Albums That Make You Want to Pick Up the Guitar
211 8.31. Electric Ladyland - The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi Hendrix
If there is one thing Jimi Hendrix taught us, it's that your imagination can be endless if you allow it to be. Electric Ladyland shows Hendrix and his band pushing out of every corner and the guitar is the main source. You may dream of playing the riff to Voodoo Chile or those solos all in the album, or even the crazy chord progression in the title track. Go stomp a wah wah and belt out your emotions as high as you bend your strings!
There is too many things to name that Jimi made us want to do on the guitar, but I'll just leave it to this - Voodoo Chile Slight Return.
57 8.12. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek and the Dominos
Duane Allman and Eric Clapton together, can't find a better match than this. Clapton already an established Blues player, but Duane Allman brought the best out of musicians, and without him pushing Clapton and his killer dual harmonies, Layla would not the classic it is today. Of all albums this is one I hold on a high pedestal but since it gets so much critical acclaim I try not to shove it down everyone's throat.
There is so many riffs, to all these songs here, you could spend an entire 12 months locked in a basement with this one album and the material to learn it and come out a very experienced guitar player in rhythm and solong. The title track itself, Layla with it's 4 layers of guitars is one of the most beautiful things ever done with the guitar. This album pushed me as a guitar player, and it still does to this day. Probably my favorite song on the album is the cover of Little Wing. They made that song their own and all the harmonized guitars is pure beauty. This album makes you want to go grab your strat (or whatever you play) and make it cry your soul out over and over and over again.
8 7.73. Couldn't Stand the Weather - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
That opening riff to Scuttle Buttin' changed my life as a guitar player. I have heard many people tell me they learned about the Blues from SRV,and I think that's great, cause without him I probably never would have found my way through it.
Couldn't Stand the Weather with it's shuffling rhythmic "Cold Shot" and that monster trainwreck of bends in 'Things That I Used to Do' all the way to his jazz side in the outro song 'Stang Swang' this album is loaded with things that make you want to play, and also experiment with tunings, higher gauge strings, and so on.
380 84. Appetite for Destruction - Guns N' Roses
I always wanted to learn the opening riff to Sweet Child O Mine, and did as time went by. Slash is the one Rock guitarist that never got old, besides the popular singles, My Michelle and It's So Easy always made me want to get up and play for the day.
With most Rock from the 80's tuned in standard tuning, this is quite refreshing to see Slash used the E Flat tuning, and I'd argue that he's more of a Blues player than a Rock guitarist first. You can tell where his roots came from.
6 95. T-Bone Blues - T-Bone Walker
Let's go back to the original master of the electric guitar - T-Bone Walker. Most people don't even know who he is anymore, and that is a shame. If you play guitar do something right now, and hunt down this album and buy it. You need it if you want to learn.T-Bone Walker was the hero to BB King, who even admits when he heard the song Stormy Monday he wanted a guitar. Chuck Berry even goes so far to admit everything he learned, he learned it from T-Bone. This man hands down changed the guitar forever.
There's a number of songs here that make you want to play, in particular Stormy Monday is one of the most important songs to Blues, but I want to talk about T-Bone Blues and Mean Old World. When I heard those songs, I was blown away. T-Bone mixes his Blues roots of the swinging jump sound with parts of Jazz in his strong chord progression and in return you get this work of a mastermind.
21 8.46. Live at the Regal - B.B. King
We all love B.B. King and I cannot count how many times I've caught myself playing the songs from Live at the Regal during jam sessions and end up going through them. Duane Allman used to play this vinyl and constantly pull it back so he could learn the little riffs and fills from B.B., he did this for hours a day and in return we got that awesome BB King medley he covered.
One riff from B.B. is worth a hundred notes, as Buddy Guy has said before, and it's true. B.B. makes you want to expirement, and learn the use of vibrato and teaches a valuable lesson - you don't have to play lightning speed to sound good.
