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Question of the Month: The Essence of Greatness

Question of the Month: The Essence of Greatness

Guest picker and blues bassist Danielle Nicole.

Photo by Missy Faulkner

Blues bassist Danielle Nicole chimes in with PG staff and reader John Seabolt on what amazes them about their favorite guitarists.

Question: What about your favorite guitarists make them great?

Guest Picker - Danielle Nicole

The Danielle Nicole Band.

Photo by Denis Carpentier

A: Beyond the fact that he listens intently, my guitarist Brandon Miller knows what to play, and especially, when not to play. He is knowledgeable and confident enough to give the song what it needs to tell the story, not necessarily what he wants.

Current obsession: I am trying to locate as many vintage left-handed basses, that haven’t been modified, as possible before collectors get a hold of them. It always kills me that people will collect these beautiful, rare, and vintage guitars, and then just lock them away for no one to ever play.

Reader of the Month - John Seabolt

John with the Zemaitis that belonged to Charlie Starr.

Photo by Tara Bone

A: My favorite guitarist is Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke. Although he can bring the heat and ferocity in his playing, for me, it’s his phrasing and the way he writes his music. Whether its straight picking or slide, it’s complex in its simplicity. Then at times it’s, “Wow, how in the world did he do that?!”

Current obsession: I have fallen in love with a ’55 Gibson ES-175 with a single P-90. I haven’t pulled the trigger on obtaining it though. Although, I can’t help but be really turned on by the newly announced EVH SA-126, and can’t wait to get my hands on one to test drive it!

Assistant Editor - Luke Ottenhof

Photo by Stewart Weston

A: My favorite guitarists do this thing that makes my mouth hang open in a half-giggling grin when I see it live. It’s one of the best sensations, and it corresponds to that thing—maybe it’s a front-and-center lead, or a new tone they kick on, or a chord voicing they reach for—that elevates the band to a level of euphoria that escapes description. With some little bit of how they manipulate the instrument, they create a totality of experience, even for a few seconds, that’s perfectly in tune with all the other elements around it, and feels like it makes all the cells in my body vibrate with excitement.

Current obsession: I got a few guitar maintenance tools for Christmas, and since then I’ve gone off the set-up deep end. Sometimes, I feel like I’m really getting the hang of it. Other times, I feel like Sid in Toy Story, and my guitars are the poor, deranged toys on the operating table.

Graphic Designer - Naomi Ruckus Rose

A: I’m rarely impressed with shredding for the sake of shredding. I admire guitarists who know when to hold back and let a song breathe. To me, it shows creativity and awareness when guitarist’s solos dance with the melody or song instead of using soloing as an opportunity to showboat their skills. Do what’s best for the song, not what’s best for your ego.

Current obsession: Collaboration. I have a deep sense of DIY possession when it comes to the songs I write and produce. But, just recently, I’ve been sending my songs to talented friends to have them record parts for me. It goes against my internal programming, but I think the outcome will be better than I’ve expected. I have a new sense of excitement with my music production now.