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John, Paul, and George as Guitarists
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6 March 2014
6.40pm
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PeterWeatherby
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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
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Inner Light
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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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The further one travels, the less one knows

6 March 2014
9.37pm
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IveJustSeenAFaceo
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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?

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17 August 2014
12.46am
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Oudis
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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.

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

17 August 2014
4.27pm
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Funny Paper
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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
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cleaner101
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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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26 August 2014
12.35am
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Bongo
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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

http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/kk38/rickdelsie/The%20Beatles/parlunread_zps28270d9d.gif BEATLES Music gives me Eargasms!  apple01

1 October 2014
12.56pm
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Gerard
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Blackbird was the first song I ever learnt on the guitar, all I needed was the tab sheet; never needed to learn how to play chords

2 October 2014
3.24am
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Musketeer Gripweed
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Gerard said
Blackbird was the first song I ever learnt on the guitar, all I needed was the tab sheet; never needed to learn how to play chords

Bongo said

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

I thought black bird was pretty simple chord wise. The finger strumming can be a little tricky. Just learned it about a week ago. 

Paul's got an interesting finger picking style I guess from being self taught. I don't think its all correct but doesn't matter all works perfect music wise. Is Yesterday the first instance of him using it? I think Paul just being the master of melody makes him seem the best. John did some really great work like Julia and Dear Prudence. DP has a great arpeggio that you can't really fully hear because of the over dubs. Dear Prudence is a great song to learn to learn finger picking. Learned that and everything else has been cake. 

2 October 2014
3.29am
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Musketeer Gripweed
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I never really dove into Georges solo work. I think it has to do with his lyrical content. But are their any songs to check out that he uses finger picking on? 

28 October 2014
6.25pm
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MOCKSWELL
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 Oh I am pretty sure George would be irked if you put Paul at his level... George did a lot of hybrid finger stuff early on. Till There Was You. Good luck finding those voicings without watching or reading them, very nice stuff.

None of Paul's fingerpickings are up to a good country player. He knows that. But, is he ever good at his own songs, the parts always suit the vocal nicely.

 John is under-rated as a terrific rhythm player, not as easy as you'd think - esp. when singing a lot. He always has the good voicings and unusual strums he must of worked fairly hard on.  

 When asked about musical influences, Lennon replied '12-bar' but the Beatles were wise enough to only play a few straight 12-bars, and allus w/ strong melodies.

 Point is - you need to be in a group to play the way any of them did - working out a solo version is usually a waste of time, imho. Someone like Tommy Emmanuel can do a very entertaining job of it, but learning Beatles 'parts' on guitar is, with the exception of a lot of the great chords George used in many of their great early songs... not particularly interesting. I've heard hundreds of strummy 'interpretations' and it doesn't make me nostalgic for 1963, it just sounds a bit weak. *

 

Remember, this stuff wasn't taken too seriously for a lonnnng time. Even in the 80s-90s I had the Beatles Complete book handy and went thru every single tune w/ students. There was no effort made to even have the songs in the right key, they were arranged for school bands - Bflat and EFlat... though many ended up in E, and John capoed that up often.

Then they started transcribing Beatles note-for-note as if it was classical music or summat. Well, it's pretty good.... but Paul's comment that 'pop music is the new classical music' was one of his sillier remarks, I think. They are just pop songs. And without the boys playing them.... and having heard them all a million times... I'd advise that people learn unusual covers, like the artsy Beatles did. They dug through B-sides for years.

6 November 2014
1.47pm
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Meowson
The Deep South
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Does anyone know if the beatles used guitar picks? Sorry if this is derailing, but i didnt feel like making a new thread just for this one question.

With love from me, to you.

6 November 2014
1.48pm
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Starr Shine?
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I am fairly sure they did

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6 November 2014
2.29pm
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Ahhh Girl
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@Meowson, I know the topic is mentioned several places on the forum. If no one else points you in the right direction within the next 8 hours or so, I will find some of the links for you...when I have a little more time to work on it.

6 November 2014
3.46pm
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Meowson
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Ahhh Girl said
@Meowson, I know the topic is mentioned several places on the forum. If no one else points you in the right direction within the next 8 hours or so, I will find some of the links for you...when I have a little more time to work on it.

Thank you, I'd like to establish the fact that I did try to use the search function before asking my question.

With love from me, to you.

6 November 2014
5.56pm
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Ahhh Girl
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ahdn_paul_06 :-) Thank you for trying! That makes this librarian very happy. Still a few more hours to go before I have time to spend on finding the links.

6 November 2014
10.12pm
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MOCKSWELL
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yes they used picks... 'hybrid' style refers to pick/fingers like George. Paul played bass with a pick more often than not. John bashed w/ a pick.

Paul plays with his thumb/fingers like a real guitar player, on acoustic only I reckon.

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7 November 2014
2.33am
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Ahhh Girl
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@Meowson, do a Google image search for

harrison playing guitar
or
lennon playing guitar

and look at the pictures to see how they are playing. As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words.

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