Quotes of Successful Guitarists

And a few non- guitarists….

“We didn’t have any instruments, so I had to use my guitar.” – Mother Maybelle Carter

Leo Kottke during a master class: “With all these great (guitar teachers) around here, don’t cop their licks, COP THEIR ATTITUDE.”

“God has a way of telling you when to change your strings.” – Dave van Ronk

“You don’t find a style, … a style finds you.”
Keith Richards

In the mid-1960s, Don Adams was a guest on Jimmy Dean’s network television show. He mentioned to Jimmy that his wife had given him a guitar for Christmas, and he was really enjoying it. Jimmy was surprised, and asked Don if he’d like to play something. Don said sure, and a stage hand rolled in a Fender Twin and handed Don a Gibson ES 335. Don spent a few seconds putting on the strap, plugging the guitar into the amp, and setting the controls. Then he spent a few more seconds tuning up. At that point, he put his index finger on the tenth fret on the high E and plucked a solid D note. He then sat back, satisfied, and took his hands off the guitar.  Dean looked puzzled, waited a moment and then asked “Is that it?” “Yep,” replied Adams. Dean still looked puzzled. He said “Well, it’s just that other guitarists seems to move up and down the neck, playing a lot more notes.” “Well, yeah,” stated Adams. “They’re looking for it. I found it.”

“If someone is having a lot of difficulty learning one of my songs, he probably isn’t playing it correctly”

“If you make the same mistake 3 times, that becomes ‘your arrangement’ “- Jorma K

Guitar is easy, all it takes is 5 fingers, 6 strings and 1 a**hole – Keith Richards

“There is two kinds of music, the good and bad.  I play the good kind.”
~ Louis Armstrong

Lots of people who complained about us receiving the MBE received theirs for heroism in the war — for killing people.  We received ours for entertaining other people.  I’d say we deserve ours more.
~ John Lennon

I don’t know anything about music.  In my line you don’t have to.
~ Elvis Presley

All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.
~ Louis Armstrong

Willie Dixon: “A bad rendition of you is better than a good rendition of somebody else.”

I played the guitar
for ten years before I realised it wasn’t a weapon.”-Pete Townshend

“Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” –John Lennon

“You’re never too old to become the person you might have been.”-John Lennon

“They wouldn’t know good music if it came up and bit them in the ass” -Zappa

“Jazz isn`t dead, it only smells funny.” -Frank Zappa

“I called Leo Fender, the dead guy, a dork.  Now I`ll never get an
endorsement.” – Kurt Cobain

“starts out slow and then fizzles out altogether.”-Neil Young, introducing one of his songs.

“Bad music can make you weak.”-Ry Cooder

During a recent Willie Nelson interview the interviewer asked Willie if he
had given any thought to retiring.  Willie responed, as only Willie can, “All
I do is play guitar and golf.  Which one should I give up?”

“life is too short to play bad music” – Bob Brozman

“I’ve practiced my tone for almost 50 years and if I can’t hear my tone, I can’t play.  If I can’t play, then I won’t get paid.  If I don’t get paid, then I’ll lose the house, you know? It’s like a chain reaction.  If I lose my tone, I can’t fuck, I can’t make love, can’t do nothin’.  I’ll just walk into the ocean and die if I lose my tone”
– Miles

“Playin’ the guitar is like tellin’ the truth.  You never have to worry about repeating the same lie if you told the truth.  You don’t have to pretend or cover up.  If someone asks you again you don’t have to think about it or worry about it.  It’s you.”
– B.B. King

“If I can get out of the way, if I can be pure enough, if I can be selfless enough, and if I can be generous and loving and caring enough to abandon what I have in my own preconceived silly notions of what I think I am – and become truly who in fact I am, which is really just another child of God – then the music can really use me.  And therein lies my fulfillment.  That’s when the music starts to happen.”
– John Mclaughlin

“We don’t want any vocalist messing up the music.” – John Scofield

“The longer cats are in the city, the more they get gadgets to trip them out” – Taj Mahal

“My best songs come from making a lot of mistakes and playing a lot of garbage.” – Eric Johnson

“I don’t play for the guitarists in the audience.  I play for the musicians.” – Frank Gambale

“I often discover that what sounds great at home sounds hideous in public.” – Tuck Andress

“If you want to challenge the system, don’t go to bed with it.” – Ani DiFranco

Thank you for enjoying the tuning so much…I hope you like the music more…
Ravi Shankar (sitar) Concert for Bangla Desh

From John Lennon:
Interviewer: “When you sit down with Paul to write a song, how do you do it” ?
Lennon: “We do two things one after the other.  First we sit down, then we write a song”

“Rock and roll is taking those same old three chords and making them sound new again”- I don’t remember

“Every once in awhile I’ll call up Eddie (Van Halen) and ask, “Found that fourth chord yet”?- BIlly Gibbons

“I don’t know shit from shinola.  Maybe that’s why I’m so original.” -Ace Frehley

“We don’t play slow and we don’t play fast, we play half fast” -Louis Armstrong

From a GP interview with Ry Cooder where he is discussing his use of open tunings when playing slide.
Interviewer: Ry, you know some people will use standard tuning while playing slide.
Ry: “Really,,they do? Hmm, I don’t think they should do that.”

