Great Guitar Pickers!

By Russ:
One day in an email I casually asked Gary, “How would you compare and contrast the artistry of these three guitar icons – Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, James Burton?

They all seemed to be great to me, but I was interested in their differences, and the songs in which they were outstanding. 

Well, Gary blew me away with his come-back.  He went on to talk about Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, James Burton, John Fogerty, Duane Eddy and Roy Buchanan. Here is Gary’s response…


Gary: “Well to me, the uneducated fan, they are three special guitar pickers….

Scotty Moore

Scotty and Elvis

  I think that Scotty Moore is the most underrated and quietest lead guitarist in history.  His style (almost Country) was the first I was exposed to with Elvis.  Scotty played that great Gibson ES 295 and then the present Gibson L5 CES, which is called the guitar that changed the world.  Unfortunately we lost Scotty June 28, 2016.

Scotty and Eric Clapton / That’s All right Mama /
Scotty and Eric Clapton / Mystery Train /
1993 / Scotty Moore & D. J. Fontana in concert
George Klein’s Memphis Sounds with Scotty Moore ?


Scotty Moore’s Gibson ES 295

Scotty’s Gibson L5 CES

I own the DVD, but here is an mp3 of Paul McCartney, D.J. Fontana and Scotty Moore with “That’s all right Mama“.

I will also include my favourite Sun Recording, “Baby Let’s Play House“. 

Chet Atkins   

I bought two of his albums in the late fifties when he dabbled in Rock and Roll. (Chet recorded Boo Boo Stick Beat and Teensville in 1959; both charted). 

But Chet ruled Nashville and was THE “Country Picker”.  I think that Chet and Scotty are very similar. 

Chet Atkins 1964 rare

Chet with his Gretsch and smooth styling /
1987 / Guitar Channel /
Chet/ Jerry & friends /
1991 / with his Gibson / Yakety Axe /
1992 / At the Bottom Line with great Jerry Reed (Gary’s Favourite) / Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice /

Now prior to 1959, Chet played with Eddy Arnold and all of those Country guys, but in 1959 he made Toronto’s CHUM Chart with “Boo Boo Stick Beat” and that’s when Chet played Rock and Roll.

Gretsch G6119 Tennessee Rose

Chet played the Gretsch G6119 Tennessee Rose

Chet Atkins – Medley

Now the Man who taught them all:

Les Paul

I really enjoyed this man immensely.  He advanced the Electric Guitar more than anyone I know of.  He was and is respected through the industry by anyone and everyone who understands and enjoys “Great” guitar playing. 

1950’s / Colgate Comedy Hour / Les Paul and Mary Ford /
1953 / Omnibus / Alistair Cooke’s description of why he was sooooo far ahead of everyone in recording /
Les Paul 1986 / David Letterman with Paul Schaefer and the Band /

There are so many great Les Paul songs, especially with Mary Ford, but a song I always like was “Nola”.

The Les Paul Gibson, used by many musician’s today.
Not the last, but my favourite…

James Burton 

Elvis with James Burton

He is respected as the best man in the industry at “fills” or “solos”. We will now bring in Leo Fender’s product.  I guess I really liked James best because he was the guitar player with Ricky Nelson. 

James went on to play with Elvis, but my memories are of him with Rick.  He also played on [the TV show] Shindig, with Elvis and John Denver, but the greatest show was the “Black and White Night” which he played with Roy Orbison, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and many others.  I own the DVD. 

Here is a video of a very young Burton with Ricky Nelson.


1991 / Warm up with James and Albert Lee (special) /
With Elvis and The TCB Band Johnny B. Goode /

My Boy, James Burton, what can I say, but this is the song that John Forgerty listened to time after time.  With Rick Nelson ” Waitin’ In School”. 


I found this little solo all by itself, James doing Mystery Train.


James plays the Fender Telecaster!

A great guitar player and singer songwriter, John Fogerty
Along with his brother Tom (now deceased), Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, in 1965 he created a group called “the Golliwogs” – which would become “Creedance Clearwater Revival”. 

John Fogerty with his two sons; he has the Telecaster and his sons have the Les Paul Gibsons

John wrote and arranged most if not all of their big hits and was the lead guitar player.  He played many guitars, but the ones I always saw him with were mainly the Les Paul Gibson and the Red Telecaster.

Favourite Song:  (I have a tendancy not to pick the extremely popular ones and this is no exception)

“Midnight Special”

This from the Premonition DVD (which I own) and playing the Les Paul


and with that Red Telecaster

I guess one of the most underated of all guitar players is the Lengendary Duane Eddy

He is very much like Scotty Moore, very quiet and just took care of business.  Now, although he had two signature guitars built for him and sold by Guild, the first one I remember and it, to me, will always be his guitar, like the Chet Atkins Gretsch. 

He played the melody on the bass strings and developed the “Twangy” sound.

1988 / PBS with the great Jim Horn (Buddy Holly Tribute) Rebel Rouser and Ramrod /

Duane Songs, real easy…

“Moovin and Groovin”

“Forty Miles of Bad Road”

“Peter Gunn”


Now, whether you are aware of it or not, Duane is two years older than I am, so at the time of writing he is 73.  My friend Don Gaudet, himself a guitar player (1958 Gibson), does not think Duane is much of a guitarist – Sorry Don, on this one I do not share your view. 

[Duane Eddy may not have been a virtuoso, but he sure was creative, back then giving us a unique style of guitar playing; lots of thanks also should go to the inventors of the Tremolo electronic effect  – RS]

Duane was a Fifties guy, so not much from the video side, but I found this one of “Rebel Rouser” on Hullabaloo


Duane Eddy / German TV 1975 /


BONUS – [Just for Gary – RS]

Roy Buchanan / 1985 Rockpalast /
Thanks a lot Russ, you know I just could not let your question go with a simple answer.

– Gary


2 responses to “Great Guitar Pickers!

  1. Pingback: Duane Eddy | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  2. Canadian’s Lenney Breau and Randy Bachman must be there too.

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