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The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Posted by ramblingjack (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 23, 06 at 16:39

I was listening to some early Beatles LP's last night."Roll Over Beethoven" , that hamfingered intro was like a junior school kid's version. Any other examples of how poorly John, Paul and George played the guitar?In Geoff Emerick's new book, this is pretty much his opinion on George Harrison. Emerick says the others used to roll their eyes when Harrison went for the umpteenth take on a solo.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Do you play the guitar, Ramblingjack? Ever tried to copy what they did? A lot of their stuff sounds quite simple but is actually rather complex to play. Of course different people have different ideas of what is 'great' guitar playing; speed don't impress me much.

The early albums were usually recorded in one sitting, with much tiredness. They don't just play bad, they sing bad on some of the tracks too.

Have a listen to 'And Your Bird Can Sing'. Very very fine guitar all the way through.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Their guitar playing was only a minor part of their appeal,IMHO.

Here is a link that might be useful: And Your Bird Can Sing


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Anyanka,yes i do play guitar,(badly),i know that a lot of the early stuff was recorded in one take,if you listen to 'Long Tall Sally' we could start a thread titled 'The Beatles were really good guitarists, weren't they?'

It's common knowledge that George had problems with improvised solos in the studio. However, he's also at responsible for either devising or performing:

-The quite accomplished solo in 'Till There Was You'
-A myriad of some of the greatest riffs in rock history, including 'Day Tripper', 'Ticket To Ride,' 'Drive My Car,' Paperback Writer,' etc.
solos like 'Nowhere Man', 'Fixing A Hole,' 'Something', and countless others
- and, as Revolver attests, some of the greatest guitar tones of all time (I know Paul played the solo on 'Taxman', but the guitar sounds all over the album are legendary)

In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, "I like the way George Harrison plays guitar - restrained and good."


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Sorry ,ive just found out that the lead guitar in "Ticket To Ride" is played by McCartney. And the jangly bit is John, played on his 325/12.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

There was love all around...but I never heard it all

Here is a link that might be useful: 'Till There Was You


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Like anyanka said their stuff sounds simple but were actually complex & not that easy to play. They weren't just a 3-chord blues progression & pentatonic scale type band especially with Paul's melodic stuff. George's knowledge of chords and riffs was excellent for a rock band of that time and his solos were original. And yeah that riff on And Your Bird Can Sing is awesome, I dunno if him and John were playing in harmony or if that's one guitar, also listen to Paul's bass line on that song. Anyways they were a great band with great songs...


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Jack, them's fightin' words!

Seriously, though, they started out in someone's basement, not in a concert hall.

It is interesting to listen to their early recordings, which were hardly what you'd call polished. Some of them make me smile and shake my head. But it's the feeling, the enthusiasm they projected, their creativity and freshness that made them resonate with fans.

Gotta love the lads!


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

The crucial thing is to look at the latter part of the Beatles' work. They were a hot commodity in the early years but not expected to last - the record company was going to squeeze as many albums and tours out of them as possible before they returned to obscurity... They were also very very young - George Harrison was 20 when 'Roll Over Beethoven' was recorded. They really grew up in the limelight, both as people and as musicians.

Therefore the band only really developed their songwriting skills and their musical techniques after they stopped touring, i.e. starting with 'Revolver'. What made the Beatles unique, though, was the songwriting rather than technical accomplishment.

I have to admit that I got narked at the criticism - not yours, Ramblingjack, but Emericks. There are so many people out there who amount to little themselves and try to appear bigger by criticising the good and great. It's a tedious tendency of this media age.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Actually all three beatles were excellent guitar players,as mccartney played lead on several tracks,and particularly on the sgt.peppers lp.He and harrson boh play those great lead riffs on fixing a hole.Frankly, the beatles as a unit were as good as it gets,no one did everything combined as well as they did.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

:-) Amen to that, Manny!


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Where it will go?

