11 Annoying Things Guitarists Say

Amped columnist Richard Beech thinks it's time for a bit of self-deprecation   03-May-14

11 Annoying Things Guitarists Say
Photo by Kyrre Gjerstad

Admit it. Every now and again you say something so utterly cliche that you even surprise yourself when the words coming tumbling out of your mouth.

Guitarists are good at self-deprecation (most of the time), so very much in that spirit, I've compiled a list of the main offenders - the most annoying things we all say from time to time.

And if the main offenders offend you, then you must be guilty of these guitar-related aural crimes.

1) If you can play guitar you can play bass

Not true. Just so wrong on so many levels. If you can play guitar, then it gives you a decent starting point for bass. But like any instrument, it requires a specific set of techniques, and a hell of a lot of practice.

2) Dude, is that a Boss DS-1?

Yeah, it is a Boss DS-1... and I make it sound awe-some. It's not even an original Boss DS-1, its one of the new, Chinese, DS-1s and it sits on my pedal board because I've had it for 10 years and I can get a great sound out of it.

It's not my only distortion pedal, and I am under no illusions about its shortcomings in terms of flexibility, but if you can't get a good lead guitar sound out of a Boss DS-1 then you need to enter into a guitar tone boot camp for people who don't know how to use their ears.

3) I need a more transparent overdrive

Sigh. Just... sigh.

4) Which fret?

It's A#, if you don't know what fret that is, then we shouldn't be in a band together. It takes about two hours to learn where all the notes are on the fretboard.

5) (When a song is on) "I can play this on guitar."

Singers don't do it, trumpet players don't do it, keyboardists don't do it. Why guitarists? Why? We've all said it, though, admit it.

(Yeah we know you can play this song, it doesn't mean you have to play it at every party you go to, though).

6) He's just a shredder

No he isn't. He has worked hard for years to be able to play guitar in the way that he (or she!) wants to be able to play guitar, and just because you don't like it, it doesn't lessen that person's achievement.

In my experience, people who are the worst offenders for this sentence are often guitarists who would love to be able to play faster, who would love to be able to improve their picking technique, but simply haven't been able to.

I don't shred, because I can't physically do it. If I was good enough, would I? Damn right, it looks fun.

7) Just a guitar, a cable and an amp

People who say "all I need is just a guitar, a cable and an amp" use it as a badge of honor, usually referring to this combination of inanimate objects as if it is holy trinity of musical purity.

It's usually used as a veiled dig at people who use pedals, as if the use of pedals somehow lessens your ability as a guitar player.

It can sometimes be followed by the addendum "if it's good enough for Clapton, it's good enough for me", which is fair enough, if the only style of music you ever play is blues.

8) Can I get a bit more of me in my foldback?

The fine balancing act that is juggling monitor levels against squealing feedback isn't easy for sound guys in small venues, it isn't made any easier by the fact that guitarists (and vocalists) - without fail - always ask for more of themselves in their foldback.

Vocalists, fine, your foldback is the only way you can make sure your singing is on pitch.

Guitarists, just turn your amp up to a decent level in the first place so that it gives you natural foldback on stage, and remember that hearing the kick drum and bass player is far more important than being able to hear every single note of your solo with precise clarity.

And remember... the sound guy is always right.

EDIT: This one seems to have touched a few nerves. For the record, I'm not saying you don't need to be able to hear your guitar at all on stage, if you can't hear your guitar loud enough on stage to be able to hear the accuracy of a bend or slide, then you need to walk over to your amp, press the 'on' switch, a blue or red light will come on, and then you're in business.

9) Tone is in the fingers

So many aspects of guitar playing are 'in the fingers', but don't justify your inability to get a decent sound out of your guitar, pedals and amp as being down to the fact that you think "tone is in the fingers".

This is the sort of reverse argument to the "he's just a shredder" thing. I know plenty of people who are technically quite bad at playing their instrument, but still manage to create a beautiful tone.

Technique is in the fingers.

10) Less is more

No it isn't. More is more. Just playing a note and sustaining it for four bars with vibrato doesn't mean you are using a 'less is more' approach to guitar playing, it just means you need to play something more imaginative.

11) The Edge would have been nothing without his effects rack

Wait? You mean the guy who co-wrote numerous hit songs and has an incredible ear for harmony, arrangement and production? Nah, I'm pretty sure he still would have been 'a someone' without his effects rack.


