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Strange attitude among guitar players

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bigcatJC, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. bigcatJC


    Jul 9, 2004
    Forgive me, because this is going to be a long one. This may just be me, but I gotta see if anybody else has noticed this.

    I made the mistake of wandering onto a guitar message board, and I found this weird attitude when discussing other guitar players. I checked three more boards to see if this was an anomaly, but I found this attitude everywhere I went. The posters there almost universally have an opinion I've never heard from people on any other instrument:

    Technical ability/speed = No emotion/feeling/soul

    Now I'm not talking about overplaying, that's a whole different debate. I mean people literally saying "So-and-so plays too perfectly, he's got no soul." What gives?

    I was classically trained on bass clarinet from 12 to 20 and never heard this from symphony musicians. "Yeah, that Itzhak Perlman's got no feel. Too fast." How about "Yo-Yo Ma is so clean, he sounds like a machine. He sucks!" I've never heard jazz sax players make similar remarks about Coltrane or Bird. I never hear my fellow bass players say this stuff. Just because Victor Wooten can play a gajillion notes, I don't think anybody would say he plays without soul. We can talk about overplaying all the time. We can always argue about whether somebody likes to hear "over the top" bass playing as opposed to support playing or grooving. But nobody seems to say Michael Manring has no emotion in his playing. Same with Jaco, Stanley Clarke, or Jeff Berlin. Technique does not exclude emotion. So what's the problem with guitar players?

    If they don't like someone's playing, fine; say so. If they think someone needs to go to Notes Anonymous to learn how to play less, fine; say so. But how can you say Guitarist X plays with more emotion than Guitarist Y just b/c Guitarist Y has more technical ability? As if emotion were something you could quantify and measure. For the life of me, it doesn't make sense! Sloppier playing or avoiding anything shorter than a whole note can't equal more feel, soul, or emotion, can they?

    So tell me, am I alone here? Do any of you hear guitar players (usually rock guitar players) say this stuff? Will I ever understand guitar players?
  2. i think its what they are playing at a thousand miles an hour...hearing guys like yngwie play 50,000 arpeggios in four minutes doesn't sound like any feeling to me...it sounds like he's saying "look what i can do!"
    the same goes with bass if you ask me, hearing guys tapping (van halen style) on bass doesn't do much for me either...of course just for the record, i am not a fan of any instruments doing that. if i hear a celloist playing that, i'll say the same thing, if i hear a internationally acclaimed saxophonist doing that, i'll say the same.

    plus, i'll add that bassists seem to not have as much of a competitive edge as guitar players do...it seems like guitar players are all saying, "i can do better than that" while bass players are saying "lets jam"

    my opinion...
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You'd be surprised how many musicians think of Coltrane and Bird as wankers. Cab Calloway fired Dizzy Gillespie for playing what he called "Chinese music" on his trumpet. It's by no means a new sentiment, nor is it limited to guitarists. Look at the most popular symphony in the world...Beethoven's Fifth, and it doesn't get much simpler at symphonic level. meanwhile there are thousands of symphonies more complex that that one, yet people don't like them nearly as much.

    People call Yngwie Malmsteen a wanker. People never call Steve Morse or Eric Johnson a wanker, even though they're clearly as capable as Yngwie. The difference is the level of heart. Steve and Eric write and plays music that comes from their hearts. Yngwie just wants to impress people with his ability to shred.

    Learning to spot the difference is tough at first, but it gets easier.
  4. bigcatJC


    Jul 9, 2004
    But here's the thing - Eric Johnson is one of the "too technical/no soul" guys these guitar players were ragging on! I didn't want to name names in my first post, but since you brought Johnson up...I will too! I don't see how anybody could listen to Eric Johnson and seriously think he plays with no emotion at all. Almost forgot, I saw Steve Morse mentioned a few times, too. :meh:

    It has to be a competitive/jealousy thing.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well that's the way I would look at it, but then again, one man's genius is another man's wanker. I can't even begin to name how many bassists that I consider wankers that others consider great artists. But I like plenty of bassists who can flat-out outplay me, so I don't know if jealousy is my reasoning. I'd like to think it's not.

