Guitarists have played a major role in the success of certain groups in the music industry. However, when researching the leading guitarists in the world, it is important to understand the different types of guitarists that exist.
The most prominent are the lead guitarists who play the electric guitars. Yet, there is also the bass guitar which only plays the lowest 4 notes and is responsible for the basic rhythm of a record. The acoustic guitar enables the musician to play the entire rhythm section offering greater range of cords than the bass.
As guitarists have developed their careers, they have specialized into certain areas. The least well known of the guitarists are the bass guitarists, yet so many of the greatest selling records depend on the bass guitar to set the tone of the record.
In 1983 Paul Young covered the single “Where ever I lay my hat” that had been written by Marvin Gaye in 1962. The difference was the bass line that was produced by Pino Palladino that set the record apart. Taking the start of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, he produced the bass line that resulted in the record topping the UK music charts for 3 weeks.
The talent of Palladino is well known throughout the music business yet he is not a household name, as he has never been in a regular line-up of a major band. This session musician has been used by Peter Gabrielle, “The Who”, “The Jeff Beck Band” and even Elton John, as his services are much in demand.
One of the greatest guitarists that was able to transverse from playing the acoustic guitar to the electric lead guitar was Bob Dylan. He spent his early as a successful folk artist where his songs were dominated by the acoustic guitar. However, as the electric guitar became more popular in the 1960s Dylan was able to switch his skills onto playing the electric version of the instrument.
Eric Clapton is often cited as being one of the best lead guitarist in the world and has performed in the bands “Cream”, “The Yard birds” and in his own band. His own style was heavily influenced by the blues guitarists Freddy King and B.B King. Many of the records that he performed in were characterized by solo instrumentals from himself, and his music has influenced many lead guitarists since.
Some of Clapton’s early work saw him performing with Jimi Hendrix, who was more influenced by acid rock as opposed to the blues that inspired Clapton. However, Hendrix would bring the stage alive with his performances on the guitar.
Hendrix was important as his brief career saw him introducing the important transition into the electronic music. He would experiment with amplifier feedback, and the wah-wah pedal to see how creative the new sounds could be. This early work paved the way for future artists to make their sounds and produce records.
This era saw other great guitarists emerging, such as Jimmy Page who played with “Led Zeppelin” and Keith Richards who was the lead guitarist with “The Who”. It is difficult to rank them in order of greatness as it depends very much on one’s own personal taste in music. However, there are no doubts that the lead guitar has produced many great performers.