Sunday, April 5, 2009

OPINION: Five Rock Guitar Legends

Pete Townshend (Pete Townshend via

Five Rock Guitar Legends by Greg Bahr

David Gilmour

Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has an ethereal, atmospheric style that is instantly recognizable. He used the versatile tones of the Fender Stratocaster in conjunction with Binson Echorec echo pedals to complement his and (bassist Roger Waters') singing and songwriting abilities in creating the unique Floyd sound. Two of his best known solos are heard in "Time" and "Money", both from the classic "Dark Side of the Moon" CD.

George Harrison

Lead guitar player for the Beatles, arguably the most influential band in the history of music, Harrison was known for his melodic style of lead playing, including his slide guitar work. In the early Beatles days he played Rickenbackers through Vox amps, and later in his career he would often be seen playing a Fender Stratocaster. Harrison became an excellent singer/songwriter, learning from the best rock songwriting team in popular music, his band mates John Lennon and Paul McCartney. A perfect example of his singing/songwriting/lead playing talents is the ballad "Something", from the CD "Abbey Road".

Pete Townshend

Leader of The Who, and possibly the best rhythm guitar player in rock history, Townshend is known for his strumming ability - the best example being "Pinball Wizard". Townshend favors Gibson acoustic and electric guitars, notably the Les Paul, played through Marshall and Hiwatt amps (which he mentions in the song "Long Live Rock"). He's also a great songwriter, and inventor of the Rock Opera; his first and most famous was titled "Tommy". Townshend is also an incredible showman. His trademark during the sixties was smashing his guitar at the end of the show, after playing the anthem "My Generation".

Keith Richards

One half of the Glimmer Twins (the other being Mick Jagger), Richards is known for his riff based songwriting for the "World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band", the Rolling Stones. Some of his most famous riffs are found in "Brown Sugar", "Jumping Jack Flash", "Start Me Up", and "Satisfaction". Keith is best known for playing a five-string Fender Telecaster, tuned to open G, through Mesa-Boogie amps. An excellent rhythm and lead player, Richards has also been able to work seamlessly with other guitarists in the Stones - first Brian Jones, then Mick Taylor, and later Ronnie Wood. He was greatly influenced by the next player on the list.

Chuck Berry

Although influenced by jazz saxophonist Louis Jordan, and blues guitarist T-Bone Walker, among others, Chuck Berry virtually invented rock and roll guitar. In the fifties he combined singing, songwriting, guitar playing, and showmanship into a combination that is the blueprint that subsequent rock musicians have followed. His main guitar is the Gibson ES-350T. Well known compositions include "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybelline", "No Particular Place to Go", "Roll Over Beethoven", and countless others. Chuck Berry's style of rhythm and lead playing are often imitated but never duplicated, and everyone who's played rock and roll guitar since has been directly or indirectly influenced by him.

Greg Bahr writes about the guitar and related topics. Read more at

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