Feel free to skip this..
We actually all know the answer to this question, and yet it has become the essential dichotomy of our digital existence here at RuKind. The answer is, and always will be both...and neither. Strummin hit on this in the John Mayer thread.
The ontological arguement would be something like this...Jerry (that was) possessed the ultimate in tone & improvisational talent! We cannot conceive of any one of us, or any other musician approaching his ability at his finest. Therefore, Jerry effectively was Divine.
Bear with me. It is not my intent to offend the religious amongst us.
We can emulate in limitless forms the manifestions of his physical equipment; the mechanical construct of his tone. We can practice the 7 forms of finger initiated vibrato, modes, passing tones, pentatonics, runs, slides, etc. We can spend 3 years playing banjo, and 5 playing pedal steel. We can smoke Brown Persion & Lucky's. We can let it all hang out, and practice improvisation until is runs vitally throughout all fibers of our existance. (The personal contribution to his tone) We can watch the crowd dance, and people sing, and come very close.
..but...as Strummin was saying ...we'll walk our solo's into dead ends. Our hands will clam, and we'll hit some dingers. We'll listen to the recordings after the fact, and feel the drift. We'll always feel that we left a motif unexplored. And that Jerry wouldn've done it better.
...judgement will always keep us a ripple away. Let's face it...many of us had our ultimate GD experiences as visitors. We were in the crowd. The band raised the crowd. The crowd raised the band, and we had the time of our lives. Jerry took us places with his vision of dissonance and resolution. And in that experience many of us felt/heard something really special.
So ...Is it the guitar or the amp or the player? It's all, and it's none. Jerry was Jerry, and he was the best Jerry we'll ever hear. His tonality and his notes fills our minds & hearts. His vocals and his improvisations were legendary. And in our memories they were nothing but great. But they were his...then.
Now ...let's get back to the freakin' quest! I was listening to some shit I recorded last night and I'm not happy about it! How come I can't get Matt Moriarity to put me on the list? Must be some pickup or capacitor I need to change, because I suck at this.