35 Greatest Classic Rock Guitarists

Updated on June 27, 2019
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A rock guitarist since the 1970s, Kelley has been a fan of rock, blues and jazz since the 1960s.

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan

Rock artists may be the most versatile of all guitarists

This list only includes rock guitarists, but players of blues and R&B qualify, since rock sprang from those genres around 1950. So, no jazz, classical, flamenco, bossa nova, folk, bluegrass or country guitarists are included. And keep in mind this list only includes guitarists who became famous during the twentieth century; therefore, they could be considered “classic” rock guitarists.

Now let’s begin the countdown!


Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills

35. Stephen Stills

Stephen Stills was already an extraordinary guitarist by the end of the 1960s, evidence of which can be found on the classic album Super Session (1968), as well as his work with the legendary Buffalo Springfield. Over the years, he’s jammed with just about everybody, including Jimi Hendrix, with whom he was going to make an album until Hendrix’s premature death. But most of his guitar work has been with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, of course, though his oeuvre of solo work is impressive. Master of many styles - hard or soft, using finger-picking, slide or whatever, Stills is one of the greatest all-around rock guitarists ever. Interestingly, Stills played at three of the iconic rock festivals of the 1960s – Woodstock, the Monterey Pop Festival and Altamont.

Robin Trower
Robin Trower

34. Robin Trower

Robin Trower started as lead guitarist for Procol Harum in the late 1960s, but the band didn’t play what Trower really dug, that is, Strat-charged, psychedelic blues. Going solo in the 1970s, Trower started a power trio, whose first hit album was Bridge of Sighs (1974). Trower, along with Frank Marino and others, became one of many so-called Jimi Hendrix imitators, though his own style is quite evident. Although Trower’s music hasn’t equaled Hendrix’s bold, inventive legacy, he’s created many memorable riffs over the decades. Notably, Trower joined up with ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce in the early 1980s, but the result was unmemorable. As of the 2000s and 2010s, Trower continues performing, though he has a little less hair these days. Trower’s most recent album is Coming Closer to the Day (2019).

Ritchie Blackmore
Ritchie Blackmore

33. Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore helped start Deep Purple in 1968, playing a style of psychedelic progressive rock that became popular in the 1970s, particularly as played on Deep Purple’s signature hit, “Smoke on the Water.” Blackmore then left Deep Purple in 1975 and formed Rainbow (different incarnations of which continue to the present). Then, in the middle 1980s, Blackmore became one of many hair-metal guitar shredders. Blackmore has received his share of honors, too, his name appearing on numerous lists, including #16 on Guitar World’s Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time in 2004 and #50 on Rolling Stone’s compilation of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All time in 2011. These days, Blackmore plays smaller gigs and doesn’t play much metal; instead, he strums baroque folk rock, though he still hammers out some of his earlier hard rock riffs.

Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy

32. Buddy Guy

A purveyor of Chicago blues since the late 1950s, and mixing with such blues legends as Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Junior Wells, Buddy Guy developed a stylistic repertoire that changes with every performance. But during the British Invasion of the middle 1960s, Guy’s guitar slinging began to be noticed by the Brits, particularly young guitar slingers such as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Keith Richards. Guitarist Eric Clapton once called him “the best guitar player alive.” Then in the 1980s and ‘90s, when the blues underwent a revival, Guy joined the 24 Nights all-star blues lineup in the UK. Please note that when you hear Guy play, he may hit an off-key note or two, but Buddy would probably tell you that the blues ain’t perfect. Interestingly, Buddy Guy owns Buddy Guy’s Legends, a blues joint in Chicago, Illinois.

Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt

31. Bonnie Raitt

A list such as this should have at least one lady guitarslinger. Bonnie Raitt is such a great singer and songwriter many people forget she also plays slide guitar that gives you chills – and brings tears. But Raitt didn’t find commercial and critical success until the 1980s, when she recorded Nick of Time (1989), which sold over six million copies in the US. (She also found sobriety at this time, with the help of Stevie Ray Vaughan.) Raitt also began garnering Grammy Awards, winning four in 1990 and four more in 1992. Raitt’s music includes many genres – rock, blues, folk, pop, country and reggae, which she accentuates with visceral and dramatic guitar riffs that comprise the very best of American blues. Interestingly, Raitt has been an activist for the anti-nuclear movement since the late 1970s.

The Edge
The Edge

30. The Edge

David Howell Evans, aka the Edge, is generally known as the lead guitarist for U2, an Irish rock band formed in 1976. The Edge has a style of guitar playing that uses plenty of delay effects, reverb or echo, creating an arpeggio-driven, multi-guitarist sound. Also, while playing in concerts, he seems to change guitars frequently, hoping to get that perfects tone for each number, though he will often stick with his own model axe, The Edge Signature Stratocaster. Notably, as a member of U2, he’s won 22 Grammy Awards. Also a songwriter, singer, producer and keyboard player, the Edge emphasizes that he’s a musician, not a guitarslinger or shredder. “I'm a musician,” he says. “I'm not a gunslinger. That's the difference between what I do and what a lot of guitar heroes do."

Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry

29. Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry practically invented rock ‘n’ roll lead guitar and, in the process, influenced countless guitarists in the 1950s, ‘60s and into the following century. In fact, Berry may be the most influential rock guitarist of all time. Berry played his most famous riffs on the immortal tune, “Johnny B. Goode,” of which well over a hundred recorded versions exist. Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards may have learned more from Chuck Berry than any other artist. Yes, Berry could “play his guitar like ringin’ a bell,” as the song goes. Furthermore, if the so-called King of Rock ‘n’ Roll came from the 1950s, then it would surely be either Elvis Presley, Little Richard or Chuck Berry. Which illustrious cat would you pick?