9 8.57. Born Under a Bad Sign - Albert King
Albert King is very important to us, as is this album. Just the title track alone made me want to play along to this album, and learn what he was doing. This is one album I'd consider as an essential building block if you ever wanted to be a Blues master, and if you want to sound like Stevie Ray, you need to learn from this record.
Phasing is one of the most important things, and this album can make you want to improve and practice more and more as a guitar player.
27 8.48. The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band
I don't care what kind of band you are, the Allman Brothers proved one thing. And that is 6 people can equally play their part without drowning one or the other out and hogging up most the time. Duane Allman and Dickey Betts bounced their solos off one another through harmonies, and then Gregg's Organ coming in to lead the way. You always hear the bass too, either leading or in there with rhythm, and with 2 drummers you can easily tell which one is doing what and not drowning each other out by trying to play the fastest.
I had a buddy of mine that was obsessed with playing the harmonized riffs on this record such as Black Hearted Woman and My Cross to Bear. Most people normally pass up on stuff like this whining and bitching how difficult it can be
5 109. Showdown! - Albert Collins,Robert Cray,Johnny Copeland
If this album don't make you want to pick your guitar and play, then I don't have a clue what will. 3 masters at their craft having fun, and a reminder that you can jam out with friends and equally have fun. (Don't let your ego get the best of you and try to exclude someone cause you think you're better)
Albert Collins always had a funky bone to his playing, and I love Robert Cray to death for his clean hard sound, all mixed well with Copeland's soft touch on his guitar.
2 1010. Lightnin' Hopkins - Lightnin' Hopkins
The creative scale of a musician can be measured in a number of ways. For Lightnin' Hopkins it was just him and his guitar most the time. He didn't even have to really sing in key, he did his own thing with his own imagination. The funny thing about this is album and most of his stuff is that: it's just a man and his guitar. Most the time he can just talk and play rhythm and it can grab your attention with storytelling.
The influence of Lightnin' is everywhere yet least talked about. Listening to him is enough to want to really start doing new things with rhythm and leads. This album gets off quite exciting with it's blue feeling in Penitentiary Blues and continues on through the Blind Lemmon Jefferson influence and cover See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
189 8.311. Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones
We all want to play something that the Rolling Stones wrote weather we admit it or not. It can be Paint it Black or Honky Tonk Women, but for me it's this record. I never appreciated the value of rhythm until I heard just how much of a back bone it is to the music with the Stones on this album in particular. I had to give the acoustic guitar a spin after listening to Wild Horses and Sister Morphine for months when I first got my hands on this.
Mick Taylor is amazing, and a song like Bitch with a simple riff can easily make you want to play along. That's what's so special about the Stones, their songs knew just how to grab you and hold you hostage. It's no different than listening to Saxaphone and wanting to learn the solos on your guitar when you hear little things like that organ solo in I Got the Blues.
9 7.912. Damn Right, I've Got the Blues - Buddy Guy
Screaming blues, and those things that Buddy Guy did to remind us just how human we were. This record had the cover of Mustang Sally that featured Jeff Beck, along with Where Is the Next One Coming From, Five Long Years, it's a great record that captures you in the mood as he gets his point across easily in 'Too Broke to Spend the Night.'
Buddy Guy was a monster back in the day, and by the 90's he was one of the last remaining classic Blues guitarists still alive from the 50's and 60's, here he did his thing proving he still has the Blues from his hair down to his feet.
3 1013. Getting Ready... - Freddie King
Freddie King's tone was a straight monster. I can spend this whole section on drooling over it like I did in my top 20 Tone List, but I am going to focus more on why he inspires us all. Just that one song, Goin' Down (yes I'm gonna brag about that one AGAIN) I also will talk about a song not on the album (Hideaway) and how something makes us all want to cover it.
Such high vibrato and tone as the key. Freddie King's tone is what a Gibson ES-335 is supposed to sound like. Forget all that hard distortion, his tone IS the Blues!
