The Edge Vs. Lincoln Brewster

hehehe Can’t believe I’m doing this. Alright. Very rarely does a comment reply become a blog post; but this stuff kicks around in my head a lot anyway……and with one very small mention of Lincoln Brewster in the last post, almost every subsequent comment was directed at that part of the post. Add to that, that for some reason, just the very mention of the names ‘The Edge’ and ‘Lincoln Brewster’, immediately polarizes people. Fun experiment. Go into The Purpose-Driven Worship Conference, and yell ‘Lincoln Brewster!’ People will immediately either fall on their faces, screaming, ‘We’re not worthy of the Line 6-induced minute-and-a-half string bend solos after the second chorus of every song!’ or they will get these indignant looks on their faces that only musicians are capable of, attempting to show their incredible disdain and condescension towards the ‘tasteless showoff.’ Okay. Now go to NAMM, and yell out, ‘The Edge!’ Half the people will immediately turn to look at you with huge tears of joy streaming down their faces, as the aural excitement of the perfect note choice, rhythmic timing, effects placement, and melodic sense of the ‘City of Blinding Lights’ intro, just merely having played in their heads, has overcome them so much that they cannot speak. (Hmm…is it too obvious that I’m speaking from experience here?) And then the other half will go to the nearest effects pedal booth, turn on the ever-present dotted eighth setting on the company’s delay pedal model, hit a chord and go, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Or they wonder why someone is screaming about a 15-year-old Anthony Hopkins movie in which Michael from LOST gets torn apart by a bear. (And not just ‘torn apart’ like, ‘Whoa, he got beat up.’ Like, his body is literally coming apart.) And that would be a valid response too. (Not the tearing apart thing, the movie reference.)

Of course that’s an exaggeration……but unfortunately, not by much. Especially on the internet. The ironic thing is that I’ve listened to interviews with both The Edge and with Lincoln, and I think if we ever got them into a cage match with each other (which I think is what we want sometimes), we’d all by extremely disappointed as our cheering for our respective sides slowly dulled as Lincoln and Edge sat down, and started calmly asking and learning about the other’s techniques. Very boring. But they’re not here right now. And this is the internet. So we can say whatever we want. Score! Let’s go.

Honestly, I’d say that stylistically, both Edge’s and Lincoln’s styles are pretty easy to mimic. For Lincoln, throw in some long string bends and some fancy pull-offs, and for Edge, throw on some dotted eighth delay with some upper range chord voicings. There ya go. But to get the actual aura of each player, much more difficult. Lincoln has some beautiful phrasing and rhythmic technique within his solos that at least to me, outshine his more flashy techniques, and are much harder to mimic. And Edge has this incredible ability to give the song exactly what it needs melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically, that way outshines some of his ‘signature delay riffs’, and is also probably impossible to mimic.

But speaking of mimic’ing…has anyone noticed the song…uh…’God You Reign’? This song cracks me up whenever I hear people who love Lincoln Brewster, but can’t stand Edge. Start at 1:25. Just take a listen:

Now, not a bad song. And of course, it gets Lincoln-ized after the last chorus like usual, but that’s to be expected. But I find it funny that the entire song is with ‘Edge delay’ and ‘Edge chord voicings’. There’s even some total Edge whammy pedal usage in there. And it’s…uh…’Edge delay’ when it’s played by an ’80’s rocker, too. And that’s cool! He sounds great using the delay. But there’s this funny straight up and down feel that face-melters just can’t seem to help but fall into when they try to use the dotted eighth or dotted quarter thing. They’re too precise on the rhythms, almost as if the delay is the after-thought, rather than letting it be part of the sound. Part of the dotted eighth technique is to play at times slightly ahead of the beat. But anyway…I digress. That’s a fantastic song…that I can’t help but laugh with when I hear it. :)

But let’s not leave Edge out of all this! He’s got his diversions, too. And when people say, ‘Edge is too much of a musician for solos’, I get that. And I agree…he gives the song whatever it needs. But you gotta admit, sometimes, he gives the song a completely uncharacteristic solo:

Still with the wonderful Edge feel, soul, and note placement. But after watching this solo, you can never make fun of Brewster’s extensive note bends again without admitting that Edge has done the same thing…and does it every tour. Of course, as it will undoubtedly get pointed out, this is not as speedy as Lincoln Brewster. And to that I say, Correct. More bluesy, and I might argue more feel, but that could very well be because I tend to gravitate towards blues guitarists more than glamrock guitarists. And for those of you ready to scream that there’s no way Lincoln is a glamrock guitarist, just look at the hair, people. Look at that hair and tell me he’s not glamrock. Yep. Couldn’t do it, could ya. Alright, alright, let’s not leave Edge out of this:

Edge Rattle & Hum

I’m pretty sure that’s the Rattle and Hum tour, as there appears to be the ’80’s Joshua Tree/Breakfast Club vest, but also the ’90’s Achtung Baby/Sister Act 2 bandana. Edge, you are amazing. And please never wear this again.

But as long as we’re on Edge, let’s not forget that when Edge started using the ‘Edge delay’ (or dotted 8ths), he was using analog delays without dotted 8th settings. We now put dotted 8th settings into basically every delay pedal in order to help us sound like Edge; but I know very few guitarists who can consistently play dotted 8ths using their own rhythmic sense; so something that seems simple to us, was not so simple for the inventor of it. (And there is some argument that perhaps Alex Lifeson or David Gilmour actually ‘invented’ it. )

Alright, enough time on Edge. (Can’t believe I actually said that.) Back to Brewster. And the song that actually started all this. Everlasting God. Now the solo is at 2:15. And it’s a good solo. But it’s churchy to me, and it doesn’t do much for me personally. That’s where I’m on the Edge side of the argument. But I’m also on the Lincoln side of the argument in that some of his phrasing and musicianship is fantastic. The part that grabs me the most about this solo is that triplets over half notes that he throws in right from 2:36-2:37. Fantastic. That’s the minimalistic stuff that just grabs my heart and pumps it. Okay song, cool solo; but those little pieces that really push the song along are what does it for me. Here’s the song:

So which guitarist is better? Well, Edge, of course. (I’m kidding! Yikes, calm down.) There are some definite things we can take from both guitarists. We just gotta remember that it’s not about Lincoln’s solos, or Edge’s delay. It’s about whatever is going to push the music to beat people’s hearts for them for those few moments of time. And I know, if you’ve read even just a little of this site, you know that I believe minimalism is what will pump people’s hearts. Strike. Strike true. But minimalism is just a fall-back…or a good practice to get into, in order to keep from solo’ing people’s faces off with tasteless junk every time you get a chance. Melody, harmony, taste, soul, beauty, drive, high-ness, these are the things that your instrument can use to help push the song. And this is what Edge does so well. But Lincoln…every once in a while, yes…I’m actually going to say this…the song may need a solo to push it. I tend to go more for some of the killer phrasing he puts into his solo, and wish he would use more of that and less of the bends and pull-offs sometimes, but still……sometimes it’s what the song needs. Just make sure it’s not what all five songs in the set need.

So I’ll leave you with two videos of each guitarist. And I’d encourage you to watch the whole thing on each one. Especially the ones you don’t like. You just might learn something. And that goes for me, too. I’m watching the whole Brewster video. Okay, both of the Brewster videos. I promise. I’ll even turn the sound on.

A great taste of what Lincoln is capable of live:

A great taste of what Edge is capable of live. And yes, I do play this intro on every guitar demo ever…I’m sorry! Nope. I’m definitely not:

And if you’re still feeling the need to learn, I’d defy anyone to get Lincoln’s exact phrasing during the 2:35 solo:

And if you’re still feeling the need to learn, I’d defy anyone to get Edge’s exact ‘sound’ during the 2:25 solo:

Mmmm……delay. (I know, I wasn’t supposed to say that! I’m trying to be unbiased here, and not let the sweet delay sway me. But I just can’t seem to help myself.)


94 thoughts on “The Edge Vs. Lincoln Brewster

  1. Two different styles, sounds, and people. There’s a place for both (I sure wish I was seeing Lincoln Brewster open for U2 in Vancouver rather than the Black Eyes Peas).

    Brewster isn’t for everyone and neither is U2.

    But yeah, they both have talent!

    And lets not forget the all important, “which one is delivering the real message”.

    • “And lets not forget the all important, “which one is delivering the real message”.”

      Amen! Brewster is amazing. I could listen to God You Reign on an endless loop.

      • I agree with Rich Reid, Jr. “God You Reign” is absolutely the most awesome-ist song ever! I play it over and over again in my car. Powerful!

  2. haha, i can’t believe you actually have a post about this … although i felt that i may have fueled the fire with my previous comment :)

    to each, his own. if i were to pick a song from each to highlight their skills:

    Lincoln Brewster: What Kind of Man (before POD & contemporary worship stuff)

    The Edge: I Still Haven’t Found …

    Both got heavy delays but really different from each other.

