Half a decade ago -- was it really that long? -- I made the decision to write a book dedicated to modern ('shred') guitar players. The idea for this came one day when I was on my way to the local careers centre in Swansea, where I used to live. Why it came during that particular walk I have no idea. I remember I was thinking about the many great players who had been featured in the fanzine, G-Force, which I wrote for along with a handful of similarly rabid guitar fans. It occurred to me that a small press magazine wasn't enough. I mean, who were these guys?; where did they come from (in the case of Shawn Lane, another planet I'm sure)?; what were their influences?; and who had influenced the players who in turn had influenced them? It got me thinking anyway.
The more I thought about it the cooler the idea became. After all I wasn't working at the time; and better not to waste time in idle pursuits. So I sat down, worked out the specifics, and got to work. There was one hell of a lot of research involved -- and thanks to the invaluable help of my guitar buddies it was made that much less burdensome -- but it was worth it. Thankfully, most of my questionnaires and appeals for biographies and demo tapes were met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Indeed, I'm proud to say that many of the players I featured in the book have gone on to bigger and better things. Monster players like Mike Romeo (Symphony X), Dave Kilminster (John Wetton Band), Rob Johnson (Magnitude 9): all doing well for themselves -- and deservedly so.
When I decided recently to do my own web site, one of the things I really wanted to include on it was an updated and rewritten 'best of' The Modern Guitartist -- in case someone out there might actually want to read the thing. With the passage of years, hopefully one becomes a better writer. When I wrote The Modern Guitarist I was learning my style, exploring the craft of writing, and it was written to the best of my ability. However, looking back I cringe at the way certain parts of it are overwritten and unnecessarily wordy. I'm still happy with its structure however, the way things link together, the examination of themes and the shred phenomenon itself; I didn't just want a book that listed every great player -- impossible anyway -- but instead something that analysed technical guitar playing, its roots and manifestations through the last few decades.
Anyway, here's the 1999 version: considerably rewritten, updated and with a better design. Unfortunately, I've had to leave out quite a few great players, but I'll be making additions, so look out for those. If nothing else I hope it gives you some insight into modern guitar playing and its greatest exponents. Please let me know what you think, and if anyone has any additions to make, or notices any factual errors etc. please email me with them.
Into the 90s
Shred -- Eh?
Definitions of technical terms
All material copyright Matt Williams (c) 1999
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