The Best Acoustic Guitarists in the Universe! (A personal set of favourites).

This is interesting. I do like a guitar played in an interesting manner. I did exclude all my favourite black acoustic Blues singers from this list. I’ve already dealt with them. So this is predominantly my contemporary folk artists.

Having said that I start with the wonderful Django Reinhardt. He’s a gypsy music player but was simply too good to leave out. How he played with that badly mutilated hand was unbelievable.

So I will go on with the wonderful Nick Harper whose playing, upside down chords and incredible range is not only technically amazing but a joy to listen to. So much skill and power.

Then we have Davy Graham who really set the whole wonder of contemporary guitar playing into the modern age. He brought back middle Eastern rhythms and styles into Folk and was an incredible performer.

The mid-sixties was lit up for me with two great guitarists in Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. I was lucky enough to get to see both of them up close. They were great apart and complemented each other brilliantly together.

Roy Harper, while not being technically as brilliant, took the instrumental into other directions. For a while, in his early career, it looked as if this instrumental aspect would be developed more. He was very innovative. But his forte was lyrics and it never happened.

From the States I was particularly taken with John Fahey and Stefan Grossman, both of whom I got to see a bit in the sixties.

More recently we have maestros like Leo Kottke with his amazing techniques.

Who are your favourites?

4 thoughts on “The Best Acoustic Guitarists in the Universe! (A personal set of favourites).

  1. HaHA – Roy Harper! Goodness me, you really have set the bar at a fairly low level. I think Donovan taught him everything he knows so it would be remiss not to include him. You have pre-set your scope far too narrow because I don’t think you have much knowledge about the guitar. There’s also a great deal of difference between the required ability on certain types of guitar and whether they are nylon or steel strings.
    You’ve also stuck yourself in a rut with a time- frame of about five years, when all these UK only based players came on the scene. That’s a ridiculous mistake to make.
    It has to be said that Nick Harper is good competent player, but that’s really about it.
    As far as I’m concerned he stopped playing “real” guitar after his excellent introductory mini-album “Light At The End Of The Kennel”, and began to concentrate more on songs. A huge mistake imho and he killed his career at birth because of that and that’s why he never came even close to making it.

    Clearly you are a complete novice to the world of acoustic guitar playing so I won’t bore you. Instead here’s five that will instantly replace all the gaps in your knowledge and collection.

    Ry Cooder is a master of several types of acoustic guitars. Seldom are there players so versatile. I don’t think Ry ever played a bum note in his life.
    For an introductory taste of his acoustic steel guitar playing see “Paris, Texas – Original Soundtrack”.

    Gustavo Santaolalla: Probably the most emotional player I’ve ever heard. Full of eastern mystic and sweeping Arabic chordal maelstoms, that Jimmy Page could only get to the front door of. Phenomenal ability. He was introduced to the music world at large via the soundtrack to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s magnificent film “Babel” in 2006.

    Jack Rose: a giant of American Primitive guitar. Refer to his album “Kensington Blues”,
    and listen to “Cross The North Fork” and the title track. You’ll hear just how much lacking dear old Roy Harper was/is.
    Sadly died in 2009 at only 38 of a heart attack.

    Marisa Anderson: From Oregon. Sounds as if she’s playing three guitars as her fingers – all of them – are that busy. Unbelievable control. Refer to “Cloud Corner”, her new 2018 album that is never far from my deck.

    Gwenifer Raymond – Astonishing brilliant brand new face. A young women from the Welsh valleys via Brighton. She could play the young Nick Harper off the stage. Do check out her performance of “Sometimes There’s Blood” from her brand new in 2018, first album “You Never Were Much Of A Dancer”.
    Indeed. I can see the blood draining from the faces of all these players you listed were they to hear this. They’re well and truly over. This is an entirely whole other level playing field.


    1. Wallace – Thanks for your list. I will check those four out.
      I’m no guitar player but I know what I like. I love what Roy does. He creates a sound that is distinctive and one I enjoy.
      I somehow missed Ryland off my list. But I had him in on another list. I have all his stuff and enjoy it greatly.
      I love all of Nick’s playing. He’s is extremely good and clever. Brilliant to watch live.

      1. Opher – sorry, but there’s nothing distinctive about Roy Harper’s guitar. His songs, yes, guitar? nups.
        I’ve seen Nick Harper what seems like hundreds of times. My sister lives in Rothesay and as we have a Christening to attend on the Sunday, we’ll see Nick play this coming Saturday at the Craigmore Bowling Club – yes, you heard right. Lol.
        How far the mighty fall.

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