  3. I think Mark has it.

    Although I can’t help myself. I’m a fan of both guys. But you specifically say, “A great taste of what Lincoln is capable of live”, yet he isn’t playing all of the parts. Granted as arranged it’s impossible, but aside from the impressive solos, it looks like he’s playing cowboy chords.

    It’s VERY hard to do the electric guitar thing and lead the worship at the same time. That video is a testament to a GREAT support team!

    Although I do need to get another delay….hmm…..


  4. Wow. Nice article. I personally find it difficult when we do a LB song because they are the hardest for me to make sound good (as far as guitar goes). I don’t know why. That includes leaving out the guitar solos. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what it is, other than maybe he’s just that good and he can take a song and make it something special.

    But just to clarify, I’m personally not all that familiar with LB’s material, mostly just the three songs of his that we do every once in a while.

    My personal musical taste tends to gravitate in a different direction, so I don’t listen to his material all that much, unless we are playing it.

  5. Brewster’s definitely a good guitarist. My beef is I feel like his solos belong in a different song and were just transplanted into the middle of whatever song it landed in. Even the end of “God you Reign” ends so randomly. Oh well, they’re both good. I like John Mayer best :) Hahaha.

  6. I like both. Kudos on noting Lincoln’s rhythmic technique – I think the hard part is nailing the groove of the solo and not the chops part.

    The Edge is hard to beat. I’ve been listening to ‘Streets’ on the way home from work every night and looking at the amazing fog coming over the mountain.

    An engineer from UF discusses U2 recording gear:

    Looking forward to your upcoming cage match series:
    Jonny Buckland vs Nigel Hendroff
    John Mayer vs Daniel Carson

  7. I can just imagine the exiled Jews in Babylon, trying to hang on to their heritage as they’re slowly being assimilated into a godless culture holding hands and singing a cheery ring around the rosey song like Everlasting God with all the postcard pictures and Thomas Kinkade imagery scrolling behind the words on sunday morning.

    What separates the Edge, especially in songs like Bullet, is that he explores and teaches the spectrum of emotions we all have and teaches us that it’s OK to host them. Lincoln, not so much. It’s all just emotionally unbalanced cheery stuff that seems to forget the Bible’s full of something we call lament and sadness. How would he sing the intro to Jeremiah 7 or Psalm 74?

  8. I hate to be the downer in the comments on this one, but when I think about songs the Edge soley wrote like Wake Up Dead Man, then see videos like the first Brewster one, I don’t think the artists can even compare. One falls in line with the social purpose of scripture and the other falls in line with the safe, secure, emotionally isolated metanarrative of American society.

  9. Thus far, everything is civil. This is fantastic. I tried to do my part, too; but it was really, really hard to talk that nicely about Lincoln’s playing! 😉 I mean…he rocks? hehehe Kidding, kidding…maybe…

    Mark–true. But one of those fruits I like a lot better…hehehe 😉

    Jamie–hear hear! I’m not a big Brewster fan, but I’ll take him any day over Black Eyed Peas! That’s who I get over here on the west coast, too. Gross.

    And which one are you referring to by the one delivering the real message? I’ve heard the argument go both ways–Edge for the real world altruism, and Lincoln for the obvious worship lyrics.

    However, I do take total offense (not really, but I’m trying to make a joke) to this statement: ‘U2 is not for everyone.’ False. U2 is absolutely for everyone, and if anyone doesn’t like them, I’ll shove them down their throats until they do. 😉 hehehe Totally joking…although one may argue that this entire blog is a shove of U2 down people’s throats. lol :)

    Rhoy–haha No, it wasn;t just you, brother. Almost every comment had something to do with either Lincoln or Edge. Well, at least Lincoln. I just like Edge. hehehe

    And good calls on those songs. Unfortunately with Lincoln, I was kind of limited by what was on youtube. hehe

    Kenrick–I have never been more frightened by my own face.

    Sal–Seriously. hehehe

    Nate–well……that was a tad bit facetious on my part. hehehe I think Lincoln is much better in the studio than live. However, that was also the only high quality live video I could find of him, unfortunately.

    However, great call on having a great team surrounding you. Amen to that.

    Ryan–I totally agree. I can’t make the song sound like him either, but I usually don’t really want to. My styles don’t gravitate towards him either. hehe

    Mike–Couldn’t have said it better. Yes, sometimes his solos seem a bit canned, and then just plopped after the second chorus of every song.

    Mark– + a ton!!

    Dan–I totally agree on Lincoln’s rhythmic technique. But even more so on Streets playing on a foggy morning. Pure bliss. As is Edge just in general. hehehe And insane link, brother!! Incredible stuff there. I read the whole page. Thank you for that!!

    hehehe Definite cage matches coming up, and I hate it when wordpress does that.

    James–No, I definitely hear where you’re coming from, and it warms my heart to hear such things. hehehe I think we do have a problem in Christianity in general today about ‘7th Heavening’ everything. But I do see the Biblical point as well, in joyously expressive songs. Maybe not in Lincoln’s churchy style, but just joyous songs in general. However, I think you’re right that the balance has tipped a good deal towards the happy churchy stuff, and there aren’t too many Godly laments left. Great comment!

  10. one of the things i noticed is that LB is mostly being judged with the newer stuff he did which in my opinion is a step-back from what he really can do. i actually like his old material better (especially first 2 albums) and i indulge you to go and listen to those if you haven’t yet … meanwhile, Edge has been mostly praised for his knack of well-placed simple (yet complex?!) melodic notes . but to me, if not for the great lyrics & contents of U2 songs, it would really sound repetitive.

    i listen to both maybe once a month. but i do like classic rock & roll, so maybe i am biased to LB’s style of playing — not much with his new materials, though.

  11. Well, they are both big line 6 fans. One took one of line 6’s brilliant designs and made you jealous he could do that with it, and the other took a design line 6 had good intentions with and made it sound trashy, and still made you wish you could do that with it….. Maybe their technical powers are equally matched in guitar computer technology world….

  12. This whole discussion conflicts me because philosophically I’m not sure that the LB style solos help bring people closer into intimate worship with their maker. It seems to draw unnecessary focus to the person playing the solo, not to our God. As a guitarist I love how they sound and enjoy listening to them but I really wonder if the speedy, flashy guitar solos helps facilitate a deeper worship relationship for the worshiper.

    When I get the nod to take a few bars I try to just play subtly off the melody or throw out some basic octave movements but that’s because I specifically don’t want to draw attention to myself or interrupt what God might be doing in the worshipers hearts at that moment.

    Possible topic for a future post: Are guitar solos a constructive tool for cultivating deeper worship and what kinds of solos are the most constructive.

    • Hey guys
      How are you all? Cool discussion!
      I used to think solos were ‘wrong’ in the context of worship, but no longer feel that. Something that really challenged me was that the oldies of my church kept asking me to play more and be free in being myself onstage at church. They are still encouraging me to stop holding back. And by oldies I mean people over 65.
      A little about me; I play professionally, and have been heavily influenced by Satch and Vai, and other instrumental players. I sometimes let that out in my playing in church. But it all depends on context. If it is a vibrant praise song and I get the chance to solo I try to play what my heart is feeling at the time. If it is ‘flashy’ I am only trying to express an ascpect of my relationship with God. I also play slow passages as well. It just depends on the mood/meaning/moment.
      I have had a background playing a lot of jazz as well, and I don’t really go off into chromatic explorations or strange chord substitutions as I don’t feel that would be relevant to my church, but in another context it may b fantastic.
      It really comes down to the hart of the person playing it, and that isn’t something we can judge, and it certainly isn’t our place to do so!

      • Hey Scotty! Great points. I agree that what may work for one church might not for another. Which is why I can say in clear conscience that Lincoln’s solos do very little for me personally; but when I see a video with thousands of people worshiping during that solo, obviously it does do something for other people. :) Which is awesome.

        I think the subject of whether or not certain parts of music draw too much attention away from God is a tricky one. I don’t think any of us are judging the heart of the person playing the solo, or the anti-solo, or the jazz progression, or the red guitar (lol) or whatever else. But even if your heart is in the right place, you can still cause a distraction. I know I’ve been a huge distraction before, doing something in the music that I thought fit perfectly and drew no attention to myself. But afterwards, people have come up and mentioned how much attention it drew to me, even though my heart was in the right place.

        However, like you pointed out, what draws unnecessary attention at one church, might be just the thing to get people into worship at another. Or maybe…especially in opening songs or what-not, in order to get people comfortable and to let their guard down so that they can engage in worship, a rocking solo or drum fill or bass rumble or whatever is totally necessary.

