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Thread: The guitar: A musical compromise?

  1. #1
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    The guitar: A musical compromise?

    I'm having some sombre thoughts about the guitar. I need you guys to help me restore faith in the relatively young instrument which is the guitar.

    Let's face it, there are certain things a guitar can't do as well as other instruments.

    A piano can floor any guitar when it comes to alterations and inversions of chords. A trumpet/saxophone can outdo a guitar when it comes to melodies.

    It seems to me that the guitar falls between instruments, a comprimise where some qualities are sacrificed for an all-round instrument which can't really excel in other settings except when playing solo and unaccompanied.

    What are some of the strengths and "uniquities" of the guitar?

  2. #2
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    No other instrument is as cool as the guitar!

    Have you ever seen a headbanging piano player? - ridicioulous
    Have you ever seen someone smashing his trumpet to pieces?
    Could you imagine Hendrix setting a flute on fire?

    besides that, there is no other instrument that makes transposing that easy.
    There are rarely a few instruments else were you have the tone and the creation of a note just on your fingertips!

    come on dude! BELIEVE!!


  3. #3
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    No other instrument is as cool as the guitar!

    Have you ever seen a headbanging piano player? - ridicioulous
    Have you ever seen someone smashing his trumpet to pieces?
    Could you imagine Hendrix setting a flute on fire?
    These are all valid points I guess, but they all relate to image! Is that why we play the guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    besides that, there is no other instrument that makes transposing that easy.
    Well, since I don't think in patterns and in notes instead, this isn't easy for me. Am I not utilizing the guitar fully enough by not playing with patterns?

    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    There are rarely a few instruments else were you have the tone and the creation of a note just on your fingertips!
    Yet when I hear a saxophone I hear the note as singing, they control the volume, dynamics and intensity with their breath. Granted, the guitar "beats" the piano in this respect, in terms of direct access to the strings.

    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    come on dude! BELIEVE!!

    Thanks but I'm still not entirely conviced. Perhaps it's a disease?

  4. #4
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    Am I not utilizing the guitar fully enough by not playing with patterns?
    At some point.. yes, probably.
    If you play a G bar-chord and whant to change to a G# bar-chord, it is just moving your left hand for about 2 cm. if you go through the notes-chords-fretboard process, is is much more difficult.. i guess.
    Same with scales. Seeing the notes and intervalls within the scale is very good, but just using notes as references is more difficult as well.
    For learning, i's say patterns are the fastest way to get the fretboard into your head.


    Yet when I hear a saxophone I hear the note as singing, they control the volume, dynamics and intensity with their breath.

    I love saxophones as well for their "directness". just like .. a guitar . (or even a bit more human - as for including ones breath).

    A trumpet/saxophone can outdo a guitar when it comes to melodies.
    I'm not with you at that point. at what point can a sax outdo a guitar when it comes to melodies? invervall leaps? what do you mean :-o.


    Perhaps it's a disease?
    Did you get infected at a Trumpet forum somewhere, huh?

  5. #5
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    These are all valid points I guess, but they all relate to image!
    oh.. and this i'd say they relate to style.. not just plane image.

  6. #6
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    The guitar is older than the piano - well actually thats a complex discussion because you could say "don't you mean a lute is older than a harpsichord" (and is it still true..?)

    but anyway, one big bonus: the guitar is very portable - try taking a steinway grand down to the beach.

  7. #7
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    Maybe its time to play a horn or take 500 post-piano bows...
    but before ya do that,

    horns sound great, but they are very limited as a solo instument (solo as in unaccompanied). Chords are a problem also, whatever a horn toots sounds like one note. Its also a non smoker friendly. Also, a lot of times horn player just stand there and wait... (which I kinda like), so for the active musician it may not be as fulfilling to stand there and foot tap.

    piano, i think this is a great instrument, can fit into any situation. But, carrying that thing around can be a pain don't ya think? Piano can't control tone too much, besides dynamics and some pedal work, not much can be done in terms of tone and crazy psycho sounds (other than cheesy synth stuff).

