Guitar solos were not a regular part of bluegrass during
the first couple of decades. Although Don Reno had recorded
some bluegrass guitar solos in the 50's, it was in the early
60's guitar players like Doc Watson, Norman Blake and Clarence
White were beginning to find an audience for flatpicking fiddle
tunes. If you're looking for guitar solos in the context of
bluegrass vocals, go to the Recommended
Bluegrass page. Best choices would be the band albums
by Ricky Skaggs, the Lonesome River Band, Tony Rice, David
Grisman, Alison Krauss and J.D. Crowe. Here are some of my
favorite guitar-centric albums.
Doc Watson: Foundation:
Doc Watson Guitar Instrumental Collection, 1964-1998 Although
not strictly speaking a bluegrass guitarist, Doc was one of
the first to flatpick fiddle tunes on the guitar and bluegrass
guitar players were heavily influenced by his versions. This
compilation album features many of his classics.
Norman Blake: Whiskey
Before Breakfast Norman was another of the earliest players
of fiddle tunes on the guitar and he developed a richer, less
linear style than Doc - one that works well for self accompanying.
Recorded in 1976, Whiskey Before Breakfast features a number
of the fiddle tune standards that made him one of most influential
of the early flatpickers.
Clarence White: Kentucky
Colonels, Appalachian Swing Clarence changed the face
of bluegrass guitar in the 1960's both as a lead and as a
rhythm player. The album shows why he became the model for
virtually all that followed. Complicated approach to playing
melodies, syncopated rhythms and excellent tone all are in
abundance here. Unfortunately he was killed in a tragic accident
in 1973, so his stellar bluegrass recordings are scarce.
Tony Rice: The man who
followed in Clarence's footsteps really made lead guitar part
of mainstream bluegrass. Heavily influenced by Clarence's
ideas, Tony has become the most influential bluegrass guitarist
ever. With numerous high quality albums it's hard to narrow
things down, but eponymously titled Tony Rice as well
as Manzanita are two of his landmark albums on Rounder.
David Grier: The son of
a well-known banjo player, David is one of first of the new
generation of bluegrass guitarists who have managed to escape
from the shadow of Tony Rice. I've Got the House to Myself
showcases Grier as a solo guitarist, playing many fiddle classics
and taking them to far reaching places, all without the benefit
of any backup musicians. Pretty impressive.
Scott Nygaard No
Hurry: Not strickly a bluegrass guitarist, Scott
is one of the most impressive all-around guitarists going.
Although he may not burn at the level of a David Grier or
Bryan Sutton, he has one of the most sophisticated melodic
senses you'll hear from a guitarist, probably reflecting his
knowledge of jazz and other influences. He knows his way around
the entire neck and has more ideas than you'll get from most
Bryan Sutton: When Bryan
joined Ricky Skaggs' band in the late 90's, he appeared to
have come out of nowhere to become the hottest bluegrass guitar
player of all. Playing at speeds never before attempted, his
solos on Skaggs' Bluegrass Rules and Walls of Time
are quite remarkable. His album simply called Bluegrass
Guitar is considerably mellower but has lots of well played