Alex Skolnick: shredder turned game keeper?

Alex Skolnick:
There are several reasons for this. For one thing, I don’t relate to the so called "shred community." Shred community? Ok, maybe it’s just me, but I fail to find anything communal about a bunch of half-mad monkeys with whammy bars enviously eyeballing each other as they compete over who can play the fastest.

Here’s another thing: Shred has become a tiny subgenre in itself, one that has taken on the stigma of a musical ghetto. Just as urban ghettos represent disadvantaged areas of a city, the shred genre is a failing neighborhood of music, populated by sonically impoverished guitarists (and occasionally other instrumentalists as well), unwilling or unable to rise above the oppression of their own egos. And just like the in the real ghetto, their predicament is exploited by greedy corporations, with suburban music store chains and rock clothing outlets in place of liquor marts and check cashing facilities.

Yet there is an even bigger reason I cringe when I see my name or my music aligned with that of the "shred people." That reason is this: For the most part, their work has little or no connection to what I feel music is. To them, speed is their primary purpose, the sole reason their music exists. To me, speed is that pungent, strong spice, an effective and powerful ingredient to be used when appropriate—please take note of those last two words: "when appropriate." I’m going to say them once more: WHEN APPROPRIATE! read full post

I have a lots of time and respect for Alex Skolnick. I have a number of his CD's. So I must admit I don't actually align with Alex Skolnick's comments, but I guess over at guitar player he's preaching to the converted. I would also never be as rude to describe people who strive to be "all the can be" on guitar as "half-mad monkeys". If they are mad Monkeys... what does it make the fans of this genre? I've studied to Masters degree level, a number of the players I know have doctorates or are studying to become doctors. May be Alex is just moving in the wrong circles.

Most of the people I have met, during my gathering of guitar information from around the globe, are sensitive human beings, with all the same hopes and wishes that anyone else has during their journey through life. For the most part, these guys are not all ego, but they do devote a lot to their craft and no doubt defend that effort with rightful pride, in many cases. Indeed many have not had the privileged opportunities that Alex Skolnick has had. They live in tough places, in tough times, often times being the only bread winner for a family, working more than one job.

I think a far more controversial stance would be for Alex to speak up to defend the art of playing, after all Alex has made a living out of his not inconsiderable guitar skills. So is this a case of pot calling the kettle black? Has Alex fallen out of love with the art that made his name?... you decide

As an aside Google has over 6,700 pages returned when you search for the terms "Alex Skolnick" and Shred


  1. I read that too, and I cringed a bit...

    It seems like he's biting the hand that originally fed him. Everyone evolves and changes, but if he was so far removed from Shred, he wouldn't be touring with Testament now.

    Just my 2C...

  2. I'd ask Alex if he'd like some cheese with that whine, but that might not be considered kosher.

    Thing is, Alex is seemingly intent on judging a specific type of playing solely by its least impressive exponents. If he's been checking out some of the GOOD players who are active today, and he STILL only sees it as competitiveness, I don't know what to say. It seems to me like he's trying to distance himself from something he helped create, acting like he's grown up or something. There's nothing grown-up about being bitter and in denial. It's just being bitter and in denial.

    I like Alex's playing a lot, but I wish he'd stick up for other talented players and support the good ones, rather than making it seem like everyone's some NPS-obsessed distortion hound who can't tell the difference between Bach and Stump.

    There's a lot of extremely talented players out there who are virtually unknown. Hey Alex, would it kill you to, I dunno, go check out some of these guys on YouTube? Show some support for fellow talents? I mean, you're well-known in the guitar world, respected. I respect you. I just don't think you're being fair.

    I know he won't read this, but that's one rant out of the system.

  3. Thanks for responding to this Laurie, I was going to write a blog post about it, but decided to focus my efforts instead on creating my video for Shred This III - it doesn't take a whole lot of poking around to notice the level of support and encouragement being offered by and for the shred community in an event like this one, where players of many different styles, abilities and nationalities all come together for one thing - the love of guitar!

  4. re Shred This III... Cheers Bryan... time well spent IMHO...

    As I say, my general experience has really been one of players as humble people, look at Guthrie Govan or Brett Garsed for example. These guys deliver the art of guitar, which may manifest itself in a serious amount of note density, with grace and not intimidation. I've met or talked with players like Hedras Ramos from Guatamala, Paco Hernández, from Spain, Joop Wolters from Netherlands, Tom Quayle from the UK... what straight forward guys these are and with such a love and passion for guitar! Guys... I wipe a tear from my eye as I salute you!

  5. I get what he's trying to point out in this article and I hope everyone does too, but I seriously think he's stereotyping "shred" into something bad almost immediately. Feel is opinionated. I think Shane Gibson's DucksinaponD has so much feel in it that I'd actually say I "felt" it more than a slow song, say, Vai's For The Love of God. I'm not saying Vai's song has no feel at all, it's just my opinion?

    I dunno, Laurie. I've had other guitar players say I shouldn't play fast, mainly cause they have this stereotype in their heads that fast can never equate to emotional.

    I just wish everyone read Greg Howe's article on Shred before they read this one. Here's the link:

  6. Thanks for the link buddy. What is emotion, is it only blues? Is it only slow? Is it the intensity of note sequences, clever intervallic ear interplay? As the great and humble Greg Howe says "I’ll admit that there are a lot of great licks and lines that simply aren’t practical to play at high speeds, and a lot of the fingerings and licks that work well with speed are often shy of musicality. But I promise we can find comfort in knowing that there are tons great ones that also contain an abundance of musicality. Those are, of course, the ones I’ll be exploring with you."

  7. I think that shred guitar become more than just 16 notes on 300 bpm , shred become art, true art of guitar .


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