Weird Guitar Artists and Resources 

This is a long list. Take your time. New artists and details added every few months. Chronological (more or less) by appearance. When applicable, I have included an idiomatic reference such as “progressive”, “free improv”, “acoustic”, etc. When possible, links go directly to guitarist’s official websites. Secondary links include audio streams on YouTube, Bandcamp, etc.; interviews; other practical resources. I’ve limited album suggestions to one or two. Visitor comments and suggestions are welcome – email me at PresterJohnMusic (at)


Sandy Bull Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo (1963), “Electric Blend 2” Still Valentines Day, 1969: Live At The Matrix, San Francisco 


Joseph Spence Happy All the Time (1963) (Acoustic)


Bjorn Fongaard “Galaxy op. 46” Elektrofoni: Works For Micro Intervallic Guitar 1965-1978 (Released 2011)


Frank Zappa Freak Out! (1966). Frank Zappa blog tribute from Ben’s Guitar Wisdom.


Velvet Underground Velvet Underground and Nico (Recorded April 1966, Released March 1967)


Robbie Basho The Seal of the Blue Lotus (Takoma, 1965), The Grail & the Lotus (Takoma, 1966), (Acoustic)


Jimi Hendrix “Are You Experienced”, “Third Stone From the Sun”


Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)


John Fahey The Voice of the Turtle (1968) “A Raga Called Pat, Part III” (Acoustic)


Captain Beefheart Trout Mask Replica (1969), guitars performed by Jeff Cotton aka Antennae Jimmy Semens and Bill Harkleroad aka Zoot Horn Rollo


Erik Brann, Iron Butterfly Ball (1969)


Keith Rowe (Prepared Guitar Pioneer)


Robert Fripp, King Crimson (Progressive Rock). Fripp Guitar Player magazine interview, Jan. 1986.


Sonny Sharrock Black Woman (1969), Monkey-Pockie-Boo (1970), Paradise (1975), Dance with Me, Montana (1982). Interview on Fresh Air.




Derek Bailey (non-idiomatic free improvisation)


Tim Buckley Star Sailor (1970)


The Hampton Grease Band Music to Eat (1971), featuring guitarists Glenn Phillips and Harold Kelling. This album is a masterpiece.


Wilburn Burchette, Occult Concert ‎(1971), Opens The Seven Gates Of Transcendental Consciousness ‎(1972)



Ray Russell Secret Asylum (1973)


Fred Frith Guitar Solos (1974). A short Fred Frith workshop.


Terje Rypdal Odyssey (1975)


Pete Cosey, with Miles Davis Get Up With It (1974), Agharta (1975), Pangaea (Recorded 1975, Released 1976), Dark Magus (Recorded 1974, Released 1977). Interview with Pete Cosey.


Prime Time Ornette Coleman Dancing in Your Head (1975) Bern Nix, guitar; Charlie Ellerbee, guitar, Rudy McDaniel, bass. Body Meta (1978) Charlie Ellerbie, guitar, Bern Nix, guitar, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, bass


Eugene Chadbourne Volume One: Solo Acoustic Guitar (Parachute, 1976)

I Hate the Man that Runs this Bar by Eugene Chandbourne. The definitive book on making a living playing music. Not just for weird guitars but for all musicians (though written by a “weird” guitar player). Not how to get famous or incredibly wealthy playing music, but how to make a living. A must-have for all musicians. Honest, inspiring, and hilarious.


Hans Reichel Bonobo (1976)


Henry KaiserHenry Kaiser Kaiser released a fabulous instructional video in 1990 titled Eclectic Electric – Exploring New Horizons for Guitar and ImprovisationThis video has long been out of print but you can find clips on Youtube.


James Blood Ulmer  Ulmer on YouTube. Tales of Captain Black (1979)


Davey Williams


Snakefinger Chewing Hides the Sound (1979) Ralph Records


This Heat This Heat (1979) London-based, multi-instrumentalists Charles Bullen (guitar, clarinet, viola, vocals, tapes), Charles Hayward (drums, keyboards, vocals, tapes) and Gareth Williams (keyboard, guitar, bass, vocals, tapes).


Pat Metheny Zero Tolerance for Silence (1994). Pat Metheny and John Zorn in The New York Times.


Elliott Sharp




1980s Punk: I’ve skipped this for now. Look a lesson in future.


