When you think famous acoustic guitarist, what comes to mind? From Johnny Cash to Tim McGraw, the answer is usually a famous country star. However, the acoustic guitar is beginning to cross over to different genres, such as rock or alternative rock. Artists such as Damien Rice, James Blunt, Jack Johnson, and Howie Day all use an acoustic or some version of an acoustic guitar in most of the their songs.
To many guitar enthusiasts, using an acoustic is simply the most personal form of playing guitar – no power, no amplifiers, no loud speakers, just a man, his guitar, and his voice to bear to all the world. Acoustic guitarists articulate their emotions and lyrics loudly and clearly without all the fancy bells and whistles. If you can keep the attention of millions of people merely by playing a song on an acoustic guitar, much like the most famous guitarists, then you must have exceptional skill. But just like everyone else, the best acoustic guitarists started out new, fresh to guitar with no prior knowledge of music. No one is born naturally able to play the guitar; playing guitar takes practice and hard–work.
Johnny Cash is one of the acoustic guitar greats, with songs like “Ring of Fire” and “Hurt.” In many ways, Johnny Cash revolutionized music as we know it today. Crossing over from genre to genre (rock, gospel, country, and blues) the man simply could not be tied down to a genre. He was known as “The Man in Black” because of the black suits he frequently wore throughout his career. Cash commonly started off his concerts with a simple greeting, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” Perhaps the true test of a guitarist’s fame is how people react after he is gone: this man had a major blockbuster movie made about his life, which just goes to show how important he is to music today. Although he passed away in 2003, he will definitely not be forgotten.
Another popular acoustic player who is one of the best solo guitarists of all time is Jack Johnson. His smooth, soulful lyrics overpower any negative mood, and you instantly feel happy again. For me, Johnson’s music is like my own personal anti–depressant; for all those “music heads” out there, there is probably an artist or band that makes you feel the same way. Jack Johnson is a champion surfer from Hawaii who switched over from surfing the waves of the ocean, to singing about the waves of life. Johnson has written some chart-topping hits such as “Upside Down” (2006), “Flake” (2002) and “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” (2004). He may not be as acclaimed or as well–known as Johnny Cash, but Johnson still creates captivating music. The music he writes has such simple chord progressions and changes, but ties together perfectly with the lyrics and the beat. You cannot ask for more than that in a great acoustic guitarist’s song.
Whatever acoustic guitarist – or other guitarist – you prefer is a representation of your personal style. Music is about individuality and expressing yourself. So, feel free to express yourself by picking up your guitar and playing like some of the stars, or better yet, surpassing them!