Best Banjo or guitar players
Who in your opinion is the best banjo or guitar player known
Who in your opinion is the best banjo or guitar player known
Mickey Maguire and Pat McConville.
Gerry O’Connor and Arty McGlynn
Why are we repeatedly subjected to these "who is the best" questions?
It’s a bit like asking "what is the nicest colour?" or "what is the best smell?"
At a certain point in a musician’s development they reach a point of excellence that cannot be measured, except in terms of an individual’s preference.
Particularly at this time, when countless children are subjected to the unfairness of judgement by others in competition, this only serves to justify the concept of competition in Irish music, rather than a concept of enjoyment.
So, get a grip and either ask a meaningful question or, at the very least, qualify your question properly.
How about, for example: "for innovation and originality, what flute player excites you the most?" This question will allow people to think about aspects of a player’s playing, rather than a bland "who is the best"!!
First Best Fiddler ……. & now Best Banjo or Guitar player!
Why not get them all out of the way with the one thread, 😀
…… here’s a list you can all use:
Best Banjo player:
Best Guitar player:
Best Flute player:
Best Uilleann Piper:
Best Mandolin player:
Best Bouzouki player:
Best Cittern player:
Best Whistle player:
Best Bodhran player:
Best Spoons player:
Best Anglo Concertina player:
Best English Concertina player:
Best Button Accordion player:
Best Piano Accordion player:
Best Hammered Dulcimer player:
Best Wire Strung Harp player:
Best Nylon Strung Harp player:
Best Kazoo player:
Best Djembe player:
Best Comb & Paper player:
Did I miss any?
I totally agree with FeargalFrench. Gerry O’Connor and Arty McGlynn EXCITES ME THE MOST
Yes, I missed ye olde Shakey Egg, catch it here:
Well then, why exactly?
Feargal, cause it makes more sense to me, to have just one pointless, senseless, useless, & utterly meaningless thread then a whole stream of them, which is the way this ‘Best of’ baloney was taking shape!
Please see the unofficial "worst of" here:
Not sure why, but how can such a negative be such a positive?!!
By the way Feargal, the nicest colour is Mustard (of course 🙂) & the best smell is that of a Rose!
I mean who is your favourite cause everyone has different styles its not meant to be picked as a best musician
Some say that Gerry O Connor is the best banjo player. He may well be but i prefer to listen to Angelina Carbery any day. Gerry’s style does nothing for me. I think he misses the sound of the tune by putting in too much fancy stuff.
Angelina Carbery I’ve never heard of. That’s one of the GOOD things about discussion like this. Now I will listen to som music of her.
Well to celtic1234 O’Connors style may give nothng to you, but I don’t agree with you about sound. Some of his music have great sound and nowone (I’ve heared) plays that smooth and subtle as him. Most of the rather good banjo plays to staccato to me.
When it comes to "fancy stuff" I belive you think about blueegrass picking etc. I agree, I think O’Connors less fancy playing is nicer, but its important to experiment and try out new sounds. It gives ITM a broader audience. It was the experimental an comercial ITM that caught my interest for ITM. And later on I’ve listened to "purer and purer" ITM
I hope I’m not insulting any of the experienced musicians here when I say that the ‘best of threads’ can actually be quite a useful read for people who are both newcomers to ITM and this website.
What I mean is that it can give people the opportunity to pick up names of musicians one might otherwise not have heard of unless you are part of a musician’s circle or have a lot of time on your hands to do internet searches or and talk to staff at ITM music shops etc.
In my case I’m still expanding my knowledge of good players in the field of specific instruments (you see before I started picking up an instrument I focused more on group formations/bands instead of talented individual players with the only exception of flute players), so I am someone who enjoys the best of threads because through them I’ve stumbled upon a few listening treasures.
This thread had caught my particular attention, and I was grateful to Km7 for starting it because when it comes down to bodhran players I must shamefacedly admit that I’m pretty clueless which meant I was actually looking forward to reading this list as it expanded.
