Is Chet Atkins a great guitarist, or what?

Sorry, I’m just sitting here listening to him play “Vincent”, and it’s astonishing how good he was. He has to be one of the most under-rated guitar players around, probably because he comes from the ‘country’ side of guitardom.

Another one who falls in that category is Roy Clark. Boy, that guy can play. Guitar and Banjo and Fiddle and probably a pair of old suspenders and a washtub. He’s just an all-around great talent.

Any other country guitarists that don’t get their due? Vince Gill, maybe?

Chet was a fantastic guitarist! (And I don’t care for country music.) On the day of his funeral, I drove around Nashville with the top down on the car – playing his CD’s. He also appeals to my husband who likes jazz and my step-son who plays classical guitar.

I meant to mention that sometimes well-known musicians will play backup on country music recorded in Nashville. Larry Carlton is one who has done that.

Chet underrated? boggle

He’s pretty universally considered one of the best guitar players who ever lived.

I used to love to listen to his guitar rendition of Botts Randolph’s famous “Yakety Sax.”

I was about to say the same thing as Ogre- he was one of the most renound guitarists in music history and is very highly regarded by many/most guitarists today. A huge influence on many musicians and well liked in the industry. When I read the thread title I was thinking “Man, that’s the understatement of the year!”

In short, yes- he was a great guitarist.

Wow. A mistake caught a day later. That’s “Boots Randolph.” Very sorry.

Yeah, I’m aware that Chet Atkins is highly regarded by music critics and serious guitar players. But I’ve had many conversations about guitarists with friends, and when I mention Chet Atkins I often get comments like, “You mean the country guy?” I don’t think his status as a guitar God is cemented in the public’s mind.

If you ask general music fans who the great guitarists are, you’re more likely to hear Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton. If you asked Eddie or Eric, though, they’d probably include Chet Atkins.

So how about other ‘country’ guitarists? Any great ones? Really good ones? Where does Roy Clark fit in? Is he just technically adept, but not as nuanced and innovative as Atkins? How about Vince Gill? I’ve heard lots of people tell me he’s a very good guitar player, but I haven’t really listened to him. Any others?

Ah, and I completely missed the thing about Roy Clark. The guy is not just a good player. He’s a freaking virtuoso. He plays virtually every stringed instrument out there, plus (I believe) piano, trumpet, and a few others. His persona is one of a “good ole boy,” but he is an absolute master musician.

He’s also one of the most powerful people in Nashville.

So, is Roy Clark the one who is under-rated? I don’t think I ever see him listed as one of the guitar ‘greats’.

My musician brother used to play in the Memphis symphony. One night, Chet Atkins was the guest artist for a symphony concert.

That night, my even-tempered, classical-musician brother called me long-distance simply babbling about how great Atkins sounded. He claimed you couldn’t hear the entirety of his sound on records – none of his recordings came within lightyears of capturing it. So sez my bro, who’s definitely not a country music fan.

Sam, I wouldn’t personally consider either Atkins or Clark underrated. Certainly not among musicians. As far as the general public, well, neither one of them has been the object of record-industry “Guitar Hero” hype.

Any suggestions of releases by either Atkins or Clark?

Years ago I saw him play in a small venue in Chapel Hill. For his final piece, he recorded himself playing a tune, then played it back, and accompanied himself. He recorded that too, and then played against the first two. Amazing.

Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits - a serious acolyte of Chet’s) and Chet Atkins put out one or two really excellent collaborations (“Neck and Neck” is the one I have.) Some of the finest country guitar you will ever hear. For classic Chet, however, The Essential Chet Atkins is a good compilation. Be warned, however, that Chet Atkins is aaaall about the “Country Gentleman” sound…his playing is spectacularly proficient, but subtle. A lot of people think it sounds like countrified elevator music. His range of tricks and techniques, though, is absolutely stunning. He’ll go from a galloping country style to a full-on Wes Montgomery jazz style without batting an eyelash.

Another country guitarist that might not get much “general audience” play but was probably as good as anyone who ever lived was Merle Travis. Follow the link and listen to the snippet of “Cannonball Rag” in particular. He’s a lot less “cerebral” than Atkins, and a ton of fun to listen to, plus, he was jaw-droppingly good.

Might also want to take a peek at Junior Brown, who is probably one of the best guitarists alive today. Click on the “Guit With It” link then listen to the snippet of “Sugarfoot Rag.” Damned amazing stuff.

For classic “underrated” folk guitarist, though, check out Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mississippi John Hurt. Both blues musicians, but Travis and Atkins both acknowledge them as primary influences and spectacular guitarists.