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Kirk Hammett, Adam Jones, and John 5 Discuss the State of Guitar in 2021

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Remember like ten or twelve years ago, when Guitar Hero was at the peak of its popularity, and all these alarmists were like, “This is gonna ruin guitar by making kids not wanna pick up a real instrument!”?

Yeah that was pretty silly.

So here we are. It’s 2021. Guitar wasn’t ruined by rhythm games (in fact, sales of musical instruments and gear have gone through the roof during the pandemic). But what “state” is guitar playing in, exactly?

This is the topic at hand for a new roundtable discussion conducted by Guitar World. Participants including Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Tool’s Adam Jones, John 5 (Rob Zombie, ex-Marilyn Manson), metal-lovin’ not-metal singer/guitarist/songwriter St. Vincent, Brazilian guitarist Mateus Asato, and blues guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.

Arguably the most interesting part of the discussion comes when the participants were asked if there “Will there ever be another Eddie Van Halen,” or if the concept of the “guitar hero” is dying out. Here’s how they replied:

Jones:

“I mean, Eddie Van Halen, he [was] an alien that landed on our planet and showed us how to do it. I don’t really know anyone to compare that to. When I heard him for the first time it was haunting. Can we have another guy come in and really make a mark like Eddie Van Halen? I don’t know. I hope so. I look forward to what’s new in music and what’s weird in music.”

Hammett:

“I think the guitar hero is a dying breed. The new generation, there’s so many good players that it’s hard to pick out a hero because they’re all kind of guitar heroes in their own right. But a lot of times it’s just great musical gymnastics.”

“All guitar heroes are judged by one thing and one thing only – the song they’re playing. You can be the most ripping guitar player, but if your songs fucking suck or are boring or just flat, people are going to be impressed for about 15 minutes. And then they’re going to check their Instagram, see what other guitar players put up.”

John 5:

“A hundred percent there will be another guitar hero. It’s up to us, to the people reading this and the people listening to the music to go, ‘I can be the next guitar hero.’

“And that doesn’t mean just being able to play the guitar well. It’s someone that can write songs, it’s someone that is inventive. It’s someone that is progressive. There’s a lot that goes into it. But absolutely I think there will be more guitar heroes in the future.”

You can read the entire chat here.

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