By Jason DeLorenzo

Is this the sole criteria in defining a phenomenal guitar player?

Shredders aren’t born – I remember being a 12-year-old kid learning to play the guitar as an utterly frustrating endeavor. I’d wanted to be a drummer but my parents weren’t on board with that idea and so a guitar was handed my way. They may have regretted that decision over the years as I wailed away in my room for hours on end but the die was cast. Slightly tone deaf and having no idea that tuning or breaking a string was commonplace, I set forth on a journey that would have its first pay off about six months later. I could decisively switch between chords and get through one of my favorite songs at the time, “When I Come Around” by Green Day. I was delighted beyond belief—I could actually play a recognizable song. It wasn’t quite the correct tempo and was certainly nothing fancy but armed with a handful of chords; I found I could play a song! The process continued with me pouring over TAB books and endlessly hitting rewind on my boom box to hear the notes again until I too could play–often stumbling–along. Looking back, I often wonder if the music I listened to set the stage for the player I am today.

I am not a shredder—period but I have a heavy appreciation for the art of insane speed. To watch a guitar being dominated with such grace is a thing of beauty. I am not taking about the generic scales and modes that showcase repetitious speed but the true masters of hustle AND melody. After all, swiftness is only part of the equation, the eye candy; the melody is what captures hearts. If I think of catchy riffs one timeless name ironically comes to mind: Slow Hand, aka Eric Clapton. Clapton would never be considered a shredder because the term is more associated in the metal genre but the guy can rip it up! Check out the electric version of Layla if you don’t believe me.