A. Current information about guitarists
1. The GFA "Connections” links — If you are interested in biographical information on a living guitarist, the best place to start is that individual's Web site.
2. Wikipedias — After the GFA "Connections” link, another good place to look for biographical information on guitarists is in the various online flavors of Wikipedia. They tend to include the names of famous deceased as well as currently active guitarists.
Wikipedias in other languages are in development; check them out if your research leads in such directions.
3. Yahoo groups — At last count, in July 2008, there were 1,377 discussion and user groups on Yahoo concerned with the guitar in one way or another, mostly of the electric and acoustic variety (see http://launch.dir.groups.yahoo.com/dir/1600032047). Nevertheless, topics and forums with potential biographical resonance can be found in these groups, as for example:
4. Google — The broadest online response to
information about guitarists, likely to retrieve far more than just
guitarists by name or biographical information about them, would be a
Google search of the individual's name (always in quotes, "Firstname
Lastname”). Add qualifiers like "guitar” or "guitarist” to reduce
B. Information about the older generations of guitarists — earlier biographical sources
When trying to research earlier generations of guitarists, one must revert to standard formats such as printed books. Here are some "classic” biographical dictionaries of guitarists — not always accurate, but nevertheless essential:
A few online resources now exist for the older generations of
guitarists, if they became famous enough to be included in the more
general sources of biography. An example would be this Bavarian database
maintained online at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich:
BAYERISCHES MUSIKER-LEXIKON ONLINE (BMLO): a dictionary of musicians, composers, singers, instrument players, instrument makers, musicologists, musical editors, etc. having a connection with Bavarian music history. The database contains more than 20.000 persons and includes both actual biographic information about them and media of earlier research. http://www.bmlo.uni-muenchen.de
Some databases, like the foregoing, are free. Others, like the Encyclopedia Britannica online (www.britannica.com), require payment of an annual membership, and are probably not useful for obscure guitar personalities.
General-interest music periodicals published in Europe from about 1800 forward, like the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, can be of great value in learning about which guitarists were active where, and when. The best (and often the only) indexes to those periodicals are found in the series Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals (RIPM), a.k.a. Répertoire international de la presse musicale. Individual and institutional subscriptions are available and necessary to conduct sustained research using this wonderful resource. See the RIPM web site for more information (www.ripm.org).