Angus Young
Angus Young

28. Angus Young

The only constant member of Australian hard rock band AC/DC, Angus Young, and his schoolboy looks and attire, along with older brother Malcolm, formed the band in 1973. Young’s first electric guitar was a Gibson SG, which eventually rotted away from overuse, so abusive is the style of Young’s wringing wet, frenetic guitar shredding. Thereafter AC/DC produced a string of hit albums, culminating in Back in Black (1980), which sold an astonishing 50 million copies! Then they released For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981), establishing the band as the best hard rock assemblage in the world. But critics have labeled AC/DC’s music as little more than three-chord rock. Responding to this, Young says, “To us, the simpler a song is, the better, 'cause it's more in line with what the person on the street is."

Billy Gibbons
Billy Gibbons

27. Billy Gibbons

Billy Gibbons has been the lead guitarist/singer/songwriter for the rock group ZZ Top seemingly as long as the Pyramids of Egypt have been existed. In fact, ZZ Top opened four times for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix said he was impressed with Gibbons’ guitar licks, and a friendship ensued. (Hendrix also taught him how to play “Foxy Lady.”) Gibbons began his musical career playing guitar for the Moving Sidewalks in parts of Texas. Then he assembled ZZ Top in 1969, and they produced their first album, ZZ Top's First Album, in 1971. Over the decades, Gibbons has performed with just about everybody in the realm of blues and rock and roll; he’s also performed and recorded as a solo artist, releasing the album Big Bad Blues (2018).

Jerry Garcia
Jerry Garcia

26. Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead from 1965 to 1995, but over his extensive musical career he played in many other bands, notably the Jerry Garcia Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage and Not for Kids Only, and released a number of solo albums; he also worked many times as a session musician or guest guitarist. Garcia’s style of guitar playing was unique and much imitated by other artists: it had a country-rock twang played with a bluesy feel, generally using major pentatonic and mixolydian licks; other times it had a more acid rock sound, though his guitars, all 25 of them, had no whammy bars. Interestingly, Garcia’s first recording was “Raunchy” by Bill Justis, produced in 1959.

Prince
Prince

25. Prince

Prince was a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist from a young age; he wrote his first song, “Funk Machine,” at seven and landed a recording contract at 17. Prince’s sound was a combination of funk rock, new wave and synth-pop, and his most successful album was Purple Rain (1984), which remained atop the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks and sold over 20 million copies. Producing more than 40 albums during his life, Prince was one of the most prolific and best-selling music artists ever. Notably, Prince became known as an androgynous sex symbol, similar to Little Richard, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. At one time Prince identified himself as Love Symbol #2, a combination of male and female attributes; and another time he called himself the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Prince was so famous he could change his identity whenever he wanted!

Tony Iommi
Tony Iommi

24. Tony Iommi

Of British descent, Tony Iommi is one of the founding members of Black Sabbath; in fact, Iommi was their main composer, and it seems safe to suggest that without his towering, apocalyptic riffs and power chords, Black Sabbath never would have existed (apologies to fans of singer Ozzy Osbourne). A left-handed axeman, evidence of Iommi’s screaming legato prowess can be heard on “Heaven and Hell,” “War Pigs,” “Supernaut” and “Children of the Grave.” Having injured two of the fingers on his right hand at 17, Iommi has to play with thimbles and lowers the tuning on his guitar a half step or even a step and a half, which other metal bands have imitated. Eddie Van Halen says that “without Tony, heavy metal wouldn’t exist. He is the creator of heavy!”

Johnny Winter (left) and fans
Johnny Winter (left) and fans

23. Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter was “discovered” in December 1968 when he played at a concert starring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper at the Fillmore East in NYC. A representative of Columbia Records saw Winter perform his signature hit “It’s My Own Fault” and soon thereafter Columbia signed Winter with an advance of $600,000 – that’s big money even these days! Since then, Winters became a guitar slinger of blues and rock, often playing and recording with his younger brother Edgar Winter. Usually the lead guitarist and singer in a power trio, Winter played all over, including Woodstock. Perhaps Winter’s best album back then was Johnny Winter And (1971). Back in the day, Winter knew all the rock and blues standards, all the fills, frills, turnarounds, intros and outros, and was considered as fast and flashy as Hendrix, Beck, Page or Clapton!

Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend

22. Pete Townshend

Known primarily as the lead guitarist for The Who, Pete Townshend is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, whose musical career began in 1961 while playing with the Detours. During the classic rock period from 1965 to 1975 or so, Townshend’s style of guitar playing included plenty of sustained power chords turned to stratospheric highs on his Marshall stack, while windmilling his right hand and performing acrobatic jumps. These days, though, Townshend doesn’t jump around a lot, much less bash his guitar into the stage; he doesn’t have to because his impressive career would place his bust on the Mt. Rushmore of Rock. Townshend has produced numerous solo albums, and he and Roger Daltrey, the surviving members of The Who, still record and perform when the urge strikes them. Interestingly, Townshend is a lifetime follower of Indian spiritual master Meher Baba, and in 2012 published his autobiography, Who I Am (2012).

