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The Late Movies: Guitar Virtuosos

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This is by no means a complete list — instead, it’s a collection of videos of my favorite guitarists doing their mind-bending thing, whether that be shredding, flatpicking, fingerpicking, playing the blues, or jazz, or classical. See if you can watch any of these videos without your jaw dropping a little!

Leo Kottke
One of the best 12-string players of all time, and self-taught. His style is nearly impossible to imitate — like a cannon of sound.

Eddie Van Halen
You can’t get much further away from Leo Kottke than Eddie Van Halen, but I’d say in terms of raw talent, they’re probably about equal.

Joe Satriani
Another great shredder (with dorky glasses).

Buckethead
Certainly one of the fastest guitarists of all time, Buckethead has what you might call an unconventional stage persona: until recently, he wore a KFC bucket on his head and an expressionless plaster mask. After he’s done with his weird robot dance, he shreds like you’ve never heard.

David Rawlings
Most famous for his work with Gillian Welsh, David Rawlings has got to be one of the hardest-working guitarists out there — watch him literally wring the music from his instrument. Hypnotic.

Chet Atkins
One of country music’s greatest guitar players, certainly, as well as one of the greatest finger-pickers there has ever been. His style couldn’t be more different than Leo Kottke’s however; he’s the very definition of smooth. Also, his story is fascinating —

Forced to relocate to Fortson, Georgia to live with his father due to a near-fatal asthma condition, Atkins was a sensitive youth who made music his obsession. Because of his illness, he was forced to sleep in a straight-back chair in order to breathe comfortably. On those nights, he would play his guitar until he fell asleep holding it, a habit which lasted his whole life.

Jimmy Page
Watch him solo with a violin bow. Show-off!

Eric Clapton
Oh, the withering comments I would get if this blog didn’t include Clapton.

Andres Segovia
The guy, and the music, are classy as hell.

Dick Dale
One of the fastest early electric guitar pioneers. This recording is from 1963.

Doc Watson
Doc talks a little before he gets into “Black Mountain Rag,” but when he starts playing, watch out. I have no idea how he flatpicks that fast and that perfectly. Let’s see Slash or Van Halen try this … yeah, right.

Mark Knopfler
Gotta love the Knopf. This solo always blew my socks off.

Slash drunk
Slash seems like a knee-jerk choice for this post, but I actually think he’s a really boring player. So here’s a video of him screwing up the intro to “Welcome to the Jungle.”


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