Pick up a random stack of recent guitar mags and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the 60s. Or 70s. Or 80s. The players of yesteryear are still very much at the forefront of guitarists’ minds today, and for good reason: these are the dudes who helped to make rock what it is today, and they still sell magazines. Where would we be without Jimmy Page? Jimi Hendrix? Eddie Van Halen? Dimebag Darrell? John Petrucci? But more importantly, why are there so few new guitar heroes?
Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure. It’s not that there are no good players any more. Just look at bands like Animals As Leaders and Periphery to hear some killer modern guitar playing. And bands like Karnivool are doing some very cool things that build on the past but take it into the future. Yet if you scan the ‘Signature Models’ section of any guitar brand’s website, you’re going to see many more old names than new ones. Steve Vai. Eric Clapton. Dave Mustaine. Kirk Hammett. Billy Gibbons. Alex Lifeson. Jeff Beck. Leslie West. Dig a bit further and you’ll find a Synyster Gates or an Alexi Laiho, but even those dudes have been around for a while now. So why aren’t more new guitarists really capturing the imagination of the guitar-playing public? And why is it that those who do are typically of the metal persuasion?