4 714. After School Session - Chuck Berry
I never met anyone in my life that said a bad thing about Chuck Berry. Even people I played around as a kid that whine about his tone and how the power chords are 'backwards' will admit he was something else off this world when they first heard him. If I was a little boy when Chuck Berry first came out, I would have been imitating his dance moves while playing my guitar wishing I could play the songs from this record.
One way or another, a record like After School Session makes you want to play your ass off cause you know this man put some time into those songs. This is what started rock and roll and it's not none of that half assed radio shit you have heard like 80's glam bands.
44 7.815. Wheels of Fire - Cream_IV
Cream was one of those bands you had to buy every album of after being captured by the songs Crossroads, or Sunshine of your Love, or Spoonful. Wheels of Fire is arguably their best album for it's cover of Born Under a Bad Sign, White Room, As You Said, Deserted Cities of the Heart and the live disc that houses the epic 10+ minute version of Spoonful and the cover of Crossroads that turned the song into their own.
I love Eric Clapton despite some things I've said about his solo work being disappointing in times, and I have loved playing along to Cream for years now. If anyone wonders where Black Sabbath was inspired by their heavy riffs look no further for the influence in Politician.
3 816. Howlin' Wolf - Howlin' Wolf
Howlin' Wolf's second album, and if you know what this, then I am sure you have heard the song Spoonful, or Little Red Rooster, or at least Goin' Down Slow. But if you haven't, this record is quite a treat for you.
Hubert Sumlin was the Wolf's lead guitarist and I'd argue he's one of the most underrated Chicago blues men of all time cause his solo work here is timeless. If you want my advice, take these songs, fall in love with the ones you like the most, and make them your own when you play them. That's what Stevie Ray did (Tell Me, Shake For Me) and that's what Cream did too (Spoonful).
5 7.717. It Serves You Right to Suffer - John Lee Hooker_II
John Lee Hooker was a running front with all the classic Blues men from the 50's and 60's. He wrote the classics 'Boom Boom' and 'It's My Own Fault' just for starters, but his albums don't get talked about a lot which is why I bring this one up.
The shuffling Blues in Shake It Baby all the way through the folk based rhythm over his powerful riffs, Country Boy and Sugar Mama, the man delivers where it's needed to make you want to go grab your guitar.
713 8.418. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
The love we can cherish for Pink Floyd goes beyond words. It's not so much on David Gilmour alone, I like to credit the entire band as an inspiration. It's like I said about Jimi Hendrix, and your imagination being endless if you allow it to be. I wanted to play the synth on Have a Cigar on my guitar when I first heard it.
While I'm not a big fan of Heavy Metal, I have to say Shadows Fall did one amazing cover of Welcome to the Machine, (hands down the BEST cover I have ever heard of a Pink Floyd song!) and this whole album is just loaded with experimental things you can do with your guitar.
3 1019. Genius of the Electric Guitar - Charlie Christian
This album is very hard to come across these days, as it's out of print and that's why I'm going to leave this to you music historians, Jazz fans, and collectors - If you see this album BUY IT. You may not get lucky and ever see it again.
Is it impossible to play something on the guitar? Ask Charlie Christian. This is what put the guitar in Jazz forever and he proved that it wasn't just a genre of music for horns and piano. This is an excellent album to study, and if you are a true player it should inspire you to try new things and it's never impossible to do something you want to do, even if the guitar don't seem too likely with the music.
13 8.820. The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery - Wes Montgomery_II
Who thought your thumb could give you such a sweet sound to a clean tone? Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar is essential, and what I would consider the core album for Jazz guitar. It's a fun building block to experiment with as well.
The song Polka Dots and Moonbeams based on octaves and West Coast Blues showing the melodic solo power of Wes proves you can be a boss with the guitar. The thing I love the most about this album is that, the guitar is the leader. He leads his musicians over with his riffs, and they pave the beautiful road for his riffs to travel over.
