The Hilarious Importance of the Guitar Face

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We've all seen it in some iteration or another: the epic, and oftentimes hilariously over-the-top vaunted “guitar face”. Whether it looks like they're grimacing in pain or they just caught a whiff of something that smells really bad, guitarists can't seem to help themselves from making some ridiculous faces mid-performance. While this may perplex non-guitar players, it seems to be a universally accepted fact among guitarists themselves. If you ask any guitarist, they will almost certainly tell you that “feel” is one of the most important, if not the most important, factors in one's playing. Especially in genres like soul and blues, feel becomes an even more important part of playing – even if you're just playing a few chords in the rhythm. Being a guitarist myself, and having performed in a band with other guitar players, I can tell you that every guitarist has at least one distinct guitar face. They'd be lying if they said they didn't.

Be that as it may, the importance of the guitar face – as ridiculous as it may sound – cannot be underestimated. Put two guitarists on a stage; one just stands there, playing his guitar, seeming almost bored and disinterested. Place him next to another guitarist who may not be as skilled – but he makes some faces that make it seem as if he's about to die, and he walks back and forth, about to flail as he moves and plays to the music. I then challenge you to tell me that the former is the better performer. If that clicks with you, then you'll understand how critical the guitar face is to a performance.

Perhaps, even at this point, you're still confused as to what I'm talking about; and many others wish to see some fine examples of the guitar face in action. Here's a small collection of some great live performances featuring prominent use of the guitar face; Freddie King has one of the best (and funniest) I've ever seen right around the 4:10 mark. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE9H1bW-zQ4

When 4:10 comes around I can't do anything but laugh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ5koSEtN7s

Gary Clark Jr.'s soloing face always makes him look as if he's in deep meditation as he bobs back and forth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoC8RTaUZMc

Carlos Santana was reportedly high on LSD as he let loose in this performance; it explains the faces.

Image credit: truefire.com