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jeremy_green

Greatest melodic guitarists

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I know some cats who are awesome but have zero interest in playing fast. They just don't dig it. The melody and the vibe gives them the rush. ... I also know other guys who are frankly to lazy to work on technique and use "feel player" as a front... I do think (know) some people are just born with more natural dexterity than others so they tend to go into areas where they can succeed likely. I do believe that while you are acquiring speed take the time to master the art of playing slow... then build on top of that foundation.

 

I will say this, (without bragging) I have plenty of speed .... more than most. My finding is that ultimately it is more difficult to place less notes and maintain the impact. I have a deep admiration for players like David Gilmour who can nail this.

 

You are bang on the ultimate would be to have both skill sets - which is my goal. It occurred to me that I have spent FAR more time studying and tearing apart the styles of 'fast' guitar players - because growing up I loved that style. I never really gave proper due in terms of learning and breaking 'easy' melodic solos.

 

When you play with less notes it comes down to a deeper understanding of intervals and their impact on the note you just played..... I need to better grip this.

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Who are your favourite melodic players? Not shredders, slow hand type stuff. Clapton and Gilmour jump immediately to mind.... Who are some others?

 

For me David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, Scott Gorham, Phil Manzanera and Steve Howe (although some of these are not exactly slow, but at least I wouldn't call them shredders).

 

I also like The Edge and Andy Summers, who are non-shredders but at the same time they aren't very "melodic" because they rarely play solos.

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Kee Marcello is one guy I feel always puts the melody first, even though he's capable of ripping your head off with blistering runs.

 

[video=youtube;JveJ55mtje4]

 

Wonderful player, a bit reminiscent of John Sykes.

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Mark Knopfler seems omitted on in this thread (I saw Li Shenron mention him), he has to make the list. The man on my avatar isn't bad either.

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I know some cats who are awesome but have zero interest in playing fast. They just don't dig it. The melody and the vibe gives them the rush. ... I also know other guys who are frankly to lazy to work on technique and use "feel player" as a front... I do think (know) some people are just born with more natural dexterity than others so they tend to go into areas where they can succeed likely. I do believe that while you are acquiring speed take the time to master the art of playing slow... then build on top of that foundation.


I will say this, (without bragging) I have plenty of speed .... more than most. My finding is that ultimately it is more difficult to place less notes and maintain the impact. I have a deep admiration for players like David Gilmour who can nail this.


You are bang on the ultimate would be to have both skill sets - which is my goal. It occurred to me that I have spent FAR more time studying and tearing apart the styles of 'fast' guitar players - because growing up I loved that style. I never really gave proper due in terms of learning and breaking 'easy' melodic solos.


When you play with less notes it comes down to a deeper understanding of intervals and their impact on the note you just played..... I need to better grip this.

Right. Personally I never had a problem with this, as I was never that fast (and still am not). Flash technique did once interest me, but in the context of ragtime fingerpicking. I began (as I said) as a Shadows fan, before I ever saw myself as a guitar player, let alone before I owned one. Melody always "spoke" to me: it was why I wanted to play music in the first place, to be able to construct melodies. (Well, actually to strum along in a band was my first ambition, but Marvin-style lead would have been my second. And then a couple of years where I developed fingerstyle chops. And then back on single-string lead, copying Django, crudely.)

 

To get less personal, it comes down (as I'm sure you know really ;)) to listening to melodies and learning to play them. Not transcribing melodic solos (although that will help) - but just transcribing and playing plain melodies, the vocal parts of songs.

You don't need to follow specific players - just pick some great (favourite) songs and play the tunes. That's how you build up your own personal vocabulary of phrases.

Technically, forget speed and focus on tone and articulation.

 

Again, as I'm sure you know (and have probably told others in the past :)), it's about "singing" with your instrument. You have to rein those too-well-trained fingers in, and think about every note. What would it feel like to sing that note? and then what note would you sing after it?

As Miles Davis once said (very usefully) to John McLaughlin "play like you don't know how to play the guitar". You have to just make a sound, a note, and then imagine how that note will lead to others.

