Who do you think the most underrated rock guitarist is?

I’m a musician. (Current economy makes that unfortunate…) I grew up on classic rock and metal. I love all genres except maybe avant garde jazz.

In rock and roll, who is the most underrated guitarist? I’m talking about band wise, no solo artists.

For me, it’s a toss up between Alex Lifeson and Brian May.

What about you guys and gals?

Nancy Wilson of Heart
Prince (hey he was with The Revolution and NPG)
Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac
John Frusciante of RHCP

I’m not a musician, so I don’t really know who is underrated in musician’s circles, but Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine might qualify. He seems an awesome guitarist to my ears, totally defines the RatM sound. I want to say he’s very innovative, but don’t know if musician’s would agree. Maybe in avante-garde jazz terms he’s an arch conservative. Anyhow, given that Rage are (were) not your typical rock band and he has a different sort of sound, I don’t hear his name thrown around in ‘greatest guitatists of the past 10 years’ discussions.

Does Johnny Marr count? Because when most people think of guitar bands, The Smiths isn’t what pops into their minds…but damn.

Tony Iommi doesn’t get anywhere near the recognition he should get for being as influential as he’s been.

I agree that Alex Lifeson is pretty underrated too.

How is Brian May underrated? He’s worshipped by music fans. He’s considered one of the greatest rock guitarists by a hell of a lot of people I know, and I read articles about him all the time. I think he gets all the recognition he deserves.

Damn, all of you have GREAT answers. I’ll have to expand my mental list on this! :smiley:

John Fruciante, Tony Iommi deserve kudos especially. Damn, Iommi’s tracks were so rough and live, he sets a metal standard too, Dio, you’re right on that one. Lindsey was unique at almost everything. His country picking finger style, especially on ‘Gypsy’ is fantastic.

Lita Ford did some great shit on acoustic too. The intro to “Crazy On You” is a standard in guitar, man. (And she’s a hot chick who plays metal riffs before a lot of other hacks were born!)

Busy Scissors (great band name), I agree that Tony Morello defined the Rage Against the Machine sound, especially with production using a seperate track to ‘chunk’ on.

Damn, The Smiths! johnny Marr gets in there too, Oni.

Argent, I’m glad to hear you and your friends love Brian May too. As far as recognition goes, the last article I saw about him in recent years was concerning his degree in Astronomy in England, what he used to study before that little Queen band got in the way! :smiley: But the headline in the Mirror or BBC News said, “Queen Guitarist gets Astronomy Degree”.

With Queen it seems everybody remembers Freddie (and why the hell not?) but the other members fade, at least I thought so. Kind of like when people describe Rush and talk about Gedde, Neil and the ‘other guy’.

I think that Brian May has THE BEST rock guitar sound in history of the genre. I have not heard anyone that sounds anything like that. Almost an acoustic/distorted resonance. Maybe that’s what building your own guitars gets you. And how many guitarists can have their solos sung in a bar by drunk guys? Every time I hear ‘Killer Queen’ on the jukebox there’s always someone (besides me) that sings the damn solo.

I can’t wait to see who else Dopers come up with on this. The more you all suggest, please remember, I have very few gigs left on my iPhone iPod. :slight_smile:

Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues.

These are great choices, SWB.

**Locrian **- so are you new to the SDMB? If so, welcome; if no, then I haven’t run across you in the guitar threads in Cafe Society…

**Prince **is such a brilliant musician all around that his guitar playing can get taken for granted, but he is truly up there.

I’d love to find a way to get** Jeff Beck **on this list, but who am I kidding? Most great guitarists list him at or near the top of their list, so I would really just be lamenting the fact that he was never a crossover smash like other guitar heroes at his level - but that lack of fame is as much his doing as anybody’s…

**Brian Setzer **is like Beck - he gets the respect he deserves as a true virtuoso, but has a niche sorta fame. The Stray Cats had their moment but Setzer is not held up at the same level as Hendrix, Clapton, Page, EVH - even though technically he’s better than some of those names…

If I had to push for some underrated players, I suppose I would start with Keith Richards, Pete Townshend and Johnny Ramone. All play primarily rhythm and are more focused on being the “Boss of the Song” and driving their bandmates than they are in whipping out a lead. All three wrote great songs, innovated the music and shaped what we listen to today. Within the context of what they were trying to accomplish, all three are technically brilliant - you try playing Honky Tonk Woman in Open G with all the fake-pedal-steel double-stops and bends, or try playing non-stop downstrokes in the correct way that sets up a Wall of Sound for 10 songs straight - it’s hard to do.