Richard Beech is a former studio engineer, turned journalist, and is a guitar reviewer for SonicState. He spends much of his free time playing solos over terrible songs on the radio, thus making them even more terrible.

You can follow him on Twitter - @RichTheJourno

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32 Comments... Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus

Self taught holyman    Said...

There's also the "self taught" holyman , With bad technique and limited musicality , but considering their efforts superior to anyone who ever had a lesson .....because having a teacher somehow means they do the hours & hours of practise for you ?

03-May-14 06:14 AM

George Sandberg    Said...

12. I've never copyed anyone. Everything I play is original.

03-May-14 08:41 AM

Jeff    Said...

13. I've never copied anyone. Everything I type is original.

Sorry, just too tempting.

03-May-14 10:00 AM

Barius    Said...

14. I've never copied anyone. Everything I type is original.

Sorry, just too tempting.

Had to do it with my own special unique approach.

03-May-14 11:01 AM

Ryan    Said...

My fav is "tone comes from your fingers". Oh really?! Go ahead and play me some Dimebag Darrell through Clapton's rig and then tell me tone comes from your fingers. Tone comes from wherever you want it to come from!

03-May-14 11:03 AM

ANONYMOUS    Said...

For an article whining about metal/hard rock it lacks perspective, if you want to learn to play BASS for this genre don't listen to this guy, play guitar first an then pick up a bass and you will be freakin' awesome at playing bass with a pick. Playing finger style is great but for rock or metal where a new guy will probably play with a PICK anyway, you will be a far far far worse bass player if your first instrument is a bass.

03-May-14 12:22 PM

anonymous    Said...

I agree with most of these, except the "hearing the kick drum and bass player is far more important than being able to hear every single note of your solo with precise clarity".

So if I understand correctly, I just play all my one-fourth and three half tone bendings by magic and guesswork? Or, do I have to know what a correct bend looks like on the fretboard just in case I can't hear myself at all live? No, that's bullshit. I need to be able to hear myself on stage, else I'm just hoping it sounds good to everyone else.

03-May-14 12:59 PM

Simon    Said...

#5 Just like while I watch billiards, I say sometimes about a hard shot for beginners, I say - 'I can do this shot'. It's always annoying to do such things, but my guitarist has never said any of these. Except he once said about Kerry King, that he's just a shredder, but that is, because we both hate Slayer's guitarist. I may say a lot more brutal things as a vocalist, but usually I'll imitate or mock a vocalist I hate, like Eric Adams, Axl Rose or Vince Neil.

03-May-14 01:22 PM

Kurt    Said...

Along with the one about it not being necessary to hear every note while playing a solo, try slide guitar deaf. You cannot do it and expect to sound in tune.

03-May-14 02:58 PM

blox Electrix    Said...

Just give me a laptop, a keypad & an article & type something !

03-May-14 03:58 PM

Bill Curran    Said...

#8 is bullshit and contradicts itself. No sound guy will ever let you turn up enough to hear yourself, so fuckin' duh, of course you need more in the monitors. If you can't hear yourself, no matter how well you know the tunes, the band will suck as a whole. There are so many wannabe sound guys, so no, they are not always right.

03-May-14 04:43 PM

Chris    Said...

I can agree with some of these but I take issue with the "tone is in the fingers" one. Are you suggesting that BB King plugged into Zakk Wylde's rig would sound like Zakk Wylde playing? No. That's stupid. Sure, with amp settings and effects there are millions of ways to augment or manipulate tone, but it all starts with the fingers. Every guitarist (who doesn't spend his life trying to completely emulate a particular guitarist) has a different feel. The way he puts pressure on the strings, the way he bends, the speed of his vibratos, the force with which he picks, etc. all combine together to create a distinct, characteristic sound of the individual guitarist. It's something that a guitarist should be proud of because it's unique.

So sure, you can manipulate your individual tone to make it sound a certain way, but only if there's already a tone in place to manipulate.

I suppose it could be annoying to hear it over and over, but it shouldn't be suggested that it isn't true.

03-May-14 05:50 PM

yo    Said...

This is a bullshit article

03-May-14 08:05 PM

Mic    Said...

You're probably "that guy" if you think it's a bullshit article

03-May-14 09:55 PM

Adam    Said...

the shredder one gets me...there PLENTY of shredders that are just shredders.

swing your stupid argument back the other way, and it can be said that just because you've learned to play every scale in the known universe quickly, that somehow you're automatically awesome and that every other player devoid of these skills should bow down if you even look in their general direction is ludicrous. fast playing is great when done well, but just because you can play fast does not make you top shit by default.