        I love what you said about the ‘mood/meaning/moment.’ Absolutely. I guess sometimes, since it’s not my style, I have a hard time when someone feels that a face melter is necessary for every mood/meaning/moment. lol And I’m like, ‘Silly rock ‘n roll guitarist. It’s ‘delay’ that’s necessary for every mood/meaning/moment. 😉 hehehe

        But great comment, brother. Thanks for jumping in to the discussion!

    • I think it’s a pretty far stretch to say that a guitar solo hinders a *deeper* worship relationship with God. I mean, do you hope that charismatic speakers should dull their message, or that phenomenal singers should keep it quiet? These are God given gifts. You don’t know what was laid on that guitarists heart when he played the solo. Rather than creating a man-made barrier here, why not let God direct the musician’s heart and playing?

      Your dilemma to me isn’t about guitarists playing solos. Instead, the issue is deeper rooted in how we worship and congregate today. Today’s churches are really experience-oriented churches. They make you experience amazing things, you’re surrounded by amazing musicians, speakers, singers, flashy lights, big screens, etc. It’s incredible. At the end of it it was an experience.

      Did you really fellowship and bring community with others who worshiped with you? Were you able to share how God impacted your life or struggles you’re currently facing? Were you able to help the poor in your communities and around the world? Most of the time the answer seems to be no. There’s a program director for each of those things and a committee and all you have time for on Saturday’s or Sunday’s is to hear the speaker (who may be phenomenal) and join in during the praise and worship time (or sit back and simply enjoy it), and then say hi to a few people you know for about 15 minutes before or after *church*.

      I realize my comment has gone a bit off-topic, but it drives me crazy when people claim that other people’s God given gifts and abilities hinder other people’s relationship with God. As much as a relationship with Christ involves community and fellowship, it is also a deeply personal one. If someone isn’t getting fed because of a guitar solo, then I have a feeling their are other obstacles in their relationship with Christ not allowing them to truly experience the wonder and joy of Christ. Rather than try to diminish someone (in this case the guitarist) by telling them they’re being selfish and to exploitative and it bothers other people, why don’t we try to actually build a deeper relationship with our Lord.

      Matthew 7:3 – Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

  13. Hmm, I haven’t personally been exposed to Brewster before (that’s what you get living half way round the world I guess)… but from those clips you posted I think I will definitely check out more of his stuff. We need some new music to freshen up our worship sets and LB might have the goods I think..

    .. might be a bit nervous suggesting his stuff though as our music director is currently in a bit of a “play the solos exactly like on the CD” phase, and there’s no way I could replicate what he is doing – nor am I sure I want to either – Brian raises some good points above. I love hearing and playing a good solo, and it actually enhances my worship personally, but it has to be add something to the movement of the song, and not be a flashy distraction.

    And I agree this statement should be heretical : “U2 is not for everyone” 😉

  14. Brian says “or interrupt what God might be doing in the worshipers hearts at that moment”… I think if you’re listening to the spirit when you are playing, you can’t interrupt what He’s doing.

    Karl – by “the message”, I was referencing the worship. Shake it all off and get to the core of it all, and isn’t that really what it’s all about? Frankly, I’m not so sure that God prefers either dotted eighths or “a crazy how did he fit that many notes in a slow song solo” – its what’s in the heart (unless of course your heart beats in dotted eighths which I am now sure yours does!!)



  15. I’m surprised to hear so many people down on LB and his “flashy” solos. I think it is incredible to hear his expression of worship through the solos that he writes. Who is it for us to judge whether it “belongs” in church worship or not or whether it’s constructive and uplifting to the body? This is HIS expression of worship to his creator we are lucky to have a fellow believer whose talents can go toe to toe with the best that secular music has to offer. Further, in my experience, the people that tend to discredit LB and his solos are the worship guitarists who all of a sudden find a spotlight being shown on their own musical shortcomings. This includes me! Remember how easy it was to mimic Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman worship tunes?! Now I actually have to push myself and–God-forbid–practice and work on my chops to uncomfortable limits to be able to rise to the occasion of an LB song! Good for him! Bad for all of us who have been satisfied with mediocrity in the gifts God has given us! Now, back to practicing Let The Praises Ring for next Sunday…Ugh!

  16. Gtr1ab–lol Me either. I know, I promised I would, and I will! Just haven’t been able to do it yet. hehehe

    Rhoy–thanks for letting me know! Not being a huge Brewster fan, the stuff I know is just whatever is popular, or what comes up on the youtube search. hehe But I’ll definitely go check out some older tunes.

    As for Edge being repetitive were it not for great melodies, at least for me, that’s kind of the point. If the exact same riff is what supports the melody best in two different songs, by all means, play the exact same riff! hehe But that’s just me. However, when I listen to a song like ‘Stand Up Comedy’, and then ‘In a Little While’, and then ‘Electrical Storm’, and then ‘Moment of Surrender’, and then ‘Even Better Than the Real Thing’, hehe, I think his playing anything but repetitive. (Especially considering he’s playing piano and strings on some of those songs, too!)

    But then again…I’m sure I’m extremely biased! haha

    Elliot–good point! Edge is definitely a wizard at his effects, and Lincoln, although I’m not hugely into his tone, it is the best tone I’ve heard from an amp modeler.

    Brian–great discussion point! I’m not sure how I feel about it either. I used to think it was the best expression of worship ever (in my metal days). And then I thought it was the most distracting thing ever and had no place in worship music. And that might still be how I felt, were it not for talking to some people who talked about being at a Brewster concert, and how the solos somehow just got them into worship. Interesting stuff. For me personally, I think it can be distracting, and I’ll only do it when asked. But then again, in a really joyous song, if the congregation is totally connecting in worship, and you’re just trying to show your joy for God as well……I guess as long as it’s not every song.

    But I just don’t really dig that style anyway, so I’m sure my opinion is somewhat biased.

    Great comment, though! And definitely perhaps a future blog post.

    Baggas–yes!! Someone who agrees with me on the fact that U2 ‘is’ for everyone! hehehe

    And really, really good point that even if its flashy, it should still be for the sake of furthering the song, and hence the worship, not for the sake of flash in itself.

    Jamie–I totally agree that if we’re truly listening to what God is saying, we won’t interrupt what He’s doing. But we’re human, and can be idiots, and I know for me personally, sometimes I’m not listening to what God is saying or where His Spirit is leading, even if I think I am. So it can be a good practice to have a certain belief system beforehand. Such as, ‘Even when emotions get high during the service, I am not going to just start solo’ing crazily, because I believe it will distract from people’s worship.’ At least, that works for me, as it can get difficult for me to discern on the spot what is God’s Spirit and what is emotionalism.

    And you’re totally right that God doesn’t care whether it’s dotted 8ths or a crazy solo. But then again, God doesn’t care whether the bassist is playing in A, the acoustic in G, and the piano in F#m. But the congregation does care, and we’re there to help ‘lead’ them in worshiping God. So then, we’re simply taking that seriously enough to think what might best help the song in order for people to best be able to use the music as vehicle to connect with God–and then hopefully they forget about the music altogether.

    But you’re right that there are sometimes we can get way too into how things sound, even though it’s a worthy cause. And in those instances, it’s great to strip everything away and maybe even take some time off to just worship God without the stage.

    Great comments! Really bringing up some great discussion points. And incredible photo of David Crowder. I’m gonna venture to say that he gets his very own category. lol

    Dan–I absolutely agree that Lincoln’s solos and styles of guitar are his own personal expression of worship to the Lord. And that transcends judgement. However, I think the question is not whether Lincoln is worshiping or not, but whether his worshiping could be a distraction to some. We should definitely be worshiping God while we are on stage; but we also have a responsibility to be ‘leading’ those not on stage. And whether it’s right or wrong, if anything is distracting the majority of the congregation from worshiping God, then scrap it. And if it’s helping the majority worship God, then awesome! Leave it in.

    And you make a great point that a lot of times we make fun of the things we can’t do as well. lol But in Lincoln’s case, at least for me, I can cop most of the solos…and I’m not an incredible guitarist; they’re not that hard when you actually listen to the good technique he’s using to get the to sound the way they do. But I don’t play them on the usual, because they just don’t do anything for me. Little churchy, little cheesey; but that’s just me! I can watch any live Lincoln Brewster video, and there’s about 10,000 people who disagree with me! hehe

    I do agree that learning his solos do make me work. And you’re right…that’s a great thing! We should always be working to improve our craft. But I put just as much time, if not more, into learning the correct way to get the two note drive solo in the Tomlin song to ‘sound’ the way it should, with the proper effects, and proper tone, so that it moves the song as it should; as well as creating my own textures and parts to hopefully help the song along even more. I think you can work hard at both. And for the record, I’ve met many a guitarist who can mimic a Brewster solo in 15 seconds flat, but it takes them days of practice to figure out what chord voicing with what delay setting is being used in the Phil Wickham song. And I’ve also met many a guitarist who think they’ve got the Brewster solo down, and definitely don’t. And who think they’ve got the ‘easy’ chord voicing down for Phil Wickham, and who definitely don’t. (And just for the record, I may be one of them. lol)

    But anyways, incredible discussion points you brought up! Cheers!

