How good of a guitar player is Mark Knopfler?

I’m spending today listening to some Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler is an amazing guitar player in my opinion.

So, what says the more educated guitar experts among the Dope?

You do realize that he’s a lot more than just a guitar player? He wrote the music for Princess Bride. Personally, I’m more impressed by that.

Congratulations on completely failing to address dalej42’s question, while cultivating an annoying sense of superiority. The OP might be well aware of Mark Knopfler’s other endeavors; he was specifically asking about his guitar-playing ability.

I would rate him as a very good lead guitar player. He is no genius, but he plays a very original and distinct style of lead guitar. He also has excellent taste.

His rhythm playing is just average.

Mark Knopfler is one of the very best guitar players alive today. His sense of tone and melody are fantastic, and in contrast to a lot of very technical players out there, his sense of “taste” - knowing when to play, and sometimes even more important, when not to play - is almost unequaled.

Which is not to say he’s not a technical player. He released a few guitar albums with Chet Atkins, and Atkins was one of the greatest guitar players to ever grace this planet.

Knopfler is a beast. I can’t remember who said it, but a famous musician said, “Mark Knopfler can say in one note what it takes Yngwie [Malmsteen] a hundred notes to say.”

Not a guitarist (I just play the daughter of one on tv) but I definitely love Knopfler’s style. He’s got more skill than people give him credit for; just because he isn’t the flashiest doesn’t mean he’s not one of the best.

And thanks for being so snarky to someone who was just trying to expand on our collective knowledge about an artist who I admire.

He’s got a fairly permanent spot on my “top five favorites ever” list, for what that’s worth.

Whatever. When you start your observation with “You do realize…?” it makes you sound like a jerk.

Maybe you could have tried something like:

Happy to help.

Mr. Pot? Or is it Mr. Kettle?

No expert here, but I enjoy his playing, and I know he’s renown for being a fingerpicker.

I love his rhythm work on Speedway to Nazareth and Who’s Your Baby Now, and Sailing to Philadelphia is one of my all-time favourites.

This kind of question inevitably inspires another question: how do you define “good”?

Many fans (not necessarily the OP, but a lot of people) judge a guitarist by criteria like “How wickedly fast are his solos” or “How hard is it for an ordinary guitarist to duplicate what he does”? That’s why guys like Eddie Van Halen top so many “Best Guitarist” surveys and why a guy like Mark Knopfler rarely does.

Knopfler is a skilled guitarist, but he’s not a lightning fast soloist, and freely admits that. His greatest talent is knowing what a song needs, and providing exactly that. He couldn’t play “Eruption”… but then, Eddie Van Halen has never done a solo that moved me to tears (as Knopfler frequently has).

Very well said. I always get the feeling that Knopfler extacts the most he can out of each note – bending in and out, sliding, whatever. He expresses what he wants succinctly and the space in-between adds just the right emphasis.

I suspect Knopfler has the chops to play the Van Halen catalogue. After a lifetime of playing professionally, I think most A-list rock guitarists can play just about any rock guitar. Maybe not the insane shredding of the neo-classical stuff of the '90’s, but all of the rest.

Gotta quote Douglas Adams for this:

From So long, and thanks for all the fish..

I don’t even know what song he’s referring to, but I’ve felt he could have spoken about “Telegraph Road” or “Tunnel of Love”

Mark Knopfler rocks. Great style and ability.

About speed, chops and versatility: I’d be willing to bet that Knopfler can play most any of the speedy things out there if he put his mind to it. I’ve found that most accomplished players, even guys (and gals) you wouldn’t expect, can wail when and if it is called for. To get to the level that Mark Knopfler is at requires a ton of practice and playing. That practice usually leads to quite a bit of speed even if the player doesn’t go there all that often.


If you think Knopfler’s slow, listen to “Lady Writer” off “Communique”. I don’t know if it is as fast the other guys you’re talking about, but it’s not slow.

“Communique” is absolutely superb if you haven’t heard it, by the way.

I only like about a quarter or so of Knopfler’s songs, but the ones I do like are among my favorites. I agree with the others above: the man is efficient, and manages to be extremely expressive without battering us over the head with a thousand and one notes. He’s probably the most tasteful and elegant guitarist I’ve heard, and he’s the model that I aspire to as a guitarist.

I am no fan whatsoever of his music, but I’d place him firmly in my top five all time greatest guitarists. Since you asked, the others are, in order, Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, and Stevie Ray.

I have been a fan for a long time, and am in awe of what Mark Knopfler can do with a guitar, but just as important is his ability to tell a story. He used to work as a journalist, and it is that sort of tale-telling and lyricism that makes his work so attractive to me. I guess it is also why his movie soundtrack work (Cal, Local Hero, Princess Bride) is so evocative.