First recorded fast picked scalular guitar phrase?

I’m wondering if there is any concensus on the first recorded example of a fast picked scalular (probably not a word) phrase on guitar? I know the definition ‘fast picked’ could take pages of debate. I think it’s fair enough that any definition with a reasonable justification is…well fair game.

For my purposes I would say a phrase that’s fast enough to require a single escape motion for most of it…or ‘closed loop’ firing of muscles…or…is likely not able to be done with string hopping. Almost the genisis of the modern shred phrase. It facinates me how ‘the first one’ came up with it and placed it in the public consciousness of the guitar community.

The earliest examples I can think of would be Django’s chromatic runs in the late 30’s.

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I was thinking the same! Why “scalular”? I mean, I like a lot the sound of it :smiley: but what’s the difference between that and “scalar”?

LOL - there was no intention with the word ‘scalular’…probably a lack of vocabulary and time as I stick handled the question into my phone with three little kids bouncing around. Scalar fits better by definition (also by virtue of having a definition).

Suppose for the time it was Django - I wonder if the inspiration for the sound of a ‘scalar run’ at that speed came from the flamenco players of the time.

It’s gotta be Django.

I can’t think of any recorded guitarist preceding him that comes close to that level of virtuosity. I doubt Django knew much about Flamenco music - there’s not much of that influence in his playing. He was certainly aware of the many centuries of virtuosity in gypsy and classical violin playing, and I suspect he adapted some of that approach to the guitar.

Eddie Lang and Nick Lucas were basically Gypsy pickers which is clear from listening to the stuff they played on recordings dating to the '20s. Even though he was a crooner, Nick did some blazing stuff that would be pretty hard without Gypsy technique. And it’s clear from footage of him when he was on TV later in life, just how much he was indeed a Gypsy:

As far as earlier stuff, this is also from the '20s, utterly blazing, and also totally a downward pickslanting style similar to what Django did. If you work out the fast lines toward the end, they’re all even numbers of notes per string:

Anything that predates this for fast picking I would guess is going to be on mandolin because that was the premier plucked instrument in the late 1800s.


I never thought of him reaching to match the violin - that would make sense.

I will have to dig into these guys - I’ve never heard of Eddie Lang. Very cool.

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From Django to Yngwie guitarists trying to match the violin. :laughing:

Now that I think about it McLaughlin too in Mahavishnu Orchestra as well trading licks with Goodman or Ponty.

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Yea the ‘guitar vs. violin’ seems to he a theme with guitar chops community. I’d read somewhere that John McLaughlin developed his insane chops (i.e. playing at the speed we hear in the MO and Shakti) rather quickly after recording ‘bitches brew’…I haven’t varified it with recording evidence myself though.

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