Miles, of course, was one of the great minimal/melodic improvisers, who made every note count. Listen to players like him, not just guitarists. (Damn guitarists, whose fingers too often race ahead of their brains...)

 

I was going to post a Hal Galper link until I noticed he's mentioned on another current thread... but hell here's the video I was thinking about anyway:

"This is not the instrument. It's an illusion. You're the instrument."

"If you can't hear it, you can't play it." (You may think you can't play what you hear, but the problem is you're playing exactly what you hear.)

Great Dizzy Gillespie story at 3:45;

And a nice illustration of the concept from a student from 7:00.

 

Check out his other videos too - all excellent and thought-provoking. (Of course they're about jazz, but can be applied to any improvised music.)

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JonR - you are right on there. Funny you say that. Last night I spent a good hour of my practice routine playing along with Elton John - the vocal lines. Absolutely agreed singers are where the melody lives. An interesting thing though is guitar players tend to be more nailed into the pentatonic scale than vocalists. Most of the players deemed with 'feel' seem to be MOSTLY pentatonic.

 

Miles Davis was another that jumped immediately to my mind as well. I am not entirely a guitar wanker just 90% of one : )

 

I do think I know what needs to be done ... just seemed to have avoided it for some reason. That is sing as I play. When i do this INSTANTLY the phrasing improves... but I haven't been able to stay in it??? I need to FORCE myself to do that for a good while I think. It's funny I don't know why I avoid that?? It's like a self-conscious thing... If I am really honest with myself I guess I feel a little silly doing it. I know these feelings are absolutely stupid. But I can't deny their existence. Working on completely LETTING GO is something that I need work on. The best players out there DEFINITELY do this.

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Has no one mentioned Skunk Baxter yet? or am I just showing my age?

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Has no one mentioned Skunk Baxter yet? or am I just showing my age?

 

I'll see your Skunk Baxter and raise you Joe Walsh. ;)

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JonR - you are right on there. Funny you say that. Last night I spent a good hour of my practice routine playing along with Elton John - the vocal lines. Absolutely agreed singers are where the melody lives. An interesting thing though is guitar players tend to be more nailed into the pentatonic scale than vocalists. Most of the players deemed with 'feel' seem to be MOSTLY pentatonic.


Miles Davis was another that jumped immediately to my mind as well. I am not entirely a guitar wanker just 90% of one : )


I do think I know what needs to be done ... just seemed to have avoided it for some reason. That is sing as I play. When i do this INSTANTLY the phrasing improves... but I haven't been able to stay in it??? I need to FORCE myself to do that for a good while I think. It's funny I don't know why I avoid that?? It's like a self-conscious thing... If I am really honest with myself I guess I feel a little silly doing it. I know these feelings are absolutely stupid. But I can't deny their existence. Working on completely LETTING GO is something that I need work on. The best players out there DEFINITELY do this.

Right.

It's the old problem (I certainly suffer from it) of lazily letting your fingers do their thing. You know you can find notes that fit, you know what scales to choose. And you also (be honest) like to see people go "wow" when you play fast! ;) These are all temptations that are hard to resist. Playing one of those rehearsed licks, those practised patterns, saves thinking. (On stage, you're often a lot less relaxed anyhow - you don't want to make things harder than they have to be.)

 

The answer is just to force yourself to be on top of it all the time. To think ahead, plan. Now and then, stop yourself playing what you were about to play. If it was (say) a pentatonic lick, play just one or two notes of the lick.

Instead of thinking about what you're doing, listen to the band. What's the bassist doing at that monent? What's the drummer doing? Anything there you can mimic or play off?

Imagining singing a phrase before you play it is a well-known strategy, but why not do the whole George Benson thing and sing while you play? (That ought to make damn well sure you don't play anything you can't sing...)

 

Again, these are probably ideas you're aware of; it's just making yourself actually do these things in practice that's hard.

 

Personally I find a good way out of the rut is to think rhythmically rather than melodically. IOW to impose some kind of cross rhythm; play quarter note triplets; syncopate phrases; repeat a phrase starting from a different place in the bar; etc. This often inspires melodic shape too (I just find it easier to imagine - and execute - interesting rhythms than interesting melodies.) It certainly keeps a solo interesting, which is what matters.