    • Thanks for your comments, Karl! I agree that we should be careful about creating distractions, but in my 20 years of worship experience, I think distractions occur more from music that is poorly performed. Most anything that is done with excellence can and is appreciated by most anyone…be it a guitar solo, poetry reading, dance or video montage. There is also this trend, it seems, to play everything down to the lowest common denominator–meaning if it’s not worshipful for everyone than it’s not worshipful for anyone. Now I know you didn’t say that–you specifically said we should be aiming for the majority of the congregation, and I agree, BUT there is also a heavy responsibility on us as worship leaders/players to not only create a worship environment but to also TEACH the congregation HOW to worship. We should always be looking for ways to help people grow and expand their small boxes of what worship is and should be. Many people are afraid to worship during a musical interlude because they don’t know how to. In fact, many times I worship LESS while SINGING because I’m having to concentrate so hard on the words scrolling by on the screen and the distraction of full motion video behind it! So I guess I’m suggesting that anything done with excellence toward our creator should and will be a worship experience for majority of people, and the onus is on us to teach and develop our congregations to be worshipers in many different scenarios. Here’s a question for everyone (including me)- When’s the last time we spoke to the congregation about why a guitar and/or sax solo is a worship statement to God? Could we even answer that question if it were asked? If we can’t then there should never be another solo played on stage. But if we can, then let’s use it as a teaching moment to encourage people to look at the talents that God has given each of them and help them realize that worship is not just participative singing, but it’s also in the appreciation of any gift that God has given and the response of praising Him when we see the gifts He’s given to other people being offered, as well!

  17. Thanks for always being so generous in your words, Karl. I agree with you re: needing to express everything from the gut-eating David must have felt after killing Uriah in the cover up, to the highest point of joy.

    I was just particularly struck by the scenery of escape in the first video and the melody in Everlasting God that anyone who actually needs an outlet to express their need for some hope won’t ever be able to let get behind.

  18. Stumbled across this video. Not sure what to make of it, laughed at first. Give Him Praise is definitely one of the most interesting and “fun to listen to” songs on Lincoln’s latest album ( Today is the Day ). Some church trying to do this song in this video.

    I have the CD but haven’t found this cut on youtube — all I’ve found is him discussing the song on youtube. Actually you can listen to the song here, but turn up the bass and listen to how the bass and guitar play that riff together:


    Weird seeing animated guitar solos amidst choir robes, but who am I to judge what works in somebody else’s church.

    As to minimalism, I think I am finding that when I accompany our other worship leader on electric. Besides me it’s a keyboard and the leader’s Taylor. Just strumming one chord per measure is quite often all I need to do to add a significant boost and bottom to the song — whole notes I guess is what I’m doing. I find very few places where little fills seem appropriate in the songs he chooses. On the one hand it could be considered boring for me, but more than one person has told me they really like how that fills out the sound without distracting.

    I have videos teaching how to do the 3 note upper register chord voicing stuff, but strumming full bar chords of Bm or E2 at the 7th fret is about as close as I get to that so far.

  19. Karl,

    To quote one of your earlier comments:

    “…But in Lincoln’s case, at least for me, I can cop most of the solos…and I’m not an incredible guitarist; they’re not that hard when you actually listen to the good technique he’s using to get the to sound the way they do…”

    To that I say: Really??? Maybe you could enlighten us a bit in one of your next amp demos?

  20. Dan–great points, and articulated extremely well. I think I’m just currently on the opposite swing of the pendulum right now, as it seems I keep running into worship leaders who basically explain away everything they do by saying that ‘the congregation just isn’t there yet’ or, ‘if they were just more spiritually mature’; when I’m thinking, ‘ya, or maybe we just sucked today, or picked a lame song, or were totally distracting, or not following God’s Spirit.’ So that’s where I’m at right now.

    But I love your point about teaching people how to worship through music. We should definitely be doing that; but it should be for their growing in Christ, not as an excuse for us to do what we want, or to be lazy. Does that make sense? I know that’s not what you’re saying, but it’s unfortunately what I seem to be running into quite often as of late. Almost as if because we can play an instrument, and someone told us we should ‘lead worship’, we automatically are more spiritual and more intelligent than the people not on stage.

    Hence, I think there is a balance to be found somewhere between teaching people about worship, and also realizing that just maybe we don’t have it completely figured out either, and if nobody appeared to be worshiping, maybe we were a distraction; maybe we chose poor songs; maybe we missed what God was trying to do that day; maybe we played a solo that right or wrong, did draw too much attention to us; and you’re right, maybe we didn’t teach as much as we should have.

    Now, I definitely have way less than 20 years experience leading worship, but if there’s one thing I have learned in my humble experience, it’s that I have been wrong enough times to know that I may not exactly have it all figured out; and that more often than not, the congregation is teaching me about true worship. :) But all that to say, I’m in absolute agreement with you; I just think there’s a balance somewhere. And by the way, thanks for bringing this up. I’m learning a lot! :)

    James–I’m totally with ya. I think a lot of people who are hurting and need an outlet, feel like they are completely alone and isolated when they walk into church, because all our songs and mannerisms say that you have to be as happy as a Taylor sounds, just to fit in. :) Good points, brother.

    Randy–Awesome point on minimalism! Especially if the rest of your team is affirming that it’s working. The other night, I played at a church where I was all stoked to hit the huge chords and just let them ring. But our loops weren’t working right, so the worship leader asked if I could fill the space witha riff. And he was right, but I was so bummed not to be able to just hear those chords ring. There is definitely something to be said for true minimalism. :) Great comment!

    Matt–hehehe Judging by the tone of your comment, I’m guessing when I wrote that, that it came off as slightly haughty? 😉 lol I’m sorry, I totally didn’t mean it to be. What I meant was that Lincoln uses a lot of open strings and anchored finger techniques that allow simple pull-offs to sound really, really fast. Almost every shred guitarist uses stuff like this. It’s great technique! I wasn’t trying to put him down at all or to say how good I am. I was actually trying to show how much I respect him for actually using good technique rather than just wailing aimlessly, and that if a hack like me can mimic it (albeit poorly), than it really can’t be too hard! hehe

    I do try to stay away from guitar technique videos, as I find them boring, and as there about a million guitarists on youtube better than me, but if you want, I can try to do a couple technique videos with the few techniques that I know.

    Here’s a video of him doing it acoustic. He doesn’t do all the bending stuff as that’s almost impossible on a steel string acoustic, but you can see that some of the fast sounding stuff is just well-phrased pull-offs with a finger anchored behind so that he can pull off as if they were open strings. (He also hits at least one clunker, which should make us all feel better!)


    hehe Love the clunker early on. Makes me feel like there’s hope for me after all.

    And again, so much apologies if that comment above sounded prideful. I was trying to talk myself down. Yikes, I mention one thing about Lincoln Brewster the post before, and I get myself into all kinds of trouble. lol Cheers!

    • Totally agree with balance, bro! And I would never suggest doing a solo just because we can. In fact I shudder whenever I get scheduled to do one (because of my own shortcomings)! I just like to advance the appreciation of alternative worship moments. If the church didn’t take risks, we still wouldn’t have drums or instruments that used electricty for heaven’s sake! So I think we can agree that given the appropriate times during worship, we shouldn’t be ashamed of using each one’s talents–be it great acoustic rhythm or a well laid lead part to honor the One who gave each one their ability for a purpose. At my church, solos seem to bring an air of excitement to a song–especially LB tunes. And then there is the awesomely tasty solo on his slower tune You Are The One. That solo takes the song to another level of worship beyond even the words, which are also phenominal. Okay, I’m done spewing! I looove your blog and pimp your articles all the time on my Facebook page. Peace

  21. Man, it can be hard to get an acoustic to sound good on a recording or even just being plugged in. You need good acoustic technique which people don’t often realize if a lot more difficult than electric. That said I’m not a fan of how the acoustic sounds in that video. You can take my statement how you like.

  22. Do I see a Taylor in your future???

    “because all our songs and mannerisms say that you have to be as happy as a Taylor sounds”

  23. Mark–good form. Very well-put!

    Dan–I hear ya that there are times when the big solo can infuse some energy. I remember years ago as a teenager, my worship leader at the time trying out a new guitarist (meaning I was on camera duties that night, and not so happy about it, might I mention), and he just nailed this solo in Forever King, way better than I ever could have. And it did bring the energy for the rest of the set pretty high, and it maintained even through the more intimate songs. It was very good. (Well, not at the time; but looking back on it. lol) Now, does that mean that I still wouldn’t do something that I think is more tasteful and helpful to the song during that spot? hehehe Yep. But that’s just a preference thing. :)

    I think it just depends on, like we were talking about earlier, where God is leading. One congregation’s worship is another congregation’s distraction, and vice versa. There might be a congregation out there that is so not used to effects sounds, that my ‘incredibly tasteful’ ( 😉 ) dotted 8th delay might just be the biggest distraction ever.