“Elmore James only knew one lick, but you had the feeling that he meant it.”

-Frank Zappa

“Nobody f*****g upstages us” Peter Townshend, after ramming the butt of his guitar into the back of Abbie Hoffmans head, when Hoffman ran on stage during the Who’s set, and made a quick political announcement.

“I told my parents that when I grew up I wanted to be a musician, they said it had to be one or the other.”

“The electric guitar was vital in helping what I’ve achieved … where would I be without it? Playing awfully quietly, for a start.” — Keith Richards

Hound Dog Taylor – When i die they will say i played like shit … but it sure sounded good.

When asked by an interviewer, if he thought Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world.
Paul McCartney replied, “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles….”

Waylon Jennings, If I’d known I was gonna live this long I would have taken better care of myself.

Roger Miller when asked why he didn’t play all that fancy/complicated stuff way up the neck like all the other guitar players do.  Without missing a beat Roger says, “All the moneys right down here” and points to the 1st three frets.

From Chet:

“It took me 20 years to learn I couldn’t tune too well.  And by that time I was too rich to care.”

“Anyone who used more than three chords is just showing off.” – Woodie Guthrie.

Brozman: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

“When the band plays fast, you play slow; when the band plays slow, you play fast.”
– Miles Davis explaining soloing.

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There’s also a negative side.”
-Hunter S. Thompson

” A good player can make any guitar sound good” -Michael Bloomfield

When Jimi Hendrix played New Years Eve with “Band of Gypsys”, he did two shows. The first show, he did all his tricks .. behind the back, with his tongue, humping his axe, etc. The place went nuts.  When he came off, he asked Bill Graham, the show’s producer, what’d he think? Graham replied, “You did everything but play guitar, Jimi.

During an interview, Ravi Shankar was asked “How is it that you are so more technically advanced than other players?” Shankar replied matter-of-factly, “Well; it’s my third lifetime playing the instrument.”

“Every time you pick up your guitar to play, play as if it’s the last time.” Eric Clapton

Chet Atkins was in a Nashville studio warming up for a session with his Gretsch.  A young technician came into the studio and stood watching open-mouthed until Chet finished.  “Gee, Mr Atkins, that guitar sure sounds fabulous!”  Chet placed the guitar on its stand, smiled at the tech and said, “Well, son, how does it sound now?”

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” – Frank Zappa

“If you don’t know the blues, … there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.” – Keith Richards

Interviewer: Keith Richards was quoted as saying that you(Taj Mahal) are the whitest blues guitarist/musician he’s ever heard…
Taj Mahal: Well, he would know, wouldn’t he?

“Practice like the Devil.” – Doc Watson

Segovia: “The guitar is the easiest instrument to play, and the hardest to play well”.

“from the very beginning when i used to hear those solos on those old records i used to say, now here is an instrument that is capable of spewing forth true obscentity, you know?  Iif ever there’s an obscene noise to be made on an instrument, it’s going to come out of a guitar…Let’s be realistic about this, the guitar can be the single most blasphemous device on the face of the earth.  That’s why i like it...The disgusting stink of a too loud electric guitar: now that’s my idea of good time.” -Frank Zappa (The Guitar Hand Book)

“…when I saw Jimi Hendrix I knew immediately that this guy was the real thing … and when he played it was like a rough sketch of what he was going to become … this guy was our generation, and he wasn’t in a suit .. he played a Howlin’ Wolf song ‘Killing Floor’, and then we (The Cream) had to carry on the set.  It was pretty hard to follow … ” – Eric Clapton / Yardbirds / Cream / Blind Faith / Derek and the Dominoes

I’ve always wanted the sound of Muddy Waters’ early records – only louder – Eric Clapton

“all of the great sounds that James Burton and Jimmy Bryant were getting, came out of Telecasters – Albert Lee

“For so long we plowed different furrows … the greats … be it of country, rhythm & blues, rock ‘n’ roll … you know what they were doing ?  They were messing with your heart and soul.  That’s what it was.  Nothing has the strength, the power of music” – Sam Phillips

“… Albert Lee and I have become real close friends and he comes out anytime I’m in the L.A. area and he’ll sit in for the whole show ! … we’ve got a habit of doing that … in Austin Redd Volkaert does the same thing … it’s fun … I love to make it a guitar thing and the audience doesn’t know any different – they think he’s some new band member they don’t know. They don’t realize Albert’s the reason we all play Teles ! …” – Brad Paisley

“Sam Phillips always encouraged me to do it my way, to use what ever other influences I wanted, but never to copy … that was a great rare gift he gave me: believe in myself, right from the start of my recording career… if there hadn’t been a Sam Phillips, I might still be working in a cotton field” – Johnny Cash

Paul Simon’s Grammy Award acceptance: “I’d like to thank Stevie Wonder for not making an album this year”

Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is the best

-Frank Zappa

“My vocation is more in composition really than anything else – building up harmonies using the guitar, orchestrating the guitar like an army, a guitar army.”
– Jimmy Page
“I don’t separate writing songs from
poetry and short fiction.  In the
area where I work in my house,
there’s a word processor and a guitar.”

Source: Steve Earle

I use heavy strings, tune low, play hard, and floor it. Floor it.  That’s technical talk.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Jimi Hendrix Quotes

Jimi Hendrix was a guitar god

  • All I’m gonna do is just go on and do what I feel.”

  • “Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.”

  • “Every city in the world always has a gang, a street gang or the so-called outcasts.”

  • “I have this one little saying, when things get too heavy just call me helium, the lightest known gas to man.”
  • “I just hate to be in one corner.  I hate to be put as only a guitar player, or either only as a songwriter, or only as a tap dancer.  I like to move around.”
  • “I try to use my music to move these people to act.”
  • “I was trying to do too many things at the same time, which is my nature. But I was enjoying it and I still do enjoy it.”
  • “I wish they’d had electric guitars in cotton fields back in the good old days.  A whole lot of things would’ve been straightened out.”
  • “I’m gonna put a curse on you and all your kids will be born completely naked.”
  • “I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.”
  • “I’ve been imitated so well I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.”
  • “Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction.”
  • “In order to change the world, you have to get your head together first.”
  • “It all has to come from inside, though, I guess.”
  • “It’s funny how most people love the dead, once you’re dead your made for life.”
  • “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
  • “Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”
  • “Music is a safe type of high.  It’s more the way it was supposed to be. That’s where highness came, I guess, from anyway.  It’s nothing but rhythm and motion.”
  • “Music is my religion.”
  • “Music makes me high on stage, and that’s the truth. It’s like being almost addicted to music.”
  • “My goal is to be one with the music.  I just dedicate my whole life to this art.”
  • “Rock is so much fun. That’s what it’s all about – filling up the chest cavities and empty kneecaps and elbows.”
  • “See, that’s nothing but blues, that’s all I’m singing about.  It’s today’s blues.”
  • “Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar.  But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded.”
  • “The reflection of the world is blues, that’s where that part of the music is at. Then you got this other kind of music that’s tryin’ to come around.”
  • “The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice.  You sacrifice the things you love.  I love my guitar.”
  • “When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they want to do.”
  • “When I die, just keep playing the records.

  • On Rhythm Guitar:
  • “You shouldn’t hear the guitar by itself.  It should be part of the whole…You only notice the guitar when it’s not there”Freddie Green

“I’m more interested in melodic things.  I think the biggest challenge when you go to play a solo is trying to invent a melody on the spot.”Frank Zappa

“I practice all the scales.  Everyone should know lots of scales.  Actually, I feel there are only scales.  What is a chord, if not the notes of a scale hooked together?”John McLaughlin

“Learning to play the guitar is a combination of mental and motor skill acquisition.  And to develop motor skill, repetition is essential… Whenever musicians have trouble executing a passage, they generally tend to blame themselves for not having enough talent.  Actually, all that’s wrong is they don’t know where their fingers are supposed to go…you should learn the piece in your head before you play it. And when you do play it, play it so slow that there’s no possibility of making a mistake.” – Howard Roberts

“One thing I learned a long time ago was my fretboard in terms of all the scales in all the positions…You have to learn it – there are no two ways about it.  I shift between positions so easily now that I really don’t have to think about them much…I would suggest starting your scale education with the major and minor scales and after that, diminished, augmented and whole tone.  Then depending on what kind of music you want to play, the modes should be learned.  My theory about this kind of thing is that you should learn it all.  Once you’ve learned it you can play whatever you want to play and I think that your playing will be more advanced and you’ll have a better understanding of the instrument.” – Al DiMeola

“Technique is paramount to the beginner.  Only thoughtful, regular, and yes, joyful daily practice will enable the student of the guitar to develop mind muscles and spirit into a concord of execution and expression.” – Aaron Shearer

