08 September 2015


Posted for the word more than for the music.  The Digg post was entitled "Tina S Continues To Be The Shred Queen Of YouTube With Her Cover Of 'Altitude'."

So I had to look up "shred."

Urban Dictionary, in its usual semi-helpful way defines it as "technically and rhythmatically [sic] hammering out amazing and lightning-fast solos on a guitar. 2. To play so amazingly fast on guitar you almost destroy it's strings."

During my search I found the word used more often with regard to snowboarding than to music.  And the 'net in its infinite variety offered up a snowboarding dictionary, where "to shred" is "to tear up the terrain" or "to carve with intensity."

For the etymology of the stem word I turned to Wiktionary:
From Old English screade (from which also screed), cognate with German Schrot ‎(“small shot”), Swedish skrot, Old Norse skrydda ‎(“shrivelled skin”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kreu ‎(“cutting tool”), extended form of *(s)ker- ‎(“to cut”). 
(I find it interesting that screed is related).  Wiktionary goes on to define the snowboarding "shred" in terms of "aggressiveness" and the music "shred" in terms of speed.

Now I open it up to readers to come up with the appropriate nuances and contexts for the use of the word.  Also - is she that good? or is the "shred queen" appelation just hype?


  1. She's good. If you want an idea of how difficult it is, just watch her left hand moving around on the guitar. there are some pretty impressive parts that require quick fingering and arm motion at the same time.

    1. Talented she may be, but that - piece - managed to be both turgid and interminable. I can't view this sort of stuff as anything other than musical doodling.

  2. I've heard the term "shredding" used by the surfing community as meaning aggressively maneuvering or attacking a wave at the limits of what you can do with a board. I first heard this probably in the late 80's/ early 90's. I suspect this was as if you attack the edge of a wave with a board, you disrupt the smooth water into ripples and disordered flow -- "shredding a wave" is equivalent to "ripping it up", another similar phrase. (RipCurl, the fairly well known surfear/ activewear branch builds on this terminology.)

    I suspect, again without proof, that the snowboard community picked it up from the surfing usage, since there is a large crossover between the two groups. This was particularly true on the West Coast in the 80's when the surfboard and skate board equipment manufacturers moved into the snowboarding equipment business big-time, and sponsored riders and competitions in the west.

    I suspect (with no pro

  3. It is definitely a loosely defined term, at least among my peer group. (25-30). I do hear it used to describe unbelievably fast/difficult/cool sounding guitar licks but more often I hear it in band contexts like: "Hey guys, wanna shred on friday?" (meaning let's get together and practice) So one can definitely shred alone, but you can also shred as a band, usually meaning that the performance is practiced and tight along with a certain level of skill. On the other hand though, I never hear anyone say "that band really shreds".

  4. It seems like "scree" must be cognate also, but it is not clear from five minutes of research. . .

  5. Yeah, that song is a bit turgid. For me, quintessential shredding is the playing in the Dragonforce song she covered (especially the two minute solo, starting at the 4-minute mark).

  6. "Wood shedding" is a term I've used to describe hours practicing a musical instrument in private. I wonder if shedding and shredding are related.

  7. I think Eruption by Eddie Van Halen basically started the guitar shred meme... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z_lwocmL9dQ

  8. To me a shredder is a guitarist that is technically so brilliant that he concentrates more on the technical part of playing instead of trying to convey a story/emotion/feeling. The notes per second kinda guy more than the weeper.

  9. Skateboarder for 25+ years... It's a common term for skating. Specifically, it's for someone that's skating with confidence and precision. They aren't pausing or peppering a run with simple tricks. Fast, aggressive, no mistakes.

  10. She is ok, but check this Steve Vai vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY8wyKuLY2k
    And for some learning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgUcG0aw72U

  11. She's good, but not a Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen or Steve Vai. Joe and Steve shred with tons of feeling while Yngwie (popular back in the 80s) is more on the technical side. Growing up in the 80s, arguably the best was Eddie Van Halen (HT to Mark). There were more than enough guitarists trying to beat the world to death with a 600-1000 bpm "Flight of the Bumblebee", but Eddie was the one to put it together with the technical expertise and feel for the music (and the crowd). I saw Eddie live a few times (last was Monsters of Rock tour in 1988) and he was a force to be reckoned with.

  12. I think my generation (born 1979) is fairly familiar with this usage of the term. I associate it originally with various descendants of the metal bands of the 80s. It's sense has broadened from there. Now I think it means something like "To play deftly and quickly" and indeed no longer refers strictly to guitars or solos.

    A usage that generalizes the term beyond the guitar: "[...] the redhead said you shred the cello, and I'm Jello, baby" - Weezer "El Scorcho" from the album Pinkerton, September 1996.

  13. In my musicianship (I'm now 35) shredding has always been a part of the conversation. As one anonymous commenter mentioned above, it's always been somewhat associated more with technical expertise than with actual songs - though there are exceptions. For what it's worth. I've been playing for 20 years, and while I find it fun to dip into tapping and other shread elements, they really don't have a place in my songs.

    The more interesting thing to me is the term 'shread queen.' There's a lot of debate about gendered speech about guitar players. On the one hand, it's true that she's female and one could equally say 'shread king' about a male player. On the other hand, the electric guitar player field is (sadly) still massively dominated by men, and so phrases like "femal guitarist" often carry a note (pun intended) of sexism. I've played with women many times, and once you're in a band with women, gender rapidly ceases to matter, musically.

    Look up a band named "Dragon Force" if you want a laugh. The guitar players are so technically gifted that in one video, while they're going off, the singer makes a show of yawning and drinking coffee.

  14. For me, some of her guitar playing is cliched and boring, but she is young and maybe hasn't yet found her own voice. Things will be better once she is in a band and not doing cover versions. For now, give me Guthrie Govan/The Aristocrats. Or accoustically, give me Angelo Debarren either of whom are spring chickens when it comes to playing guitar.

  15. I haven't seen a guitar player like that since Randy Rhodes died. Listen to the guitar work on Mister Crawley and you'll see!


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