When speaking of feeling and subtlety, Mark Knopfler is the top, being one of the most sensitive and expressive musicians ever heard. His licks are sometimes dramatic, sometimes parodical, sometimes venturous and always imaginative and perfectly motivated in the context of the song.
Knopfler uses his right-hand ring and little fingers to form a strong fixed anchor and the angle of the right wrist causes the thumb to touch the string with the left side only.
Here are two licks from Dire Straits' first album. The song is Down To the Waterline:
Hammer-ons and pull-offs from Love Over Gold:
And another series of hammer-ons and pull-offs from Sultans Of Swing:
In a more complex context from Lady Writer:
Bends also bring more feeling to the licks. From Sultans Of Swing:
From Sultans Of Swing again, a short series of sixths:
Another Knopfler trademark is his fast triads that he plays with the thumb, index and middle finger of his right hand. From Once Upon A Time In the West:
Knopfler is known for his striking breaks like this one from Calling Elvis:
And another break from Tunnel Of Love:
We'll take a look now at some repetitive licks on two strings. First, this one from Telegraph Road:
And from Tunnel Of Love:
And the famous triads from Sultans Of Swing. Once again, look carefully at the right-hand fingering :
Knopfler is a master of the chordal soloing in the tradition of American Country and early Rock'n'Roll Music. From Twisting By the Pool:
It's interesting to see (and, most of all, to hear) how Knopfler follows the chord sequence in his solos. Here is Private Investigations: