Miscellaneous Rumbles

He’s Strictly Rhythm – He Doesn’t Want To Make It Cry Or Sing”


In the wake of other recent threads celebrating paragons of guitar, bass, cowbell, tambourine and what not, I thought we should have a thread acknowledging those guitarists who specialize in keeping the groove rather than dazzling with their dexterity. Much of modern pop music, from big band swing to shoegaze, is founded on the framework of rhythm guitar, and there are some standouts. Here's mine:

  1. Jimmie Nolen (James Brown)
  2. Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG's)
  3. Freddie Green (Count Basie Band)
  4. Nile Rodgers
  5. Jeff Tamelier (Tower of Power)
  6. Keith Richards
  7. John Lennon
  8. Leo Nocentelli (the Meters)

Honorable Mentions to Michael Sasaki of Cold Blood, Joao Gilberto, Dave Matthews, Jon Mark, Pete Townshend, Malcolm Young


Tom Fogerty.


Freddie Green (Count Basie Band)

Notable Gretsch player...

...and complete masochist (look at that action)...


freddie was true acoustic player..had super high action and held guitar horizontally for maximum volume (for himself)...cutting thru big band brass had to be tough

the greatest



Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Malcom Young, Paul Stanley and Bryan Adams.


Bo Diddley


It would be hard to pass up John Lennon for this category.

  1. John Lennon

  2. Nile Rodgers

  3. Eddie Van Halen (his rhythm playing is his best trait. Just listen to "DOA" or "Unchained")

  4. Joe Strummer

  5. Chuck Berry (the guy invented rock rhythm guitar, for God's sake!)

  6. Bo Diddley (the guy has a rhythm named after him, for God's sake!)

  7. James Hetfield (Metallica)

  8. Prince


Cornell Dupree comes to mind.


Holy hell, I agree with everyone Sanctuary nominated. I don't know about the order, but that doesn't matter much.

What IS the world coming to.

That doesn't mean I don't agree with everyone else. Yes, Cornell Dupree and Keith. And Andy P.

Also, oddly (very oddly), in his own way and at times, Robert Fripp is a helluva rhythmist.

I didn't mention Fripp in the favorite guitarist thread - though I love the prickly ol' bastid for his annoying attitude, his pomp, his schtick, and his aesthetic. He's been an important guitarist in my development (for demonstrating the positive value of ugly tone and jagged, angular composition). I love King Crimson. But I don't want to sound like Fripp, and I don't find KC that pleasant to listen to. It takes a lot of effort. At times it's important to listen to KC, and sometimes they're exactly right for what ails'ya - or you need something to ail ya and KC can set you right on that edge.

But it's not like they're fun. It's like they hate fun, and that's fun.

I get that.

To be fair, KC has its softer, more lush and aspirational moments, which can comfort and soothe. Frippertronic soundscapes, where Robert displays his gentler (but still challenging) side have also influenced me.

They're not at all rhythmic, though, so I didn't mention them in this thread.


Malcom. It's a long way to the top if you want a sausage roll!


Johnny Ramone

John Lennon

Chrissy Hynde

Bob Mould

Little Stevie Van Zandt

Brad Whitford

Joe Strummer

Paul Weller

Pete Townshend

Dave Davies

Oh, and Keef!


Where’s the quote in the thread headline comes from? Sultans of Swing?


THE GREAT Dave Edmunds had the the best Chuck Berry style chording... very clipped, very precise.


Malcolm Young

Keith Richards

James Hetfield

Dave Mustaine

Izzy Stradlin


Chank and Catfish from James Brown’s band

Malcom Young


Mark Chatfield (currently with Bob Seger)

Cornell Dupree

And if we’re talking about groove and razor-sharp sense of rhythm, I hafta include our own Richard Hudson. He’s got a pocket deep enough to park a submarine in.


Where’s the quote in the thread headline comes from? Sultans of Swing?

– ChesterTheThird



Nobody mentioned Don Wilson of The Ventures.

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