Five Of My Faves: Underrated Guitarists
5. Keith Urban
As much as I find the idea of an Australian singing Country & Not-So-Western a tad strange, I can't deny that Keith Urban's guitar chops are way up there!
He has a great feel and his tone is beautifully Country with a touch of Classic Rock grit for good measure. I've always been impressed with his ability to play complex licks in between vocal measures without skipping a beat.
The following live version of You Look Good In My Shirt showcases Keith's instrumental class.
4. Andy Timmons
The late 90s was a great time for instrumental guitarists such as Eric Johnson, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Their popularity however, overshadowed a guitar player of equal merit. Andy Timmons began his career playing in the metal band Danger Danger, opening for acts like Kiss and Alice Cooper. After leaving Danger Danger he went on to do session and solo work.
His feel alone is something to stand in awe of. He let's his instrument rest almost as if he has to take a breath before each passage, making everything he plays even more enticing. Cry for You is a perfect example of Andy's skill and prowess.
3. Roger Troutman
Roger Troutman's guitar abilities are unknown to even some of his biggest fans as he is actually strongly associated with synthesizers and talkboxes. You have most likely heard him on Tupac and Dr. Dre's California Love, and if you haven't, stop reading this immediately and treat yourself to a cheeky Youtube break. I'll be right here...
What I love most about Roger's guitar playing is that his approach to the instrument is so different to that of many natural guitarists. His use of repetitive notes and phrases perfectly accompanies his fellow musicians, a skill that many guitar players overlook.
In the video below, he shows off his effortless control of the fretboard with the band Zapp, as well as some pretty mean talkbox chops!
2. James Taylor
No doubt one of America's greatest gifts to the world of folk music, James Taylor's songwriting genius is well known, but little attention is paid to his incredible guitar playing.
Not much in the way of a lead player, but a cleaner picker of the guitar you'll struggle to find. Taylor's effortless picking ability coupled with his laid back vocal style are quite a match. His understanding of sitting in a mix is brilliant, whether he is accompanied by a pianist, an ensemble or an orchestra and choir, James Taylor's guitar always cuts through exactly when needed.
During his One Man Band show, James Taylor performed a very groovy version of Steamroller Blues, even throwing in a little bluesy solo oozing with Delta flavour.
1. Richie Kotzen
The recent formation of his newest band, The Winery Dogs, with bassist (and fellow Mr. Big band member) Billy Sheehan and Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy on drums has seen to it that he is finally being recognised as a serious guitar player and musician.
His style is reminiscent of an early Hendrix and Prince mix, with emphasis on tasteful and lightning fast licks. Richie's speed becomes even more impressive when you look in his right hand only to find it is lacking a plectrum... Yes, he plays only using his fingers!
Richie Kotzen has proven himself as a world-class guitar player with vocals to match. For an example of his ability, one need look no further than The Winery Dogs' version of Elvin Bishop's classic Fooled Around And Fell In Love.