We would like to celebrate some of the most unheard of guitar genres with you! How many of them do you know?

Palm- Wine Guitar

Origin: West Africa

What?  At the turn of the 20th century, Portuguese sailors brought guitars to shipping ports in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana. Their African shipmates used them to create a hybrid folk sound that merged guitars with local melodies, rhythms, and Trinidadian calypso. Its name comes from the palm wine drank while listening to music.

Sound?  A really distinctive and expressive style that is light and easy.

Instrumental Surf

Origin: Southern California, United States, late 1950s/ 1960’s

What? Surf music comes from the 1950s surf culture in Southern California. There are two major types - instrumental and vocal.  Instrumental surf uses reverb-heavy electric guitars to evoke the sound of crashing waves (think Dick Dale and the Del-Tones) whereas vocal surf takes that original sound and adds vocal harmonies (think the Beach Boys).

Sound? It has a medium to fast tempo and is dominated by electric guitars. Bands use amplifiers to create a "wet" spring reverb that creates a sound like crashing waves. Guitarists also use the vibrato arm on their guitars to bend the pitch of notes and rapid (alternating) tremolo picking.

Math Rock

Origin: Japan, Europe, and United States, 1980s onwards

What? Bands use complex rhythms, irregular time signatures, polymeters, syncopations, and tempo changes which makes it feel very “mathematical.”

Sound? Strong guitar and drum sounds with drums helping to provide complex rhythms. Guitarists often use tapping techniques and loop pedals to build on these rhythms.

Cute Metal (Kawaii Core)

Origin:  Japan early 2010s

What? Cute metal blends parts of heavy metal and J-pop with lyrics that have cute, lovable (Kawaii) themes.  Cute Metal is a lot less aggressive than other heavy metal styles.

Sound? A true combination of various types of heavy metal music, J-pop melodies, and a Japanese idol aesthetic.


Origin: Ireland and the UK in late 1980’s

What? Shoegaze gets its name from the musicians who were often looking down at their effects pedals during concerts. It emerged from neo-psychedelic groups who usually stood motionless during live performances.

Sound? Described as a wash of sound, Shoegaze incorporates overwhelmingly loud volume, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and bent or flanged guitars.


Origin: United States, 2000’s

What? Ninendocore is a style of metal music that mixes chiptune and video game music with hardcore punk and/or heavy metal. Its name was inspired by Nintendo, where many of the music samples come from.

Sound? Nintendocore frequently uses electric guitars, drum kits, and typical rock instrumentation alongside synthesizers, chiptune, 8-bit sounds, and electronically produced beats.

Jazz Fusion

Origin:  1960’s United States

What? Jazz fusion is a style of music that combines parts of jazz with rock, funk, and R&B, Influenced by rock and roll, Jazz musicians use electric guitars, amplifiers, and keyboards to create their sound.

Sound? Like Jazz or rock, arrangements can differ in complexity. Some employ groove-based vamps fixed to a single key or a single chord with a simple, repeated melody. Others use elaborate chord progressions, unconventional time signatures, or melodies with counter-melodies. Both types of arrangements typically include improvisation similar to other types of jazz.

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