Style Over Substance

What guitar players inspired you heavily whose limitations create a style that is entirely unique and seen as genius? Ace Frehley comes to mind. One of my favorites is Mark Kendall from Great White. In the era of shredders he held back to fit with the piece, one of his best solos here. So damn tasty.

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Well, first of all, the title of the thread caught my eye, because it just so happens to be the exact title of a song I wrote and recorded about 18 years ago using the same Zoom drum machine and Roland digital 8 Track that I’ve mentioned before… here 'tis:

…but I digress… To the topic at hand - I tend to enjoy slower, more melodic guitar soloing… but I certainly wouldn’t describe that type of playing as “Style Over Substance”… to me, that seems to imply that “substance” is velocity, but I don’t feel that way at all.

To me substance is melody, rhythmic invention and musical storytelling. I also wouldn’t say that a player’s limitations preclude them from being blisteringly virtuosic, but I would agree that they can result in a definite style. A case in point is Brett Garsed, a shredder capable of incredible velocity -He readily admits his legato, Holdsworth-ian style results from hitting the physical limits of his picking hand:

Not really my preferred style, as I tend to like more blues-based stuff. Players who can play one note and you know it’s them tend to be what I like: Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour, Gary Moore, Jeff Beck.

One player who I only recently discovered is Ian Thornley of Big Wreck fame. The dude sings like Chris Cornell, all the while playing like Derek Trucks, Mark Knopfler and Eric Johnson all rolled into one:

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Wow! That Ian Thornley video is fantastic!! Thanks for introducing me! :beerbanger:


I think a good example here is Robin Trower. You can really feel his connection to the instrument without him having to play fast or with gimmicks. The shredder era made a lot of guitarists very similar, because they all learned the same tricks to a certain degree. It’s great to have guys like Derek Trucks, and both of the players Andrew brought into the discussion to keep the slide alive. I love hearing players that can make the guitar sing, as opposed to doing finger and technique exercises. This doesn’t mean a shredder can’t make my list, but speed and dexterity is not the whole story.


I completely agree ! People sometimes bash players like Steve Vai for instance for just shredding all the time. I guess they just don’t understand WHAT he is shredding :stuck_out_tongue:

I know many people dislike his style, but for me he was the first guitar player that really stood out for me. I’m also a bit younger then a bunch of you I guess, and I was never a real digger so :slight_smile: Its mostly his 80’s and 90’s stuff I like though.

To me this has some insane attention to detail.

Actually, I prefer this better :smiley:

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I didn’t mean slow players were bad, the title was meant to catch attention. Guess it worked.

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Actually, the original intention was to talk about influential guitar players that wouldn’t be considered traditionally great players. Like Ace Frehley. Mark Kendall video may have been misleading, but I listened to that CD again yesterday after years and it blew my mind.

Geordie Walker of Killing Joke - absolutely.

Like an amateur version of Robert Fripp in some ways. Big on wobbly electro-harmonix dissonance.
Very little of what he plays is “difficult” but it’s all about the notes he chooses, the atmosphere, the effects, the economy etc.

Not the best example, but the best known:

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Well, in some ways I guess it’s players covering up for the fact they have no soul.
“I’ve got four spare fingers, six strings and there’s sixty seconds in a minute…”

  • Sven is having a retro week, listening to Uriah Heep and Karen Carpenter.
    File me under nostalgic. Should have married Karen when I had the chance.

If you have soul and tone, speed no longer has importance. As illustrated here…

Nod to Dave: get with the space program, man !!!


wow, its 2017 and people still pull out the 'ol “fast players have no soul” thing? just, wow

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I think some of the shit Vinnie Vincent did gives them all a bad name. But if you think fast players don’t have soul, simply throw on “For the Love of God” by Steve Vai.

Dick Wagner, and possibly Steve Hunter, for their work on Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. It’s like an introduction to what rock guitar playing is all about. There’s some wonderful guitar solos on there, from the heavy duelling at the end of the title track, to that gorgeous, subdued blues solo in I’m The Coolest:

I don’t think I’ve heard anything else by those two guys, and I’ve not listened to any other Alice Cooper Albums either (except Billion Dollar babies, I think, once, and I didn’t like it), but they/it lead me on to Led Zeppelin (fave band and fave guitarist - until he got REALLY sloppy thanks to heroin) and Deep Purple…etc.



I agree though, Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner tore up Goes to Hell. Love their work on “Wish You Were Here” especially. Check out his album “Welcome To My Nightmare”, they’re both on that one too and it’s his first solo album, my favorite of his solo stuff.

Yeah Ace is one of my favorites. He probably doesn’t make the “guitar magazine” best player lists (or maybe he does) but he has a style all his own. The early KISS stuff was incredibly tasty. One of the things I like most is his ability to craft “tasty” lead riffs that are fun, memorable, and work with the song.

Uli Jon Roth is one of my favorites. Underrated for sure. He was an influence for Yngwie Malmsteen and some others though, in the melodic shredder category. Maybe Steve Vai as well? He started in Scorpions with their early albums up to Tokyo Tapes, a heavy rocker with classical (even flamenco) influences who moved into progressive stuff. After he left Scorps, he went solo with his band Electric Sun. His style was expanding, but was a bit more mellow and even “space rock” sounding. He invented the Sky Guitar and has become a legend with a lengthy solo career, while teaming up with Scorpions on a few occasions still (buried the proverbial hatchet).

I have to give a shout out to EVH and Angus Young too. They were very influential on me. Some of Gary Moore’s solo stuff from the early 80’s was incredible. His blues playing is great, but he smoked a fretboard with shredding when he wanted to. Andy Scott of Sweet was very innovative - ahead of his time. I always loved Judas Priest, so Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing get my votes as well.

Mine too. That was one of my early chompers, but not for guitar as I hadn’t started playing yet, just for musical and artistic appreciation.

I like most of the solos that Vinnie did with KISS, but in the Vinnie Vincent invasion I didn’t like his solos as much because he was just shredding ALL the time. There were a few cool moments on VVI but most of his solo stuff sucked. Gene and Paul directed him to write more melodically in KISS. Without KISS Vinnie was just another decent shredder.

Dick Wagner played on KISS Destroyer. Ace Frehley wasn’t showing up at some of the studio sessions for that album, so the producer (Bob Ezrin) called in Dick to stand in for Ace on a few solos. I only learned that it wasn’t Ace playing 15 years after the album was released. :flushed:

I love the songwriting and much of Page’s guitar playing on the Zeppelin albums BUT holy fck is he ever shtty live! I saw him playing Black Dog in a well recorded video about 9 years ago…He sucked something horrible! It was almost as embarrassing as a video I saw of Ace Frehley giving guitar lessons (teaching how to play his own solos!)…I’m a huge KISS fan…and actually a huge Zeppelin fan too, but Jimmi and Ace are really terrible these days…They were never very brilliant technically, but they seemed to play much cleaner back in the day. I still love the music they did though.

Dick only did the solo on Sweet Pain, and Ace did do a solo they use on the remastered version.

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