Where Do Guitar Players Fit In?

By Tim Gillespie

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Where Do Guitar Players Fit In?

Have you ever noticed that guitar players are like no other musician anywhere? No kidding! We are unique in a unique group. Musicians all by themselves are unique, but within this group, guitar players are even harder to describe. Try it! How would you describe the average guitar player. I know guys that wear suits that play hard rock and guys that wear nothing but old blue jeans and tee shirts and play classical music. We are a very different bunch of people that have one thing in common. We play guitar.

So why do I care? For one it's my job. I serve guitar players so therefore it is a good idea to know who allows me to be in business. Also I find it interesting to see the next wave of guitarists show up and try to make original statements. Often times they travel the same road as guitarists that came twenty years before them. Sometimes they have something brand new to contribute. Also I have been exposed to many fine CD's that are produced by musicians that have never been heard from before. CDs like the ones that are reviewed from time to time in this newsletter. Almost all of the time, these creative guitar players are loving their craft in complete obscurity.

Tom Leisek's CD, L'Esprit du Baroque, is a good example of music I want to know about but is hidden. Tom works for Guitar Solo in San francisco. I am sure there are many others out there with fresh, creative work, only we don't even know they exist. So new releases from unknown artists, in my opinion, represents one of the exciting new developments in music. These CD's are almost always a labor of love. They exist because someone felt so strongly about it that they would not be denied. Pretty compelling if you ask me, and I want to know where to find these people, without the help of big recording companies with a conflict of interest. Maybe this newsletter should start a page of new releases for unknown artists. Anyone who is releasing a CD could announce it here.

Another reason to wonder is this. Where do you send people for lessons? One of the most asked questions I get is, do you know a good teacher? I don't teach one-on-one anymore so I lose touch with exactly who is teaching what technique, and at what level of ability they cater to. I can usually answer this question when it is asked from someone who lives in a city close to me. But I have considerably less chance of getting it right for Atlanta or Charleston.

What is harder is matching up a guitar player with a teacher that will incorporate the exact style they wish to develop. If you teach rock and a student wants to learn flamenco, there could be a few problems.

We all play guitar but we play it differently. I noticed someone was trying to sell a web site on eBay this week, that keeps a database of guitar teachers. A west coast publisher also has a partial listing of guitar teachers in different states available on line. I believe this is an attempt to be able to point to a space (virtual or otherwise) and say here is where you find guitar teachers. Does this happen because we are so hard to identify, catagorize and even find? I think so.

Many instruments can be used for various types of music, but look at the diversity present in guitar players. At one end we have classical players with highly developed talents. At the other end are (some) pop players writing songs that require one or two chords and a hook. There is no right or wrong here, but look at the wide range of who we are and what we want. Maybe alt.guitar is the central repository for guitar players. It is as close as I have found, but even big discussion forums only have a subset of the available candidates.

The Internet has delivered the ability to converse in a way that most of us had no access to previously. Communication of this type has never been available before and if you wanted to have a voice, you had to go to a media company that judges you based on how you fit in with their interests. Now that we have a medium, how will we use it? Anyone who visited alt.guitar before the election can see how important being heard is for some people. It is also easy to see how this type of medium can be abused. I bet no one's mind was even changed with the political posts occurring before, during and after the election.

Going back to the hidden CD market, there are still things record companies do to earn their spot. It is one thing to have a product, it is quite another thing to make that generally known to the public. Remaining a secret is easy. Creating awareness is quite another thing.

Even if people do not wish to be included in an informal group, it seems to me that we all benefit from one central place where we can go to find out about guitars and guitarists. Maybe some of the big sites like Harmony Central will evolve to the point they become the de facto standard. Maybe guitarists will remain a splintered group with no one center.

One thing is for sure, the Internet and associated technologies will challenge that.