    The guitar allows for lots of tone control, and also theres lots of room for chords and such. I think ya need to go electric for the full benefit of guitar, cuz of all the gear that comes with it (of which I have none ). If you have all that gear, lots of versatility in there. But electric horns sound pretty cool as well...

    EDIT: the unitar was probably the first "instrument". Probably discovered as a mistake when using a bow... invention order = fire, wheel, bow & arrow... soon after, the unitar.
    They call them fingers, but I never see them fing.

  8. #8
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Itīs all a matter of taste, imo, and even though there are guys who donīt really care what instrument they play ( meanign that they just wanna play music and it doesnt really matter to them what instrument they use for it ), I believe that some instruments appeal to certain people more than others.
    Yes, the piano sure has some advantages that the guitar does not have... huge chords with wide stretches ( using two hands etc. ) etc. I sure enjoy to sit down at a piano or keyboard sometime, use the sustain pedal and play some of these huge chords etc.

    However, letīs look at the things you can do with the guitar:
    - Bending and vibrato. Sure, the really good piano players can do amazing stuff with dynamics, but isnīt your personal vibrato, all the different kinds of vibrato etc. something very unique ? YOu can do it on some other instruments, too, but you asked about the guitar.
    Bends... I donīt think I even have to say something.
    I believe this is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, two very different instruments. I guess itīs up to you which one appeals more to you, which one you like better. Both have their advantages, both can do things that the other instrument canīt.

    - Legato. Again, piano players have certain techniques, incl. dynamics, which can bring equal results, but stuff like slides, etc. are IMO unique to the guitar. Yes, you can use your dynamics and get results on the piano that sound like going from hard picking to legato, but again, itīs hard to compare those two instruments anyway.

    - Whammy bar etc.

    - Use of effects. Yes, you can apply delays etc to a piano as well, especially in the studio, but I am not aware of too many players who do that. Check out what people like Carl Verheyen, the Edge, Petrucci and Morse do with a delay, using it almost like a musical instrument, more of an extension of the guitar instead of just some weird effect. Same goes for WahWah, pitch-effects like the harmonizer or whammy pedal etc.

    Again: I believe this is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, two very different instruments. I guess itīs up to you which one appeals more to you, which one you like better. Both have their advantages, both can do things that the other instrument canīt.

    - Legato. Again, piano players have certain techniques, incl. dynamics, which can bring equal results, but stuff like slides, etc. are IMO unique to the guitar. Yes, you can use your dynamics and get results on the piano that sound like going from hard picking to legato, but again, itīs hard to compare those two instruments anyway.

    - Whammy bar etc.

    - Use of effects. Yes, you can apply delays etc to a piano as well, especially in the studio, but I am not aware of too many players who do that. Check out what people like Carl Verheyen, the Edge, Petrucci and Morse do with a delay, using it almost like a musical instrument, more of an extension of the guitar instead of just some weird effect. Same goes for WahWah, pitch-effects like the harmonizer or whammy pedal etc.

    Again: I believe this is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, two very different instruments. I guess itīs up to you which one appeals more to you, which one you like better. Both have their advantages, both can do things that the other instrument canīt.

    - Legato. Again, piano players have certain techniques, incl. dynamics, which can bring equal results, but stuff like slides, etc. are IMO unique to the guitar. Yes, you can use your dynamics and get results on the piano that sound like going from hard picking to legato, but again, itīs hard to compare those two instruments anyway.

    - Whammy bar etc.

    - Use of effects. Yes, you can apply delays etc to a piano as well, especially in the studio, but I am not aware of too many players who do that. Check out what people like Carl Verheyen, the Edge, Petrucci and Morse do with a delay, using it almost like a musical instrument, more of an extension of the guitar instead of just some weird effect. Same goes for WahWah, pitch-effects like the harmonizer or whammy pedal etc.

