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The Fastest Guitar Player in the World?

In the world of guitar playing, there are different techniques and styles that define the artistry of musicians. One technique that has sparked controversy and divided opinions is the use of staccato playing, where every note is played with the pick, versus legato playing, where certain notes are played without picking but by pressing down the string(s) to produce sound. Let`s focus on the debate surrounding these techniques and explore the arguments from both sides of the controversy. 

Staccato Playing: The Pick-Driven Approach
Staccato playing is a technique where each note is produced by striking the string with the pick, creating a clear and defined sound. This technique is favored by many guitarists who seek precision and articulate phrasing. Proponents of staccato playing argue that it allows for greater control over individual notes, facilitating rapid and accurate playing. They believe that the pick-driven approach adds clarity and emphasis to each note, enhancing the overall performance. 

Legato Playing: The Smooth and Fluid Style
Legato playing, on the other hand, involves playing a series of notes without picking each one. Instead, the guitarist uses techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides to produce the desired sound. Legato playing creates a smooth and connected flow between notes, allowing for fast and seamless passages. Advocates of legato playing argue that it provides a unique expressiveness and fluidity that cannot be achieved with staccato playing alone. Funnily enough, this group believe that the absence of pick attack adds a distinctive character and warmth to the music. 

The Controversy and Arguments
The controversy arises from differing opinions on the authenticity and perceived difficulty of each technique. The discussion kind of reminds us of the all-important "Which wheel is the most important on a car?"-question. However, here are the main arguments put forth by proponents from both sides: 

Staccato Playing

Precision and Clarity:
Proponents argue that staccato playing allows for precise articulation of each note, ensuring clarity and definition in complex passages. 

Technical Mastery:
They contend that mastering the pick-driven approach requires exceptional technique, as it demands control and coordination between the pick and fretting hand. 

Staccato playing provides consistent attack and volume for each note, which is especially valued in genres like rock, metal, and certain styles of jazz. 

Legato Playing

Expressiveness and Fluidity:
Supporters of legato playing argue that it enables a more expressive and fluid playing style, with smooth transitions between notes. 

Musicality and Emotion:
They contend that legato techniques allow for more nuanced phrasing and dynamic control, enhancing the emotional impact of the music. 

Technical Complexity:
Legato playing requires intricate fingerings, precise timing, and strength in the fretting hand, making it a challenging technique to master. 

Finding Common Ground 

While the controversy between staccato and legato playing continues, it is important to remember that these techniques are tools for artistic expression. Rather than pitting them against each other, guitarists can benefit from embracing both approaches and incorporating them into their playing style. By combining staccato and legato techniques, musicians can achieve a diverse range of musical textures and create captivating performances that blend precision with fluidity. 


The staccato vs. legato controversy in guitar playing showcases the diversity of opinions within the music community. Both techniques have their merits and offer unique artistic possibilities. Whether it's the crispness and control of staccato playing or the expressive fluidity of legato playing, guitarists should aim to explore and develop their own distinct style. Ultimately, the true measure of skill and artistry lies in a guitarist's ability to create captivating music that connects with listeners, regardless of the technique used.

The Fastest Staccato Guitarists in the World

For aspiring guitarists seeking to master the art of speed and precision, there is an exhilarating world of staccato playing waiting to be explored. The ability to execute rapid and precise notes can set you apart and elevate your guitar playing to new heights. In this article, we'll showcase ten extraordinary guitarists who have achieved incredible speed in their staccato playing. We'll also delve into the differences between playing acoustic and electric guitars, the choice of plectrum, and the influence of music genres. So, buckle up, grab your guitar, and let's dive into the world of lightning-fast staccato playing! 

Nr.1 John McLaughlin
Renowned for his virtuosic playing and boundary-pushing compositions, McLaughlin's staccato technique is a testament to his extraordinary talent. With lightning-fast speed and impeccable precision, he effortlessly blends elements of jazz, fusion, and Eastern music, creating a sonic tapestry that is uniquely his own. Whether he's playing intricate, rapid-fire lines or exploring complex chord progressions, McLaughlin's staccato playing style is a true marvel to behold. His innovative approach and relentless pursuit of musical excellence have solidified his place among the greatest guitarists in the world.  