Yes, of course one could argue that for that purpose a ‘please recommend a good bodhran player’ thread might be just as useful but with the ‘best of threads’ or ‘favourite threads’ you have an additional fun element since it is not only informational but includes a distinct feel and flavour of people’s personal preferences.
However, I can understand that for some of you who is a long standing member of this website and experienced and knowledgable musician these threads can be a bit boring and perhaps even seem to lack substance especially when those topics repeat themselves over the years but I think for those who are new to this website and others for other reasons these threads still hold a great appeal.
Well, this is only my humble opinion and I do hope I haven’t offended anyone expressing it.
oops should read banjo not bodhran player🙁… had bodhran on my brain after reading the bodhran thread about finger beating… hahaha… sorry Km 7
Trad Lad, I am glad you have heard of Mickey Maguire and Pat McConville.
Must agree that I do not like Gerry O’Connor’s "blue grass" style. Tony Sullivan could play, probably still can.
There is no such of a thing
Sweet merciful God.
Holy Saviour, look down on us this hour and this night.
Sacred mother, intercede on their behalf
Vanessa & Km7,
no offence meant.
Of course, for the uninitiated, a list of players that have achieved a standard of excellence is very worthwhile.
I hope that further replies add to your list of players that inspire you further to play and enjoy our music.
The question’s a bit improbably vauge, do you mean the best technically, who’s style’s I most like, who plays with the bands that I think are the best……..
However, for standard tuning plectrum stuff, Ian Carr, Ian Stephenson, Chris Newman, Willie Johnson, Marc Clement, Malcom Stitt and Tim Edey should be a good start point.
For altered tunings plectrum stuff Donough Henessey (prob not how it’s spelt) was always my favourite, but it’s not really my area so I can’t really suggest. Ditto for all fingerstyle stuff.
Technically trad guitarists frequently are bloody awful though and it’s never a good idea to pay too much attention on this 😀
you have a point but if you listen to say "the wind that shakes the barley" on Gerry ‘s cd "time to time", maybe you will understand what i mean.it sounds nothing like the tune as played by anyone else. There is so much fancy stuff that the tune is lost in there somewhere. I not questioning his ability or how subtle or anything that he can play but he does over do things too much. I saw him live on his own with just the backing of a guitar and he was absolutely brilliant. He played some tunes simple enough and others with all the cross picking etc, and the simple tunes for me were far better. My friend prefered the fancy stuff on the same night so i suppose it’s horses for courses as they say…..
FeargalFrench, no offence taken🙂 and thanks for being so understanding towards someone who has still so much to learn.
I’m just listening to the Waltz of the White Lillies on Deanta’s CD, Whisper of a secret…. starts with the fiddle, then the guitar comes in… wow… and then the flute… heavenly… oh, don’t get me started🙂… the reason why I’m mentioning this is because this recording really made me fully appreciate the role of the guitar in ITM and how it can enhance a tune… so for that reason I add the name Eoghan O’Brien to the list (and he plays the harp too🙂) and I’m really looking forward to learning more about ITM guitar and banjo players🙂
Best Fiddler: Martin Hayes, Eileen Ivers, Liz Carrol.
Best Banjo player: ?
Best Guitar player: John Doyle
Best Flute player:
Best Uilleann Piper: ?
Best Mandolin player: ?
Best Bouzouki player: ?
Best Cittern player: ?
Best Whistle player: ?
Best Bodhran player: ?
Best Spoons player: ?
Best Anglo Concertina player: ?
Best English Concertina player: ?
Best Button Accordion player: ?
Best Piano Accordion player: ?
Best Hammered Dulcimer player: ?????
Best Wire Strung Harp player: ?
Best Nylon Strung Harp player: ?
Best Kazoo player: ?
Best Djembe player: ?????
Best Comb & Paper player: ?????
Sorry, I could’t be much of a help!
Ptarmigan misses the harmonica or mouth organ…callous omission or deliberate slight? 🙂
Humble apologies Tao. One of the Murphy family of Harmonica players, from Wexford I think, used to come along to the Derry & Antrim Fiddlers nights, when he used to work on the Lighthouse, near Larne, & he was a super player.
