins at the store? Or even wants to? And the better the store you go to, the fewer you've heard of....and no store keeps even a fraction of the available inventory in stock at any time.

                All this to say, there's a ton of stuff out there, most of it definitely stuff you are not interested in, so you have to do some, or a lot of homework. Not just listen to your local morning jockeys, or college radio, or even some hip station like WFMU New York.

                A really good record store with listening stations is one place to start. Also an internet source like Launchcast or Live365 or satellite radio.

                I bet you'll find the scratch for your itch, guitar-wise, if you put some serious time into researching the thing. But don't expect guitar gods to be front 'n center on the charts. That era has done come and gone.

                nat whilk ii


                • #9
                  Originally posted by blue2blue
                  Oh... I never could.

                  One of us - one of us


                  • #10
                    I don't think it's that no one can play anymore, it's that the popular styles these days don't call for virtuosos, so not a lot of new guitarists bother becoming good. They just don't need to play in that way to play the style they want.
                    Powered by squirrels.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by veracohr
                      I don't think it's that no one can play anymore, it's that the popular styles these days don't call for virtuosos, so not a lot of new guitarists bother becoming good. They just don't need to play in that way to play the style they want.

                      I think that's an excellent point.

                      I never learned a lot of the techniques that were so hot in the 80s like double hand tapping and so forth because, by and large, the people who indulged those techniques mostly left me cold.

                      And speed for its own sake stopped being important to me sometime in the late 70s...

                      In fact, I went through a phase starting about 10 years ago where I forced myself to play lots of half and whole notes... just to force myself to feel what I was playing. Also, I tried to 'forget' what key I was in (stop seeing the grid, as it were) and start playing the next note in my mind, rather than the next set of moves my muscle memory served up as a possible way to go.

                      music and social links | recent listening


                      • #12
                        I dig on what you're saying mr blue man. I always think back to "how can I understand what you're saying when you're talking 100 mph!?"

                        I respect guys who can do all that wild flashy guitar stuff, but it still bores me 90%. There's this guy Dave Gutter out of paranoid social club PSC who can really just play. Wow can that guy play. There's just something about his playing that has a lot of character. He spent most of the last ten years or so having to support a keyboard player and a horn section. Maybe that's what players all around are missing today: You've got to be a great rhythm player before you can be a great lead player...

                        A lot of highschool horn players I know have the same issue. They go for a solo and just spill out anything then can in the 8-16 bars they're given.

                        I bet we can blame it on the economy some how. Every one's busy trying to get those little pieces of paper that done say they're "smart" so they can "live" "more comfortably".......*starves to death*

                        Joseph K Murphy
                        Music for the human heart, Murkádee


                        • #13
                          There's always Greg Koch . If you haven't heard his stuff, go to his CD pages and listen to some of the samples. He is extremely good and plays with a great sense of humor.
                          Pontiac Blues Band Home Page
                          Today's Sample Song - You Didn't Have To Leave Me


                          • #14
                            I think this applies to all instruments, not just guitars.

                            It's just part of the dumbing down of culture.

                            I'm sure some of you will blame hip-hop/rap music, but even that genre has been dumbed down itself. In the late 80s/early 90s, Public Enemy won critical acclaim for not just cutting-edge lyrics, but complex, dense sample arrangements.

                            Now it's just Lil'Jon with a simplistic TR- 808 beat and an annoying sawtooth synth sound, shouting, "WHUT?!" and "OKAAY!" every 4 bars.

                            Perhaps the blame goes straight to MTV. Heck, MTV doesn't even play *music* anymore.
                            Elson TrinidadSinger, Songwriter, Keyboardist, BassistElson and the Soul BarkadaWeb: www.elsongs.comMySpace: www.myspace.com/elsongsFacebook: Facebook PageTwitter: twitter.com/elsongs


                            • #15
                              Two Subsequent Greg Koch tracks:
                              The Blues Jam Guy
                              Your Blues Give Me The Blues

                              Something slightly more serious:
                              Spank It
                              Damn Thing
                              Pontiac Blues Band Home Page
                              Today's Sample Song - You Didn't Have To Leave Me