 

Of course, at the end of one of these "interesting" solos, you can still let rip with some fast cliches, long high notes, etc, and get the old "wow" response :D. And speed is likely to have more impact, of course, if you've built up to it, kept them waiting.

 

It's all about.....

 

....

...

 

 

 

....

.

 

.....

 

 

....... suspense!

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I'll see your Skunk Baxter and raise you Joe Walsh.
;)

 

I almost threw that in but then I'd really be dating myself. I guess we're both a couple of old 'coots. LOL

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Mark Knopfler seems omitted on in this thread (I saw Li Shenron mention him), he has to make the list. The man on my avatar isn't bad either.

 

Mark Knopfler certainly belongs on this list.

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Mark Knopfler certainly belongs on this list.

 

Yes he most certainly does.

 

My suggestions;

 

Buckethead - a master of Aeolian melodies (yes he can shred but is even better as a slow hand player imo)

Mike Oldfield

 

I'll post some clips when I get home from work.

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Gary Moore

David Gilmour

Jerry Cantrell

Slash

Eliot Easton

Dean de Leo

Wes

Jimi

Allman

Cobain

Benson

Setzer

Garcia

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Lotta names, tough criteria to live up to. I can only think of recorded examples by a few artists that even come close to greatness.

 

FT2qt98GFl8

 

Many other live examples of 335 as well. Human as usual.

 

 

Most awesome vibe:

IkLSoXSQcYQ

 

One particular hottie I can't find any YTube on, Monmouth College fight song. Robben Ford / Yellow Jackets from the Casino Lights live at Montreaux (sp?) album.

 

Other favorites:

 

Joe Walsh, Glen Frye ? Hotel California

 

Craig Chaquico, Nothing's Gonna Stop Us

 

Eddie, When It's Love, Jump, Panama ...

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Gary Moore can (and has, on many occasions) brought me to tears with his playing. So can Knopfler.

 

One person I haven't seen mentioned is Mattias Jabs from the Scorpions; he puts perfect parts in perfect spots, time and time again. Moreover, when a non-guitar player hums a Scorpion song, they usually also hum the solo-the ultimate endorsement for melodic phrasing, IMHO.

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when a non-guitar player hums a Scorpion song, they usually also hum the solo-the ultimate endorsement for melodic phrasing, IMHO.

 

Indeed!

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Gary Moore can (and has, on many occasions) brought me to tears with his playing. So can Knopfler.


One person I haven't seen mentioned is Mattias Jabs from the Scorpions; he puts perfect parts in perfect spots, time and time again. Moreover, when a non-guitar player hums a Scorpion song, they usually also hum the solo-the ultimate endorsement for melodic phrasing, IMHO.

 

I was about to mention Matthias Jabs. Glad you already did. :)

Speaking of Moore -and I am a big fan- this one at 5:20 is quite melodic, written in 1974:

[video=youtube;Xe-uwEqTjd0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe-uwEqTjd0

 

Carlos Cavazo is another one with hummable guitar parts.

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Carlos Cavazo is another one with hummable guitar parts.

 

Oooh, that was quite nice. I like how he didn't try to mimic the original, but gave it a nod and then made it his own. That's Carlos Cavazo? I have to look for more of his stuff...

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No Larry, that's Jud's Gallery. Moore got sued and lost for plagiarism, since Still got the Blues (1990) is too similar to Nordrach (1974).

 

Carlos Cavazo used to play with Quiet Riot. You can listen to Carlos here at 2:13:

[video=youtube;KW2J_UZ8lQU]

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No Larry, that's Jud's Gallery. Moore got sued and lost for plagiarism, since Still got the Blues (1990) is too similar to Nordrach (1974).

 

 

Holy cow-I never heard about that! Disappointing...

 

Edit-

 

Seems Moore lost that suit in Germany, and it turns out the Jud's Gallery song wasn't even recorded until SGTB was long released. Another interesting point is the song as it was originally played in 1974 (they've found a recording off a radio performance) was substantially different from how the band plays it now, after SGTB was released. Makes one say, 'hmmmmm', sort of:

 

[video=youtube;Uk0VEp03fzU]

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