J Mascis Says He Wasn’t Impressed By Stevie Ray Vaughan, Explains Why Bob Dylan Is Underrated

J Mascis, frontman and leader of alternative rock pioneers Dinosaur Jr., explained what made Jimi Hendrix so special and how no one was ever able to replicate what he did. And, according to what he said in a recent interview with Guitar World, not even Stevie Ray Vaughan was worthy of Hendrix.

The interview focused on J Mascis sharing a list of guitar players who shaped his sound the most. And, of course, one of the guys on the list was Jimi Hendrix. Reflecting on Hendrix and his impact, he offered:

“Hendrix probably seems obvious, but he’s the best guitarist ever, you know? No one is ever gonna get close to him. So, he’s on the list for that reason alone.”

Dinosaur Jr - Feel The Pain

Nonetheless, despite being a major influence, the Dinosaur Jr. frontman admits that he never tried to really figure out any Jimi Hendrix song. He continued:

“He’s an influence for all the obvious reasons, but I’ve never even tried to figure out a Hendrix song, meaning I’ve never tried to play like him. I’ll never even try to play like him.”

And, the reason why he never tried this? Well, according to Mascis, no one can really copy Hendrix. And people trying to are just sad. He explained:

“I’ve never heard a single person play Hendrix correctly. People always try to rip him off, which is one of the saddest things ever. People trying to play like Jimi Hendrix are just depressing.”

Dinosaur Jr. - Take It Back (Official Video)

Now, some people may argue that Stevie Ray Vaughan was the only guitar player who could do Jimi Hendrix’s songs justice. After all, his versions of “Little Wing” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” are considered to be some of the most influential tracks in the world of guitar.

But, apparently, not according to J Mascis. He recalled seeing Vaughan live once but he wasn’t really impressed:

“I mean… I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan once, and he was OK, but I don’t know… he was a bit more repetitive than Hendrix. With Hendrix, it was all in his hands. You can’t duplicate that.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan's Roadie Change the guitar during the show

Among other guitar players mentioned in the interview, one that also stood out was Bob Dylan. Although J Mascis is famous for his innovative approach to electric guitar, which helped give birth to a variety of subgenres and movements in rock music, Dylan still has significant impact on him.

In fact, Mascis says that Dylan is incredibly underrated:

“I’ve always liked Bob Dylan as a guitar player. As far as acoustic stuff goes, Bob is very underrated as a player. His rhythm playing, the sound he got, the way he can accompany himself, and his strumming are all very cool.”

Mr. Tambourine Man (Live at the Newport Folk Festival. 1964)

“He’s obviously not much of an influence on me as an electric guitar player, but Bob Dylan definitely influences me on the acoustic side.”

“I don’t know why he’s so underrated, but when I hear him playing alone on some of the bootleg stuff I have, he just sounds so amazing. His style and rhythms morph constantly and always keep your attention.”

Apart from guitar players who influenced him the most, J Mascis also discussed the 30th anniversary of Dinosaur Jr.’s 1993 record “Where You Been” and how he looks back at it now. Reflecting on it, he offered:

“‘Where You Been’ is the only record where me, Murph [Emmett Jefferson Murphy III], and Mike [Johnson] really played together in the studio. We really were trying to make a good record; above all else, I just remember working hard on it.”

In Session: Dinosaur Jr. - Out There

“As far as the success of it, I never expected anything. I’m always surprised if someone likes something that I’ve done. But ‘Where You Been’ was also the first album where I had some different guitars are my disposal. I remember having a Tele, and a Fender Tweed amp, which I used during the sessions.”

Asked whether having access to a variety of guitar gear inspired or altered his approach in any way, he replied:

“Not really. But I liked having all those guitars because it gave me more options, you know? I had never really had the chance to try different things before ‘Where You Been.’ I didn’t have that much money, so having different guitars in the studio with me was very cool in exploring different sounds.”

Dinosaur Jr · 2023-02-26 · Observatory · Santa Ana · full live show

As far as parts that he feels stand out, J Mascis singled out the solo from album’s “Get Me” and explained:

“I’m unsure where I was when I recorded it; maybe in L.A., or it could have been down in Miami. But I know I had that Fender Tweed amp, and all the overdubs were done with the Tele I had.”

Dinosaur Jr - Get Me

Although having so much gear apparently didn’t impact his creative process, Mascis admits that after this album, he embarked on his tone-searching journey:

“Since then, I’ve kept chasing sounds because I’ve gotten even more gear [laughs]. My signature Tele and Jazzmaster have incorporated things I’ve figured since then, like jumbo frets and a tune-o-matic bridge. I need more sustain, something more solid-feeling, and I don’t like the traditional Jazzmaster floating bridge.”

Photos: Jason Persse (Sub Pop Showcase J Mascis (6266736797)), Don Hunstein (Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble (1983 publicity photo by Don Hunstein))

  • 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 Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.