Top Five Overrated Guitarists!
We talk guitars and guitarists all day long and sometimes that conversation veers into emotionally volatile territory—like it did today. Somehow the water cooler conversation at PGS got steered into talking about the most overrated guitarists … this nearly led to punches being thrown, but we stopped before Andy broke a finger throwing an uppercut into someone’s jaw and before I slapped three people for their nominating the first person on our list. Assumedly, lots of punches are going to get thrown in the comments—bring it on, people, bring it on. You couldn’t do worse than we all just did to one another. Here are the Top Five Overrated Guitarists As Discussed Around the PGS Water Cooler (in alphabetical order, as we didn’t dare go near ‘rating’ the overrated) :
I hate writing this, because I’m actually a huge fan of the Edge but he did get mentioned REPEATEDLY by my fellow PGS-ers so I’m trying to take the high road and report this as it actually happened instead of protecting David Evans, one of my favorite guitar players. Besides, I think I get to return the favor later in this list. Complaints against the Edge:
“C’mon, he hides behind a gigantic wall of rack effects. Take away his effects and you take away the most interesting thing about his parts.”
“Dude can’t play more than two notes at a time!”
“He’s basically Neil Young with a delay pedal. No, with ten delay pedals.”
Neoclassical was kind of cool, primarily when it was coming out of Randy Rhoads’ hands, but Yngwie’s cluttered, speed-demon style gets pretty boring pretty quickly. Listening to 5 minutes of 128th notes is tedious and uninspiring, unless your primary motivation in life is the need for speed. Does he have technique for days? Sure, but ability doesn’t equal artistry. I can only handle about one minute of his “Look What I Can Do!” playing. Satriani and Vai were names tossed into the hat, but I would listen to either of those guys for days at a time before I'd make it through a Malmsteen song. Or album (shudder)...
I worked in a record store when Room for Squares came out and I did NOT get the hype about Mayer as a pop-star. Later, I saw him playing “the blues” and found myself pretty impressed that he wasn’t just some manufactured celebrity—he actually could play guitar! Seems like lots of other people discovered that fact and seems like Mayer himself discovered that and reinvented himself as a modern day guitar hero complete with signature series instruments and sets sitting in with blues giants like Clapton and country giants like Brad Paisley. I bought into this for a little while, but I think I was just impressed that he wasn’t who he seemed to be on his first album. Since then, his SRV impression is wearing a little thin.
While we all agreed that there was a moment that Santana had sort of hit the sweet spot (and we all agreed that it was at least thirty years ago)—we couldn’t figure out how his legend has coasted this long on that moment. Props to the guy for having a big commercial comeback and all, but non-props to the guy for getting stuck in the pentatonic box all the time.
Things got heated once the names Jack White and Dan Auerbach were mentioned—mainly because we couldn’t agree on who to pick for this list. We decided to stick with Jack White, since he was the earlier of the two to find fame and fortune aping other peoples’ styles. We like that White and Auerbach (and even Mayer, to be honest) have sparked fans’ interested in rediscovering blues music like Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson but think the credit for the awesome guitar skills belongs with the originators, not the resurrect-ors.
From my desk, I can see a coworker glaring at me for including one of the guitarists on this list. It might be a long day here at PGS—the lines in the sand have been drawn. We all agreed that the great thing about being “overrated” is that it can only happen when you’re actually very highly regarded in the first place—so in a way, calling these guys overrated is a weird sort of compliment. In any case, I’m going to suggest that tomorrow we talk about underrated guitarists, just to cleanse the pallet. Stay tuned for that one in a future edition of Andy’s Corner—thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for keeping it classy in the comments on this one, k, everybody?!! Ready? Set? SMACKTALK!