Guitarists better than Hendrix, #7.

Today, we continue our list of guitarists more deserving of accolades better than Hendrix. By now, you should know the reasons for this list. The short version is that folks give Hendrix credit for being the greatest guitarist ever – and they’re wrong. There’s no nice way to put it, they’re just wrong. In fact, they couldn’t possibly be more wrong – and I intend to prove it.

In guitar legend, there’s a story of a young person (usually a man) who wants to be a great guitarist. This young guitarist goes down to the crossroads, usually at midnight on the night of a full moon, and meets a man there. That man gives them the ability to play guitar like a legend but the price is the soul of the young guitarist.

This next guitarist has been to those crossroads – except he wasn’t there to learn to play guitar. He was there collecting souls and making guitar legends. This next guitarist is as much a legend as any other guitarist on this list and belongs on many lists, including this one.

Without further ado, I introduce our seventh greatest guitarist.

Continue reading “Guitarists better than Hendrix, #7.”

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It’s time for our 6th guitarist better than Hendrix!

#6 Django Reinhardt

First, I need you to do me a favor. I want you to click play on this and close your eyes. I promise, I won’t try to touch you when your eyes are closed. Seriously, I won’t. (No, I won’t do it when they’re open, either.)

Go on, close your eyes (but click play first):

Alright, you can open your eyes again. Now, this time, take a more careful look at his fingers and you’ll see why he’s on the list and in this position. I shall tell you the story.

Django, his friends probably called him The Big D, was a gypsy. Being a gypsy, he picked himself up a nice gypsy lass. (Is ‘gypsy’ PC? I don’t actually know. Romani, I suppose.) They got married, as young people are wont to do.

He’d been playing music since he was like 12 and he actually played a banjo-guitar. He was starting to get a little famous and he’d even been recorded and had drawn a bit of international attention. Some dude meandered across the Channel to France and listened to him play. He liked his playing so much, he hired Django on the spot.

That went pretty poorly actually.

See, The Big D and his wife were gypsies and they still tooled around in wagons back then. Wagons are made of wood. They also had cellulose crap in there, ’cause I’m pretty sure plastic hadn’t really been invented yet. They also had candles.

Cellulose and fire don’t go together well and The Big D and his missus managed to knock a candle over and set their caravan on fire. I’m spitballing here, but I suspect it was due to the wild sex they were having. Even if it wasn’t, I’m just going to assume it was.

So, he never actually got to play on that recording.

Why not? Well, see… That’s kinda why he’s on this list. He set his ass on fire – and burned himself pretty well. They were going to amputate a leg and he lost the use of two of his fingers on his left hand.

So, when you hear Django play – realize he’s doing that with two useless fingers kind of in the way and a thumb looped over the top.

That’s right… I just said a motherfucker with two fingers (and a thumb) played guitar better than Hendrix.

Now, I admit that it’s entirely possible you don’t like jazz. I’m pretty sure the only time I like jazz is when I’m being a pretentious douche.

Not convinced? Listen to this:

He did that back before dirt was invented and with just two fingers (and a thumb). Hendrix couldn’t do that with all his fingers and a sheet of acid.

You can read all about him here, but we’ve already figured out Wikipedia is a pack of liars. They don’t even call Les Paul a guitar god. Heathens, the lot of ’em.

You might as well read this too.

And, I’ll leave you with one parting track. It’s almost certainly his crowning achievement in music.

Until next time…

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Some guitar history (electrified and amplified).

There are some misconceptions about the origins of the electric guitar. Many people credit Les Paul with the invention – but that’s not true. He just helped make it perfect. No, the story is stranger than that. It’s so strange that we’re going to ignore the various attempts and stick with the first viable electric guitar.

Way back before any of us was hatched, a fella by the name of George Beauchamp used to play in a Hawaiian band. Never mind that he wasn’t actually from Hawaii, that’s not important. What matters is that he was a steel guitar player.

Now, a steel guitar (not to be confused with a pedal steel guitar) is played by putting the guitar, top up, across your lap as though you’re Jeff Healey. Then, you use a piece of steel to slide and fret your guitar. This, of course, is absolutely retarded.

I’m going to assume you know how a guitar works. By putting the guitar perpendicular across their lap and pointing the sound hole up, that means the sound goes into the ceiling and not into the audience. Like I said, it’s fucking retarded.

I will take a brief moment to point out that Country and Western music has steel guitar in it ’cause these same bands would play both genres and they’d play them with the same musical instruments. So, you ended up with steel guitar in country music and, eventually, pedal steel in country music. Most musicians don’t make much money. You play with what you’ve got – and they had a steel guitar. So, goat roping music has steel guitar in it.

Where was I? Oh, yes…

George Beauchamp didn’t like this very much and realized it was retarded. He was unable to get the volume out of the guitar that he needed to be heard along with the other instruments. (Important side note: It’d be a bit longer before the guitar moved to the front of the band.)

So, using magnets and coils, Beauchamp set about making himself an electrified guitar. Well, it pretty much sucked – but he was pretty pleased with himself. I’d like to think the first thing he played was a bitchin’ solo, but that’s unlikely because the bitchin’ solo hadn’t yet been invented. This was still the 1920s, after all.

Even though it sucked, George thought it was the best thing ever. He meandered all over California with his band and guitar. This would have been awesome, but did I mention it kind of sucked? Well, it did.

