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The Contender
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Jimi Hendrix is not the best guitarist of All Time

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/5/2016 Category: Music
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 892 times Debate No: 97646
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I will be arguing that Jimi Hendrix is an overrated guitarist.


Jimi Hendrix inspired me to pick up a guitar over 20 years ago. I haven't put it down since.
He's not the best guitarist of all time in a technical sense, however, most famous musicians credit him for influencing them to some degree. I think he's the most influential guitarist in the world.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, you look like an emo Keemstar.

Secondly, you just admitted he isn't the best guitarist, albeit you said 'in the technical sense' and so your argument hinges only upon his influence (which I shall soon move upon shortly) on others, so I suppose this debate is already over due to you pretty much admitting defeat. I, however, will continue to blow you out of the water because I only typed a sentence in Round 1.

Thirdly, before I address your last post, allow me to talk about his technical skills, which you and I both agree are not the best. In fact, I would say they they are atrocious. Jimi couldn't even tune his freaking guitar. Yeah, he broke out into cool solos, but they'd be cooler if he didn't always rely on the pentatonic blues scale (in case my audience doesn't know what a pentatonic scale is, I'm saying he only played the same five notes over and over again in his solos) which is the easiest scale to "master."

On the technical side though, I will admit that he did something cool - he used his thumb to pluck the bass string of his guitar while he simultaneously used his pick to strum chords as well as individual notes; this meant he played both crude bass lines (if you think one note is a bass line, but still it's something) and chords in the higher register at the same time. This effectively made him both a rhythm and lead guitarist at the same time, but I want to point out another thing - this isn't new nor an innovation, it's just the most advanced technique he used. It's called Travis Picking and was used in country music for 20-30 years prior to Jimi. Here is a video of Chet Atkins playing TWO melodies at once ( Chet Atkins is older and better than Jimi so it's not like Jimi was a master of this technique, but I will give Jimi credit he does deserve.

Other than this one technique, which by the way is rarely mentioned, people also remember Jimi for using feedback (which was used back in the 50s) and doing fancy tricks such as playing behind his back (done before him) as well as playing with his teeth (again, done before him). Both of these fancy tricks he learned while playing in the American South blues circuit from other guitarists. Furthermore, proponents of Jimi will point out that he led one of the first rock trios ever and it was incredible he was able to sound the way he did with only one guitarist in the band. To counter this, I want to bring up Cream. They were an actual equal group of three amazingly talented people. In contrast, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a band made for the purpose of backing Jimi. They only existed to give the spotlight to Jimi and to prop up his guitar sound which was the front and center of the band.

Fourthly, I want to state the real reason why Jimi is famous. Jimi Hendrix is a good poster child for the 60s generation. He played for years in the American South and even was in Little Richard's band, yet was never famous in the USA. It wasn't until he was discovered by Chas Chandler, former bassist for the Animals, who managed Hendrix. Chandler brought Jimi over to England where he attempted to make money from Jimi by playing to people's emotions and curiosity. He purposefully booked gigs to get attention. For example, here is a video of him playing to a bunch of white people dressed conservatively while him and his band are playing provocatively and in psychedelic dress (

Chas wanted to shock people. This is exactly how he made Jimi famous: he brought a flamboyant black man to England. In fact, Jimi's posters billed him as the "Wild Man of Borneo" (by the way, Jimi is not from Borneo) as if he were discovered from the jungle. Jimi also embodied the spirit of the 1960s. His fame was helped by him dying at the age of 27 from drugs. People don't see Jimi as a real human being, but as some kind of rock n' roll Jesus who was beamed down from heaven to liberate us from our sins by playing guitar. He was a symbol was all he was. But once you start looking at Jimi as a man, you find a mediocre and overrated guitar player.

Finally, let me turn against your argument about his influence. Yes, he influenced a lot of people, but I have two things to say. Firstly, some of the best players never left their garages. These mystery guitar players may have been able to best Jimi in a guitar duel, but never had the opportunity. These virtuosos died without fame. Along the same lines, consider the great classical composers and players of the Baroque era. You must agree with me surely that Rondo Alla Turca or 1812 Overture are superior compositions than "Hey Joe," but they're not as popular as Jimi. Secondly, I bring up Johnny Ramone. He sucked. The only three things he did which I can commend him on were his use of minor and major barre chords rather than power chords, him playing fast, and him using all down strokes. In fact, his down stroke technique was such a simple innovation. Before him, people only down stroked sometimes in a song, not all the way through. And Johnny Ramone started an entire genre called punk which further influenced grunge, alternative rock, and indie music. I bring Johnny up because he was famous without being good and perhaps his popularity and influence may challenge your perception of Jimi being the best guitarist solely on account of his fame.

In conclusion, Jimi is a competant guitarist but he is not the greatest of All Time. He is clearly not a technical genius and his fame is both overrated and undeserved. I believe had he lived out his entire life he wouldn't have been as famous nor would he be considered the greatest.


I admitted and I concede now that Jimi is not the best guitarist. Steve Via, Dimebag, and many others can totally beat the brakes off poor ole Jimi.(I lose debate)
I want to explore with you why he's considered the best.

Very brief history of guitar: essentially the 6 string guitar came along in the early 1800s.
For about a hundred years it was confined to folk music and classical.
The former was the working man's music the latter was confined to a small group that played piano pieces on it. The early 1900s went through 2 brutal world wars and music (which is always reflective of its times) changed drastically. It was celebratory, glad to be f***ing alive, loud and fast. In the mid 1900s rock was born. Rock took the rebellious soul of its time and expressed it on the guitar. From then to now it's had many grandsons come along, punk rock, heavy metal, etc.

Out of that came the holy Trinity: Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen. They made guitar super cool. They had epic stage presence with all their crazy antics. They also had the talent to back it up. They kicked guitar playing in the butt in 3 different ways.
Chuck Berry in the 50s took guitar ,which was largely complimentary to music and he brought it out front. Jimi Hendrix in the 60s took 50s/60s rock guitar scales and combined them with blues scales. He also took Little Richard's vocal inflections (which were considered revolutionary at the time. My dad said people were floored by that dude's voice back in the day) and added it to his guitar style. Eddie Van Halen in the 70s took guitar even further with harmonics and even faster/broadened scales.
All three had one thing in common, everybody else was doing the same exact thing.
(Whether that can be attributed to guitarists quickly learning their styles and implementing them into their own, or simultaneously having the same vibe of inspiration is not important to me)
Now with that out of the way, why is a jimi Hendrix considered the best? He didnt consider himself the best. On the Dave Cavett show Dave said to Jimi, "you're considered the best of all time", to which Jimi responded, "nah, how'bout I'm the best in this chair, laughs."
Hendrix was made into the mascot of guitar, especially after his death.
I don't know how good he'd be considered had he lived. B.B. King was considered the best blues player during his 60 year career. So it's possible Hendrix could've kept his status too had he lived.

You're right about Jimi being out of tune a lot. Those old Fender Srats would go horribly out of tune if you even looked at the tremolo bar. And he aggressively used his.
I have 3 of his concerts on DVD, he was hopelessly out of tune after the second or third song on each one, and too stoned to retune it while performing.
I learned how to use my thumb as well on the E string from playing his music.
Jimi was arguably the best at using all 5 fingers on the frets.
If you play his songs correctly you need all 5 fingers. The same cannot be said for much of the
"music" of today.
You're right about his experience band being hired for him. Noel Redding was a guitar player turned last minute bass player. He quit the band in 2 years. Mitch Mitchell was an amazing jazz drummer.
Jimi tried to start a band called: Band of Gypsies, (with much better musicians, Billy cox, buddy miles) but his record label stopped him. They wanted Jimi front and center. The crazy black dude entertaining the whites. Alas, racist times.
Jimi Hendrix didn't ask to be the mascot of guitar playing. He just loved to play his guitar.
I think his songs are amazing. Voodoo Chile slight return is an epic guitar jam.
Debate Round No. 2


God bless you buddy :)


The holy Trinity will soon be forgotten.
Most people have no idea who Chuck Berry is.
Most people (other than guitarists) have no idea who Eddie Van Halen is.
Jimi's still hanging in there, mainly through hype.
I don't know how much longer guitarists can keep that hype going.
We all know he's not the best, but we're afraid to let him go.
With all the Justin Biebers that have come and gone, we just wanted something else.
From the disco of the 70s, the synthesizer music of the 80s, the rap and R &B of the 90s,
The hip-hop of the 2000s. Each decade had a small group of rockers that thought of the 60s when guitarists ruled.
It's been fun dude! :)
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by boozeandbabble 1 year ago
I'm afraid I was unclear about the Band of Gypsies (most know them as the all black band) and unintentionally implied Jimi wanted to start that band before Experience. Obviously (to Jimi lovers) Exerience came first, jimi tried to start the other band in late 68. He played a couple shows with them,one of which I have on DVD.
Posted by TheBenC 1 year ago
Gary Lenaire is the best guitarist ever and nobody even knows about him!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Rosenley 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: " Con I admitted and I concede now that Jimi is not the best guitarist. Steve Via, Dimebag, and many others can totally beat the brakes off poor ole Jimi.(I lose debate)" - Con He admits that he lost so its auto win for Pro. Overall it was a great debate but I think pro was a bit better in all the categories above.