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Over the last few years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with the guitar. Studying music (performance) has not exactly helped in this regard, as it has made me focus on all the negative aspects as much as the positives, and especially in playing jazz, the drawbacks of choosing guitar. I have come to hate guitarists and guitar culture, though every now and then a glimmer of hope is shown in certain players.These are the guitarists (yeah there are not too many) that continue to inspire and give me hope that not everybody will sound like clapton or hammet or page or van halen.
1Derek Bailey

A giant in free-improvisation, Bailey left an indelible mark on guitar playing, and
improvisation in general. Taking cues from Webern's musical pointillism, Bailey
expanded the sound palette of the guitar through a range of extended techniques,
while still keeping a somewhat "traditional" approach to the instrument. His mastery of
timbre and melodic inventiveness is something that has greatly changed the way I
play the guitar.
Probably the best introduction to the man you will get:

Keith Rowe. The man who took the guitar and thought "fuck that" and put it on a
table. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but take one listen to his work with legendary
improv group AMM, or any of his various other projects, and you will realise just how
powerful this separation of player and instrument became. Rather than playing the
guitar, Rowe treats it as a sound source, extracting wildly unorthodox sounds through
various techniques. Rowe really introduced the prepared guitar, after Cage's
experiments with the prepared piano, and opened up an entire new world of sound
creation for the guitar. I like to think of Bailey and Rowe as the two main figures in
avant-garde guitar (well they kind of are irrespective of my opinion) who represent
two different paths; Rowe, with the frightening emancipation of instrument from
player, Bailey as the logical endpoint for "traditional" playing.
Live I

Keiji Haino. One of the greatest Japanese artists of the past 50 years, and perhaps
the best guitarist from the land of the rising sun. His output runs the avant-garde
gamut, and he has collaborated with many other important free-improv players from
around the world, though his best guitar work would have to be with the heavy
psych-noise giants Fushitsusha. Noise, feedback, emotion, and that fucking hair.
4Les Rallizes Denudes
'77 Live

Mizutani Takashi. As with Haino, the noisy stylings of Mizutani is overwhelming and
beautiful. All it takes is a couple of notes, and you have a fucking hailstorm of
blissful, feedback ridden beauty.
Everything is Fire

Mike Hoggard. Taking death metal riffing to the extreme, Hoggard's dense
contrapuntal style is awe-inspiring. He is incredibly proficient technically, though the
real power lies in his melodic sensibility, and treatment of dissonance. This album
has left a real mark on my approach to playing and listening to metal.

Horror Illogium and Aphotic Mote. Well, what the fuck. Harmony has never been
treated the same way in metal before. It took me a while to wrap my head around the
idiosyncratic style of Horror Illogium, and Portal's music in general, though I can
easily say they have become a huge influence on me, much like Ulcerate. They are a
band who make me feel as overwhelmed as I used to as a little kid being exposed to
metal for the first time.
7Masayuki Takayangi

Another Japanese icon, this time combining the world of noise with free-jazz.
Takayanagi's style ranges from quiet, melodic statements, to complete sonic
8Sonny Sharrock
Ask The Ages

A jazz guitar player who really stands out, for having a style that really is not just
playing the usual bop lines on a guitar, being one of the few jazz guitarists to achieve
a distinct sound. Sharrock harnessed noise freak-outs and interspersed them
between beautiful melodic phrases, achieving a real dynamic variety that had been
lacking in jazz guitarists.
9Sonic Youth

Thurston Moore and Lee Ronaldo. I really can't leave these two out, because whether
I am a massive fan of them or not (I do definitely enjoy them), I probably take a
huge amount of influence from them. It took until I started playing in a band of a
noise rock/post punk/whatever direction to notice their impact.
From Wisdom to Hate

Luc Lemay. A riffing force to be reckoned with, opening up death metal to new
sounds. He has such a strong melodic voice as a guitarist, even in the weirder or
more brutal sections of their music.
11Discordance Axis
The Inalienable Dreamless

Rob Marton. Such a beautiful use of odd harmony in grind, a genre usually content
with the bare basics. This album has always had a weird effect on me, and the more
I have listened, the more I have come to realise how perfectly suited the artwork is.
Public Strain

Pat Flegel and Christopher Reimer. Great use of noise elements, and highly intriguing
melodic sensibilities. These guys take indie riffing to new heights.
13Glenn Branca
The Ascension

He really was obsessed with guitar, but holy shit did he get some great sounds out of
it. A noise enthusiast and guitar symphonist, his treatment of texture especially
piques my interest.
And fuck yeah:
14Frank Zappa
Hot Rats

Unavoidable, really. I am only really starting to appreciate him more these days.
Great melodic mind.
Chair Beside A Window

Just listen. Hypnotic, calming, and totally fucked up.
Other respectable, non-boring guitarists

John Fahey, everybody who played with Captain Beefheart, dude from Deathspell
Omega, John McLaughlin (sometimes), James Blood Ulmer (again sometimes... some
of his stuff is awful), Fred Frith, Marc Ribot, Kevin Shields.
Artists who influence me more than any guitarist

John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Morton Feldman, Arnold Schoenberg.
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