What Is Shredding Guitar the real answer

What Is Shredding Guitar? (the real answer)

Shredding, it’s a term that’s often used to describe many guitarists nowadays, “man he can really shred”. But what is shredding guitar? When did it originate? Who were the earliest influencers of what has become shredding? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Shredding?

According to the Urban Dictionary, shredding is “a style of guitar playing characterized by extremely fast flurries of notes and extremely distorted tones.” But shredding is so much more than that. Done correctly shredding takes the guitar to the next level, done wrongly and it’s just noise.

Shred guitar is a style of lead guitar playing based on numerous complex and advanced techniques. Including alternate picking at high speed, sweep picking, finger tapping, string skipping, hammer ons, pull offs, arpeggios, harmonic and diminished scales and the extended use of the whammy bar.

What Genre Employs Shredding?

You would think it just applies to heavy rock, metal, power metal and hard rock, but there are many guitarists using shredding techniques in other genres of music. Shredding is found in one form or another in all of the following musical genres;

  • Heavy Rock
  • Hard Rock
  • Heavy Metal
  • Power Metal
  • Instrumental Rock
  • Flamenco
  • Jazz
  • Jazz Rock Fusion
  • Country
  • Bluegrass
  • Classical

When Did Shred Guitar Originate?

The first shred guitarists were probably Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads and Van Halen back in the late 1970s but the techniques that led to shredding were being used long before then. Players like Les Paul and Django Reinhardt were experimenting with guitar music and the  alternate ways they could play many years before shred came about. Would we have got there without their bold efforts? Who knows but thankfully we did.

Even such eminent artists as Jimmy Page (Heartbreaker), Ritchie Blackmore (Highway Star) and Ulrich Roth (Fly to the Rainbow) were incorporating techniques that all contributed to the style now known as shredding.

Who Are Famous For Their Shredding Guitar Style?

This could be a very long list but let’s keep it down to the top ten shredders;

  • Eddie Van Halen
  •  Randy Rhoads 
  • Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • Joe Satriani
  • Steve Vai
  • Al Di Meola
  • Paco De Lucia
  • Allan Holdsworth
  • Guthrie Govan
  • Marty Friedman

What Equipment Is Commonly Used For Shred Guitar?

Guitar shredders usually play solid bodied electric guitars with suitable models made by many guitar makers including;

  • Ibanez
  • Fender
  • Gibson
  • PRS
  • Schecter
  • Jackson
  • Kramer
  • Kiesel/Carvin
  • Charvel

There are some shred guitarists that play different shaped guitars by Dean or B.C. Rich and also flying V and Explorer both by Gibson. An essential part of all shred guitars is the whammy bar to bend notes to get some amazing effects. They also use many effect pedals like;

  • Distortion
  • Delay
  • Audio Compression Units
  • Audio Feedback

Due to the nature of shredding most shred guitarists use amplification with high gain vacuum tubes like;

  • Peavey
  • Marshall
  • Carvin
  • Mesa Boogie
  • Orange
  • Soldano
  • Randall
  • Hughes & Kettner
  • Laney

Some Examples Of Shred Guitar

Below are five examples of shredding at it’s best.

Eruption – Van Halen

From 1978 this shows shredding at its best.

Arpeggios From Hell – Yngwie Malmsteen

Solos – Randy Rhoads

A collection of some of Randy’s memorable solo guitar work with some fine shredding examples.

Surfing with the Alien – Joe Satriani

Joe at his best, playing live.

Whispering A Prayer – Steve Vai

Steve Vai showing how to shred live.

What Has Shredding Done For Metal Guitar?

For many years metal guitar was viewed by many as less technical than jazz or blues, but shred guitar changed all that. The guitarists that shred well, incorporate so many styles and techniques that every guitarist in every genre had to sit up and take notice. New players are trying to aspire to the heights reached by the shredding fraternity.

Sadly not everyone sees things the same way, just as fast as shredding erupted onto the music scene, some were using the term shredder as a derogatory term. In all fairness some of that negativity was warranted, there were some pretty poor solos claiming to be shred and to the uninitiated it could all seem to be the same.

There were those that obviously decided there was little point taking notice of any musical quality, it was all about speed and show. With no finesse more stunt than art. Thankfully that soon faded and bands like Avenged Sevenfold came along who knew how to use shredding in a way to entice mainstream listeners.

Non Metal Shredders

As we said earlier shredding is not exclusively for metal guitarists, there are shredders in many other genres here’s a few examples to whet your appetite.

Time and Time Again – Andy James

Andy describes himself as a “shred Guitarist” and it’s easy to see why.

Paganini’s 5th caprice Electric guitar – Jason Becker

Classical shredding by the great Jason Becker.

Dust in a Baggie – Billy Strings

This bluegrass phenomenon shows how shredding can not only cross genres but also fits well with an acoustic guitar.

La Tumbona – Paco de Lucia

This shows the easy way shred guitar crosses into the world of Flamenco.

Going Home – Alvin Lee

Alvin’s original guitar playing on this track earned him the title of the fastest guitarist in the west.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was guitar shredding invented?

Shredding wasn’t so much invented as evolved. Back in the 1950s jazz guitarists like Les Paul, Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel were improvising with various techniques on the guitar that eventually evolved into the ground breaking techniques that guitar shredders use today.

Is it hard to shred guitar?

It is fairly easy to learn to shred on the guitar, but it’s far harder to perfect. You have to perfect the moves slowly and then master them at high speed.

Who invented finger tapping guitar?

The first recorded use of finger tapping on the guitar was Steve Hackett (Genesis) who used the technique on his Gibson Les Paul. A whole 7 years before Van Halen’s Eruption.

Was Hendrix a shredder?

Hendrix did play fast on the guitar, but his style couldn’t be classified as shredding.

Can you shred on acoustic guitar?

You can shred on acoustic guitar, as many flamenco and bluegrass acoustic guitarists can testify.

Is it harder to shred on acoustic guitar?

It is harder to shred on an acoustic guitar, harder, but not impossible.

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