“I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive” Dream Theater’s John Petrucci on shred versus feel

“I think that’s a really silly argument.”

John Petrucci

Image: Per Ole Hagen / Getty Images

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Dream Theater’s John Petrucci is the latest rocker to weigh in on the long-standing ‘shred vs feel’ debate among guitarists, saying “I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive”.

In a recent interview with Killer Guitar Rigs, the guitarist was asked if there is a middle ground between virtuosic ‘shredding’ and ‘feeling’, to which he replies: “Absolutely.”

“There’s so many players that do; there’s so much music that exemplifies that,” Petrucci says. “If it was just exercise-type drills, practising, turned into a song — yeah, you might say that’s pretty drab and it doesn’t really go anywhere emotionally.”

“But most guitar players that can shred don’t do that,” he adds. “The good ones who could write have the ability to take the music anywhere they want to. And part of that — it is kind of like being a classical musician. If you listen to classical music and the symphonies and things that were made, all those musicians, they had to be able to have the skills to take the music wherever the composer wanted it to be.”

“And sometimes, that was to really sensitive places that took a lot of control and a lot of dynamic playing. And sometimes, it was really tactical places where you had to be on top of your game and be able to play these crazy lines.”

Petrucci continues: “So that’s the way I look at it. It’s being able to do all of that, it increases your ability to be expressive, I think, as a musician, because you could take it to all these different places. And I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive.”

More importantly, the guitarist says that he finds the argument in itself “really silly”, commenting, “I kind of never understood that, you know? Like that there’s one or the other or if somebody has a technical ability that means that they’re not an emotional player. I think that’s pretty BS, you know? I really do.”

Elsewhere, Petrucci also speaks about his newly launched guitar software brand, Tonemission, which aims to deliver “high-tech products that enable guitarists to share in his love and pursuit of amazing guitar tones”.


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