Pete Townshend says “all guitarists of today are intimidated” by Instagram shredders

“We are just our fingers.”

The Who

SANDRINGHAM, NORFOLK – AUGUST 28: Pete Townshend of The Who performs with The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at Royal Sandringham Estate on August 28, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk. (Photo by Katja Ogrin/Redferns)

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Pete Townshend thinks that all guitarists nowadays are “intimated” by internet personalities who can shred “to hell and back”.

The Who guitarist has spoken to Guitarist in a new interview about the extent to which his relationship with the guitar as a creative tool has changed over time and explains how he made himself develop an original playing style before the age of internet virtuosos.

“What I’m happy about is I can do two days of practice and learn some really flashy runs if I want to, though I’m still stuck with the old order, which is trying to make sure I don’t let my fingers play a series of cliches,” he says.

“I remember Leslie West saying to me about Eric Clapton: ‘I prefer your licks, Pete, to Eric’s, because Eric seems to be playing things that he’s learned, that he’s picked up from other blues players.’ And I think that is a fair comparison, although I have seen Eric play live, where he really goes sky high.”

Townshend goes on to discuss how The Who are still impressing audiences without necessarily being virtuosos.

He continues: “I think one of the things that all guitarists of today are intimidated by is these young guys on Instagram that shred to hell and back, or to heaven and back, I should say, who started when they were six. But we are just our fingers.

“So The Who have just done a tour of the UK and I don’t expect people to go on YouTube and get their minds blown, but I do think that some of the playing, some of the solos, some of the chordwork, some of the surprises, some of the avoiding tricks and being willing to take risks is really what I feel the guitar is great for.”

However, The Who’s future remains uncertain following the conclusion of their latest tour.

Speaking about what’s to come in a new interview with Record Collector, Townshend reveals that the fate of the band is up in the air, and says that he’ll be discussing The Who’s future with fellow member Roger Daltrey as they reach the “end of an era”.

“I think it’s time for Roger and I to go to lunch and have a chat about what happens next,” he says. “Because Sandringham shouldn’t feel like the end of anything but it feels like the end of an era.”

“It’s a question of, really, what is feasible, what would be lucrative, what would be fun?” Townshend adds. “So, I wrote to Roger and said, ‘come on, let’s have a chat and see what’s there.’”

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