Embracing the legacy of John McLaughlin means delving into the art of staccato playing with unwavering passion and dedication. Study his technique, absorb his musicality, and let his boundless creativity inspire your own musical journey. Just as McLaughlin has continually pushed the boundaries of what is possible on the guitar, you too can explore new realms of speed, precision, and expression through the power of staccato playing.  

Remember, becoming an exceptional guitarist takes time, effort, and patience. Practice diligently, hone your technique, and develop your own unique style. Embrace the challenge of staccato playing, and let the spirit of John McLaughlin guide you as you strive for greatness. Unleash your inner virtuoso, and let your staccato passages soar with lightning speed and unwavering precision. The world is waiting to witness the incredible musical journey you are about to embark upon.

2.Paco de Lucía: A true maestro of the flamenco guitar, Paco de Lucía showcases remarkable speed and precision on the nylon-stringed acoustic guitar. His staccato playing style is deeply rooted in the traditional flamenco techniques, creating a fusion of passion, rhythm, and intricate melodies. 

3.Paul Gilbert: Paul Gilbert's electrifying staccato technique has solidified his place as one of the fastest guitarists in the world. With lightning-fast alternate picking and a variety of string-skipping techniques, Gilbert effortlessly traverses various genres, from rock and metal to fusion. 

4.Tommy Emmanuel: Renowned for his fingerstyle playing on the steel-string acoustic guitar, Tommy Emmanuel weaves intricate melodies and lightning-fast staccato passages. His unique blend of percussive techniques and captivating melodies showcases the versatility of staccato playing on the acoustic guitar. 

5.Al Di Meola: As a master of jazz fusion, Al Di Meola effortlessly incorporates lightning-fast staccato lines into his improvisations. His impeccable technique and precision on both acoustic and electric guitars showcase the expressive possibilities of staccato playing in jazz and fusion genres. 

6.Andy James: Andy James has gained a reputation as one of the fastest guitarists in the world, thanks to his lightning-fast staccato technique. With a strong presence in the world of instrumental rock and metal, his precise and aggressive playing style sets him apart. 

7.John Petrucci: Known for his work with Dream Theater, John Petrucci combines intricate progressive metal compositions with lightning-fast staccato passages. His precise alternate picking and seamless transitions between complex rhythms make him a true master of speed. 

8.Guthrie Govan: Guthrie Govan's incredible technical proficiency and versatility have earned him acclaim as one of the most innovative guitarists of our time. His staccato playing seamlessly blends various genres, showcasing a fusion of rock, jazz, and blues with lightning-fast precision. 

9.Django Reinhardt: Django Reinhardt's unparalleled speed and technique on the acoustic guitar revolutionized jazz guitar playing. Despite a hand injury that limited the use of two fingers, Reinhardt's lightning-fast staccato runs and fiery improvisations remain an inspiration to guitarists worldwide. 

Embrace the Challenge

As an up-and-coming guitarist, the journey to mastering staccato playing may seem daunting, but remember that every great guitarist started as a beginner. Here are a few key considerations to enhance your staccato playing: 

String Choice: Experiment with different gauges and materials to find the optimal balance between tension and flexibility for your desired staccato sound. 

Plectrum Selection: Choose a pick that suits your playing style, considering thickness, shape, and material. Find what feels comfortable and allows you to execute precise and rapid movements. 

Practice Techniques: Focus on alternate picking, economy picking, and hybrid picking to develop speed and precision. Incorporate metronome exercises, gradually increasing the tempo as you build proficiency. 

Explore Genres: Staccato playing transcends genres. Experiment with rock, metal, jazz, flamenco, and other styles to find your unique voice and develop versatility in your technique. 


Embarking on the path of staccato playing opens up a world of exhilarating possibilities for guitarists. Whether you prefer the electric guitar's raw power or the acoustic guitar's expressive warmth, the key to mastering speed and precision lies in consistent practice, exploration of genres, and the development of your unique style. Let the ten guitarists we've explored here serve as inspiration, but remember to forge your own path and express your musical voice. So, pick up your guitar, embrace the challenge, and let your fingers fly across the strings with lightning-fast staccato passages. The world awaits your musical journey!


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