18 8.821. A Tribute to Jack Johnson - Miles Davis
2 words - Right Off. No words needed to describe John McLaughin's guitar in this song, and even Miles vast soloing with his signature riffage. This can be an introduction into the genius of John McLaughin and I love to brag how musicians can benefit from each other with this record.
the main riff of Jack Johnson in both songs on the trumpet can be explored on guitar. You could play this whole album on your guitar if you wanted to, but I like to keep it simple - Miles can push you into another zone of creativity if you keep your mind open.
96 8.122. Van Halen - Van Halen
Lightning riffs and hard to stop without drooling and giggling at the goofiness and aspect of this band. Van Halen captures us all with Running with the Devil, and refused to let go of the attention when it came to Eruption and You Really Got Me Now.
The whole attitude of this record is likable, happy endless fury of guitar that still inspires younger generations to this day and at the same time you're laughing and just want to have fun.
90 8.123. Blizzard of Ozz - Ozzy Osbourne
OK I have a confession to make; this was the album that made me want to play guitar when I was a little kid. I had to hear it constantly from my old man, and had these dreams of growing up into a rock star that could play Crazy Train. Randy Rhoads holds the cherry for that reason.
You may be one of those kids that wanted to play after hearing Crazy Train, and Randy Rhoads can easily become your guitar hero thanks to his massive talent and creativity he held. I know many people that cite this album as their gateway to picking up the guitar, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that today.
186 7.824. Aladdin Sane - David Bowie
There's a lot of praise for Ziggy Stardust around me, and I think I've neglected some praise for the other masterpiece Bowie did during the Starman era. Aladdin Sane is slightly more guitar oriented than Ziggy, but it don't matter. Mick Ronson and Bowie together made an awesome rhythm/lead duo that was a major influence in the 70's on up.
There's quite a number of things with this record being an inspiration. The tone is one, and the other is not limiting yourself. I learned how chords build songs from this album and Ziggy Stardust, and how viable they were as rhythm. Bowie's glam rock era is one to not be forgotten without giving credit to Mick Ronson's great guitar work.
32 825. Surfing With the Alien - Joe Satriani
This is for all those 'shred' fans out there. My best friend loved this album, and I put it on here for him as well. The Satch man can make you want to play any day of the week.
When it comes instrumental things, these albums are a real test of what all you can do with a guitar. It's everything for Satriani, and he gets his point across very well using his riffs and not his mouth.
7 7.526. Passion and Warfare - Steve Vai
You don't have to like all the super fast speed metal to admire someone. I for one, don't care for it much, but little Stevie Vai what a nice little boy. You can't help but laugh every time you listen to The Audience Is Listening!
I've heard a number of stories how Vai has changed people that play guitar. As a leading guitar player, I find his passion in music to be something that we all should smile at, you can tell he simply loves music. This is one of the few 'shred' albums I like, and find it awesome to listen to. if you ever want to pick up a 7 string guitar, make Vai the person to push you, cause he does everything with them that Korn does not do.
153 7.827. Cowboys From Hell - Pantera
This is for all you Metal fans that love Dime. When you first heard the riff to Cowboys from Hell, 9 out of 10 times you thought it sounded awesome. The debut album is the most important, even though someone may argue it's not the best.
I knew a number of people that idolized the hell out of Dime and wanted to sound like him. it's not easy, but he knows how to get you with his speedy riffs. my favorite though is Dime's soft side. Cemetery Gates with it's mix of the slow acoustic and that nice intro solo over it before all the aggressive vibrato, still my favorite Pantera song after all these years.
746 8.428. Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin
Everyone loves Stairway to Heaven...to the point where I get so sick of hearing people play it, it's the one song my entire life I've heard played on the guitar for at least a thousand times from anyone and everyone I've jammed with. I don't hate Zeppelin but after so long it gets boring. That's why they are here though, it inspires everybody to play.