- so yes, simply an omission!
To make amends Tao:
Is this enough penance for you Tao?
I think most folks in this context mean "favorite" rather than "best." In that sense, I agree with Vanessa, that this kind of thread can be a useful source of new music to investigate.; otherwise, "best" is pretty meaningless.
In that spirit, one of my favorite banjo players is Seamus Egan (not the Solas Seamus Egan, the other one, now of Portland Oregon). He has a CD is called In Your Ear.
I’ve been meaning to check out John Carty’s banjo playing for a long time now. I’ve only heard him play fiddle, which is wonderful. Friends have described his banjo playing as delightful and original.
Favourite banjo players, with differing styles, all worth a listen:
Of course I’m assuming "best" = "favourite" or "best in your opinion".
Cathal Hayden / John Carty
Paul McSherry / Arty McGlynn
Cant decide which I would prefer most.
Enda Scahill banjo
Donough Hennesy Guitar
I like Arty, John Blake, Paul Brady, Ian Carr, Steve Cooney, Jim Murray and lots more.
Have to agree with Vanessa, and you don’t have to be a
newbie to hear of someone through this site that you’ve never
Angelina Carberry, John Carty, Brian McGrath for banjo.
And it just has to be Arty for guitar doesn’t it…
Martin Simpson - now definitely the best guitar-player, not restricted to ITM; AND he picks a fine 5-string banjo too.
OR Ry Cooder, also best mandolin-player.
Ry has a lot of good ATM under his belt, from his early "solo" recordings to The Long Riders soundtrack.
Sorry, are my tastes too broad ?
Oh well, Mick Maloney then for banjo.
‘Zouk player - Dave Richardson.
Concertina - Alistair Anderson.
Hammered Dulcimer - Jim Couza.
Pat McManus without a doubt is one of the best guitar players in ireland, not far behind him is Brian Sweeney!
Thanks, Ptarmigan. You’ve saved me years of therapy.
This topic always comes up on this type of site. There is no such thing as "the best". The originator of this discussion didn’t even specify a musical style or genre for either instrument.
I don;t know an awful lot about good banjo players, I suppose I know what I like hearing and the banjo is NOT one of my favourite instruments, but there you go, some people love it. You often have people who do not play an instrument and who don’t understand music who will cheerfully contribute to this type of discussion. An also peoplss who will become angry when I suggest that they are NOT QUALIFIED to judge who is "best"…..
So on to guitars, an instrument I happen to play and like to think I have some knowledge of - who do you think is better? Arty McGlynn, Rory Gallagher, John Williams, Louis Stewart, Steve Vai? I know many musicians whom nobody has ever heard much of who are very skilled - Dick Farrelly (who has played with Gerry O’Connor) springs to mind. I can assure you that Dick would give many "name" guitarists a run for their money.
By the way why do so many ITM guitar players clone their style from a very narrow range of names - is creativity and originality dead? Is the real reason why DADGAD is so much used in ITM that it’s a lot easier to learn the basics than standard tuning?
If I’m touching nerves - good!
I usually interpret these “Who’s the best” topics as “Who do you like (today)?” I can’t think of any other way to take them semi-seriously.
I haven’t taken down names while listening to banjo players, but I appreciate the ones who can play with sensitivity instead of full-bore percussive string snapping. The banjo can have a lovely tone if you treat it right and don’t play too close to the bridge.
Guitar is my main instrument, but I don’t listen to very many guitar players. I bought Arty McGlynn’s famous 1979 recording just over a year ago. I’ve also heard Dick Gaughan and a few others, mostly from decades ago. Tony McManus has left my jaw hanging down to my chest, but who else seriously plays ITM on flatpicked guitar?
In the fingerstyle world, again, Tony McManus has jaw dropping technique and uses it brilliantly. Lots of people have mastered the harp-effect style – Martin Simpson, especially – but who plays a straight ahead rhythmic/melodic style? Does anybody play ITM like Martin Carthy does English tunes?