    Kenrick–lol Totally!! That’s the best ever. Usually with me it’s ‘Are you guys excited to be worshiping the Lord this morning?!’ And their answer is most definitely ‘No.’ hehehe

    Colty–lol That was awesome.

    Sal–haha I’m working on it. If I do take that plunge, it’ll be the 514, which has the mellower and warmer cedar/mahogany wood combination. Sounds like a cross between the bright punch of a Taylor and the woody warmth of a Martin. Me like. :)

  24. Karl, thanks so much for that post. I loved it.

    I am a huge LB fan and have been waiting for you to take this comparison head on. It was awesome and I had a lot of fun reading it.

    (My two cents)

    In the wide world of music, The Edge has undoubtedly contributed more to music and guitar playing.

    But, (there is always a but) just the fact that we are comparing a worship leader from Bayside to an international guitarist from Ireland says something about what LB is doing.

    I think that both guitarist have a skill we haven’t touched upon yet. They both zig when everyone else zags (follow me on this one).

    It’ the early 80’s and everyone is putting out these million-note-a-minute solos. What does The Edge do? He bucks the trend. He develops a style that is very different from the music of his day. He “zigs” when others “zag”

    20 years later: the anti-solo is everywhere (The Edge deserves props for this). On top 40 radio both secular and christian, the anti-solo is the time tested default.

    Lincoln decides to zigs when everyone else is zagging.

    Although there isn’t a special “Lincoln” setting on delay pedals, he is definitely filling in a huge gap in modern worship music.

    Karl, thanks again for such an awesome post.

  25. Karl says, “There might be a congregation out there that is so not used to effects sounds”.

    Oh, you said it bro!!! 18 months ago, the looks on people’s faces when I started using delay and some other effects into the guitar playing at worship. Now, its common-place and being asked for to do some of the little things I slowly added into the songs. This has not only been great for stretching me, but its been awesome for the whole worship team to expand and give something new for the other guitarists to do.

    The congregation loves it. The energy level is high and as long as nobody on the team tries to stand out, it carries itself into the full worship experience that not only the congregation wants to participate in, but what He so longs for us to do.

  26. Jed–always nice to hear from the Brewster fans! hehe I’m trying to be…I really am! 😉

    But you make a good point that Lincoln is making enough of a splash that we have discussions like this. Although, to be fair, there was a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek aspect to this post. hehe And of course, this is Christian world only. Very few of my non-Christian readers ventured a comment here. But I will concede that he has definitely polarized the Christian guitarist world enough to force me to turn a comment from a previous post into a whole article.

    As for the originality aspect, it seems I’m still hearing a lot of face-melting. The popularity of Metallica’s latest album going back to their ’80’s roots, The Darkness a few years back, Dream Theatre is still very much alive and running, Santana’s been cracking the tops of the charts again, Louis XIV, The Music, etc. Can’t think of any popular Christian bands though, so I do agree that he may be ‘bringing something back’ in that area. However, I do seem to hear tons and tons of tasteless parts, instrumental breaks, and songs themselves, all over both secular and Christian music. Whether or not they are solos or anti-solos, I don’t know. But a solo, a drive, a chord progression, a face-melt, a groove, whatever they are, it all means nothing without taste……and that’s where I think Edge is still leading the pack. (And of course, remember how much of my uncontrollable bias is packed into that statement. lol)

    So, all that to say that I agree with you…Brewster is doing something that most Christian bands aren’t. And I applaud that. I guess, just for my own personal styles, I wish he had chosen to be original in other ways that I feel might be much more necessary in Christian music today: new lyrics, more folk, more drive, less originality just for originality’s sake, more honesty, more soul, more escapist chord progressions, etc. But instead, he chose face-melting. :)

    BUT…and here’s the huge part of it…all this is coming from a little guy at a little church who decided to start a blog that Lincoln Brewster will never, ever read. I have my biased opinions; but they matter very little when I see videos of thousands of people worshiping God while Lincoln is leading. That is awesome no matter how you look at it, and gives me cause to say that I just might be……eh……wrong. Always so hard to say. lol Great comment!

    And on the Bullets video…totally agreed! :)

    Jamie–Nice! So you actually introduced that element into the worship, but tastefully? Props to you, brother. :) That is way cool, and very difficult to do, I’m sure. Absolutely love it. (Well, it’s delay, of course! 😉 )

  27. All I know is that “pain heals… chicks dig scars… and [The Edge’s] glory lasts forever more” 😉

    Although, I think Lincoln’s testimony blow’s “The Edge’s” out of the water… I mean really, how do you go from playing guitar for Steve Perry to volunteering to run cables for the unqualified sound guy in your Church??? Only by the grace of God!

  28. Eric–Mmm…Edge is awesome. But Lincoln’s story of not parading himself as a worship leader, but just humbly serving is incredibly amazing. Way, way cool! Good times.

    Sal–nice! For some reason, I wanted to say Pointe Break. hehehe

  29. This contest is really no contest at all. No one can beat the tone, the elegant touch or the masterful yet tasteful use of effects of the greatest guitarist who ever picked up the instrument………..Henry Kaiser FTW!

  30. I must make this short and just say that many of your comments about Lincoln really hurt, down to the core of my being. I cried even. I believe Lincoln to be the absolute best in worship leaders, authentic and (to make a paraphrase) ‘he who is without any fault here cast the first stone.’ Let us be thankful God likes variety. Not all of us have the talent of The Edge or that like Lincoln, but we are all unique individuals. God Bless all of those who worship our Creator God, Amen??

  31. Cindy,

    Why would *you* be hurt? I think God wants us to wrestle with life and all we are doing is having a conversation about how we can personally do what we do better. Asking questions, contemplating, etc. My perspective has nothing to do with the person of Lincoln Brewster. I don’t know him personally but I would hope that he is asking God the same kinds of questions about how He wants to use his gifts. Not sure why you would take offense at any of that.

  32. Hi Brian:

    That sounds good – that your goal is to improve upon the God-given talents you (or others) have, but the comments I read seemed like a personal attack. I guess I misunderstood? Yes, I do believe we should all ask God how to use our gifts, and even improve on them. Thank you for the clarification. :)

  33. Cindy–I greatly apologize. It’s never my intention for this blog to bring tears. I try to be objective in my posts, but also honest; and I try to make it intriguing enough for people to actually want to read it. However, sometimes that can lead to misreadings; and I’ll admit, because I’m not perfect, I’m sure at times I go too far.

    So to clarify, this post was to bring up two very different styles of playing, and to shed some light on the merit and the mediocrity of both, in an effort to help us as worship musicians learn something and better our own playing.

    Now personally, I do not care for Lincoln Brewster’s style of playing. That’s nothing against him as a person. In fact, when Lincoln Brewster plays, thousands of people show up. Thousands of people connect with the Lord. That’s the bottom line, and that is what matters. However, just because someone is doing something great for the Lord, doesn’t mean we all have to enjoy their particular style. I respect Lincoln. I definitely wouldn’t want him to quit. And he reaches far more people than I do. But his music just doesn’t reach me. It’s not my style. And I know a good many people to whom his music doesn’t reach either. As such, it’s important to critique it, and see where we can do things differently to try to reach the audience that doesn’t identify with Lincoln’s style.

    And I think that is a great thing! If we all liked the same music, or the same art, life would be boring, and there wouldn’t be room for the vast and diverse amount of worship leaders we have today. There are many different styles, reaching many different people. I applaud Lincoln, and what He does for the Lord, and the fact that so many can identify with it. But I don’t listen to much of his stuff.

    Again, my sincere apologies if anything came off as a personal attack. I try to make a concerted effort to make sure that any quip I may have is directed at styles and artistic expressions, never at the person’s heart. I tried to make that clear in the article, but it is very likely that I failed. I seem to do that often. haha :)

    Anyway, it’s wonderful to have you reading here, and I sincerely hope your next visit will be a more pleasant one.

    In Christ,

    Brian–well said. I would hope Lincoln is asking those questions as well, and that if he ever heard me play, that he’d have some good and pointed criticisms of my playing too, so I could learn from them. (Well, I’d probably get all defensive first, but I’m sure I’d learn eventually. hehe)

  34. Karl:

    Apology accepted. And I’m also sorry I felt so defensive. Today is the first day I have actually ever seen your website. It is definitely interesting!

    and Brian:

    I can see, by your own words, you are also a very defensive person as well. (Myself, I’m good at jumping to conclusions. ) We are only human, and I’m a work in progress.