    Anyway, I have long quit trying to figure out why other people like what they like, especially guitarists and singers. Like the guitarist in the band I'm about to quit loves Starship with Mickey Thomas, and as far as I'm concerned, they could be the worst band ever. He thinks Mickey Thomas is the best singer ever because he sings really high like Mickey Thomas, and I prefer guys who sing like men and I think Mickey Thomas sounds like he's clamping his nuts in a vise. But que sara sara.
  6. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Many guitar players (I happen to be a guitar player and a bassist) are competative and insecure. They're cutting down these players they claim have "no soul" to justify their own lack of ability, or lack of effort.

    IMO, once you realize there's always someone "better" than you, and learn to appreciate someone doing something you can't (or think you can't) do, then you can really enjoy and appreciate the things you can do...

    (FWIW, I wanted to be Randy Rhodes and Eddie Van Halen when I began playing guitar, so I used to be able to do alot of that "shredding" [I'm way out of practice to do it now]).
  7. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I've noticed that too. I've also noticed there is a very small window between being a "****ty, sloppy guitarist" and "too technical with no emotion" Not all, but some guitarits seem to think that no one can fit into this window.
  8. Worst comments I've seen in the past were about two of the most soulful guitarists ever:

    Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.....
    One for being too fast and sloppy the other for being too fast and clean.

    Both were ridiculous (and terribly uninformed) opinions IMO.
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Lots of us have the same kind of attitude.

    I mean, what does it mean if you can play ultrafast and technical and clean but not groove?
  10. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    I could never figure out why every cover band has to play tunes at 90 miles an hour. :rollno:

    "its to get the people dancing" apparently...errr sweet home alabama is actually not that fast..ditto with mustang sally.

    What is this idea of playing soul/rnb tunes as standard rock tunes???

    I kinda agree with the "
    Technical ability/speed = No emotion/feeling/sou" quote..I'd rather hear a kick ass groove than a flurry (mmm) of notes..

    then again there's Rocco Prestia who kinda makes a complete mockery of what I just said.

    sweet :D
  11. froggsoldier


    Apr 29, 2005
    for once i have something to say, well i am accually fighting between getting a guitar or getting a bass, and well this make me go hmmm.. but i do know this, there was these two guys trying to make a band that i knew, well one played bass and one played guitar, well anyways, they never really talked about anything like that you know "hey man, wheres your soul, you are playing too fast" well really they just wanted to blend in and make something work. I know that the bassist was really laid back, and well the guitarist, i wasn't around him all that much, i say this, opinions are like bum holes, everyone has got one, and they all stink. In order to live in peace, and i mean bassist and guitarist as well, we must put our egos down and just let things lie, but i do have a question, i heard that bassist hate guitar players. now is that true? I am just wondering, because just cuz i ain't bought my first axe, i have really gotten used to the whole, bass community, I just worry though that it will be harder for me to compose music with just a bass, but forget all that, umm, yeah, you have to realize in every culture, there are idiots, bassist too, there are some that are idiots, you have to admit you know someone!! Yeah thats all i have to offer, now i leave before you all grab and choke me! :help: :bag:
  12. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I find this comes from competition: guitar players tend to be much more cutthroat and meaningless in their devestation of other guitar players, they're more competitive and will bash each other to gain an upper hand due to the extreme overpopulation of guitarists. EVERYONE plays guitar and that's a fact and frankly, it really takes a special one to set them apart from each other, guitarists tend to be more vocal and hating while bassists, a breed in short supply are much more friendly (why a simple talkguitar.com wouldn't work as well) and frankly, being in short supply, we'll give gigs away to friends, we're much more of a community. Bassists can just talk to each other about bass much easier than guitarists can talk about guitar without ripping out each other throats too.
  13. Hey, there used to be a talkguitar. I posted there a few times. It wasnt that bad. I think its just merged with another forum now.

    I think the whole topic is misdirected: Its like comparing apples and oranges as they say.

    There are musicians who have soul and musicians who are fast and technically proficient, but they are not mutually exclusive, they are just different aspects of musicianship. The only way they are related is the fact that one has to allocate their time and dedication between them, and so one can sacrifice one for the other at times.

    Think of hockey (canada, eh?): If one spent all their time on brute force and hitting then they wouldnt be a fast or agile skater, and vice versa. However, some of the best skaters are also the best hitters and scorers because they have a good balance of talent, dedication, and heart. They aren't sacrificing their speed for hitting or hitting for goal scoring, in fact, one may complement the other at times.

    Anyway that was a roundabout way of saying that you can be super fast and super soulful...it's just a difficult balance.