Oh, and add **Malcolm Young **to that list…

ETA: Shouldn’t this be in Cafe Society?..

Oh - and hear is a link to a Gear Page thread, which in turn has a link to a 1990’s interview with May on Youtube where he walks through all the work he did on the Red Special…


Yup – let me move it for you.

I’m going to throw out Allan Holdsworth, who is not really thought of as a rock guitarist, but put out a rock album.

Guitar is a funny instrument. When people get good, they get REALLY good. Unfortunately, that means that great guitarists are a dime a dozen these days. When you read about folks like Steve Vai and how often really good technical guitar players practice, you start to think that we’ve reached the pinnacle of how good a guitarist can get. Then someone else comes along and blows that guitarist away.

My latest favorite is Derek Trucks. I can’t beleve how young he is and how well he plays. I got turned on to his stuff when I saw the Allmans a few years back and watched him blow Warren Haynes (another of my favorites) off the stage.

(watching his Brian Moore Customs and his Marshalls gather dust in the basement)

I am. :smiley:

Seriously, how about George Harrison. He’s not underrated as much as overlooked, but in a way he defined how to do a melodic solo in a rock ballad.

Greg Ginn of Black Flag. He helped define West Coast Punk, which in turn helped define Grunge. Besides, it’s still cool how Black Flag’s songs had hooks made out of almost complete noise.

The guitarist in my favourite band.

Norman Blake
Clarence White
Eddie Lang
Leo Kottke

Andy Summers (Police)
George Harrison
Mike Campbell (Heartbreakers)
Mike Keneally (Zappa)
Danny Gatton

Jim Hall
Pat Martino

**Greg Ginn **is a great choice - lots of solid punk / hardcore players who’ve had a big influence. I am partial to **Mike Ness **of Social Distortion - rock rhythm goodness.

As for George Harrison, I am going to go with meh - he’s actually pretty correctly perceived in the Conventional Wisdom. A great songwriter (eventually when given a chance to stretch out) a great Beatle and ultimately, a very interesting guy, but not much of a guitarist. Very tasteful - he dropped in the right stuff and helped make the Beatles’ songs pop out of the speaker - but his technique was so tentative it stands out. Reading Here, There and Everywhere, the memoir by Geoff Emmerich who engineered Revolver and Sgt. Peppers as well as other Beatles and famous rock stuff, had a toss off comment in most studio stories about George trying to pull the lick together. Apparently it was a bitter pill when Paul whipped out the lead for Taxman - because it sounds so rockin’ and technically spot on and George got a lot of compliments on it…

**picker **- I saw your post after mine got up. You think Harrison is underrated? Given your chops, really? Are you looking past his tentative technique or just seeing it differently?

Dave Davies. People tend to remember him for on stage fist fights with his brother more than for his playing. The sound he created for the early Kinks records like *You Really Got Me *was pretty revolutionary at the time and became a staple of garage bands everywhere.

Oftimes, the “other guy” in guitar tandems is just as good…Brad Whitford of Aerosmith is one of those guys. Brendan Harkin from Starz was another. K.K. Downing from Judas Priest is another good one.

ETA: I think John Entwhistle was a great lead guitarist who just happened to play bass.

His melody. I rate guitarists on ability to evoke strong melody/use inventive harmonic phrasings. Technique is just that, a way to effect that which you hear. I find that George’s (delicate) melodic and harmonic sensibilities to lend the perfect counterpoint to the robust writing and structures of L/McC. Plus, his tones and lead’s on Revolver especially are sublime, to my ears.

There’s always seemed to me to be an undercurrent of bittersweet to George’s playing that’ I’ve seldom found elsewhere.

I can’t argue with anything you state. The tone of his Rick 12-string, or the twang of his Gretsch on the early stuff is just great. Maybe his tentative technique is all about that undercurrent of bittersweet - I just hear a bit of a fumble at times.