Some Non-Metal Guitar Players That Metal Guitarists Should Know

Music is an experience beyond time and space. Music makes you feel, like humans do. Music is emotion at a pure state. There are composers, and musicians, that have been praised for their efforts for a long time. Some for more than three hundred years. The modern guitar, however, isn’t that old. Electric guitar is even younger, from about the 1930s. When it comes to Metal, the instrument as a style of playing, is about 40 years old.

Everybody has influences, we all know that. One may like a musical genre, one may like another, but recognizing great musicians in styles you don’t really like, that’s really something. Here I present some guitar players who I consider wonders of the instrument – in fact, not only me, but a community of musicians worldwide -, and they happen not to be Metal, rock, or blues. They are from diverse styles and very important players to be forgotten.

Stanley Jordan

His name comes first because I was so impressed the first time I heard him that it took me several days to digest his playing. Finally, I decided that he’s not from this world and my life went on. First of all, he plays the guitar as a piano. He uses no picks, but both hands to make chords, riffs, licks, and whatever. Jordan taps with both hands, and more legato than is normally associated with guitar tapping. His technique allows the guitarist to play melody and chords simultaneously. It is also possible, as he has demonstrated, to play simultaneously on two different guitars, as well as guitar and piano. Here I got his cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”


Allan Holdsworth

Allan Holdsworth was an influence to many rock/Metal guitarists. Eddie Van Halen is the most famous of them. He was known for his advanced knowledge of music, through which he incorporated a vast array of complex chord progressions and intricate solos; the latter comprising myriad scale forms often derived from those such as the diminished, augmented, whole tone, chromatic and altered scales, among others, resulting in an unpredictable and “outside” sound. In a nutshell, everything Metal guitarists do today.


Paco de Lucía

Let’s drift away from the calm and steady waters of jazz fusion to a more ‘caliente’ musical style: the flamenco. Paco de Lucía was a leading proponent of the new flamenco style, he helped legitimize flamenco among the establishment in Spain, and was one of the first flamenco guitarists to cross over successfully into other genres of music such as classical and jazz. The man is considered to be the most influential flamenco players ever and one of the best guitar players of the world. Every time you try to play that very known flamenco lick you are paying the respects to him. Also no picks, only hands.


Andrés Segovia

Still in Spain. Andrés Segovia is the classical guitar player. He is considered ti be the best classical guitar player ever.  Many professional classical guitarists today were students of Segovia, or students of his students. Segovia’s contribution to the modern-romantic repertoire not only included commissions but also his own transcriptions of classical or baroque works. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive musical personality, phrasing and style. A mandatory guitar player to neo-classical guitarists. A real master!


John McLaughlin

I met his music back in 1985 when I first heard Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force” another record that made me go jawbroke. We showed Malmsteen to my guitar instructor and he said something like, “Pretty fast, hum!”, he added, “but take a look at this,” and he got Mahavishnu’s “Birds of Fire.” “Listen to this,” he said. To our astonishment the guy was playing pretty fast, not as fast as Malmsteen, but fast anyway. Great player. The guy was John McLaughlin.

His music includes many genres of jazz which he coupled with elements of rock, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco and blues to become one of the pioneering figures in fusion. McLaughlin has been cited as an influence by a number of prominent musicians. He is a Grammy Award winner and has been awarded multiple “Guitarist of the Year” and “Best Jazz Guitarist” awards from magazines such as Down Beat and Guitar Player based on reader polls.


All Di Meola

From his official website:

“A bona fide guitar hero and perennial poll-winner, Al Di Meola has been recognized internationally over the past four decades as virtuoso of the highest order. A prolific composer and prodigious six-string talent, Di Meola has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return To Forever (with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic guitar trio featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio with bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty.”

I guess I have nothing else to say.

An extra bonus video

I’m definitely a heavy metaller, but “Friday Night in San Francisco” is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. It’s the G3 before the G3 featuring John Mclaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco de Lucía. Enjoy: