Definition of "lead guitar"

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Prompted by the isms that make you cringe thread. Apart from the perceived "difference" between "lead" and "rhythm" guitar parts ... there are roles in other musical ensemble eg "lead trumpet" probably similar to "section principals" in an orchestra, in which the person having the job is held to be more experienced/capable and can be relied upon as the one to "follow" if you're in the rank&file and not sure of what you're supposed to be doing. So is this automatically true of a "lead guitarist"? I don't think so. I've been the one who is called the "lead guitarist" but that's only because it was my job to play the solos and the fills around the comping-style of chord work that someone else did. I wasn't a leader, in fact the band's leader was in one case the "rhythm" guitarist, in another case the keyboard player, in yet another case one of the singers. 
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  • The guy wot does solos
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  • So Wishbone Ash had two "lead" guitarists and two "rhythm" guitarists? Why not just two guitarists?
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 14030
    Bloody heavy.
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  • mike_lmike_l Frets: 5670

    A "Lead guitarist" is the one who plays most of the lead/solo lines.

    A "rhythm guitarist" is the one who plays most of the chords/riffs

    A "Band leader" is the one who is the main person who got the band up and running, and takes most of the decisions to do with the band.

    Ringleader of the Cambridge cartel, pedal champ and king of the dirt boxes (down to 21) 

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  • BidleyBidley Frets: 2147
    Same as actors whole have a "leading role" or similar. The most prominent in that area or the "protagonist", almost.

    It doesn't mean the same as the lead you're describing, but you know that. Just as the lead guitarist isn't the one who brings all the leads with him, or carries lots of lead around.
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  • @Bidley yes if you're taking the solo you're the prominent one, arguably with a "leading role"

    @mike_l I'd suggest the band leader is not only that but he's the one you follow when you're playing. even if you are the "lead guitarist"
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  • mike_lmike_l Frets: 5670
    @mike_l I'd suggest the band leader is not only that but he's the one you follow when you're playing. even if you are the "lead guitarist"

    Surely you should follow the drummer for timing*, and the bass/rhythm guitar or keys for chords?

     

    *provided the drummer can keep time...........

    Ringleader of the Cambridge cartel, pedal champ and king of the dirt boxes (down to 21) 

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  • @mike_l yes, perhaps I was thinking in terms of what happens next? middle or another chorus? natch there may be some clues in that there's a noticeably different drum fill into the middle
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2576
    Lead guitarist gets the girls I think.

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  • not_the_djnot_the_dj Frets: 5441
    Can't recall the band (and can't be bothered googling it) but there's an album which liner notes showing "lead guitar" "lead singer" "lead bass" and "lead drums". That about sums it up....

    But yeah it's a silly term, but I'd have thought pretty much excepted that it's the guy who plays the solos. ACDC is the best example I can think off where it is that clear cut. 
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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 8133
    In most bands it's a totally meaningless term unless you get a band like Oasis where one of the guitarists could barely play. 
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30911
    So is a guitarist who plays chords and solos, but no riffs or fills, a lead or a rhythm guitarist?

    That's me…

    I've definitely never thought of myself as a lead guitarist - if anything possibly rhythm fits better since I mostly play chords - but really both, or neither.

    I discovered I definitely prefer playing in one-guitar bands a long time ago. Saves arguments :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • xSkarloeyxSkarloey Frets: 2935
    /\ Angus like he says.

    Slash as opposed to Izzy.

    George as opposed to John

    Loved Def Leppard when I was a kid. Neither Collen nor Clarke was the leader. They just meshed wonderfully and played what was best for the song. They were great guitar weavers like Keith and Ronnie, two more who often blur the lines.
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  • ESchapESchap Frets: 1403
    edited January 2014

    Lead is a chemical element in the carbon group with symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft and malleable metal, which is regarded as a heavy metal

    Therefore you can only have lead guitar in metal or heavy metal bands .... QED.

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  • mellowsunmellowsun Frets: 2290
    Lead guitar is the one with the ego and the tantrums.

    I remember seeing a flatshare advert many years ago in Loot that read: 'flatshare in Archway with lead guitarist, sharing also with bass player and lesser mortal'.
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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1115
    Pete Townshend developed his style because he had to play with *lead bass* and *Keith Moon*  !!!
    I guess somebody had to keep time   ;)

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  • johnnyurqjohnnyurq Frets: 1332
    Grunfeld said:
    Lead guitarist gets the girls I think.
    The winner.
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  • jd0272jd0272 Frets: 3853
    I look at the term purely as the one who does the fiddly stuff (or most of it). I work with the drum and bass dept's to keep the whole thing tight as. The 'lead' is a much better technical player than me, and I'm much better at keep ing to time.
    "You do all the 'widdly widdly' bits, and just leave the hard stuff to me."
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  • jd0272jd0272 Frets: 3853
    Or summat like that anyway. None of us can do fck all with the singer chap.
    "You do all the 'widdly widdly' bits, and just leave the hard stuff to me."
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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1115
    Grunfeld said:   Lead guitarist gets the girls I think.
    Only after the singist       (who also has the biggest ego - de facto)

    "Pass me another groupie,  this one's full up"
         
    >:)

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  • johnnyurqjohnnyurq Frets: 1332
    Or pass me another groupie this one is broke.
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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1115
    Or "pass me another virgin, this one's split"

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  • LukeageLukeage Frets: 33
    Hmmm... lead guitar... or is it really guitar lead? ;)

    Can't play lead guitar without a guitar lead. Unless it's acoustic... then, well.
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  • BucketBucket Frets: 7598
    edited January 2014
    I sometimes find that I do end up playing the role detailed by the OP, of helping to guide other guitarists or other band members through a song that they might need a little help with. I prefer not to though, because I like to focus on playing while trying not to look shit-scared.

    However, I sometimes go onstage with my dad's covers band, and in that situation I'm just "the one who does the guitar solo".
    - "I'm going to write a very stiff letter. A VERY stiff letter. On cardboard."
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  • chrisj1602chrisj1602 Frets: 922
    edited January 2014
    monquixote;135802" said:
    In most bands it's a totally meaningless term unless you get a band like Oasis where one of the guitarists could barely play. 
    Usually I just ignore anti-oasis comments but I've had a few pints. Which one could barely play? Was it at Earls Court, Glastonbury, Wembley, Maine Road or Knebworth where they could barely play? They must have been gutted when they got found out. I honestly don't recall seeing the footage of them struggling to actually play though. Post a link maybe! ;)
    Chris.
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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 8133
    monquixote;135802" said:
    In most bands it's a totally meaningless term unless you get a band like Oasis where one of the guitarists could barely play. 
    Usually I just ignore anti-oasis comments but I've had a few pints. Which one could barely play? Was it at Earls Court, Glastonbury, Wembley, Maine Road or Knebworth where they could barely play? They must have been gutted when they got found out. I honestly don't recall seeing the footage of them struggling to actually play though. Post a link maybe! ;)
    Errrm, I like Oasis, but the mark 1 lineup was fairly seriously musically challenged. Other than the brothers you can take your pick of three guys who were struggling to play some pretty basic stuff. I'm fairly sure Noel made a few disparaging comments about his musical ability when he left. 
    Even Noel is fairly shoddy on some of their earlier live stuff. I think it's the Maine Road gig where most of the lead fills are missing.
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • mike_lmike_l Frets: 5670
    edited January 2014
    In most bands it's a totally meaningless term unless you get a band like Oasis where one of the guitarists could barely play. 

    To correct you, Bonehead was/is an awesomes guitarist, Gallagher would only let him play barre chords....(IIRC)

    Ringleader of the Cambridge cartel, pedal champ and king of the dirt boxes (down to 21) 

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  • Hank Marvin.

    And generally it's people whose guitar knowledge stops with the Shadows that ask the question!
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  • If you look on somewhere like joinmyband the L and R guitarist terms are used a lot.
    In that context Lead Guitarist Wanted means ' we have a friend who has a guitar who volunteered to join the band and he strums away and does the odd backing vocal but now we need someone to add the twiddly bits he can't do.'
    Rhythm Guitarist Wanted means ' we have a guitarist in the band but between us we have no idea what to do about the sound getting all thin when he stops riffing to take a solo so we thought a second guitar would help but our guitarist is an egomaniac so you are not allowed to demonstrate greater competence than him. Also, our harmonies are shit so BV's Essential.'
    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • bertiebertie Frets: 1592
    its a role within an ensemble not a skill level an it doesnt necessarily apply all the time in every ensemble
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