Guitar Talk

Essential Listening: Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)

Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin)

Is there anyone in this galaxy that hasn’t heard Stairway to Heaven? The thing that impressed me most about Jimmy was his ability to get different sounds on his guitars in the studio. He makes the guitar sound like other instruments and has a large variety of sounds, tones, and timbre. He also does a great job using altered tunings as heard on The Rain Song, Kashmere, Black Mountain Side and Going To California. My favorite songs are The Song Remains the Same and The Rain Song.

Essential Listening: Mike Oldfield

Tubular Bells came out in 1973. It was a concept album. The songs segued from one song to another. In 1992, he released Tubular Bells 2 which were the same tunes with the newest technology. I love this recording. Not just the guitars but everything about it.

The concert is on you tube in it’s entirety! This is my favorite concert on Youtube!

Essential Listening: Steve Morse

Rock, Classical, Jazz, Celtic, Swing, Bluegrass at the speed of light, you name it, he does it. Steve is from Mars. He has to be from another planet. My favorites are Verde Grande and Highland Wedding.


Essential Listening: Joe Maphis

Joe Maphis

Fire on the Strings! This guy could play fast, fast, fast, and in the days of Black Diamond strings as big as power lines (no Super Slinkys in 1960). How did he do that?

Essential Listening: Phil Keaggy

Phil Keaggy is as good as they get. Whether he’s rocking out on a Les Paul with his band or standing on stage by himself with an acoustic guitar he is amazing in either setting. Phil isn’t known to the general population because he plays primarily at Christian venues. He has been recording and touring for decades. My favorite recording of his is The Master and the Musician.

Essential Listening: Steve Kaufman


I had the pleasure to see Steve at a bluegrass jam recently. If you like flatpickin’ old time and bluegrass fiddle tunes on guitar then you’ll love Steve’s playing. He is very good at what he does. He also has tons of  instructional books. I have his Four Hour Bluegrass Jam book/CD. It is a great book.

Essential Listening: Eric Johnson

Eric studied all the greats of the first generation of electric guitarists: Jimi Hendrix, Chet Atkins, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards (The Stones), Wes Montgomery, Jerry Reed and so on. His playing is an amalgamation of all of the above. Not only does he imitate his heroes flawlessly but he has his own unique style and he is a great songwriter. The recording Tones is my favorite

Essential Listening: Jimi Hendrix

When Jimi Hendrix came on the music scene in the 60s it was as if the aliens came to earth and dropped off a guitar player. Even the great guitarists of the time such as Pete Townsend of the Who and Eric Clapton of Cream were intimidated by this gifted guitarist. No one wanted to follow his act at the festivals because his act couldn’t be topped. Hendrix is known by the average listener as the wild guitar player that played Purple Haze and set his guitar on fire at Woodstock. But, Jimi was much more than that. He could play the blues like nobody and his chord soloing on ballads were unparalleled. Much is to be learned studying his playing.  If you want to play rock guitar, learn All Along the Watchtower note for note. If  you want to play the blues learn Red House note for note. If you like a clean soulful sound on ballads and rhythm and blues learn Little Wing, The Wind Cries Mary, May This Be Love, Angel, or Spanish Castle Magic note for note.

Essential Listening: Michael Hedges

Michael played instrumental music on the acoustic ‘flat top’ guitar. I had the opportunity to see Michael in concert. It was a wonderful experience. He travels with a guitar tech whose main job is to tune his guitars while he is performing. He used a variety of altered tunings such as dadgad, open G, and drop D just to name a few. He was very creative and has done amazing things on the flat top guitar.

Essential Listening: Steve Howe (Yes)

Steve was the guitarist for Yes, another monster progressive rock band from the 70s. Steve uses a Gibson ES175 hollow body arch top electric guitar which is unusual in the rock world due to feedback problems at higher volumes. However, he used it and used it well. He also used a Fender Stringmaster steel guitar which is normally heard on country recordings. He made some nice sounds using an echoplex (a tape echo device that predated the digital delay) with the steel guitar. My favorite recordings are Close to the Edge, Fragile, and Yessongs.