I'd like to begin this first installment of my new column with a statement: There is no right or wrong. What you read here represents just one person's views on the crazy, frustrating thing we call music. You have every right to disagree with me on any or every point—in fact, doing so will help to clarify your own point of view.
When it comes to guitar playing, the true judge of what's "good" and what's "bad" is the player himself. Some people say Frank Zappa, for example, was an awful guitarist. Others maintain he was a genius. Some people, like Steve Lukather, think I'm a terrible guitar player. Others disagree. The point is that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and you shouldn't let someone else's taste influence you too much. (Although I would say that if "Hold The Line" was the best rock riff I'd ever written, I think I'd keep my mouth shut.)
Guitar playing, in and of itself, does not mean a whole heck of a lot. But guitar playing within the context of great music and great songs _i