|This is taken from Guitar One, December 2003 issue:
Battle Of The Axes - 128 Legends Cut Heads
HENDRIX VS. SLASH
HOW IT WORKS
We chose 128 of music's greatest-ever guitar players. (The number might seem strange, but we had to have a multiple of eight.) We looked at all
genres and all generations, then seeded them randomly and blindly in the first round of the bracket we drew up. In each round, the duels were judged on a single criterion. Round One, for example, is judged on Chops. Round Two is based on Tone, then Originality, Versatility, Influence, Body of Work, and, in the finals, something called the "X" Factor. In each category, the grades went from1 (low) to 5 (high). Assembled in our dark
and chilly chamber, also known as "the bar," the editorial staff of G1 dueled it out for hours. Well, actually, we voted on each and every player blindly (that is, not being aware of their opponents), rating the strength of each in the aforementioned categories, then referring back to the bracket to fill the scores in. Whoever had a higher cumulative score advanced to the next round.
ROUND 1 - Judging Criterion: Chops
In this preliminary round we used the one criterion that serves to separate most guitar plaers from their lesser peers: chops. Does a player have a
decent array of physical tools to work with? Can he express himself skillfully with those tools? Can he hit the right notes at the right time?
Of course, while some guitarists have serious chops - refer to the '80s for your best examples - many who have chops to burn possess little proficiency in other categories. Still some guitarists with chops pulled off some upsets early on ... here's the rundown of Round One.
#1 Seed - Jimi Hendrix 3.8 defeats #128 Seed - Sonny Sharrock 3.2
#61 Seed - Lyndsey Buckingham 3.7 defeats #68 Seed - Joe Perry 3.3
#29 Seed - Slash 3.7 defeats #100 Seed - John Frusciante 3.3
#45 Seed - Paul Gilbert 4.2 defeats #84 Seed - Dickey Betts 3.3
ROUND 2 - Judging Criterion: Tone
With half the guitarists now out of the picture, the headcutting became slightly more interesting. Winners were now pitted against other winners,
and this time they were judged by another principal characteristic of great guitarists: tone. All guitarists worth their weight - from Django to Danny Gatton to Robert Johnson to Warren Haynes - have to possess a tone that fits their character, their style, and their emotions. Tone, of course, can be limited to the equipment at one's fingertips, or it can come from the fingertips themselves. Just how much magic can a guitarist conjure from his fingers? Sure, it's all well and good to possess big-time chops, but if you
don't have great tone to enhance those gifts, well, you might as well be a butcher or a baker. Not that there's anything wrong with those noble
professions, of course.
Hendrix 4.5 (8.3) defeats Buckingham 3.8 (7.5)
Slash 3.4 (7.1) defeats Gilbert 2.2 (6.4)
ROUND 3 - Judging Criterion: Originality
Original, like unique, is one of those words that get bandied about so often when describing guitarists - or, for that matter, any artists - that it carries little if any weight. In fact, prevailing school of
thought is that everything in one way or another has been done before. Think Eddie Van Halen was the first to tap a fretboard? Think again. Think
Yngwie was the first to take Bach at Mach speed? Not even close. Still, while quite possibly no one in this headcutting duel is 100 percent original in his playing, many are themselves originals, having stormed onto the scene with no obvious precedent.
Jimi Hendrix def. Slash
Before either of these two guy plays a note, their getups scream originality: an assortment of sashes, scarves, ruffled shirts, and bejeweled jackets on one; and a top hat, curly facial curtains, and an ever-dangling cigarette on the other. Thugh it's a dead heat in the fashion department, when it comes to the originality of the guitar playing, this is no contest. Slash may have dragged licks from Jimmy Page and Joe Perry
through the gutters of the Sunset Strip, but Hendrix transmuted the energy of blues and soul into a psychedelic supernova. Plus, no one ever treated a Strat with such ingenious cruelty.