Keith Richards
Keith Richards

21. Keith Richards

Keith Richards is an original member of the Rolling Stones, for which he plays lead or rhythm guitar, sings and writes songs. Most of the guitar riffs for which the Stones are famous were created by Richards. Session guitarist Chris Spedding says Richards’ guitar work is “direct, incisive and unpretentious.” Generally using a five-string open-G tuning, as heard on such hits as “Start Me Up” and “Street Fighting Man,” Richards creates an unrelenting, catchy, quintessential rock platform for the Stones. Collaborating with singer Mick Jagger on many of the Stones’ best songs, the duo’s first top-ten hit was “The Last Time” (1965). Since the turn of the twenty-first century, Richards has performed in many tribute concerts honoring music’s pantheon of great rockers. And, astonishingly, Richards has a collection of about 3,000 guitars!

Kirk Hammet
Kirk Hammet

20. Kirk Hammet

Replacing lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, who was fired from the band, Kirk Hammet joined Metallica, one of many great San Francisco Bay Area bands, in 1983. (What better name is there for a heavy metal band than Metallica? And they better be damn good,too!) Hammet soon began writing the riffs on Metallica’s songs, some of his best thrash metal work on “Enter Sandman” and “The Judas Kiss.” It could be said that Hammet’s guitar solos blaze like a California wildfire. Even though primarily a metal guitarist, Hammet also plays jazz and blues. Interestingly, Hammet is a big fan of horror movies and likes to read comic books rather than do drugs. Anyway, Hammet may have made Metallica the best metal band ever, as their name would seem to suggest.

George Harrison
George Harrison

19. George Harrison

Most people know that George Harrison was the lead guitarist for the Beatles, perhaps the greatest rock group of all time, but he was also a prolific solo artist, having produced 12 solo albums, including All Things Must Pass (1970), a triple-album set. Harrison was also a great song writer, whose songs often dealt with Indo-Asian spirituality. As for his guitar work, Harrison seldom played long solos; his were short, flexible and to the point. Eric Clapton says that Harrison was “clearly an innovator” and “was taking certain elements of R&B and rock and rockabilly and creating something unique.” Harrison’s solo on “Something,” a song he wrote, is considered a masterpiece and one of his most memorable. Harrison was also one of the first rockers to play the sitar, as evident on “Norwegian Wood” and “Within You Without You,” both tunes showing a joining of pop and Indian music.

Larry Carlton
Larry Carlton

18. Larry Carlton

Larry Carlton is another one of those virtuosic guitarists who seems able to play many styles of music - rock, jazz, pop, soul, country, R&B and blues. First picking up a guitar at six and producing With a Little Help from My Friends, his first solo album in 1968, Carlton began working as a studio musician in the 1970s and ‘80s. Incredibly, Carlton has been recorded on hundreds of albums and gold records and played for numerous movies and TV shows. He’s also been a member of the Crusaders, a jazz-fusion band, and Fourplay, and worked as a sideman for Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell. He’s also had a very long, impressive solo career, producing such albums as On Solid Ground (1989), Fire Wire (2006) and Session Masters (2015), as well as a plethora of live albums, including Lights On (2017).

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen

17. Yngwie Malmsteen

Swedish guitar shredder Yngwie Malmsteen plays a neoclassical style of heavy metal that few guitarists can match. Inspired by musicians such as Niccolò Paganini, Johan Sebastian Bach and Ritchie Blackmore, he formed his first band at the age of 10. The first metal bands he joined were Alcatrazz and Steeler in 1983, and then he released his first solo album, Rising Force (1984). Between that time and the present Malmsteen’s musical output can match that of any other rock guitarist. Often considered a wild human, in a 2005 issue of Guitar Player he said, “I've probably made more mistakes than anybody. But I don't dwell on them. I don't expect people to understand me, because I'm pretty complex, and I think outside the box with everything I do.” Notably, Malmsteen plays his own Signature Stratocaster, introduced in 1986, which has a scalloped maple fretboard and special pickups.

Robben Ford
Robben Ford

16. Robben Ford

At 18, Robben Ford, heavily influenced by blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield, began his career playing with blues harp legend Charlie Musselwhite in San Francisco, and then soon left to form the Ford Blues Band with younger brother Mark on harmonica. Throughout the 1970s and beyond Ford has played with countless artists, including Jimmy Witherspoon, George Harrison, Joni Mitchell, Kiss, Muddy Waters, Larry Carlton, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and the LA Express. Then Ford joined the Yellowjackets, a jazz-fusion band, their eponymous first album one of the best fusion albums of the 1980s, particularly the unforgettable cut, “Priscilla.” Ford has also produced numerous solo albums over the decades. And, in recent times, Ford released the album Purple House (2018).

Al Dimeola
Al Dimeola

15. Al Dimeola

Seemingly, Al Dimeola is guitarist able to play any style of music. Primarily known for playing jazz fusion, rock, flamenco, Latin and world music, Dimeola found critical and commercial success in the middle 1970s, when he played guitar in Return to Forever with Chick Corea, and then quickly turned solo, producing albums such as Land of the Midnight Sun (1976), Elegant Gypsy (1977) and Casino (1978). In 1980, Dimeola recorded Friday Night in San Francisco (1981), a live acoustic show with Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin, which is considered a seminal event in the world of guitar (they reunited for two more albums, one in 1983 and another in 1996). In the 2000s, Dimeola returned to electric music, producing the DVD, Return to Electric Guitar (2006). Notably, Dimeola has such great technical ability and plays so fast that he’s been criticized for playing . . . too many notes!

Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa

14. Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa, composer/producer/singer/guitarist and much more, is perhaps the most radical, experimental, eclectic, avant-garde and satirical artist on this list. AllMusic called Zappa the “godfather of comedy rock.” Influenced by Edgard Varése, Zappa and the Mothers of Invention formed in 1965 and soon released their debut album - Freak Out! featuring “Trouble Every Day,” a tune about the Watts riots and perhaps the first rap tune ever. Thereafter, Zappa kept blowing minds with his radical format, iconoclastic messages, bizarre lyrics and idiosyncratic guitar playing. Certainly one of the fastest guitarists around, at times Zappa seemed to be squeezing the innards from some outer space beast. Late in life, Zappa worked with the Synclavier, producing Civilization Phase III (1993). And in 2016, the editors of Guitar Player wrote, “Brimming with sophisticated motifs and convoluted rhythms, Zappa's extended excursions are more akin to symphonies than they are to guitar solos."

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson

13. Eric Johnson

An impressive guitarist while only a teenager, Eric Johnson joined his first professional band at 15. Then he formed a jazz fusion band, the Electromagnets, in 1974. This work propelled Johnson toward virtuosic mastery of the guitar, a fusion of rock, jazz and classical, culminating in such masterpieces as “Cliffs of Dover” (1991). Mostly a solo act or a session artist since the 1970s, Johnson continues playing blistering legato runs that leave one’s head spinning. Well into the 2000s, Johnson has been performing and touring with the greatest rock, jazz and fusion guitarists of the era: Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Sonny Landreth and Steve Vai. Johnson’s solo albums keep coming as well – Souvenir (2002), Bloom (2005) and Europe Live (2014).

Brian May
Brian May

12. Brian May

Primarily known for his guitar work with British rock group Queen, Brian May’s licks with Queen are truly unique, a kind of melodrama on strings, over-the-top, grandiose and operatic. A Night at the Opera (1975), perhaps the greatest album for the classic Queen lineup, features “Bohemian Rhapsody,” considered by many to be one of the greatest rock tunes of all time. Since the demise of Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury in 1991, May has produced numerous solo projects and performed with other incarnations of Queen. About May’s meteoric guitar licks, singer Sammy Hagar says, “I think Brian May has one of the great guitar tones on the planet.” Interestingly, May hand-made his first guitar, the famous Red Special; he also earned a PhD in astrophysics in 2007; and has an asteroid named after him: 52665 Brianmay.

David Gilmour
David Gilmour

11. David Gilmour

David Gilmour joined prog rock band Pink Floyd after the departure of Syd Barrett, one of Gilmour’s best friends, and over the ensuing years “the Floyd” became one of the most popular rock bands in the world, selling a quarter billion records by 2012. David Gilmour’s guitar work, singing and songwriting helped propel this psychedelic assemblage to create their signature, laid-back, trippy dreamscape of sound. Gilmour’s mesmerizing guitar solos take one on a journey to alternate universes with plenty of sustain, heartfelt bends and bluesy transitions. Rolling Stone critic Alan di Perna says Gilmour was the most important guitarist of the 1970s and the “missing link between Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen.” Gilmour has produced four solo albums and also plays bass, keyboards, synthesizer, banjo, lap steel, mandolin, harmonica, drums and saxophone.

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

10. John McLaughlin

Perhaps the greatest all-around guitarist on this list, John McLaughlin excels at playing rock, jazz, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco, blues and jazz fusion. Extrapolation (1969), McLaughlin’s debut album as a jazz player, still sounds astonishingly good. Then McLaughlin played the lead for the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the 1970s and ‘80s, a collaboration that propelled fusion to orbital ascension. McLaughlin’s aggressive mastery of the fretboard has been very influential, as shown on “Miles Beyond” from his album, Live at Ronnie Scott’s (2018). Guitarist Frank Zappa said this about McLaughlin: “I think anybody who can play that fast is just wonderful. And I'm sure 90 per cent of teenage America would agree, since the whole trend in the business has been 'faster is better'." This seems apt praise for McLaughlin, who often plays his Marshall amp in the “meltdown mode.”

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana

9. Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana, whose Latin-flavored, Afro-Cuban rock has been revolutionary in the world of rock, is the frontman for Santana, another sensational San Francisco Bay Area band, which arose in the late 1960s. (Who can forget Carlos’ tasty, staccato riffs on “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock in 1969?) Ever evolving, Carlos Santana’s melodic, ethereal riffs sound as polished as that of the best jazz guitarists. Edging into his seventh decade, his licks seem to get better with age, like redwood forests. Over the years, often teaming with such virtuosic talents as Neal Schon or John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana continues to expand his eclectic oeuvre well into the twenty-first century. And, always a positive, spiritual fellow, Carlos Santana brims with thoughtful quotes: “The most powerful possession you can own is an open heart,” he says. “The most powerful weapon you can be is a weapon for peace.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan

8. Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan was an Albert King-inspired blues guitarist who also played rock. Vaughan’s fondness for Jimi Hendrix songs is evident on his stellar version of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” (He and Hendrix played the same style of guitar, showing a masterful use of the wah-wah and overdrive pedals and offering stage histrionics such as playing the guitar behind their heads.) Vaughan simply attacked his 1959 Fender Strat – or overwhelmed it could be a better way of describing it. Perhaps his best albums were two concert cuts: Live at Carnegie Hall and Live Alive, the second of which featuring a rousing version of “Say What!” In 1983, as Vaughan rose to worldwide fame, Variety wrote that Vaughan, after playing a set at the Beacon Theatre in NYC, “left no doubt that this young Texas musician is indeed the 'guitar hero of the present era.' "

Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen

7. Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen, trained as a classical pianist in his native Holland, developed a wild, finger tapping, whammy bar-accentuated guitar style that became the rage of the hard rock genre in the late 1970s; and throughout the 1980s and ‘90s he continued to astonish fans and fellow guitar players with his scatterbrained wizardry on the fretboard. Eddie’s solo work on the tune “Eruption” is considered a heavy metal classic. Perhaps one of the fastest rock guitarists ever, Eddie also has a keen melodic sense that all great guitarists seem to possess. Notably, Van Halen says this about his playing style: “I've always said Eric Clapton was my main influence, but Jimmy Page was actually more the way I am, in a reckless-abandon kind of way.”

Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page

6. Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page, along with Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, emerged from the Yardbirds - the “yardstick” of rock, if you will, in the middle 1960s, and then Page formed Led Zeppelin, considered one of the top hard rock bands in history. The Zep, an enduring bunch, kept the same personnel for 12 years and influenced multitudes of rock guitar enthusiasts. Page played lead, of course, showing his artistry for blues, rock, classical and Celtic folk. Perhaps his best riffs were on “You Shook Me,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Black Dog,” “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love.” Brian May says this about Page: “I don't think anyone has epitomized riff writing better than Jimmy Page. He's one of the great brains of rock music.” Interestingly, surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for a concert in 2007. But Page, who hasn’t worked solo since 1988, wants to record and tour with Led Zeppelin, but singer Robert Plant says no way.


Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton

5. Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton has played with just about everybody, and in every place, except Woodstock, but don’t forget Live Aid, where he performed in 1985. Starting as a blues guitarist, as many rock guitarists have, Clapton was so ass-kickingly good by the time he was 22 that some rockers began referring to him as “god.” Then, in 1966, Clapton formed the quintessential power trio, Cream, moving heavily into acid rock and long, improvisational blues jams. Perhaps Clapton’s best rock tunes over the years are “I’m So Glad,” “I Feel Free,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room”, “Layla” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Cocaine,” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Like Stephen Stills, Clapton can blast away with awesome riffs or play poignantly slow, such as in the self-penned song, “Tears in Heaven.”

Joe Satriani
Joe Satriani

4. Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani, like Steve Vai and Jeff Beck, has been a solo act for most of his career. Able to read and write music, and working as a renowned teacher of guitar since the 1970s, Satriani doesn’t seem to need much help working as an instrumental guitarist in the hard rock, jazz fusion or progressive rock categories. Moreover, Satriani is another one of those guitar slingers who’s played with just about everybody, particularly when involved with his G3 Jam Concerts, started in 1996. Regarding such concerts, Satriani shows technical virtuosity, boldness and dash, and if there’s a faster lead guitarist around, who in the heck would that be? Interestingly, Satriani’s first hit album was Surfing with the Alien (1987), and his highest grossing album to date is The Extremist (1992). Satriani’s latest studio album is What Happens Next (2018).

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

3. Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix died way too young to be higher on this list, but his guitar swagger and electrifying technique are without equal. Borne from the R&B bands of the early 1960s, when he toured through the famous Chitlin Circuit, Hendrix formed in 1966 his power trio, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, which soon took the rock world by storm, and within a year or two Hendrix was considered the greatest rock guitarist in the world. (Can you hear the rolling feedback, stuttering vibrato and outrageous distortion?) But he didn’t go around and tell everybody how great he was – Jimi was modest about such matters. Hendrix’s most creative work can be found on the double-album set, Electric Ladyland (1968), perhaps the greatest rock album of the 1960s, though that would be very hard to prove.

Steve Vai
Steve Vai

2. Steve Vai

Steve Vai is as good as he is because he took lessons from Joe Satriani. He’s also surpassingly good because he has the balls to play a “triple-neck” guitar! Schooled in the avant-garde irreverence of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, with whom he played in the early 1980s (Zappa referred to him as his “little Italian virtuoso”), Vai also played with various artists and bands at the time, including David Lee Roth, Alcatrazz, Ozzie Ozbourne and Whitesnake. Then he went solo in 1989. His second solo album was the critically acclaimed Passion and Warfare (1990), which includes one of his best guitar solos on “For the Love of God. Then Vai produced Fire Garden (1996), an album including 18 cuts, perhaps the best of which was “Dyin’ Day.” In 2002, Vai played with a 100-piece orchestra in Tokyo. He’s also played on numerous sound tracks, video games and acted in several movies. In short, in the world of contemporary rock and roll, Steve Vai has been there, done that.

Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck

1. Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck made his own guitar from scratch as a kid, and he’s been amazing people with what he plucks from guitars ever since. One of three amazing axemen to play in the short-lived Yardbirds, Jeff Beck formed the Jeff Beck Group in the late 1960s, producing such classic albums as Truth, Beck-Ola and Rough and Ready. Then he developed his own jazz-fusion style in the middle 1970s, creating the incomparable album, Blow by Blow, which includes the dreamy, ethereal masterpiece, “Diamond Dust,” and then a notable follow-up disk, Wired, with Jan Hammer on keyboards. Since those days Beck has been a lone wolf, working as a soloist, sideman or studio musician. Beck continued the artistry in 1989 with Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop, which includes the frenetic, incendiary number, “Big Block,” and produced many other exceptional albums in the 1990s and 2000s. Beck’s latest album is Loud Hailer (2016), which shows that Beck's Beckisms on the guitar make him the greatest rock guitarist ever.