    God Bless you all and have a good evening.

  35. Karl, check out Lincoln’s Give Him Praise here: Find the song and click “listen”

    Aside from anything else he does, how do you like that one? Not as something you could use in your church, but just the music. Perhaps someone could use it in a youth function of some sort — assuming your band could pull it off. Great bass groove. I received an instrumental jam version of that on DVD that came with a worship musician magazine — wish I could find that on Youtube or something — really fun to watch Lincoln, his bass player ( Norm Stockton? ) etc having a ball.

  36. Ah, here’s the DVD version. So this might be a whole new blog topic: Can Christian musicians, once in a while, just do something for fun with no particular “Spiritual justification”?


  37. Cindy–no need to apologize. :) I think the problem arises every once in a while because we’re all typing, not talking. And sometimes it’s really hard to judge someone’s tone, intent, and heart from just the written word, as opposed to the spoken word. I appreciate your taking the time to bring up your point of view. That’s how iron sharpens iron, and I have a lot of respect for you for that. :) Cheers!

    Randy–Just listened to the ‘Give Him Praise’ song. Not really into it myself (apart from a certain musical respect aspect, as it is obviously a very competent song musically), but it is a lot of fun, and I know were we able to pull it off, a lot of people at my church would just totally dig it! Especially if we had the choir, too. Thanks for pointing me towards that!

    As for the jam, very cool. And I certainly hope that sometimes we can just have fun and enjoy God’s gifts of life, art, people, energy, joy, etc., without any need for specific spiritual application. Otherwise I’ve got a lot movies to throw out, a lot of restaurants I can’t eat at anymore, and a lot of confessing to do for times I’m just jamming out at home without playing a worship song! haha 😉 Great point you bring up, brother!

    Oh, and as for those videos you posted. I like the second one better. His tone seems to have better clarity in the treble on that one. 😉 hehehe

  38. Hi all. I just stumbled across the blog and was excited to see a reasoned (more or less) discussion on topics like this. So FWIW here are my two cents:

    God made music. Period. He made it possible and endowed His creation to utilize it to praise Him, celebrate the majesty of His creation, encourage one another, motivate, and allow for introspection. Music is one of those things that for me literally shouts from the mountains HE IS!

    There I got that off of my chest. I find that in my discussions with Christians, we tend to want to write off “secular” music because it’s not glorifying to Him or edifying to the body when what we are really taking issue with the the lyrics. AC/DC music can really get me going and I thoroughly enjoy it but the lyrics are, um well problematic. At the same time I can listen to a Tomlin song and well the lyrics are amazing but the music is uninspiring. That’s what we get from a fallen creation. For me the key is emotion, regardless of style. I was at Red Rocks when U2 recorded Under a Blood Red Sky and I went to a local church to listen and worship with Lincoln Brewster. Each has their own merits, each was excellent. A lot of the kids that I teach guitar to want to play as fast as Michael Angelo Batio, which is great, when in the right context. Just as the right effects, in the right context, can help define the underlying mood of the song.

    To me, Lincoln is no better or worse than the Edge or any other guitarist as long as they do what Psalms 33:3 instructs us. I like what Lincoln does, I like what the Edge does, I like what George Lynch does, I like what Django Reinhardt does. Do you take your instrument and make it your voice?

    Wow. What a rambling post. Suffice it to say, as long as someone is sweeping like mad (ala Avenged Sevenfold) or playing some kind of death metal, as long as it is played with emotion and care, I’m in.

  39. Not to raise this from the dead but, is there a difference between group worship and performance? Both can bring God glory and yet I think they are two different animals.
    I want the experience and feel of Sunday morning to be different from the Skillet concert the night before, even though God is very present in both places and is receiving glory and praise, it’s different. We’ve all seen worship leaders (and musicians) who are performing rather than leading worship. I believe the problems arise when this happens. I think the real skill is found in leading worship, because the leader “leads” and wants the listeners to follow him to God’s presence. When you perform it’s like art: the artist is expressing what moves him and thats all that matters, the creation, not the reception. Of course, performers feed off an audience, which also happens during worship services.
    I love to listen to a great loooong solo (think comfortably numb, Gary Moore’s red house) but would find this distracting during a worship set.
    Maybe I’m splitting musical hairs……….

  40. ZDennis–Thanks for your comment, bro! I agree quite heavily with your point about the current western church being very experiential, and that we probably miss a lot of what God intended church to be because that’s the only way we seem to know how to do church. Personally, I have no problem with experiential church…until it starts to become the only hour each week we ever do anything about God. I think productions about God are fine, as long as we don’t chalk that up to being our whole week’s worth of Him.

    I also totally agree that none of us can judge another’s heart. Well, we can and we do, but we’re usually wrong. 😉 hehe But I don’t think anyone here is questioning Mr. Brewster’s motives for solos. The question is whether those solos are the best possible musical choice to help a listening group of people give glory to God. As a worship leader, I do feel a responsibility to ask those questions. Just as if, were I to see a Dflat7/C# on a piece of sheet music, I would question whether it might help people be less distracted if we just skipped that chord, or simply played a D or a D7. Same thing with solos. If I see a solo that starts to take the song in a different direction, I ask myself that were my team to do this song, would it be less distracting were we to cut the solo out. That’s not to say that the person playing the solo is doing it for the wrong motives, or even that playing the solo itself is wrong. Just that as long as I’m the one putting forth the music and asking the congregation to sing along, and have an experience of letting go and recklessly praising God, I feel like I have the responsibility of making that experience the easiest it can possibly be for them to engage in it.

    Now then, of course the argument can then be made that people shouldn’t need distracting or non-distracting music to be able to worship in the first place. They should be able to worship no matter what. Which would be true. But then the question must be asked: then why even use music in the first place? If people should be able to worship with or without it, then why even use it in the first place? The point is that music is not needed; but we have chosen to use it, and as long as we are, my suggestion is to use it to communicate the worship to the congregation as clearly as possible. Sometimes that means a solo; and sometimes that means holding yourself back. We’re not asking people to hide their skills; but rather, to call upon a different skill set every once in a while. The skillset called musicianship. Just because a drummer can play septuplets, doesn’t mean he needs to play them constantly. Some songs, maybe not at all. Same with solos.

    I don’t think anyone is disparaging Lincoln as a person, or saying that he isn’t worshiping. And like I’ve said in previous comments, many people definitely seem to be worshiping God to his tunes. Which is fantastic. Just for me personally, when I feel like singing to God, I get far less distracted playing a Phil Wickham cd than I do a Lincoln Brewster cd. Just me personally. :) For others, it might be the other way around. Bottom line is that I think that even if we can worship best while we are solo’ing, we need to remember that the congregation might be able to worship best without it. There’s a difference between personal and corporate worship.

    Either way, I appreciate your comment, and your added perspective to this discussion between all of us little humans doing our best to discover the best ways to help a group of people raise a song up to God, and to experience Him. :)


    Craig–good call. hehe Especially his looping stuff!

    Rich–wow, so sorry that I missed this post in September! What a great way to describe playing for God, and using your musicianship to decide which is the right context for certain styles of playing. I really appreciate that perspective, and can’t say it much better.

    Except to say that I also think God can be glorified with secular music, and perhaps even by musicians not trying to glorify Him. Oh, and I’m very jealous that you were at Red Rocks! hahaha :)

    Mark–ooh, incredible point, and no, I don’t think you’re splitting hairs at all. There is a huge difference, in my humble opinion, between personal and corporate worship. For instance, one of the most intimate times for me as I’m worshiping God through music, is to go through the process of writing a song for Him. It’s a beautiful time between Him and me as I’m writing to Him. But it takes hours and some of the chord progressions don’t work, or the lyrics don’t make sense. I of course change them later, but can you imagine doing that in front of a congregation? It would be complete selfishness. You’ve got a gathering of people who are just asking you to play a simple tune, so they can sing their hearts out together to God. And then you’re saying, ‘Well, that’s an okay way to worship, but this is what really does it for me.’ And then they can’t worship alongside you at all, unless they totally detach from the music and worship on their own. In which case, why should they have come at all?

    Now I know that’s an extreme example, but the principle remains the same, even to the slightest degree. In front of people, we are there to help lead others in worshiping corporately. And sometimes that means denying ourselves the ways we like to worship. Doesn’t mean we can’t do it personally when we get home in an hour. Just as a pastor doesn’t get on stage and start studying the Bible. You know, looking up verses, mumbling to himself. Because that doesn’t include the congregation who showed up to learn. Just as sometimes our personal worship, leaves behind a congregation who’s just pleading for a simple melody to sing their hearts out to.

    As you can probably see, I’m totally with you on this point! :) hehe Great comment!

