The main thing that jumps out at me as I scan Gibson’s 10 Great Rock Guitar Instrumentals is that it would be hard to build on. The list apparently features pieces known for their “pioneering impact” as opposed to virtuosity or popularity.
But, like, what else would you add? Is there much else out there to debate? We’ve got Beck, Page, Edgar Winter, Van Halen, Duane Eddy and The Ventures – like you’d expect. And we have to dip into The Who’s Tommy to get to 10.
The genre has a major handicap: no lyrics. Kinda hampers the singing along, which makes it more difficult on the memory, which reduces the odds of a tune being popular. Not to mention the emotional impact that lyrics can add to a great song.
Make that two handicaps, the second being that instrumentals tend to be vehicles for showing off. With all due respect to Mssrs. Beck, Satriani, Malmsteen, Johnson and McGlaughlin et al, chicks don’t dig it. You can’t dance to this stuff.
These guys have an audience limited to mostly other guitarists, which is why the list is brought to you by Gibson as opposed to a popular culture magazine. The guitar has dominated popular music for over half a century, but it works best in a supporting role.