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Kelley Marks

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      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        4 months ago from California

        Hey, big BixSixtyFour, I also think Frank Marino is a great rock guitarist, but there's only so many slots on this list. However, in the future I'll probably continue to add to it, and Marino certainly could get a nod from me. Later!...

      • profile image

        BigSixtyFour 

        4 months ago

        No mention of Frank Marino at all. Y'all are absolutely CLUELESS! For those of you who don't know him - Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush - LIVE! Among other truly hot songs on this album, recorded in 1978, he lays down the HOTTEST "Johnny B. Goode" ever played!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZzhQXG7OfY

      • profile image

        Homi Vesal 

        5 months ago

        Firstly the No.1 has to be Ritchie Blackmore, there has never been any question about that. If into blues rock guitarist, then i suggest listen to an album which was released in 1971 called "The Green Bullfrog. How could you possibly forget Elvin Lee from Ten Years After or Gary more, Steve Morse, Alex Lifeson, Chuck Berry, Robert Leroy Johnson, John P. Hammond and.....

      • profile image

        Joseph zehentner 

        5 months ago

        Are u crazy where is gary moore,,,and srv number 8 wow...Clapton played after srv in a concert once,,,,was destroyed said he would never do that again...

      • profile image

        Michael Dipaola 

        7 months ago

        They were all good to me!!!

      • profile image

        Ace 

        8 months ago

        No PRINCE invalidates this list!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Boomer Music Man! Yes, Clapton and Berry are two of the all-time great rock guitarists, no doubt. Later!

      • Boomer Music Man profile image

        Boomer Music Man 

        3 years ago

        Chuck Berry is one of the best and so are the others. Eric Clapton is also a legend.

      • profile image

        Andrea Troiano 

        4 years ago

        *******. TOMMY BOLIN ******

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        4 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, guitarpedals. I've heard of Reinhardt but I doubt he's top ten material. At any rate, it's very hard to pick the ten best. Later!

      • guitarpedals profile image

        Evan 

        4 years ago from Washington, DC

        What about Django Reinhardt? A totally different style (gypsy jazz), but damn that guy could play! And his fretting hand was all messed up from getting burned in a fire!

      • profile image

        Sense2k 

        7 years ago

        To me, a lot of guitarist have total mastery of the instrument but few can play music that really influences and affects the listener on a deeper level than just "wow, he plays fast" etc.

        Case in point, the late Gary Moore. I know no one that can make you feel like he rips every note from the bottom of his soul.

        too bad he's gone

      • profile image

        Didierrrr 

        7 years ago

        Gotta say I think The Satch should be #1. Make Vai a number 5 instead. I believe that would be fair.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        7 years ago from California

        Hey, Dave, this list is only for rock guitarists - no players of classical, jazz or country. Kewl? Later!

      • profile image

        Dave 

        7 years ago

        Lists are fun, I suppose....but there is no such thing as 'the best'. Too subjective, but also, what about guys such as David Russell, John Williams, Christopher Parkening, Berta Rojas....fantastic classical guitarists who, let's be honest people, have a command of their instrument that the people in your list could only dream of.

      • profile image

        randy 

        7 years ago

        JIMMY PAGE IS THE BEST.PERIOD!!! stephen stills?????

        Vai? Come on man! Get Real!

      • TDubs profile image

        TDubs 

        7 years ago

        Nice to see Stephen Stills on this list. He never seems to get the credit he deserves. A great all-around player, from acoustic to blues to rock. Nice job!

      • arizonataylor profile image

        arizonataylor 

        7 years ago from Arizona

        Well, I've seen Steve Howe, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steven Stills, Joe Satriani, Niel Young, and even Chuck Berry. Steve Howe even played some Townshend on the night I saw him. NONE of them compare to Townshend, NONE. All were great, but none could compete in rhythm.

        In the 911 concert, nobody played more than two songs, except the Who. There's a reason. They stole the show. Townshend is the man.

        I play a little guitar and can play a bits and pieces from each of these people, bits and pieces. Townshend's playing is different. The timing, rhythm, and style are unique. For this and so many other reasons, I believe he is at least the best rhythm guitarist.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        7 years ago from California

        Hey, Arizonataylor, Pete Townshend is definitely one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. (Yes, I remember the great, "Live at Leeds.") I suppose he could be on this list rather than Stephen Stills - talk about a guy who can play rhythm! - but I guess it becomes a battle of favorites at some point. Later!

      • arizonataylor profile image

        arizonataylor 

        7 years ago from Arizona

        Pete Townshend. If you see him live, you know why. Nobody can play rhythm guitar like he does, nobody. He's seldom mentioned, and that's truly unfair to him.

        Look at who largely used distortion for the first time, intentionally. Look at power chords. Who largely invented them? Watch Live at Leeds sometime. It's considered the best live album for a reason.

        Pete Townshend may not be the best lead guitarist, but he is certainly among the best. He is, however, the best rhythm guitarist. Studio albums do not do him justice. You have to see him live. If you do, you'll probably agree with me.

      • profile image

        theotherguy 

        7 years ago

        Haha,,,really, vai as no 1?? haha...wait, seriously?

      • profile image

        ssss 

        8 years ago

        VAi in number 1 , it's a joke !

