So Why The Hell Do We Compare Guitarists To Each Other Anyway?

We ask virtuoso guitarist Mike Dawes the burning question   05-Oct-12

So Why The Hell Do We Compare Guitarists To Each Other Anyway?
Sometimes we all want to hide behind our guitars

It's a fact of life that if you are a guitarist, you will probably end up comparing one of your favourite guitarists to another guitarist in a better/worse scenario. But is it right or even helpful to do so?

This is something that has really grabbed our attention recently. We covered a story about Gibson saying that Tony Iommi is the best metal guitarist of all time, and we then jokingly published a story yesterday in which Rich and Rob argued over who was better out of Jimmy Page and Brian May (go read it - it's funny).

But unless you can find some way of measuring guitarists in a quantifiable manner, then you can't really compare them objectively, it is all based on opinions and we know from first hand that everybody has a damn opinion.

One thing that us lowly non-famous guitarists have probably never considered is what the guitar gods actually think about being constantly compared to each other. It must be weird for them, it's unlikely that Eric Clapton goes through his day thinking 'man I'm so much better than Jimi Hendrix', or at least let's hope he doesn't.

I decided to ask one of my favourite up-and-coming guitarists what he thought of the whole matter, mainly because I know he gets compared to other people all the time, and those people are often his peers and friends. I'm talking about Mike Dawes, the guy who did the awesome Gotye cover.

On the Youtube video for his new song, a user of the video site posted something along the lines of 'yeah you can play guitar but you're no Andy McKee', and then tore into Mike for literally not being Andy McKee.

Things then took a turn for the awesome when Jon Gomm stepped in (who is currently on tour with Andy) and left a comment defending Mike and discussing how weird it was to compare guitarists, especially when those guitarists are quite often good mates.

We had a chat with Mike and asked him about the experience, and what he had to say was pretty interesting:

Why do you think people compare guitarists to one another in competitive terms?

"I don't think that's exclusively true in music, all art is subjective, people will always have favourites. I'm sure there's a psychological, or sociological, reasoning behind it. It's a talking point I suppose, personal ranking makes for an easy discussion.

"The key point is that it's all subjective anyway, so any serious discussion of this kind produces a pretty invalid outcome. I like to listen to some music sometimes, and other music other times. It doesn't mean that one is better than the other."

Do you think people should avoid doing that and why?

"It's stupid, has little point and generally causes more arguments than it solves. But I guess without it we wouldn't be able to laugh at silly comment threads online, and sometimes that's what you need after a long day."

When you do arrangements of other artists' songs online you must always draw better/worse comparisons, have there been any particularly funny ones?

"You mean attracting people with rather militant opinions? Sure all the time, but I don't take it seriously, if someone says something is better than the original, it isn't gospel, it's the same reasoning with people who hate a cover.

"It's all opinion, music is subjective. Funny ones? I remember the humbling ones, people can be incredibly nice about music, even though it's still just opinion, positive vibes are real (yeah man) so i'm incredibly grateful for that. Thanks guys!"

Click here for next page: Watch Mike's incredible new video

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