Glenn Branca, Lesson No. 1 (1980)


Greg Ginn, Black Flag Jealous Again (1980) (Punk)


Massacre (Fred Frith, guitar; Bill Laswell, bass; Fred Maher, drums; Charles Hayward, drums) Killing Time (1981)


Adrian Belew Lone Rhino (1981)


Adrian Belew released a great instructional video in the early 1990s titled Electronic Guitar. This video focus mostly on unusual uses for effect pedals.



Material Memory Serves (1981) (Bill Laswell, bass; Sonny Sharrock, guitar; Fred Frith, guitar)


Arto Lindsay, DNA  A Taste of DNA (1981)


Rhys Chatham Factor X (1982)


Sonic Youth Sonic Youth (1982)


Steve Vai


Bill Frisell Silent Comedy (2013)


Vernon Reid, Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society Barbeque Dog (1983)


Nick Didkovsky, Doctor Nerve Out to Bomb Fresh Kings (1984)


Uwe Kropinski (Acoustic)


Steffen Basho-Junghans (Acoustic)




Primus, Les Claypool, bass; Larry “Ler” LaLonde, guitar


Nicky Skopelitis


David Tronzo


Marc Ribot Rootless Cosmopolitans (1990), Saints (2001)

A recent Marc Ribot performance, quite wonderful. January 29, 2013.


John Schneider Just West Coast: Microtonal Music for Guitar and Harp (1993) This is a unique and beautiful album.




Mike Keneally Boil That Dust Speck (1994) Mike Keneally columns for Guitar Player magazine in the 1990s.


Bob Drake


Janet Feder (Acoustic)

The wonderful Janet Feder.


Reeves Gabrels


Pierre Vervloesem, Home Made (1994), Fiasco (1996) –


Noël Akchoté, Soundpage(s) (1994), Lust Corner (1997)


Shawn Persinger is Prester John, Boud Deun 

Proof that avant-garde musicians have a sense of humor. Shawn Persinger and Del Rey are Cat & Dog.


Vernon Reid, Elliott Sharp, and David Torn GTR OBLQ Guitar Oblique (1998)


Raoul Bjorkenheim


Mike Frengel 


Richard Leo Johnson (Acoustic)


The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ben Weinman, guitarist/leader (Metal)


Mattias IA Eklundh




I’ve avoided the 2000s as an abundance of weird guitarists have emerged within the last 20 years and I would regret leaving anyone out. You can find many of these unmentioned players on the Various Artists Releases below.


Various Artists Recordings


No New York (1978) Produced by Brian Eno


156 Strings: Nineteen Totally Original Acoustic Guitarists (2002)


I Never Meta Guitar (2010)


I Never Meta Guitar Too (2012)


$100 Guitar Project (2012)


I Never Meta Guitar Three (2015)


Frets of Yore (2017)




Make Weird Music


Guitar Moderne


Prepared Guitar Website


Contemporary Classical Guitar


Record Labels


Cuneiform Records


ReR (Fred Frith)


Knitting Factory Recordings


Tzadik (John Zorn)


Ipecac (Mike Patton and Greg Werckman)


Weird Classical

When it comes to weird classical guitar I am a neophyte. But, I have some friends who are experts in the field and, for better or worse, I have been overwhelmed by their suggestions for this page.

It appears Frank Martin’s Quatre Pieces Breves for Guitar from 1933 is a groundbreaking 20th Century composition.

After that, there is a bit of a gap until the 1950s when many composers start writing “new” music for the classical guitar. I find this particularly odd as “new”, avant-garde, music for other instruments such as the violin, piano, and even orchestra was composed throughout the early 20th century. Why did it take the guitar so long to catch up? Alas, that is a can of worms I don’t want to open.

Classical guitar also begs the question, “Is the guitarist weird or is the composer?” Also, “Is the composer weird or just trying to do something new?” I wouldn’t consider Benjamin Britten to be a weird composer, he was just trying something new with his piece Nocturnal After John Dowland, Op. 70 (1964).


Weird Classical Guitar Compositions


Villa-Lobos 12 Etudes for Solo Guitar, Etude No. 5 in C and Etude No. 7 in E (1929)


Arnold Schönberg Serenade op. 24 (1920-23) for septet and bass voice


Frank Martin Quatre Pieces Breves for Guitar (1933)


Pie​rre Bou​lez Le Marteau sans maî​tre (1953-1955)


Hans Erich Apostel 6 Musiken for guitar – op. 25 (1955)


Reginald Smith Brindle El Polifemo de Oro (1956) and Four Fragments for Guitar


Ernst Krenek Suite Op. 164 for Guitar (1957)


Maurice Ohana Concerto; Trois Graphiques for Guitar and Orchestra (1957) AMAZING

and Tiento for Guitar (1957)


Hans Werner Henze Drei Tentos from Kammermusik (1958)


Stephen Dodgson Partita No. 1 for Guitar (1963)


Cristóbal Halffter Codex I (1963)


Maurice Ohana Si Le Jour Paraît (1963-1964)


Sylvano Bussotti Rara (eco sierologico) (1967)


Paolo Coggiola Variazioni Notturne (1967?)


Leo Brouwer Estudios Sencillos Nos. 1–10 (1972), Estudios Sencillos Nos. 11–20 (1983)


Franco Donatoni Algo: Due pezzi per chitarra (1977)


Elliott Carter Changes (1983)


Luciano Berio Sequenza XI (1987–1988)


Maurizio Pisati Sette Studi (Seven Studies) (1990)


Brian Ferneyhough Kurze Schatten II (1983-1989)


Sven-David Sandström Away From (1983)


Rolf Riehm Toccata Orpheus (1990)


“Modern” Classic Guitar Repertoire Performers


Leo Brouwer


Jürgen Ruck


Elena Càsoli


John Schneider


Reinbert Evers


Maria Kämmerling


Siegfried Behrend


David Starobin


Mats Scheidegger


Magnus Andersson


Contemporary Classical Guitar Website


A few weird guitarist who have been featured in Premier Guitar.


“Avant Guitar 101: Alternate Attacks” by Michael Ross, September 20, 2011


Rhys Chatham, “Rhys Chatham: Harmonic Convergence” by Bill Murphy May 25, 2017


Nels Cline, “Nels Cline’s 5 Essential Effects” Nels Cline, April 09, 2013


Pete Cosey, “Forgotten Heroes: Pete Cosey” by Tzvi Gluckin, November 19, 2015;


Janet Feder, “Janet Feder: Prepared for All Genres” Joe Bosso, March 31, 2016


Henry Kaiser, “Henry Kaiser’s 5 Essential Effects” Henry Kaiser, June 05, 2013


“Henry Kaiser: The Great Explorer” by Ted Drozdowski, July 26, 2018


Gary Lucas, “Gary Lucas: Sincerely Strange” Ted Drozdowski, June 13, 2016


Marc Ribot, “Marc Ribot’s Inside-Out Licks” by Nick Millevoi August 08, 2020


Elliott Sharp, “Tapping Into Chaos” Elliott Sharp, April 18, 2020


Velvet Underground and Robert Quine, “Punk-Rock Madness: It’s More than Power Chords” by Shawn Persinger October 07, 2017


Odds and Ends

Larry Coryell (arguably not a “weird” guitarist) wrote a column for Guitar Player magazine in the 1980s. This is one of my all-time favorite tracks by Larry Coryell, and definitely weird. “Stones” from Fairyland. And another from Live at the Village Gate.


New music from Shawn Persinger is Prester John, with Emily B. (the B. stands for Brontëthesaurus). Lesson for “The Year Without a Summer” (C section at 1:38) coming someday.


A non-musical (kind of) inspiration for Weird Guitar Lessons: Jean Michel Basquiat at


Nice video of Tim Motzer demonstrating his use of effects and extended techniques for Guitar Player magazine: Tim Motzer Pedal and Extended Technique


Premier Guitar magazine October 2011 featured some of the greats of avant-garde guitar, including Keith Rowe and Fred Frith.


April 2014

It occurred to me on Tuesday that this Sunday, May 4th, is the 10th Anniversary of the release of The Art of Modern Primitive Guitar.

Had I realized this earlier I would have done some promotion for this event, as the release of this CD was a significant moment in my life. I was very happy with this recording and so was Innova Recordings, who released it after my initial limited edition run of 100 copies.

The record went on to garner dozens of positive reviews, including being called one of the “Best of 2004” by Acoustic Guitar, and receiving high praise some from my favorite players, including Mike Keneally and Tim Sparks.

I’d be delighted to hear from anyone you who:

1) Like the recording and have something nice to say about it.

2) Would like to suggest some promo tips for the anniversary. I’ll do something (???) special all next week.

3) Are just learning about it for the first time, and enjoy what you hear.

Of course you can buy the recording on iTunes, Amazon, and many other online stores. You can also listen on Pandora. And you should feel to write a review on any of those sites.

Thanks for your support all these years. The Art of Modern Primitive Guitar continues to be one of my best selling recordings and it’s a work I’m very proud of.






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