Worst guitar players

I’m sure this question has been asked before, but I’m going to try to make the nominees a little more objective. A couple rules here:

  1. I know some people like to hate on highly technical players like Malmsteen. No. Whatever your opinions on shredders, they are extremely good at what they do and it’s not something just anyone can pick up a guitar and learn to do. There’s an audience for it and they appeal to that audience. What I’m looking for is guitarists whose playing isn’t really appealing because people are buying their music for other reasons.

  2. Not only should the guitar player not be technically proficient, but should also be in a band you otherwise like. Just not really for the guitar playing.

I have a few nominees:

  1. Matthias Jabs- Scorpions have long been my favorite band, but Jabs has never been anything but acceptable and I can’t recall any of his solos ever being interesting. I will credit him for having a distinctive sound.

  2. Emppu Vuorinen- Nightwish is one of the greatest bands of all time, IMO, and their worldwide following mainly outside of the US attests to that. But Emppu is REALLY kinda technically wanting compared to 95% of guitarists in the metal genre these days and it’s not as if he’s doing really tasteful solos with great feel to make up for it. He’s not even really a good performer on stage. They must just really like him, because I see no point in his being there and they could hire an amazing guitar player pretty easily. Or perhaps he has no ego and is fine with having a fairly low profile role. They certainly hired the best female metal singer on the planet in Floor Jansen.

  3. CC Deville- back in the 80s he was generally regarded as the worst guitar player in the hair metal genre. He’s actually technically OK if not great, but the WAY he shreds is just irritating and I’m sure he must be taking shortcuts to make it sound like he’s playing fast without actually making anything resembling music. Too bad Richie Kotzen didn’t work out with Poison.

  4. Billie Joe Armstrong- This is probably a little unfair since they were a punk band, and I really dug his rhythm playing early on. But now that they’ve evolved into a much more diverse band, he’s not really contributing much and should probably just hang up the guitar and get a fulltime lead player.

I know it has little to do with the OP’s topic, but I can’t help but be reminded of Harry Chapin’s Monophonic Symphony Six-String Orchestra.

I nominate Mike Rutherford. He is a bassist, first and foremost. He decided he could fill Steve Hackett’s shoes after he left Genesis. He couldn’t. He’s passable as a guitar player, but that’s it.

This is pretty much what I came in here to post.

It’s a difficult subject. I don’t think the ability to play three, two or one chord makes one a good guitarist, but it worked in the Sex Pistols and The Ramones.

I would vote John Ivan of the semi-obscure-but-once-somewhat-popular Off Broadway USA. I swear, the guy plays NO chords. I think he just plucks strings on every song.

I would put The Edge (is that his real name? :slight_smile: ) in that same category. He just does it very well.

There are a million great rock and roll players who are technically terrible. But technical chops are, frankly, overrated. Geddy Lee once said - on the clips for their Exit…Stage Left video something akin to ‘It’s good to have great chops and be able to play all those notes. But in the end it comes down to feel and what you’re bringing to your audience that matters.’

Truer words.

Honestly, I’ve seen Joan Jett up close and personal many times and it’s mostly power chords and raw strength. But would anyone say she’s not great at what she does?

Oooh, I get to be the first to nominate Kirk Hammett? I have always thought that he was almost a detriment to Metallica’s music, like he sucks the power out of the songs with his shitty solos or something.

Many of my favorite musicians, some among the most important, influential, iconic performing artists alive today are at best mediocre to novice-level guitarists, despite 40 or 50 years of continual practice.

No one goes to see Bob Dylan, Van Morrison or Paul Simon for their guitar playing, yet they all play guitar during their live shows, even though they must have enough musical self-awareness to know they are damn sure no Jimi Hendrix.

(Hendrix, for that matter, despite being one of the most technically talented and influential guitar players in musical history was not much of a songwriter, in my opinion only his Little Wing and VooDoo Chile have stood the test of time)

Mike Campbell from Tom Petty’s band. Talented player, yet, I’ve never heard one of their songs where I didn’t think, “man, a good guitar solo would sound good right about here.”

Not a good soloist for such a popular band.

Surprised to see him listed because I always thought he was regarded as one of the best. He certainly relies too much on the wah pedal, but other than that I figured he was way up there.

Jack Ely of The Kingsmen. “Louie, Louie” has one of the worst guitar breaks in history.

Sam Andrew/James Gurley - It’s a good thing Janis had power, because Big Brother sucked in the guitar department.

Neil Young describes himself as a crappy guitar player who can’t play solos.

He probably agrees. He doesn’t play lead in his own band.

Paul Simon is a great acoustic guitarist. He doesn’t really belong in a conversation about strummers.

There is a story about I Need To Know, that they couldn’t get what the guitar solo was supposed to be. It just eluded them, and finally someone said just do Chuck Berry, and they did.

Jerry Garcia.

Me listening to a Grateful Dead song:

(After three minutes) “This song is pretty good.”
(After five minutes) “Uh ok…”
(After ten minutes) :confused:

CC Deville - I agree overall, although I’d point of that CC studied musical theory in University and he improved immensely after touring with Steve Vai and the DLR band.

Mick Mars - catchy riffs sure, but almost all “2-finger” power chords and simplistic solos.

Ace Frehley - I’m a huge fan and his sound and style is unique and extraordinary… but technically (and musically) he’s just soooo sloppy, noisy, repetitive and primitive.
For example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPnpSRg01ao

Kurt Cobain - great songwriter and interpreter … terrible guitarist.

The Edge - he doesn’t actually play enough notes to be counted as a guitarist :wink:
As far as bass players go… we can all agree that there’s only one worst… Sid Vicious

I’m not a U2 fan, but some of the best guitarists (JJ Cale for example) get more out of a few notes than some players can with many.

Throwing my hat into this ring for the easy win. :wink:

Seriously though, along those lines I’ll second, no, third The Edge. Not because he is bad… not at all: to me, he’s the crucial element which makes U2 “U2”… but because I can play his stuff reasonably well. And I suuuuuuuuuck.

My understanding (and I admit that I am not an expert on The Edge) is that a big part of his sound isn’t his playing, in and of itself, but what he does with effects on his sound, particularly reverb and delay.