Eventually, and I’m not actually sure how, he met a fella by the name of Adolph Rickenbacker at Dopyera Brothers in Los Angeles, CA. It turns out, Adolf was a bit of an electrical engineer and was really interested in new technology. Working together, they fashioned themselves some pickups and probably worked on playing bitchin’ solos together.

It’s sort of important to note that they weren’t actually the first to amplify a guitar. No, the first amplified guitars were probably from the jazz guitarists and they weren’t actually commercially available.

It was about this time when they started making guitars out of metal. George and Adolf said, “Sweet.” Then, they put their pickups into these metal guitars. These guitars were shaped like long-handled frying pans and the “Frying Pan” electric guitar, and amplification, were born.

That was in 1931.

Strangely, there’s no story of misdeeds and intrigue. The Rickenbacker guitars are known as such ’cause Beauchamp is fucking hard for people to pronounce.

And those were the first commercially viable electric guitars. They weren’t invented to make bitchin’ solos. Nobody would leap around with ’em for years to come. They woudn’t move to the front of the band until the 1950s. They were invented so that they could play Hawaiian music at volumes loud enough to be heard with the rest of the band.

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The 5th Greatest Guitarist to Walk The Earth?

#5 Eddie Van Halen

Eddie might just be the least controversial person to put in this position. There are many who might have wanted him higher on the list but I doubt there will be many who wanted to see him placed lower on my list.

By now, you should know that this list was prompted by Rolling Stone Magazine (and many others) giving Jimi Hendrix accolades I don’t really think he deserved. To touch on that again, Jimi was a fine artist and a good guitarist. He was an excellent musician – but, on a technical scale, he pales to the greats which I’ve been listing.

We all know Rolling Stone is not to be trusted with judging musical talent, but they were closer to home with this one. They placed him in 8th position in their list of top 100 guitarists. Guitar World readers put him in first place – but they don’t appear to even be able to get their slideshow working properly, so they’re definitely not to be trusted with counting higher than four. (Maybe they should be called Drum World?)

You can click this link and see what Wikipedia has to say about him, but they’re just not a very good source. A quick search for “godlike guitar powers” and “holy fuck” get no results. I submit, dear reader, that this is surely a sign of a conspiracy. It’s also probably why my account is banned from editing Wikipedia. I am guessing the two are related.

Eddie was born in Netherlands and his real last name is some stupid combination of letters that I can’t remember, spell, or pronounce. I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced by filling your mouth with rocks and trying to recite Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Fortunately, he changed it to something awesome. It’s so awesome that it has become an entity of its own. If you say Van Halen, only a fool doesn’t know exactly what you mean. You can even turn it into a verb, “You Van Halen’ed the fuck out of that solo.”

Someone, I won’t mention any names – but it rhymes with Bees Sugar Post, once told me that Van Halen wasn’t innovative and that’s probably technically true. He took many other components and put them together as his own sound. So, I’d have to say that he innovated in that he made a very, very distinct sound. It’s not that all Van Halen songs sound the same, it’s that many of them tend to be unmistakable.

Let’s have a listen, shall we?

The thing is, that’s not impressive. It’s not. I can play that with my eyes closed. In fact, I have. No, that’s actually not why Eddie is on the list.

This is why he’s on the list – it’s the same(ish) song:

I can’t play that – and neither can you.

Also, my hair isn’t that awesome. It’s not…

There exists something so fantastic that it’s not a documentary, it’s a rockumentary. Save the Van Hagar jokes! It’s well worth watching!

Seriously, skip the Van Hagar joke.

Unless you think the sound wasn’t distinct (and it’s pretty difficult to replicate) then I invite you to listen to the quintessential rock song.

Some folks will say that Eruption or Panama are the true masterpieces. They’re also the same sort of people who’d put Jimi at the top of the list. In other words, they’re wrong. This is the masterpiece. Go ahead and replicate it, I’ll wait…

Finally, I want to leave you with one last track for the road and to get you through until I post the next entry on the list. This song is just fun to play. It’s difficulty level is not too high, compared to some other artists, but it’s absolutely fun to play – almost as much fun as Jump.

Until next time…

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Triads (just the basics)

By now, you’ve been playing for a while and you keep hearing this term, “Triads.” It sounds awfully fancy but let’s think about it for a moment.

I’m going to keep this pretty basic.

Remember that tricycle you rode as a child? How about a triangle? Well, “tri” means three and that’s exactly what triads means. It means chords made up of three notes. So, a Cmaj would be C, E, and G. A Cmin would be C, Eb, and G.

Fuck that noise.

A good rule of thumb is that a major triad is shaped like Emin, A, or D chord. You can barre or grand barre them – and they’re almost certainly a major triad.

What a minor triad? That’s easy. The Emin, Amin, or Dmin shapes would almost certainly be a minor triad. You can smash ’em around all across the fretboard and you’re probably playing a minor triad.

I say “probably” because someone’s likely to come along and point out that there’s a spot where that’s not technically true – but I don’t know of such a spot and I’m too lazy to stop and run through checking.

So, where do they fit?

Major triads go with the major scale and major pentatonic scales.

Minor triads fit with the natural minor scale (sometimes called the Aeolian scale), Dorian scale, Phrygian scale, and minor pentatonic scale.

Or, as I like to say, bang at it and if it doesn’t sound right then try the other one! They’re pretty handy little critters to know and understand. People like to make it more complicated than it really is – it’s not. You can make it complicated, but there’s no reason to.

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