Here is a link that might be useful: Fixing a hole


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

They had more ideas than skills. And I think they had an inferiority complex about it, which eventually killed their career on stage. Touring as they did was a drag, but they never fought to better those conditions. 'We were bored of playing the same 30 minutes every night and nobody could hear us', they say. But did they ever try? Try to expand the band, try to change the setlist every night, try to add 20 unscheduled minutes at the end of a show? No they did not. They could have taken risks on stage just like they took risks in the studio. Maybe if something different had suddenly happened on stage the girls would have shut up. Maybe in 1963 or '64 they weren't in a position to do that, but in 1965 or '66 they were the kings of the world. They still were in 1967-'68 when a combination of better equipment and more drugs in the audience gave a halt to the screaming at most concerts. They could have done it, just like the Stones did. They were too afraid to do it, and part of the fear had something to do with the quality of their playing


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Interesting take on that... The Beatles had been playing live for a long time by 1966; initially - in Liverpool and Hamburg - with long sets, exhaustion and demanding (not adoring!) crowds. I don't believe they could have stopped the girls from screaming - they could have been playing like gods up there, but their audience just wanted to see them.

Fear? The fans' obsession was physically threatening - had they been let loose they might well have torn the guys to shreds as in Suesskind's 'Perfume'... But this was not a fear of performing in my view, just a desire to progress musically in ways that were not compatible with stage appearance (the Stones took a completely different route which really doesn't compare).

Even after the split, only McCartney returned to extensive touring and live performance with Wings. Some musicians need to perform, some need to grow and learn; a few do both.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

I agree with anyankas posts completely,i could not have said it better.Jagger tried to convince lennon to get the beatles on the road,he according to mick, pointed out to lennon how the equipment for live shows had really improved since 1966,but it was frustration and being burned out of the concert scene..not fear that took the beatles off the road.If anyone doubts that the beatles were good live performers.. part of the shows are on tape and can be found on line.If anyone doubts their guitar playing or bass playing skills..then one can listen to sargent peppers,the white album,abbey road,or the old u.s. complilation lp called hey jude.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

The main point that comes out of all of the interviews I've seen/read was that they felt they couldn't improve as musicians because they couldn't hear themselves onstage. I think if technology were such that the music could have been louder, I think they might have found some satisfaction playing live. But, the whole stadium thing, as new as it was at the time, didn't really suit the band who started the stadium era. In the stadiums, venues that had never held rock concerts before, they were playing through their amps, and the crowd was louder than they were. They got to where they were as a band and as players, by playing Hamburg dives where every note was heard by every member of the group. Crappy sound wasn't really an issue. But I imagine it is difficult to undertake any sort of ambition in yout set if you can't hear yourself or your bandmates


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Well said rambling jack.Of course the beatles despite their intense popularity,had afew problems on the road.There was the statement by lennon concerning the beatles and christianity that caused a furor,even though he was misquoted.They got roughed up in the phillipines because of a missed dinner invitation with mr. and mrs. marcos.They got their limo shot at in atlanta.They got death threats quite often.Ringo had armed deputies in front of him on stage in memphis,because someone threatened to shoot him.They whoe touring thing became an apparent nightmare.I guess being the most famious men on the planet earth has its drawbacks..no one besides religious and political figures except possibly muhammed ali was ever as famious as these guys were.


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

The beatles did not like long jam sessions,except for the one on i want you shes so heavy, and except for that great little exchange on carry that weight..they did little trading of solos.So it was assumed they could not play.Its like ringo,he only did that one tiny solo on carry that wieght,and he was never flashy..but he was rock steady and never out of time.Its just that if you arent flashy ..your seen as medicore by some people.John havlicek was never as flashy as some pro basketball players like dr.j ..but he ripped the league apart for years..dare i make a comparison like this?


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

The beatles success and notoriety is all due to ONE man: George Martin. They were mediocre musicians, singers and performers. NOWHERE near the brilliance of Brian Wilson. The Beach Boys, Jan&Dean, and the 4 Seasons were so far beyond...

Here is a link that might be useful: what it is


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

This spammer is EVERYWHERE!!!!


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RE: The Beatles were not really good guitarists, were they?

Ignoring the spammer (and the antiquity of this thread), I wanted to share an excerpt from a Playboy interview with John Lennon which took place about three months before his death (published in January,1980:

"I think Paul and Ringo stand up with any of the rock musicians.

Not technically great... none of us are technical musicians. None of us could read music. None of us can write it.

But as pure musicians, as inspired humans to make the noise, they are as good as anybody."


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