Jimmy Page is good guitar player, and you can learn a number of things from Zeppelin if you want to, even the song Battle of Evermore which I find it be a good study of acoustic guitars.
32 6.929. Rock and Roll Over - KISS
I am not a fan of Kiss on any margin. I think they are one of the biggest gimmicks in music history, and we all know they make Kiss everything (wouldn't be shocked if they had toilet paper with their faces on it) but they still inspired a number to play. Despite how cheesy they sound, Ace Frehley was an amazing guitar player and the one reason they managed to survive and become so big in the 70's.
I picked this album for one reason - the solo in Makin' Love. A lot of people I've seen tend to half ass Ace Frehley's guitar work by assuming it's easy (such as arguing over Cold Gin being a chord progression and not damn power chords as the main riff, as everyone seems to think). One that really studies Ace Frehley can see the balance and why he was the cutting edge of the band. Without him, they were just a gimmick of everything happening in the 80's as well.
132 7.530. Countdown to Extinction - Megadeth
Dave Mustaine had finally found the perfect companion in a guitar player for his band with Marty Friedman. Going into the 90's and with the bar raised so high on expectations no one thought they could keep the edge, but they did with that blasting riff in Symphony for Destruction.
This is the only Metal album I've ever played with another person on with leads and rhythm. At one point as a teenager, we spent countless hours working our asses off on Sweating Bullets, Symphony of Destruction, and most of all; Ashes In Your Mouth. I have not a doubt in my mind Megadeth has inspired guitar players around the world and made them want to shred.
678 831. Master of Puppets - Metallica
When I was a teenager, everyone loved Metallica. Even when they were selling out with that shitty Load album people still drooled over their older albums. One of my best jam buddies for over 15 years could play Master of Puppets front and back, and knew the works of this album damn well.
I am sure I speak for a number of kids that played Metallica riffs and made them smile when they learned key riffs to Seek and Destroy, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets. I include this for my list just for you guys, we all need a start somewhere!
403 8.232. Paranoid - Black Sabbath
They are credited as the godfather's of Heavy Metal, and I know anyone that calls themselves a Heavy Metal guitar player has had some run ins with Black Sabbath. Honestly they are not my cup of tea. But I have to include them for the obvious reasons. We cannot ignore something this big that made people want to play guitar.
The song Paranoid has become a big cliche in guitar playing just like B.B. King's wide vibrato use. It was one of the first riffs I ever learned, and there is so many ways you can throw it in many things. Black Sabbath knew how to scare the shit out of you and make you feel like a monster when you were playing their songs.
31 7.733. Sin After Sin - Judas Priest
It may be Breaking the Law, or Metal Gods, Priest always had riffs that could grab you and force you to play it. I just wish in today's age people could be more creative with it, I like to look at Sin After Sin. It's one of my all time Priest records, and probably their best recording that is not so well known.
A song like Diamonds and Rust, can make you get up and play, as can the title track (Sinner) and most of all that pounding riffage of Dissident Aggressor which is one of the most underrated Priest songs, yet very important for the history of Heavy Metal.
245 834. The Number Of The Beast - Iron Maiden
What can I say about iron Maiden that hasn't already been said by a hundred different people? They grabbed you by the balls when you were a teenager, and just did not want to let go. It was either the awesome artwork or those killer harmonized guitars, either way something made you buy their albums, and something else made you break down and attempt at playing their advanced work.
Number of the Beast is not my favorite Maiden album, and I think it over shadows it's predecessors that are just as good of albums (debut and Killers) but the fact it's so easy to learn it makes the list over them. the title track, Run to the Hills, and Halloweed Be Thy name are great tunes to play with a buddy, and work progression over. I've seen Halloweed Be Thy Name played with octaves (not accurate, but still cool). Either way, Maiden has made people play guitar for years and that's why they belong here.
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