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John, Paul, and George as Guitarists
6 March 2014
6.40pm
PeterWeatherby
A Park in the Dark
Carnegie Hall
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5 February 2010
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I typically don't think of JP&G as being especially proficient guitarists, in the sense of being technically complex. For example, George could lay down a memorable guitar solo like nobody else, but his work is usually understated and not all that difficult to play.

But every now and then I catch a flash of something here or there in a song (Beatles as well as solo material) that I realize is quite complex or difficult to play, and I think maybe these three had a lot more proficiency as guitarists than they always let on.

George's electric guitar work on John's song "Oh My Love" is incredible in the way it jumps all over the scale, moving from bass notes to single high notes and back through chord-based riffs.

John's guitar solo on "Get Back" is another example for me - there's some rather difficult quick-picking on that riff.

Paul's guitar solo on "Taxman" mostly stays on one string, but it makes very clever use of descending and ascending hammer-ons/pull-offs, and it moves quickly.

On the acoustic side, Paul's "Blackbird" and John's "Julia" (and its stylistic counterpart "Look at Me") are both examples of songs that use complex chord shapes and voicings, and require a fairly good grasp of finger-picking technique. Oddly, I'm having a hard time coming up with an acoustic song of George's that would qualify ("Here Comes The Sun" is beautiful, but it's fairly simplistic and relies on the full band to fill out the chords when the little solo riffs come up).

Not a bit like Cagney.
6 March 2014
8.51pm
Inner Light
Friar Park
Candlestick Park
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20 December 2010
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George doing a complicated guitar solo doesn't make him a better guitarist. What Harrison brought to the table regarding the Beatles is he played to the song. He did not need to be a flashy player and added just right touch which enhance their songs. This goes for Lennon and McCartney as well although I feel Harrison was the best and most proficient guitar player in the group. I have been a professional guitarist for most of my life and the one thing I have learned is its not what you play or how fast or complicated your style is, its what you don't play. Less is more.  

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Oudis, Bulldog
The further one travels, the less one knows
6 March 2014
9.37pm
IveJustSeenAFaceo
Somewhere other than where you are.
Apple rooftop
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Inner Light said
George doing a complicated guitar solo doesn't make him a better guitarist. What Harrison brought to the table regarding the Beatles is he played to the song. He did not need to be a flashy player and added just right touch which enhance their songs. This goes for Lennon and McCartney as well although I feel Harrison was the best and most proficient guitar player in the group. I have been a professional guitarist for most of my life and the one thing I have learned is its not what you play or how fast or complicated your style is, its what you don't play. Less is more.  

Same for Ringo's drumming, I'd say. They were a very subtle little group, eh?

(This signature brought to you by Winter. Coming for an abnormally long amount of time.)
17 August 2014
12.46am
Oudis
Paris Olympia
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15 May 2014
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Inner Light said
George doing a complicated guitar solo doesn't make him a better guitarist. What Harrison brought to the table regarding the Beatles is he played to the song. He did not need to be a flashy player and added just right touch which enhance their songs. This goes for Lennon and McCartney as well although I feel Harrison was the best and most proficient guitar player in the group. I have been a professional guitarist for most of my life and the one thing I have learned is its not what you play or how fast or complicated your style is, its what you don't play. Less is more.  

I couldn’t agree more. That’s why for me (maybe not for everybody) Mark Knopfler is a good guitarist; he lacks the technique of Clapton, but has played with Clapton because he plays with inspiration. What happens with The Beatles’ songs is that they all played to make the song sound the way it had to, not seeking the audience applause as individual players.

17 August 2014
4.27pm
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
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1 November 2012
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In terms of acoustic guitar fingerpicking, Paul is clearly the best.  I think of songs like Blackbird, Mother Nature's Son, Junk (particularly the ending), 3 Legs (again especially the ending), Heart of the Country, and faint echoes of this in parts of Some People Never Know and the brief instrumental interlude before Tomorrow.   That's something I miss, incidentally, from McCartney's later work.  I can't think of any good acoustic picking work in any song after his second album. (Also noteworthy was his solidly professional albeit unassuming strumming style in I Will or Two Of Us.) 

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
24 August 2014
10.04pm
cleaner101
A Beginning
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24 August 2014
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I'd tend to agree that in term of guitar finger-picking, Paul would display the most talent in the songs they released. And I also think that the general consensus of this discussion rings a certain level of truth - as individual instrumentalists they were nothing outstanding (at least from their performances on record).

But what it all comes down to (in my opinion) is songwriting and grasp of melody - they had both in droves and this can compensate for technical talent to the point that it makes the latter almost irrelevant.

That isn't to say that they didn't have technical talent as well; it's just that most of their songs were so well written that they didn't demand extravagant guitar solos etc to dominate the performance and detract from the song itself. 

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Oudis
26 August 2014
12.35am
Bongo
Carnegie Hall
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28 March 2014
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Funny Paper said
In terms of acoustic guitar fingerpicking, Paul is clearly the best.  I think of songs like Blackbird, Mother Nature's Son, Junk (particularly the ending), 3 Legs (again especially the ending), Heart of the Country, and faint echoes of this in parts of Some People Never Know and the brief instrumental interlude before Tomorrow.   

Yes Blackbird is a hard song to learn, as well as Yesterday.  Not bad for a Bass player! a-hard-days-night-paul-11

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