      • profile image

        mario cuellar 

        8 years ago

        You definitely need a bigger list Mike Bloomfield Duane Allman Steve Cropper do i need to go on?any of us that grew up in the sixties knows that

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        8 years ago from California

        Hey, terretwo, it takes years to become great. As for some of the under forty crowd, check out my hub entitled "Ten Great Young Rock Guitarists," a link to which can be found above. Later!

      • terrektwo profile image

        Candle Hour 

        8 years ago from North America

        You should do one with newer guitarists from the 90s & 2000s, think along the lines of John Frusciante, Jack White, Adam Jones, etc.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        8 years ago from California

        Yes, lots of rockers like Pete Townshend, who could certainly appear on many such lists. Later!

      • arizonataylor profile image

        arizonataylor 

        8 years ago from Arizona

        This is a great list, but I think Pete Townshend should be on the list too.

      • profile image

        james lad 

        8 years ago

        no slash or angus young

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        8 years ago from California

        Yeah, Steve Vai is tough to beat, ya know? Later!

      • Alternative Prime profile image

        Alternative Prime 

        8 years ago from > California

        Extraordinary list of extremely talented "Guitar Maestros".....

        All are Virtuosos in their own unique way however I think if one "Blazing Fretboard Animal had to be singled out for the universally held crown my vote would have been cast for Mr. Steve Vai as well.

        Great List

      • profile image

        murray 

        8 years ago

        Murray's top ten list of rock guitarists based on technical skill, artistry and "edge":

        1) Ritchie Blackmore

        2) Jimmy Page

        3) Jeff Beck

        4) Steve Morse

        5) Vivian Campbell

        6) Mick Box

        7) Rudolf Schenker

        8) Rory Gallagher

        9) Tony Iommi

        10) Glenn Tipton / K.K. Downing (tie)

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        8 years ago from California

        Murray, thanks for turning me onto Koichi Hayakawa. Man, that cat is scary fast, and he also seems to have a melodic and artistic sense. On YouTube, they show Hayakawa vs. guitarists such as Satriani and Van Halen. So who's better? Satriani and Van Halen have the legend, but we'll have to wait and see how Hayakawa turns out. At any rate, he certainly seems spectacular. Of course, there are many very good guitarists shown on YouTube, many of whom are known only to locals. Thanks for the helpful comment. Later!

      • profile image

        Murray 

        8 years ago

        Hey Cosmo, I would be interested to get your take on Koichi Hayakawa - and where he fits into the whole "best rock guitarist" debate. I really don't know much about him - but having come across him the other day while looking at "best guitarists" debates on the internet, the guy clearly has mad skill. I am conflicted though as to how he (or a myriad of other such little known - but incredibly skilled - axe-men) truly stack up against such iconic guitar greats as Page, Hendrix, Blackmore, Beck, Van Halen, etc. - all of whom are far more famous than Hayakawa. Check out the array of "Hayakawa versus (insert name of guitar great here)" downloads on the internet. The guy sounds scary good. ...That said, not sure where (if indeed at all) he fits into the whole "best guitarist" debate.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        8 years ago from California

        Well written comment, Murray, much of what makes a guitarist great is artistic in interpretation. The great ones had soul too. Malmsteen is a virtuoso, but he has no soul, man, ya know? Anyway, back in the 1970s just about every hard rocker liked Blackmore, and I'm sure he is the favorite of many as well. Later!

      • profile image

        Murray 

        8 years ago

        Hi Kosmo, disagree as I may with you, I fully respect your opinion that there are guitarists on this list who are as good or better than Blackmore. The beauty of the whole "best guitarist" debate is that it allows for a wide divergence of reasonable and credible opinion. This is of course because guitar playing is as much an art form as it is a technical skill - and as the old adage goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Cheers from London, Ontario, Canada - rock on!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        8 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Murray. "Child in Time" is definitely one of Deep Purple's greatest hits, and Blackmore's solo certainly kicks ass, but I think every guitarist on this list plays just as well or better. Blackmore's replacement, Tommy Bolin, could blaze away with the best of them too. Later!

      • profile image

        Murray 

        8 years ago

        Check out Ritchie Blackmore's solo on "Child in Time" on Deep Purple's "Nobody's Perfect" live album. I would be interested in comments from all. ...To me, it is the best hard rock guitar solo ever. It also shows just why Blackmore is (by a freakin' long shot) the best hard rock guitarits ever - musically and technically (and for those who care about such things, "speed-wise"). I mean, come on people, open your eyes - and your ears!

      • profile image

        jabberwock 

        9 years ago

        IMHO Steve Vai shouldn't even be on the list, not to mention #1. Yes he is a good player but the "greatest" guitar players must play music people want to hear. Steve Vai is a guitarist's guitarist. He is loved by fans of technical skill but he really hasn't written anything that's captured the public imagination. Compare him to guys like EVH or Jimmy page who are listen to daily on radio stations everywhere and he falls way short of the mark.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Thanks for the links, Terminus! Roy Buchanan is certainly a masterful guitarist. I particularly enjoyed him playing Hendrix tunes. For more blasts from the past, check out my hubs: "Ten Forgotten Rock Guitarists" and "Ten Classic Rock Guitarists." Later!

      • Terminus profile image

        Terminus 

        9 years ago

        Here's a few links of memorable Roy Buchanan tunage. I think he is the best Telecaster player ever and Les Paul/ Jeff Beck would wholeheartedly agree. His story is tragic... Enjoy

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMcjPZgK9GM&fea...

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On5372UztI0&fea...

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOptDDU3rOo&fea...

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc6ePrq-7Ts&fea...

