We all know that the flashy types like Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen get (or got) kudos simply for playing super fast. But being a great guitarist is more than just burning up a fret board. Here are the five folks who best know that nuance is just as important as flamboyance.Tab Benoit
Hailing out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana,Tab Benoit
should be a household name. The guy's guitar and composition skills are top-notch; but playing the blues these days gets a lot of great guitarists the short shrift.
Whether as a member of King Crimson or as a solo performer, Robert Fripp is the king of discipline. He once claimed that Eric Clapton didn't know how to hold a pick. Fripp's playing is technically overwhelming, but never showy. Hell, in the '80s, Fripp would often play seated and shielded from the crowd by his amps.Richard Thompson
Most folks with any guitar sense whatsoever know that Richard Thompson is the real deal. Starting off with Fairport Convention way back in 1967, Thompson continues to be a vital performer and songwriter to this day. Equally proficient on acoustic and electric guitars, Thompson can play just about any style with ease and emotion.Tom Verlaine
As the leader of the legendary art-punk band Television, Tom Verlaine made even the most jaded new waver appreciate the slow, tense jam. For a real treat, check out Verlaine's 1987 solo effortFlashlight
for some tasty and tasteful lead guitar work that never takes attention away from the tunes.
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Although the guy couldn't sing to save his life, Curt Kirkwood's guitar work always took the Meat Puppets to places that were imaginative and sonically impressive. Whether playing punk, country or some amalgam of both, Kirkwood's chops were always miles ahead of any of his punk rock contemporaries.