Herring digs into a huge bend on one of his customized PRS guitars.
Photo by Andy Tennille

The king of jam band 6 string goes deep—in a conversation with Testament’s leader—on the ’90s jam renaissance, Jeff Buckley, Dixie Dregs, and cutting tracks for Widespread Panic's latest album, Street Dogs.

Here’s a question that comes up every once in a while during an interview: “Are there any guitarists you count as influences who might not be as familiar to our readers (or listeners) as more household names such as Van Halen, Hendrix, or Metheny?” My first answer, for quite some time now, has been the same: Jimmy Herring.

Although he isn’t the first to bridge the gap between high-energy rock soloing and jazz-inspired improvisation (the ’70s recordings of Jeff Beck as well as those of drummer Billy Cobham, featuring the late guitarist Tommy Bolin, come to mind), no one to my knowledge has taken it to the level that Jimmy has. If you’re someone who enjoys the “screaming” of rock and blues solos, but has grown tired of hearing predictable pentatonic patterns, or if you’ve ever been intrigued by modern improvisation—chromatic lines, extended triads, outside phrases—but have had to adjust your tastes to accommodate the mellifluousness of traditional jazz guitar tone, then Jimmy Herring might be, depending on your theological juxtaposition:

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