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A guitar battle (or guitar duel) is where two or more guitar players take turns soloing, either with or without a rhythm section. The purpose of the guitar battle is to determine who among each of the guitar players present is the most proficient on the instrument. Often, it begins with the guitarists trading licks and phrases, while gradually increasing the complexity of the technique used. A guitar battle can be said to be over when one guitarist outplays (either through skill, endurance or the other guitarist(s) acknowledging that they cannot win) all the other guitar players present. This is also known among guitarists as a "head-cutting" duel.
Near the end of the 1986 film Crossroads, Eugene Martone (played by Ralph Macchio) has a guitar battle with Jack Butler (played by Steve Vai). Macchio's guitar work was actually done by Steve Vai and Ry Cooder.
In the 1991 documentary The Search for Robert Johnson, blues musician Johnny Shines re-enacts a headcutting battle he had with blues legend Robert Johnson on opposing street corners in Helena, Arkansas in the 1930s - to draw away each other's onlookers.
In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006), the two protagonists challenge the Devil to a rock duel. This is, apparently, part of the demon code.
A multiplayer game mode introduced in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, called Battle Mode, is based around the guitar battle concept, only the players may use special power-up items to force each other to fail.
- Schroeder, Patricia R. (2004). Robert Johnson, mythmaking, and contemporary American culture. University of Illinois Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-252-02915-8. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- John Hammond Jr. (Host), David Hunt (Prod., Dir.) (1991). "The Search for Robert Johnson" (Flash video, 24:20). Iambic Productions (Television production) (Channel 4 hosted at ClassicalTV.com).
- Guitar KnowledgeNet Guitar Dueling Page A site that allows guitarists to have guitar battles and have members vote for the player they like the best.
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