“I’ve always felt that blues, rock ‘n’ roll and country are just about a beat apart.”-Waylon Jennings (1937-2002)

“If something is too hard to do, then it’s not worth doing.  You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your shortwave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we’ll go inside and watch TV.”
— Homer Simpson

“I don’t play a lot of fancy guitar.  I don’t want to play it. The kind of guitar I want to play is mean, mean licks.”
— John Lee Hooker

“I’d think learning to play the guitar would be very confusing for sighted people.”
— Doc Watson

“I began to learn a lot of chords and rhythms.   It was a bit boring at the time but came in very handy later on.”
— Alvin Lee

“Discovering the guitar is like finding a new continent that exists within your fingertips.”
— Will Hodgkinson in “Guitar Man”

“When you play the guitar, you don’t have to say nothing.  The girls would say something to you.”
— Buddy Guy

“To me a guitar is kind of like a woman.  You don’t know why you like ’em but you do.”
— Waylon Jennings

“First guitars tend to be like first loves: ill-chosen, unsuitable, short-lived and unforgettable.”
— Tim Brookes in “Guitar: An American Life

“The Telecaster has two sounds — a good one and a bad one.”
— Jimi Hendrix

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity. –Plato (via ckck)
“Shredding, to me, is akin to having a incredibly overblown vocabulary at your disposal and saying very, very little” -Johnny Marr(link to article)
And this from  late comedian Mitch Hedberg….

“I play the guitar.  I taught myself how to play the guitar, which was a bad decision… because I didn’t know how to play it, so I was a shitty teacher.  I would never have went to me”.

Link Wray Quotes-

“If I could go back in time and see any band, It would be Link Wray and the Raymen.” – Neil Young

“Link Wray… He was the beginning of Grunge, way before anybody you know.” – Neil Young

“He is the king, if it hadn’t been for Link Wray and Rumble, I would have never picked up a guitar.” – Pete Townshend

“Rumble is the best instrumental ever.” – Bob Dylan

“Link Wray is the all-time legend.” – Conan O’Brien, T.V. talk show host

“Link Wray and Gene Vincent…. two of the greatest unknowns of rock ‘n’ roll.” – John Lennon

“Though rock historians always like to draw a nice, clean line between the distorted electric guitar work that fuels early blues records to the late 60s Hendrix-Clapton-Beck-Page-Townsend mob, with no stops in between, a quick spin of any of the sides Link recorded during his golden decade punches holes in the theory right quick.  If a direct line from a black blues musician crankin’ up his amp and playing with a ton of violence and aggression can be traced to a young, white guy doing a mutated form of same, the line points straight to Link Wray, no contest.  Pete Townshend probably summed it up for more guitarists than he realized when he said, “he is the king, had it not been for Link Wray and ‘Rumble, I would have never picked up a guitar”. – Cub Koda

“Link Wray was the most volatile and sophisticated guitarist to emerge from the late 50s. He was a powerful, inventive player, doing things with dynamics and rhythm that would later inspire Pete Townsend and Eric Clapton.” – Greg Shaw, Rolling Stone Magazine

“Link Wray invented the vocabulary of modern electric guitarists.” – answers.com; excerpted from Davie Allan’s page.

“The Rumble Man.” – Keith Moon, drummer The Who

“Father of the Power Chord.” – James Sullivan, Rolling Stone.com

“Link is a quiet man to meet- easy and courteous. His music, though, betrays that deep inside he gets very very mean very often. I remember being made very uneasy the first time I heard “Rumble” , and yet very excited by the guitar sound. And his voice! He sounds like a cross between Jagger and Van Morrison, even sometimes like Robbie Robertson. We met him in New York in 1970 while recording “Who’s Next”…. this later inspired the b-side “Wasp Man”, a tune we dedicated to Link Wray.” – Pete Townshend

“Money don’t rule me, record companies don’t rule me.” – Link Wray

Here’s my band the Deadcats tribute to Link, from 1996s Bucket of Love CD




  1. when i play my guitar i reveal the unique and marvellous masterpiece GOD created me to be.

    to me music is without commas, exclamation marks and full stops

  2. Guitar is easy, all it takes is 5 fingers, 6 strings and 1 a**hole – Keith Richards

    Should be

    Guitar is easy, all it takes is 2 fingers, 5 strings and 1 a**hole – Keith Richards


    1. Link definitely deserves to be in the hall of fame with Hendrix, Townsend, Richards and Niel Young! I had a chance to meet him and see him perform solo and shaking his hand was certainly a thrill. He seemed like a really nice fellow.

  4. LINK WRAY can you hear me? everytime I’m doing a tribute to you in front of a new generation crowd, I get the response, are these songs originals ? I say, YEP , they certainly are , and leave it at that

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