Why talk about the different types of guitarists? One might ask.
Well I’m a guitarist myself and chances are you know many who say they play the guitar, but do they really?
The guitar may be one of the most overused instruments in present-day music. It is especially popular among the young population so much that you cannot go into any class of any college or high school where there isn’t a single guitarist. One of the main reasons why this is the case is because of the versatile nature of the guitar. It isn’t restricted in its usage as compared to other instruments like banjo, violin etc. It can be used and played across most genres. And it is also affordable, especially the acoustic guitars.
It is also mostly light and we can take it to many places without much difficulty, unlike the piano or drums. That is probably why people prefer and work with guitarists. When forming a band or a musical arrangement, one has virtually no difficulty in finding a guitarist, but they go through some trouble trying to find a drummer or pianist or a violinist etc.
People who play the guitar (let’s face it) are ‘cool’ and so hear many people wanting to learn the guitar. I get this request a lot myself.
But here’s a question, what type of guitarist are you?
There are many different types of guitarists one can come across. It will be a mistake to assume that any two types of guitarists are necessarily the same, they’re not! From my observation and personal experience, I will list down the following types of guitarists. This classification is a broad one and hence based on purely genre types.
Types of Guitarists
Guitarist number 1: Have you met chordy?
I will classify this group into two sub-types:-
- One will be the type who know only three chords, most probably the A major, E minor and D major. They say they play the guitar but in truth, they have difficulty shifting and changing the chords without taking 5 seconds and making a squeaky noise. They do not know how to play the barre chords. These are the people who buy a guitar (and abuse them) by not taking care of them and never playing the guitar again.
- The second type of guitarist is a more advanced version of the first type who knows chords from A to G and a few minor versions of it. They will always play the same progression for every song. Every overrated and popular song, just so they can appeal the mass and look ‘cool’. It is a reality.
They usually play the acoustic guitar. These so-called guitarists are able to qualify for this classification only because of this wide misconception which has to be addressed.
Guitarist number 2: The Trained-one
This types of guitarists are trained, mostly in Western Classical style and hence, very disciplined. This is the group which knows how to read sheet music and proper notation. They know the theory of music and know proper scales and arpeggios in the guitar. You won’t find them showing off as most people don’t even understand this style. It might be difficult for them to easily jam with mainstream guitarists and musicians. However, they are highly skilled in different guitar techniques and hence, very knowledgeable about the guitar. They play the Classical-acoustic guitar which has nylon strings.
- Music School Geek-tarist.
This is a sub-type under The Trained one type of guitarist. These types of guitarists are ‘geek’ when it comes to learning scales and theory and usually do not have variation or improvisation in their techniques. This is not only the classical guitarists but also blues or rock guitarists, but all in all since they only ‘practice-hard’ in order to mug things up and never try to create something interesting. They are hence ‘Geek-tarist’.
Guitarist Number 3: The Self Taught Guitarist
Self-taught guitarists are the ones who learn the guitar without a physical/personal mentor guiding them. However, these types of guitarists do learn from somewhere and it isn’t from inside them. To pass as a guitarist, one needs to know the basics and this group of people tend to learn this by themselves through the internet tutorials and mentors. This group is one that is very enthusiastic about music and they are very patient and have a lot of perseverance. This group of guitarists may not necessarily know the way scales and key, time signature, tempo work, but they nevertheless are able to jam based on instinct than knowledge.
Guitarist Number 4: The Genre Specific
There are few types of guitarists who are very inclined to a single genre and hence are not seen playing anything outside of their genres mostly because they dislike it and often criticise it. The following are the two major genre-specific guitarists:
- The blue-boy/girl:
This types of guitarists are soulful and are concerned more about the feels than showing off to people. They consider the jazz and blues to be real music and usually dislike pop music. They are seen playing chords that are and in unconventional progressions and sound a certain way because of the blues scale that they play in.
- The Metal-Head:
They are an interesting group of people. They may not be playing in the campfires or school choir groups and hence maybe a little less acknowledged. But once they get a stage, with their electric guitar kit, they blow you off your mind with their powerful riffs and solos. People may not listen to Metal music in general. But it is known, metal-guitarists are respected and carry pride in themselves. These riffs and solos can be pretty simple but the distortion and the sound effects make them sound amazing.
Guitarist Number 5: The Showmanship King/Queen
This is the show-off guitarist and this stigma is mostly associated with and always stereotyped with the lead guitarists. It is also true up to some extent. The lead guitarist is usually the most important part of the rock/pop band. They play the main melody or direct the band’s overall ‘sound’. They need to be able to improvise and have knowledge about scales and progressions. In order to do so and hence are generally overrated.
However, lead guitarists are not the only ones who show-off. A bassist who works mostly with the drum and helps in the basic tempo and rhythm of the band can also be a show-off.
A rhythm guitarist who plays most parts of the song with catchy riffs and basic sound can also be a show-off.
In short any decently good can be a show-off.
Disclaimer: This classification is based on personal observation (and study) as well as generalisations and is not meant to offend any person, living or dead.
However, in this dialectical world, nothing is fixed and frozen. Hence one can come across someone who is an amalgam of two or more of the above categories. Thank You!