For decades now, ex-Megadeth guitarist and American breakfast cereal truther Marty Friedman has been regarded as an absolute shredder. Dave Mustaine considers him the best he’s ever worked with and he’s famous in Japan because of his guitar skills. Yet despite all that, he thinks guitar solos as we know them now need to die.
In the latest issue of Guitar World, Friedman makes the case that guitarists have been going into business for themselves whenever a song allows them time to show off. Compared to Friedman’s more melodic approach to soloing, he said there’s so much more today’s guitarists could be adding to music in general.
“Usually, the lead guitarist comes in, gets an eight-bar solo, plays a bunch of stupid licks, maybe adds something hot and fancy that will impress, and then they get out. But I’m replacing the vocalist when I’m soloing, meaning I sing with my guitar.
“So, rather than saying, ‘Here’s the obligatory eight-bar solo,’ if necessary, I’ll be selfish because that’s exactly what I want instead of a boring old solo.”
It’s that self-important mindset of guitarists, he says, that makes him think the modern solo should go the way of the dodo. Which means he thinks it should simply die off.
“I hope the traditional guitar solo dies a slow and painful death. Guitar solos need to be inventive. They need something to keep listeners involved, especially those who are not learning to play and only listen.
“Because when you’re learning to play, you tend to be impressed with anything you can’t do, right? And if you’re young and just catching the guitar bug, that excitement can be magical. It’s like, ‘How do they do that!?’ That element is awesome… but it means less than zero in everyone else’s eyes.
“We need guitar music that makes those people feel something. It’s the responsibility of guitarists to bring something to solos that will achieve that.”
Just reading his words there, try to think of a guitar solo that makes you feel anything. Even my cold, jaded heart gets pulled every which way whenever I hear that solo in Guns N’ Roses’ classic track “November Rain.” You know the one I’m talking about.
Later on in the interview, Friedman admitted that there’s a lot of hope still with today’s younger guitarists, so not all is lost. If you want to read more, be sure to pick up the March 2024 edition of Guitar World as soon as humanly possible.
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