I write these intros because they help me keep the front page clean. If I didn’t, then the front page would be about three miles long. My verbosity should be well known by you folks.
Y’all know what I’m doing, but I’m gonna type it out again. Why? If I don’t, then I won’t have a good spot to put in the “read more” tag and the front page would include the whole damned article. Trust me, it doesn’t look good.
People have claimed Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitarist of all times. Those people are a pack of morons. They include such illustrious publications as the idiots at Rolling Stone Magazine and even Time Magazine. There are more, but I’m mainly pissed at Rolling Stone Magazine.
Don’t get me wrong, Jimi was a fine artist. Yeah, he played a guitar. No, he didn’t play it very well – at least not when compared to the best damned list of guitarists on the Internet. Seriously, if you don’t believe me then just click that link right there and learn. There are many, many guitarists who were better than Hendrix and some of them were even more influential.
Today’s guitarist isn’t all that well known but was fantastic and has a great story. Kids today probably have no idea who he was and it doesn’t help that he mostly played goat ropin’ music. He was also a singer, songwriter, television host, and even an actor. Well, Wikipedia tells me he was an actor but I can’t say that I recall ever seeing him in a movie. I guess he was in True Grit but I don’t actually even remember what that movie was about.
So, it’s on to our next artist who played guitar in his sleep better than Hendrix played while awake.
By now, you should be well aware of what I’m doing. If you’re not, then maybe this link will help you out. That’s the complete list, so far, of guitarists who are better than Hendrix.
The short version is that Hendrix receives many accolades and much praise that, frankly, he doesn’t deserve. It is my believe that “best guitarist” should be based on technical prowess, above all else.
The best guitarist isn’t about who liked who and what was popular. It’s not even about who had more influence. It’s about the technical mastery of their instrument, knowledge of music theory, ability to compose, and consistency in quality.
In fact, there are guitarists on this list that I really don’t prefer to listen to. However, they are on this list because they’re fantastic. They have mastered their instrument and bent the sound to their will. They have understood the instrument better than the rest. They have used the instrument to create works that are legendary.
If you don’t know the drill, then see this link. My goal is to recognize guitarists who had (or have) greater technical mastery of their instrument than Jimi Hendrix had. The reality is that Jimi wasn’t actually a very good guitarist. So, when reading these, please keep in mind that the topic is technical ability – and not what we prefer.
Our next featured guitarist is actually one that I really enjoy covering. He had a background in folk and classical. His career lasted for just a decade but, in that short amount of time, he left a legacy that is astounding.
Without further introduction, let’s move on to our next guitarist.
If you’re not aware of what I’m doing with this list then I urge you to read this. Greatest guitarist of all time? I think not! Basically, Jimi Hendrix is frequently rated as the best guitarist to ever play. Pretty much everyone puts Hendrix at the top of their list of great guitarists.
They’re wrong. In fact, they couldn’t be all that much further from the truth. Jimi was a great artist, a wonderful showman, and not nearly the guitarist people make him out to be – speaking from a point of technical ability. He influenced many people and helped to change the history of rock, but he was not a great guitarist.
So, I’m compiling a list of guitarists better than he – and I’m sharing that list with you. It has been a fun ride, so far. I explain why the artists on my list are great and give you a reason to think critically about the claims made by absurd pundits at Rolling Stone Magazine. *spits*
It’s important to remember that, at this level, many of these guitarists could be swapped with other guitarist positions and the list still make sense. Frankly, they’re all very, very good.
Today’s artist may not be liked by all that many people, but people liking him is not a prerequisite for inclusion on this list. This list is for people who are masters of their instrument. Personally, I love his material but I don’t think anyone could argue that he should be excluded from this list.
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.
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.
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.
There was no entry last week because I was busy and because someone else wrote a post that I felt deserved some attention and I didn’t wish to detract from their brilliant entry. I’m also becoming rather busy. Still, there’s lots of artists to write about and I can manage to fit this in most every week.
By now, you know the drill. I’m not a huge fan of the accolades that are showered on Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was a fine artist and a good guitarist – but I don’t believe he’s the greatest.
I dare say that I’m qualified to opine on this matter. Not only that, I intend to prove it. I’ve already shared two guitarists that I think are far more deserving of the title and praise.
Having said that, it’s time to admit that this is rapidly becoming a list of great guitarists. The jumping off point was guitarists better than Hendrix, but the truth is that some guitarists are just so good, and so unique, that it’s hard to quantify them and say one is better than the other.
So, this is more-or-less just a list of great guitarists, though I try to keep some sort of air of priorities and ranking. I try to put them in some sort of order, but we could just as easily argue for different placement locations on this list.
Like always, if you have any comments or complaints, please feel free to voice them. If you want to see your favorite artist featured, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if they’re good enough for inclusion the list. If you want to argue, you should be ready to prove that you’re skilled enough in the art to qualify your opinion. This isn’t a question of who you prefer, it’s about technical mastering of their instruments.
So, without further ado, I present to you the third entry in our list of guitarists who are better than Jimi Hendrix:
Don’t get me wrong, Hendrix was a good guitarist. He took things from other artists, put them together in a package all his own, and did things with the guitar (in totality) that other guitarists simply weren’t doing at the time.
But, listen to his live stuff. He couldn’t stay in key, couldn’t play the same thing twice, knew maybe a dozen basic progressions and scales, and was remarkably sloppy.
I won’t deny that he was influential. I can even say that he’s influenced me. I can also say, with some absolute certainty, that I can play everything Hendrix played and I can play it better than he did. It’s not hard. If you want something difficult, try Leyenda (Asturias).