  41. Uhhh…. “‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all [is] vanity.’…” “And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.” Eccl. 1:2, 17

  42. Great verse, Eric! I must admit though, I’m having trouble fitting it into the context of this conversation. Either you’re saying that this whole conversation has been long and pointless, or that perhaps just my last comment has been long and pointless. Or perhaps the post itself. I would disagree on all 3 counts, but I could definitely understand your seeing it that way. 😉 hehe

    Or maybe it’s that solos are vanity? Or perhaps worshiping personally and forgetting about the congregation is vanity? You’ll probably need to clear this up for me. :)

    On a different note, I find it interesting that in this verse, he is appearing to be saying that even trying to know the difference between wisdom and folly, ends up being vanity. Which might be contradicted by what he wrote in Proverbs 8; unless we take some of Ecclesiastes to be an outpouring of a wise man’s soul, and not necessarily gospel.

    Interesting thing, that Bible. :)

  43. Ha, ha… I guess it was more of a joke than anything. I do believe that wisdom in this area must be sought out. I was just acknowledging that this conversation could go on forever and ever and at some point it becomes like “grasping for the wind” and maybe even a little vain (as Solomon says everything is).

    The reality is that different cultures have different styles of music and even worship. To say that my style is more holy than another is vain. There’s no easy way to say that one.

    Why are we so afraid to aknowledge that the culture of your Church/Community might worship more with anti-solos while the culture of my Church/Community might worship more with the solo? It’s like saying that verse by verse is the only way to teach the Bible. It’s a great way to teach and in fact my preferred method, but not the only method.

    You know me Karl, I love to lead worship with just an acoustic guitar and some voices. That’s my favorite, but I’ve learned over the years that people are drawn to God through all different types of music. To be honest, we’re probably the closest to God when there’s no music at all, but if we did that in Church every week, we’d probably be sitting by ourselves.

    On the other hand, if we brought in an African Tootsie Choir to lead worship for our Church, people might think it was awesome for a week, but after a while we’d once again be sitting by ourselves… or with a bunch of immigrants from Africa… which might be cool in itself. The bottom line is, it’s not more or less holy, it’s just not our culture.

    In other words, if Lincoln Brewster is what your culture likes then rock the solo… If The Edge is what they like then rock the dotted eighth… Because as your original post said, “It’s [really all] about whatever is going to push the music to beat people’s hearts…”

    Man, I can’t believe I had that much to say about the issue! I’m so vain!!! 😉

  44. Wow! Lot of good stuff in there! :)

    I totally agree with what you said about sometimes having to do something different than what we like in order to reach the congregation. That’s huge, and something I’m still learning; meaning, that in our valley, if we’re really serious about reaching people, we should probably be doing a couple country-pop songs every once in a while. 😉

    I also like what you said about the choir. That sometimes something different seems like it’s the best thing ever…but if you did it too much, it’d cease to be special anymore, and people would tire of it.

    As far as what works for different churches, I do agree. Different things do work for different churches. But there’s a balance between that, and between the right way. I think that’s where the wisdom comes in; to know when an issue is a right/wrong issue, and when it’s a culturally relevant issue. For instance, playing a C# and a D at the same time might be a right/wrong issue, whereas solos vs. anti-solos might be a cultural issue. But then again, to some people solos versus anti-solos might be a right or wrong issue. Not saying it is, just that we’re all on a search for truth, and we’re doing the best we can. I think some things can be written up to congregational/cultural relevance, but I don’t think that should be used as an out in order to stop searching for truth and the best ways to worship God, both through music and otherwise. I think that’s part of giving God our best.

    But at the same time, we can become so bogged down in seeking how to worship Him, that we forget to ever actually worship Him. Guess there’s a balance there, too. :)

    Great comment!

  45. Balance… wow, there’s that word again!

    My Pastor once said in regards to style of worship, “It has to work for me and my family.” I’ve never heard that before. At first it sounds kind of selfish, but when you think about it, could you imagine going to a Church where you couldn’t stand the worship? Let alone, what if you Pastored a Church and each week you dreaded the thought of going to Church because of the people, the music or the vision of the Church.

    Maybe it’s just because of my own Corporate America Church mentality, but I don’t think I’d be in ministry if I felt that I had to endure the music/people/vision of my Church.

    What do you think?

  46. I totally agree, and I do think a lot of that mindset has to do with our corporate American mentality…but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Because in America, everything is done big, and done en mass. So, we have choices between churches. So if there’s two churches right next to each other and one plays music I like, and the other music I don’t like, then I’ll choose the one with the music I like, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    Now, if we were in another country, or if suddenly there was only one church within 100 square miles, and we didn’t like the music at the one church, then at that point we still need to attend that church whether we like it or not. Dislike of styles isn’t a reason not to go to church; but as long as we have a choice in America right now, may as well be grateful for it, I suppose. :)

    That’s my thoughts. I think I’m pretty much agreeing with you. :)

  47. I like some of LB’s solos and some of them just seem like “wank-fest.” But I really HATE when he does the “wah pedal- chicken scratch” rhythmic solos that don’t have any notes. That drives me insane! It’s like “look how fast I can move my right hand!” Please… just stop.
    I used to be a guitar shred nut back in high school but now I’m definitely more of an Edge guy, especially in worship. I think I’m more of an Edge fan than actually U2 (although I do love a lot of U2 stuff). Is that a strange thing to say? Heresy perhaps? I don’t know but it’s the truth.

  48. Daniel–no, I know a lot of folks like that about Edge and U2. And I agree about Lincoln…I can half dig some of the stuff, but a lot of it kind of goes way off into the distance. hehe :)

    KennyG–mmmm…..good call. That’s a great album.

    Daniel–mmmm…Edge solo work. 😉

  49. Brian:

    This whole discussion conflicts me because philosophically I’m not sure that the LB style solos help bring people closer into intimate worship with their maker. It seems to draw unnecessary focus to the person playing the solo, not to our God. As a guitarist I love how they sound and enjoy listening to them but I really wonder if the speedy, flashy guitar solos helps facilitate a deeper worship relationship for the worshiper.
    ….Possible topic for a future post: Are guitar solos a constructive tool for cultivating deeper worship and what kinds of solos are the most constructive.

    I think you’re missing the point by assuming “guilt by association”. Secular culture associates a guitar solo with worhiping the guitarist, but the Christian worldview is so countercultural to this.

    Psalm 33:3 says, “…play skillfully”. It doesn’t give a disclaimer like, “but not if people incorrectly give attention to the musician”.

    We have a choice, We can enjoy a great C.S. Lewis book and give Lewis the glory, or God. We can look at the Grand Canyon and give the mindless chance of evolution the glory or God. We can enjoy great musicianship and give the musician the glory or God.

    But I do see that God’s intention in Scripture is that we give our best to him as an act of worship. The musician should be able to give his or her best. The congregation should be able to give God the glory and not the musician.

  50. One more thought:

    Should a stunningly handsome or beautiful person refrain from singing, playing an instrument or preaching during a church service so as to avoid being a distraction to the congregation?

    If you say, “that is different, their appearance is part of who they are”, I would ask WHY would God make this so?

    Finally, so many musicians “water down” worship music, not only in terms of simplifying parts, but also simplifying compositions, because of this mindset of avoiding congregational distractions (and to keep things simpler for amateur/volunteer worship bands).

    A consequence of this mentality is that a great many people in the congregation find Christian music boring. I love a well-placed, tasteful minimalistic solo but if I get it, or the Lincoln Brewster solo all the time, I’m bored, the music is predictable and the music becomes formulaic.

    I personally want to hear musicians who are playing skilfully for the Lord so that I can give Him (not them) the glory. And there’s nothing wrong with patting a brother or sister on the back for the skill He has given them as well…..

  51. Karl said earlier: “But even if your heart is in the right place, you can still cause a distraction. I know I’ve been a huge distraction before, doing something in the music that I thought fit perfectly and drew no attention to myself. But afterwards, people have come up and mentioned how much attention it drew to me, even though my heart was in the right place.”

    Greg’s current comment:

    I think the question is not whether or not people’s attentions are being drawn to you. The question becomes, “who are you drawing their attention towards?”

    If people look at me because of a flashy guitar solo (and I’m a worship leader so they often look at me anyhow), they’ll find me pointing back to God.

  52. Anonymous–I totally hear where you’re coming from. And I agree that we should play skillfully, in accordance with Psalm 33. However, I do think that we’re each going to have a different definition of ‘skillfully.’ For some, that means technical scales, interesting modes, and great finger dexterity. For others, it can mean a really well-written two chord song. In fact, when you look at the number of guitar solo’s out there compared to the number of actual great songs and melodies, it might possibly be argued that a great sounding simplistic song takes even more skill than a fast or ‘skillful’ solo… I’m not going to make that argument, as I feel it’s still incomplete, but it is something interesting to think about.