03-May-14 10:31 PM

Abraham    Said...

I agree, bullshit article. everyone needs more of himself in the foldback you can't play 100 percent accurate if you can't listen to yourself and of course the tone starts from the fingers. In my opinion you're just a pretentious amateur.

04-May-14 12:31 AM

yo~yo    Said...

hehe I agree Mic and Abe!

Fuck you "yo"

04-May-14 02:07 AM

The Tour Manager    Said...

Lets be realistic, the sound guy is very seldom ever right. Unless the sound guy is your bands personal sound guy or has professional experience (more than one show) then he is almost always wrong and needs to be told what to do.

04-May-14 03:01 AM

Peter    Said...

The sound man ALWAYS tells me to turn down, not up

04-May-14 05:22 AM

Richard    Said...

I have made an edit for all the people who can't bend or slide their notes accurately unless the guitar is louder than the rest of the band.

You're welcome!

04-May-14 05:40 AM

Matti Frost    Said...

Proudly guilty of #7. I have my amp footswitch and a tuner in front of me. I'll forgive a lead player's pedal board if it's modest and practical, but it's not for me. At some point it becomes a pretentious showboat item that one dead battery or missed cable can ruin, or a crutch to cover up poor writing or technique.

04-May-14 07:39 AM

Fritz    Said...

Its great to shred, but stomping on the vocal and paying homage to out of date playing technique's is a no no in my band books.

"Less is more" is a producer saying, generally, and means channeling your inner U2 and understanding that a busy guitar part under the vocal will detract from the singer.

I dare you to find me a Billboard hot 100 track with a busy guitar melody, synth melody, etc...

Overuse of technique kills your record sales. Be able to do it, but for the love of god keep it to your "I'm 50 and can do whatever the hell I want" virtuoso show.

04-May-14 07:57 AM

Fritz again    Said...

@Matti Frost... But do you enjoy Bloc Party at all? There is something to be said for bands that have learned out to bridge the technology of the past with the future and create rhythm from it. I understand a great song with a great traditional rhythm riff, but I also love what guitarists like Russell Lissack do with their boards.

04-May-14 08:01 AM

beer    Said...

Richard can suck a dick.

04-May-14 02:11 PM

LodvarTheNorwegian    Said...

Even more fun than the article are all the annoyed guitarplayers commenting. Dudes, relax. You're still special. To your mum.

05-May-14 07:10 AM

Ted    Said...

1. NOS tubes sound warmer 2. DSP sounds cold 3. Solid State is for bass 4. Tonewoods matter 5. Single coil is bad for rock 6. "authentic" 7. "emotional" 8. Fuzz is cheesy 9. "voltage sag" 10. "Jam" 11. Boss DR series is good for jamming along with.

06-May-14 07:07 PM

1320eatshitanddie    Said...

Ridiculously stupid article written by run of the mill wannabe eurotrash. But, I do like number 6, 7 and 9! Dweebs!

07-May-14 03:05 PM

NotNews    Said...

So... guitarists are elitist, jealous, egotistical d**ks. Just like everyone else.

14-May-14 01:59 PM

T.J.    Said...

A wise man once said it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than it is to speak out and remove any doubt.

08-Jul-14 01:24 PM

NYBlues    Said...

Pretty much agree with all you said with the exception of #10. I've heard many guitar players get more expression and feeling playing one note and hanging on it than many other guitar players soloing with flurries of notes. Often the notes not played are more important than ones played too..think spaces. It's all in the feel of the song and in some songs less really is more. Yeh, I'm a blues player if you can't tell by what I've just said.

20-Dec-14 02:45 PM

Jawa    Said...

If you can play guitar you CAN play bass. You're not going to be Jaco but I don't want to be Jaco.

20-Apr-15 03:19 PM

GABE    Said...

TONE comes from a combination of things. If that were the case then I would be able to take my acoustic out and bust out a buttload of different tones! NAY it comes from gear, and technique folks!!! Also I have respect for SHREDDERS because it's not the fact that they play unbelievably fast which requires dedication and passion. It's the feeling behind playing every note in perfect time. Now there are those who fucking suck at shredding to which I do not consider them shredders.

29-Apr-15 10:24 AM

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