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Free Your Guitar, Free Your Mind

Sonny Sharrock (pictured here with Linda Sharrock, then his wife) approach his guitar like Albert Ayler played his saxophone — fiercely, yet tenderly out of bounds.
Courtesy of the artist
Sonny Sharrock (pictured here with Linda Sharrock, then his wife) approach his guitar like Albert Ayler played his saxophone — fiercely, yet tenderly out of bounds.

The electric guitar has only existed since the 1930s, but it's spawned an amazing amount of innovation, in both construction and technique. The electric guitar already has some weighty history behind it: As with classical music and the violin, or jazz and the saxophone, rock music has claimed the six-stringer as its own. But while rock gives the electric guitar fire, avant-garde jazz musicians often re-think the instrument beyond its basic, melody- and rhythm-based functions.

Musicians such as Sonny Sharrock eschew standard conventions and instead approach the guitar as a device of pure sound. Here are five guitarists who turned the guitar inside out; if you have more to recommend, please do so in the comments below.

For more entries in NPR Music's weekly Take Five: A Weekly Jazz Sampler series, click here.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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