Mar 092012

Seriously, is there something about being a “musician’s musician” that makes one seem more likely to come off like an asshole—not everyone in this clip, mind you—or is it the fact that they’re the ones most likely to be asked to appear in these videos that gives us the opportunity to see them that way? In other words, if we were filmed playing “No Fun” or “Gloria” or whatever “cool,” rudimentary song we knew how to play on guitar would we tend to come off looking just as self-absorbed?

Or am I simply an asshole for thinking this way at all?

Is there’s anything to what I’ve been thinking when I watch this clip, is there an instrument on which players with “chops” are least likely to look silly playing in such a video? Do piano players, for instance, come off any better when captured showing off their chops?


  9 Responses to “I Sure as Hell Don’t Call Him “Luke””

  1. mockcarr

    Lukather is laying down on the job – this video is still up!

    Hendrix can look pretty cool while showing off his chops, but I bet drummers have the easiest time of it. They can just be grooving back there, or flailing around, but some personality shows without hogging the spotlight, since they can remain somewhat hidden by their kit.

    With wind instruments, it’s probably more likely than not that guy gets noticed for looking weird like Dizzy Gillespie than looking cool like, say, Miles Davis, or something. Miles just kind of looks pissed off to me actually.

    Having said that, I always get a big kick out of Bruce Thomas bouncing around the stage as he plays those busy bass parts for the Attractions. But he’s not really “cool” for doing that.

  2. alexmagic

    Yeah, drumming just looks like hard work, and when a drummer is “showing off”, even someone who doesn’t really know anything about music can think “Oh man, look at that!”

    Your guitar and bass players looking to show off typically have to go the Lukather/Santana route of pulling the Guitar Face to indicate “Look At How Difficult This Is! It’s Causing Me To Use Up My SOUL!”

    On keys, you have to be sitting down at a piano to pull off the “look at my chops” move. Standing keyboard players can’t do it. So there seems to be a surprising link that it’s easier to show off sitting down than standing up.

  3. alexmagic

    On the subject of calling him “Luke”, I believe there’s already been a ruling:

    Just as every cop is a criminal
    And all the sinners saints.
    As heads is tails
    Just call me…Lukather,
    Cause I’m in need of some restraint.

  4. cherguevara

    There is some jive-ass tone going on in that video. There’s chops and there’s taste. The overlap in that venn diagram is usually too small. If your guitar looks like it was designed to look like it belongs on Star Trek, that’s a red flag right there.

  5. I agree. The little bio about that guy with the Parker Fly guitar said he was a full time teacher. I am a middling guitarist but I can’t think of anything that he was playing that I would like to learn. Sam Ash tone throughout.

  6. bostonhistorian

    Thanks. Now I hate music.

  7. cliff sovinsanity

    There is always that fine line between talent and virtuosity that is crossed by too many clueless guitarists. Now I don’t know if growing up in the Eddie Van Halen dominated guitar world of the early 80’s has something to do with my opinion, but I’ve always resented those flashy know-it-alls. You can spot these Lukather types hammering on and pulling off at your local guitar shops on Saturday afternoons. These cats can set the fretboard on fire but they are as boring as trigonometry.
    This is the predominant reason I struggle with the progressive side of rock. I find their virtuosity appreciable but it doesn’t move my ass. It is is just notes on a page, not unlike some fancy algorithm. Math is boring, unless you happen to be a mathlete. In which case, you probably enjoy scales and weird time signatures.

  8. tonyola

    Don’t blame prog for the million-notes-per-minute guitar whiz ethic. The worst show-offs come from the hard rock/heavy metal world: Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Vernon Reid, and so on. The best prog guitarists like Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Steve Hackett, and Jan Akkerman have technique but can also play with a great deal of lyricism and willingly tone down the flash for the sake of the song as a whole.

  9. cliff sovinsanity

    Point taken. The term “progressive side” was just to illustrate my fine line argument. I certainly have an easier time digesting prog guitar solos than those of the flash metal world. There is a certain enjoyment that guys like Steve Howe display, but most them seem to be concentrating rather than feeling the music.
    Getting back to Mod’s point, how does any guitarist with “technique” not look so self absorbed. Case in point, these morons

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