Janick Gers

Groupology: 
White Spirit, Gillan, Gogmagog, Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden
Strengths: 
Attitude - Gers' playing is ripe with it. Every lead spot he gets, love it or hate, is injected with plenty of fire and furious attitude. Check out the lead break in The Fallen Angel for a fine example.
Stage Presence - On the live stage, Janick is an endless fountain of explosive energy. He runs and jumps all over the stage, spinning and tossing his axe around while generally playing clean. Gers' energy tends to fuel the entire band into a more lively performance. The Rock In Rio DVD is a good place to look for some great Gers-isms.   
Songwriting - Gers is quite capable of writing some killer riffs and catchy melodies. Ghost Of The Navigator and Motsegur are good examples, as is Gillan's Bluesy Blue Sea and Dickinson's Son Of A Gun.
 He's also brought an interesting folk element into Maiden that has since become a staple in the band. Dance Of Death and The Talisman are prime examples.
Weaknesses: 

Chops - While Gers is a competent lead player with solid chops, he tends to sometimes get sloppy, especially live. The live Maiden album Death On The Road comes to mind. This could be attritbuted to his frantic and wild stage manner, or simply off-nights. In his defense it should be noted that when he is on, he's quite an impressive player. Over the last couple of years, Janick has become somewhat of a licks player. He has a range of signature licks he tends to slip into almost every lead spot he plays. Most of them are either flashy or melodic, and original. I have not heard them played before, or atleast not in the manner that he plays them. However, once you hear them song after song, they lose some of their impact. Despite this, he has proven he can still come up with fresh ideas on some of his leads, especially in the studio.

Guitar Style: 

Rhythmically, Gers' british folksy riffing style blends in perfectly with Maiden. You also get your root 5th and 6th, plus some finger picked folk chords on the acoustic, but nothing too exotic. There was arguably not much, if any finger picking or acoustics in Maiden's catalogue up until Gers' arrival. There also some AC/DC-ish rhythmic ideas featured on songs like Lord Of The Flies and Gates Of Tomorrow. Janick's lead style mirrors his stage persona, fiery and wild. His leads usually start with something that grabs your attention, like some whammy abuse or flash harmonics, followed by a flurry of notes and ending with a melodic passage. He has been known to sometimes take it down a notch and play some soaring melodic leads, but 90% of the time, he's blazing. Gers is half and half with his picking, sometimes opting legato playing, although he is more known for his furious staccato licks and runs. The most prominent influences I hear in Janick Gers (and this was verified by him in various interviews) are Blackmore, Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and like both his Maiden brethren, Paul Kossof and Free. While you mostly hear Blackmore and Gallagher in his lead playing, Page's acoustic side is hinted in songs like The Legacy. Check out the trippy whammy moment during Sanctuary on the Rock In Rio DVD for some Hendrix pyrotechnics. Being a serious tremolo bar abuser, Gers doesn't use much finger vibrato, but when he does it's pretty quick and narrow. Scale-wise, he mainly uses Aeolian and some minor pentatonic, although he has dabbled with Major pentatonic, Ionian, Harmonic minor and some Phrygian.

Typical Gear Choices: 

Janick Gers has been a Fender Strat man through his entire career. His most prominent axe is a jet-black 1966 Strat, equipped with Seymour Duncan JB jr. pickups. He's also used SD Hot Rails previously. Unlike Dave Murray, Gers has not reverted to Floyd Rose tremolos and maintains the original bridges of his Strats. Gers currently uses the Marshall JMP-1 preamp through a Marshall 9200 (discontinued) poweramp.

What You Need to Know: 

There is more than meets the eye (and the ear) with Janick Gers. Most people dismiss him as the guy who filled in for Adrian Smith, and didn't really understand why he stuck around after Smith returned to Maiden. A candid listen through Janick Gers' career shows that Harris & Co. didn't keep him around just for the laughs. Gers is a competent, intersting songwriter and player, who always brings fresh, exciting energy and original ideas to the projects and bands he plays with. Sure, he can get sloppy and repetitive in his playing on occassion, but no one is perfect. Gers is surely a musician whos' merits outweigh the faults.

Essential Recordings: 
Bruce Dickinson - Tattooed Millionare, Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark, Brave New World, Dance Of Death, The Final Frontier