    Again: To me, itīs pretty much liek comparing apples and oranges. If you feel more attracted by the piano, or if you feel limited by the guitar ( compared to the piano ), then by all means, focus on the piano, thereīs nothign bad about it. Youīre free to work with the instrument that makes the important part easier for you: creating music
    Eric

  9. #9
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    I love saxophones as well for their "directness". just like .. a guitar . (or even a bit more human - as for including ones breath).
    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    I'm not with you at that point. at what point can a sax outdo a guitar when it comes to melodies? invervall leaps? what do you mean :-o.
    Except what you said at the first quote, I don't quite know. It's not with the technical side of it, as I don't know that much about the technical side of sax/trumpet at all.

    It's more with the emotional side. All I know is that I enjoy listening to a sax/trumpet solo more than I enjoy listening to a guitar solo (in a jazz setting). Perhaps that's just me not listening to enough jazz with guitar in it, but still that's how I feel. Come to think of it, this may entirely be the reason for my dismay. All I listen to these days in the realm of jazz is like Miles, Coltrane, Shorter and Bill Evans. The guitar isn't really prominent (read: nonexisting) in jazz in that period (50-66). I like Pat Metheny's album Bright Size Life, though that's from '72 or something? He really has some memorable melodies.

    Guitar definately has it's place in pop/rock/metal though, it's really ubiquitous there. No way could a distorted keyboard carry the same aggressiveness as a heavy metal riff on the guitar. But those styles are sorta built up around the guitar. No wonder it's important.

    I like the discussion by the way
    Last edited by Factor; 05-03-2005 at 02:12 PM.

  10. #10
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Wow. Is there an echo in here Eric? That was one hell of a post...and then you doubled it!

    Its an interesting debate Factordude. But I'm sticking with comparing polyphonic vs monophonic.

    Which brings us down to piano vs guitar.

    I like guitar.
    I don't like piano.

    I don't know why.

    Horses for courses, I suppose.

  11. #11
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    I like it as well .

    Perhaps that's just me not listening to enough jazz with guitar in it,
    Maybe that's the point?
    Maybe a "breathe-instument" is more relatet to your soul and heart?
    Hm... oh-oh.

    Try listening to more guitaroriented jazz - that might help you find the beauty of guitar in that style as well.
    Guitar is not really an necessary instrument in jazz i guess, (also it is not the style that takes guitar to it's limits) maybe that is also an reason why you consider it has a lack of importance.

    hm..

  12. #12
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    Thanks for all replies! They are coming in faster then I can handle 'em!

    @Eric:
    Thanks for the advice, thanks for the advice, thanks for the advice

    @Mateo:
    Perhaps you are right . I'm currently only playing an acoustic steelstring, and I haven't played an electric for a long time. The electric dimension has proabably added more to the guitar than it has added to any other instrument. I should get me one of those, electric guitars. But which one? (nah only kidding, know that's a no-no )

    @Ash:
    I'm not really talking about practical concerns, although that is always a factor in real life, I'm mainly talking rather loftily about "music".

    I need to get me an electric guitar and a piano of some sort.

  13. #13
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Factor and his new red Gibson 355.

    mmmmmmm. 355.
    Tell me that doesn't make your mouth water?

  14. #14
    In the woodshed rmuscat's Avatar
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    i can't add much really. All was put very well.

    But there are countless examples of guitarists who insipire themselves to other instruments.

    Allan Holdsworth (MEGA-EXAMPLE). He plays guitar (and invented a new instrument) only THROUGH his need to emulate a saxaphone.

    Tommy Emmanual ok doesn't sound like saxophone or anything, but the way the plays the guitar ALONE he's like a full band it one. He's basically astounding. And the guitar is NOT limiting his playing.

    Countless examples. Part of the exercise is (duh!) learning saxophone lines, get all the sheet music you can for a sax and apply it.

    I happen to suffer from this perspective, but i enjoy looking at it as part of the challenge of music/guitar. I bet that all people who play an instrument feel it is limiting, but i'm close to the thinking we are our own "limits". I could be wrong of course, its my opinion though.

    Btw a bit of an offshot ... who said pianists can't rock the place out!?

    Edwin Land: Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

  15. #15
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    About that 355. This ones a bit old - 1963 - only 10K GBP ;-) Come on you owe it to yourself.
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