Born in Scotland in 1943 Bert Jansch is a folk guitarist probably best known for his work with the group Pentangle.
His style of playing was usually fingerstyle acoustic guitar which was distinguished by his unusual chord voicings, use of extended chords, and his clever use of unusual time signatures. Jansch played a number of instruments including banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, recording, and concertina, as well as, on rare occasions, picking up the electric guitar.
He learned his trade initially in Edinburgh in the early 1960’s before moving to London where his music was heard, covered, and famously copied by some of the leading musicians and bands of the time including Donovan, and Led Zeppelin. In the late 60’s and early 70’s Jansch had a lot of success with Pentangle before the group split up in 1973, to reform again in the early 1980s.
Sadly, Jansch died in 2011, leaving behind a large body of work for his fans to enjoy. He recorded at least 25 albums and toured extensively from the 1960s to the 21st century as well as winning 2 lifetime achievement awards from the BBC, one for his solo work, and one for his work with Pentangle.
Mark Knopfler was the guitar player and singer in Dire Straits from their beginnings in 1977 to their break up in 1995, selling over 120 million albums worldwide they are one of the worlds most popular recording artists. Since 1995 Knopfler has had a successful solo career covering a diverse range of musical styles.
Mark Knopfler is left-handed, but plays right-handed, and fingerpicks instead of using a plectrum. Fingerpicking is usually associated with the acoustic guitar, but Knopfler usually (though not always) plays an electric guitar. He revealed during a French interview that he uses a pick for his rhythm work during recording sessions. He surprised the interviewer by pulling a pick out of his pocket and saying that he usually carries one. He has long favoured Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster style guitars. Fender carries a Mark Knopfler Artist Series Stratocaster. During the 1980s he came to appreciate the tone of the Gibson Les Paul and his original 1958 has been used regularly in the studio and on stage.
Paul Gilbert is one scary guitar player. Awesome technique, Phenomenal speed coupled with a strong melodic sense combine to make him one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time.
At age 15 he contacted Mike Varney, head of shrapnel records, asking for a gig with Ozzy Osborne. The gig with Ozzy did not happen but Gilbert was featured in Guitar Player magazine at age 15.
After spending three years at GIT Gilbert then joined Racer X. This is where Gilbert gained his reputation as one of the worlds fastest guitarists. Gilbert then formed the band Mr Big who had a number one hit with the acoustic tune “To be with you”. Gilbert left Mr Big in 1997 to pursue a solo career.
He continues working on solo projects as well as holding guitar clinics around the world. He is also a teacher at GIT and is well-known for his instructional videos.
Blues, Jazz, Folk, Fingerstyle, slide, syncopation, and much more. Leo Kottke is a truly innovative and one-off guitarist. He hasn’t had it easy in his playing career and has had to overcome a number of obstacles along the way. A partial loss of hearing, and, tendon damage in his right hand resulting in him having to alter his technique. Leo Kottke is a recognised master of the guitar.
Kottke has focussed on composing and recording instrumental music but has also been known to sing as well. He has also collaborated with many other artists including. Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett, Margo Timmins, Mike Gordon, and Rickie Lee Jones. He has recorded tunes by Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, Carla Bley, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Jorma Kaukonen, Kris Kristofferson, Randall Hylton, and many others.
Music theory is the language of music and the study of how music is put together. Having an understanding of music theory is helpful in many ways. For example, when teaching it is much easier & quicker to communicate ideas to a student if the student has a good knowledge of theory. If you play in a band ideas can be passed around and expressed clearly and concisely if the members have good theory knowledge. For lead guitarists theory helps you put the right scale with the right chords. For writers and composers it provides clear direction on chord progressions and melody.
Almost all of the top guitarists today have a good knowledge of theory as well as strong technique. If you want to join them you will need the same.
Music was around a long time before theory came along so it could be said that theory is just a way of writing down and remembering things that sound good. I have come across students who have no musical knowledge what so ever but have written some great music. When we have sat down and analysed what they have written we have found that their music conforms with accepted music theory. The reason for this, I believe, is that we grow up listening to music and are conditioned to hear music in a certain way. Therefore when we write music it conforms to the musical patterns we have grown up listening to. If somebody can write music with no theory knowledge what is the point of learning theory? By learning why your music sounds a certain way theory can help you recreate that sound or avoid it. It should also open up new musical avenues for you to explore.
Finally, music theory will help you gain an insight into how your guitar works. Attempting to jam with other musicians without theory is guesswork usually. Theory gets you straight in and playing something cool which surely is what playing an instrument is about.
Next up: Lesson 2 – Naming the notes
Andy Mckee started playing at age 13 but it was only when his cousin took him to see Preston Reed that he became serious with his guitar playing. His style involves making use of the guitar as a percussion instrument, whilst playing bass notes with his left hand and melody notes with his right hand amongst other techniques. Have a look at the video.
Andy Mckee found fame when the video of “Drifting” became a featured video on YouTube and MySpace and achieved over 48 million views. Head over to his website http://www.andymckee.com for more information on this amazing guitar player.
Randy Rhoads was most famous for being Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist on the albums “Blizzard of Oz” and “Diary of a madman”, Ozzy’s first albums since splitting with Black Sabbath. Randy played guitar for the band “Quiet Riot” before joining Ozzy’s band and was also a dedicated classical guitar player and would seek out classical guitar lessons whilst on tour. Randy was one of the first “schooled” rock guitarists and had a deep knowledge of music theory, composition, and guitar techniques. This coupled with his natural musicality combined to make him one of the greatest guitarists ever. Randy was tragically killed in a plane crash on March 19, 1982. In 1987 Ozzy released “Tribute” a live recording of Ozzy and Randy in concert plus some studio out-takes. Have a listen to the clip above to hear Randy playing both in a classical style and also some great lead guitar. The solo at around 2 mins 40 secs is a masterpiece. Enjoy.
One of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century Joe Pass was known for his chord melodies, walking bass lines, and, outstanding knowledge of chord inversions and progressions. New York Magazine said of him, “Joe Pass looks like somebody’s uncle and plays guitar like nobody’s business. He’s called “the world’s greatest” and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. There is a certain purity to his sound that makes him stand out easily from other first-rate jazz guitarists”.
Eric Roche was an awesome guitar player. Acoustic finger style, tapping, harmonics, slapping, and many other amazing techniques, but most of all some truly beautiful guitar playing. He also taught at the academy of contemporary music and wrote the brilliant “Acoustic Guitar Bible”, get it. Eric Roche sadly died in 2005 but his music and influence still live on. Head over to the official website to find out more about this amazing guitar player.
Wilko Johnson played guitar for Dr Feelgood and the Blockheads amongst others. He has an unusual style of playing particularly with his right hand, no pick, which allowed him to play an aggressive punchy style of guitar whilst combining rhythm and lead. He also had a long curly lead which allowed him to follow his guitar around the stage. Check out Wilko explaining his style to BBC show rock school and then watch him perform the whole song in the bottom video.