Nobody will argue against the fact that a classical education produces shredders of the highest caliber. Encyclopaedic chord knowledge and proper technical instruction will never go undervalued. While every classically trained guitarist is an absolute beast with their axe, not every amazing guitarist is classically trained.
To any guitar teachers out there, we apologise, this list isn’t going to do you any favours. We’ve curated a list of our favourite guitarists that taught themselves how to play, and there are some surprisingly huge names.
These self-taught guitarists are some of the best, which begs the question: Is there something to be said for the type of musician a non-classical education breeds?
That’s right! One of the most recognisable guitar riffs in history came straight from the noggin of a self-taught man. Up there with Smoke On The Water or the Blues Brothers theme, the famous Seven Nation Army guitar line has become a staple for every amateur guitarist out there.
White also featured in the 2008 guitar documentary It Might Get Loud, where he famously crafted a functioning electric guitar from a plank, nails, some strings and a shoddy pickup. “Who says you need to buy a guitar?”
No guitar related list would be complete without mentioning Hendrix. He’s topped countless lists of the best guitarists of all time, and did it all without a teacher. Before the age of 15, he’d been playing a one stringed ukulele until he finally bought a proper guitar for $5, restrung it upside down to play it left handed, and jammed with it for three hours a day. Is it any surprise that this eventually came out of his instrument?
Clapton used to learn chord progressions by recording himself and listening back to the recordings until he’d completely nailed them. He’s the only artist to ever be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three-times, once as a solo artist, once with Cream and once as a member of The Yardbirds. He also finished right behind Jimi Hendrix as the second best guitarist of all time in Rolling Stones’ curated list.
Best known for his work as the lead singer and guitarist for Oasis, and only slightly less known for his sins, Noel Gallagher taught himself how to play at the age of 13 after receiving six months probation for stealing from a corner shop and not having anything else to do.
Today it is almost impossible to avoid that one guy at every party playing one of their songs. Anyway, here’s Wonderwall:
Following on from the Oasis front man comes a man who taught himself guitar from an Oasis chord book. Turner and fellow Arctic Monkeys man Jamie Cook started out with songs from that book and the James Bond Theme Song before they began to compose their own stuff. Since then he’s composed catchy chord progressions from songs like I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor and infectious riffs in stuff like Do I Wanna Know?
The alt rock legend from Foo Fighters and Nirvana taught himself both guitar and drums. He apparently took one drum lesson before deciding that it was better to just do it himself. Maybe Grohl was born with the natural, killer instinct needed to thrash out the instrumentals he nails, or maybe he’s had so many fresh pots by now, that instinct manifested itself.
While you’re here, check out our list of the 9 most famous guitars in the world.
Drink down our list of the 10 best James Bond theme songs ever written.