Guthrie Govan Explains One Aspect In Which Instrumentals Are Better Than Vocal-Based Music: ’It Can Offer a More Universal Appeal’

During the 20th century, we’ve learned that one musician can focus on and be proficient in only a limited number of genres. However, Guthrie Govan is here to prove everyone wrong. Those guitar players who you thought no one could fully imitate? Well, Guthrie can. In fact, he approached the electric guitar in such a way that he accessed its full expressive potential. As cliché as it may sound, the electric guitar gives him a new voice.

The times that Guthrie Govan used his guitar as a joke machine

And according to what he explained in a recent chat with Guitar World, he’s more into instrumental compared to vocal-based music. For him, it offers much more. Asked about what he finds appealing with guitar instrumentals, he responded:

“Well, a guitar was the only instrument available in the house where I grew up, so naturally I spent my formative musical years learning how to operate it, simply because it was there.

“However hard I might try to think like a ‘musician’ rather than specifically as a ‘guitarist’, there can be no denying that the guitar will always serve as my main interface with the musical world in general, so I suppose it’s the voice I know best.”

Guthrie Govan Burning the Neck Guitar solo selection from The Aristocrats 2022 US Tour

“Perhaps I naturally relate to guitar instrumentals in a more detailed or informed way, due to my familiarity with the range, timbre, and capabilities of the instrument.”

Regarding what an instrumental can offer that a vocal-based piece can’t, Guthrie said:

“In a sense, it can offer a more universal appeal – when there’s no lyrical content in a song, the language barrier ceases to be a problem! I have fond memories of having performed instrumental music in some unusually far-flung and exotic locations and one thing I’ve consistently taken away from such experiences is that the challenge of connecting with people suddenly feels refreshingly effortless as soon as I’m on the stage.”

“Having spent the day dismally failing to explain to someone that I’m trying to exchange currency, figure out how the launderette works, order food, or whatever, it somehow comes as a huge relief to start playing music and instantly feel a much more direct line of communication.”

Photo: ArtBrom (Guthrie Govan)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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