    As far musicians being able to play with skill and the congregation at a place where ‘they should be able to worship without looking at the musician’, I think that’s great. And there have been a few times when I’ve been lucky enough to play in those situations. But what about the majority of times when we’re playing for less than perfect people (hehe, all of us!) who might mess up and get distracted by looking at us? Obviously, we can’t help all of that, but I will say that if it’s between playing something that might cause a distraction (anti-solo’s and minimalism included) in order to try to follow a Psalm 33 commandment that I can just as easily follow in my bedroom later on that day, and between loving the congregation enough to try to make up for their ‘shortcomings’ by playing something that will put me more in the background to help teach them not to look at me, then I’m going to err on the side of love.

    Just my personal convictions. Obviously, I’ve seen many people giving glory to God while a guitarist melts their faces off. And if that works in that particular church, and God is being glorified, then awesome!! :)

    Greg–good point on the good-looking people! Luckily, I don’t have to deal with that personally. 😉 lol

    But in all seriousness, I don’t think a beautiful person should have to hide their beauty. However, I would ask a beautiful person on my worship team to still make an effort not to be a distraction. If I’ve got a totally ripped dude on my team and he’s constantly wearing skin-tight shirts, I might ask him to wear something looser and less distracting. Same with a particularly beautiful woman…I might ask her to tone down the makeup a bit when I start to hear the high school kids in front talking about her. Paul even talks about this modesty. It’s not so much so that they can’t be who they are, it’s a heart issue: what’s more important to you, being who you are, or loving people enough to say, ‘Alright, I’ll concede a bit of who I am in order to help others be less distracted.’ I agree that in a perfect world, it shouldn’t be like that; but we don’t live in a perfect world, and in that case, I think love should be the over-riding motive here.

    I think in the end, it comes down to…where is your heart? If it’s for loving people enough to ‘water down’ your music so that they can worship, then God bless you. And if it’s solo’ing like crazy because your particular congregation gets bored and stops connecting with God otherwise, then God bless that solo.

    And as far as people looking at you, and then you pointing them back to God. I’m all for that! It’s just that in a worship service, where the actual point of the service is for people to directly be worshiping God (as opposed to a concert or just musical art, where the glorification of God might be more indirect), sometimes I like to cut out the middle man a bit, and try to direct them just to God without ever viewing me. Granted though, that’s difficult to do, no matter what style you play! But I really appreciate the conversation, brother, as we both strive together to worship an amazing God and help others do the same.

    Lastly, I edited your last comment, because if I remember correctly, I only actually said the first paragraph of what you quoted me on. Sorry, the comment quoting on this blog needs some technical work. I’m trying to fix it! Thanks!

  53. Matt:

    To quote one of your earlier comments:
    “…But in Lincoln’s case, at least for me, I can cop most of the solos…and I’m not an incredible guitarist; they’re not that hard when you actually listen to the good technique he’s using to get the to sound the way they do…”
    To that I say: Really??? Maybe you could enlighten us a bit in one of your next amp demos?

    Karl, I’ve not listened to you play so this is not a criticism of your abilities, but I have a hard time thinking that you really can play a Brewster solo if you’re saying that they are easy. When you mention Brewster doing lots of pull-offs, that further confirms my opinion.

    Brewster’s most difficult lines are definitely alternate picked. Most guitarists can’t do this for fast leads. Also, Brewster seems to combine pentatonic lines with arpeggios and wide intervals across a string that are not very common.

    One of his lines on the solo of God Reigns is deceptive in that it sounds like he is playing a quick line via string crossing to get the 4th interval, but he is actually stretching across a 6 fret range to execute the lick.

    I teach guitar and have never yet had a student be able to nail his solos after teaching them. You could chalk that up to my being a bad teacher, but it really is because the students have to build up a combination of alternate picking technique with practicing 3 notes/string pentatonics, 4 notes/string diatonics and various arpeggios. None of that stuff is obvious or intuitive for an average guitarist.

  54. Greg, did I really say that? haha I must’ve been getting a little hot under the collar at that moment or something. Definitely not something I’m proud of saying. To rephrase, a year or two after I originally wrote this post, I think Mr. Brewster uses some really good technique, that once mastered, can give the appearance of a speed or sound that’s impossible to achieve. But with time and practice spent into that technique, it is possible, albeit difficult……and probably impossible to replicate perfectly by a very, very below average guitarist such as myself. :)

    Wow, it’s really humbling that I wrote a statement as prideful as that. What is further humbling is that a couple months ago I was playing at a church and asked to do the ‘Everlasting God’ solo. I practiced and practiced, and finally got it to a point where I felt that it sounded like a pretty decent cover……sitting down in a controlled environment in my apartment. 😉 When I got in front of everyone that Sunday morning, in a live situation, I totally choked! Ended up cutting out half the notes and doing a lot of face-contorting bends so it looked like I was doing a lot more than what I was doing. haha

    So, thanks for pointing out a comment I wish I could’ve forgotten. lol Hope you’re having a great day, brother.

  55. just to keep this fresh, Lincoln actually released a single last month called “Reaching For You”. It’s actually good, though, it does sound similar to something I just can’t remember.

    And it has a wickedly-deceptive solo 😆

  56. Interesting. It’s hard to tell from the 30-second clip I found, but his music just doesn’t do much for me. However, I am stoked about how many people it does do something for and reaches with Christ’s love. :)

  57. Great comments here!!! I am a worship leader/musician. I am very influenced by LB and the Edge…I love both of their styles…very different. Someone said that LB was better because he was sending a “real” message (or something to that nature). I have to defend U2 here…There music is very spiritual and have a Christian message…”Still haven’t found what I’m looking for”–gospel lyric…In the name of love….This is worship but not in the churchy manner…U2 lifts our creator through music in a more artistic manner!!! Listen to this and tell me it’s not worship:

  58. I have to say I tend to practice more in the style of LB….When I think of the Edge’s playing, I think about how he uses multiple delay sequences to thicken the sound of their small band…He knows how to hit the right note at the right time that flows with the song sound….he is never overkill or shred in nature….everything feels sweet and nice and his guitar tone is immaculate.
    When I think of LB, I see how he is influenced by SRV and Hendrix….Yet he finds a way to hit the sweet spots of the song…LB is so loose around the fretboard….He’s faster and and can get into shred territory but still sound groovy/bluesy in nature…He has amazing technique/ pick attack/ vibrato…He’s one of those guys that prove that tone is in the fingers!!!

  59. Greg–sorry I missed that comment! Yes, I agree that his songwriting is a bit under par for my particular tastes.

    Sam–totally agree on Edge. In fact, many times I prefer the way U2 presents God, because it seems real and from their hearts, without the tainting of how the Christian music industry would want them to present it.

    I’m not the hugest Brewster fan, but I will say that I agree with you on his phrasing. He chooses some great rhythmic passages within his solo’s, and I do try to practice those to get better at that. :)

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  61. Thought I’d weigh in here. I’m a big fan of both U2 and Lincoln Brewster and both have very different and distinct styles of playing. I remember the first time I heard a Lincoln Brewster song at my church and our worship leader ripped out the solo for Let the Praises Ring and that’s when I was like: “That’s what I want to do there man.” I have been playing guitar for about four years now and I can make educated attempts at Brewster’s more flashy solos like All to You(live version), Salvation is Here, What Kind of Man etc. Still haven’t tried to learn Let Your Glory Shine though. :) Though Lincoln’s solos might be overkill for a church setting but you can’t deny his obvious gift. As for the Edge, I was introduced later to U2 and their music lends itself to the Edge’s signature style of playing. Not to squash Mr. The Edge’s soloing ability just listen to the Red Rocks version of Electric Co. or a newer version of Bullet the Blue Sky for some of that kind of stuff. I can take things from both guitarists: Soloing from Lincoln and how to use the guitar as a part of a bigger movement from the Edge. I like to use both in my playing, (Lincoln style in moderation of course) so if you mix both together you’ll probably get David Gilmour but that’s an argument for another time. Thanks for reading my two cents and check out the new albums by both: Songs of Innocence from U2, and Oxygen from Lincoln Brewster.

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  63. Necroposting FTW! How did I go all these years without ever stumbling across this blog?

    Re: the whole guitar solo thing… I can’t sing to save my own life (just ask my wife! :) ), so my occasional forays into the turbulent waters of the guitar solo are my musical take on “groaning without words”, or, as one reviewer commented after hearing BB King: “First BB sings, then Lucille (he named his guitar) sings.”

    Oh, and this bit made my day, as Dave Gilmour is one of my main influences: “but I know very few guitarists who can consistently play dotted 8ths using their own rhythmic sense; so something that seems simple to us, was not so simple for the inventor of it. (And there is some argument that perhaps Alex Lifeson or David Gilmour actually ‘invented’ it. )”

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