I remember seeing the YouTube video below last year when it was posted and noted as a ‘world record’. Apparently now it has been certified by Guiness as a world record, and the guitarist – John Taylor – has demonstrated his massive speed technique for Wired as part of an article.
Thrashers, shredders, and heshers, lend me your tinnitus-damaged ears! The Great Question has been settled. The fastest guitar player alive is not Eddie Van Halen nor Yngwie Malmsteen nor that guy from Morbid Angel. Nope, it’s John Taylor, a 28-year-old music teacher in Westminster, Colorado, who last spring claimed the official Guinness-certified title by blazing through Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Flight of the Bumblebee” at a fret-melting 600 beats per minute.
At that velocity, the famously complex century-old composition is more like a videogame sound effect than music. Taylor filmed himself performing the feat (in front of witnesses), and the Guinness judges verified his musicianship using slo-mo. The fastest-guitarist record used to be based on the simpler criterion of notes played per second, but Guinness officials lost patience with wannabes trilling away on a single note, so they changed the standard to “Bumblebee” a few years ago.
Taylor, whose favorite bands include Iron Maiden, Helloween, Slayer, and—inexplicably—Norah Jones, set himself the goal of becoming the world’s fastest guitarist shortly after picking up the instrument at age 13. To prepare for his record attempt, he practiced “Bumblebee” for an hour a day, pushing himself through hand cramps. He has even used specially designed picks with angled tips that help him smooth the transitions between the strings on his custom-made guitar. “I’m training now to go even faster,” he says. “I have no doubt I can get to at least 800 bpm.” If you have to ask why that’s important, you will never understand.
But as awesome as that quick clip on Wired is … the REAL fun is checking out the more than 6 minutes of watching him ramp slowly from 170BPM all the way up to 600BPM. It isn’t perfect, but it IS amazing!