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Here's another tome provided by TERMINUS!!! Thanks for the benefit of your rock acumen, sir. I think our lists coincide greatly. Every one of those guys paid their dues, if you will, and had a tremendous influence on the history of rock and roll. Roy Buchanan, eh? I'll have to go to YouTube and check him out. Later!

      • Terminus profile image

        Terminus 

        9 years ago

        They are listed in no particular order. Again, it's really tough to list just 10.

        1.Steve Howe - This man is just amazing. If you have any questions, just listen to 'Awaken'.

        2.Jimi Hendrix - The God of all guitarists.

        3.Jimmy Page - Innovative and experiemental to his own detriment.

        4.Jeff Beck - Talented beyond description.

        5.Eric Clapton - Good 'ol 'Slowhand' - One word: Spectacular.

        6.Eddie Van Halen - Incredible technical prowess, not so great musically. In fact Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen or Joe Satraini are far more talented. That said, EVH has influenced many more guitarists than the more talented afermentioned.

        7.Stevie Ray Vaughan - A man born to do it and a tragic death to equal Hendrix's.

        8.David Gilmour - His ability to re-create studio work live and improve upon original concepts solidly lands him on my list.

        9.Chuck Berry - To omit the Father of Rock N Roll would be sacrilege.

        10.Duane Allman - The most gifted natural guitarist ever. Sometimes, Steve Morse reminds me of him.

        Very painful for me to omit so many that rightfully belong on this list. Especially Stephen Stills who is just as talented as any guitarist in the list.

        I will say this: Had he lived and got together with some of the other guys, there is no question that Randy Rhoads would have made this list. The recordings do not even begin to give justice to his ability to play and innovate live onstage. He would blow EVH, Slash, or Young right off the stage. I will also state that many, many guitarists owe a debt to Robert Fripp. I love Santana but sometimes he drank or smoked too much pot to be anything but sloppy on stage. Honorable mention: Jeff Healy because his blues/rock knowledge rivals SRV's and his live shows are louder than Molly Hatchet's or Motorhead's which suck in comparison. One more name... He is always forgotten... Roy Buchanan

      • profile image

        michael k 

        9 years ago

        rory gallagher belongs in the top #10.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        I remember reading about Page supposedly stealing a song from somebody. It was "Dazed and Confused"? Well, stuff happens. If you're gonna steal, make sure it's good!!! Later, dude!

      • WeLoveMusic profile image

        WeLoveMusic 

        9 years ago

        Well, I actually meant stealing, not cover songs, the latest being less than a week old. Led Zeppelin was sued for Dazed and Confused, it turns out that Page stole the song from a singer named Holmes while he was with The Yardbirds. The fact is that it wasn't the only one Zeppelin got sued for and lost, well they still haven't lost, but I heard the original song on YouTube, it's the same song. They didn't even bother to change the name :)

        Anyway, great point you made with the last comment. Lists are supposed to be fun, I somehow managed to suck the fun out of it for a moment! And I agree, there aren't many people who can give a valuable opinion which will count for all of us! Keep the hubs interesting and motivating as this one, and I'll keep coming back for more :)

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Of course Page did some cover songs. Doesn't everybody? As for the experts, they can be just as subjective as anybody else, though I would certainly value the opinion of somebody who has seen just about everybody play it live, which is where the true artists really shine. But how many people have seen all those talents, including the "old bands" from the 60s and 70s? Anyway, lists are just supposed to be fun, as well as a way to stimulate lively debate, as this article certainly has. Later!

      • WeLoveMusic profile image

        WeLoveMusic 

        9 years ago

        Well, the fact is I would never dare to do such a thing as a top ten list, so it's childish to dare me. I don't presume I would write anything but my taste. So, when I think about it, I'm not qualified to write such a thing, neither are you, nor anyone else. That is why we have experts, that dedicate their lives to following bands and music happenings. Leave that to them.

        I'm not going to comment the put down, as it wasn't intended as one. The fact is that, although inventive, the skills that he showed compared to other named guitar players is not even close. I just said that putting him before them is ridiculous, I didn't say he doesn't deserve to be in top ten. Plus, I never heard of them stealing a song and putting it as their own, which he did on several occasions!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Regarding your put-down of Jimmy Page, he played better rock than SRV and, Satriani, though very fast and inventive, can't match Page's melodic sense. Incidentally, I've played the guitar for a long time as well, though I don't consider myself to be very good. Back in the 90s I was better, but that was a long time ago. Thanks for the comment. Let's see your top ten list. I warn you, it won't be easy to produce. Later!

      • WeLoveMusic profile image

        WeLoveMusic 

        9 years ago

        What about Yngwie Malmsteen and Zack Wylde? Also not my type of a list, I can only agree with half, and I play the guitar for almost 20 years. Some of them were popular for other things, not their guitar skills!

        I love Led Zeppelin but putting Jimmy Page in front of Joe Satriani and Stevie Ray Vaughan is ridiculous!

      • Doire60 profile image

        Doire60 

        9 years ago from Cleator Moor

        Hi Kosmo great list and certainly could buy into most. Of course it's all subjective, but no-one will deny the right of any of those guys to be on a top ?? list. I'm intrigued by the Phil Keaggy comment, it's one of those urban mythes, isn't it. Apparently someone asked Jimi Hendrix the same question and he replied don't know ask Rory Gallagher. Look forward to your forgotten guitarists list!!

      • profile image

        Paul_Steads 

        9 years ago

        I enjoyed reading this. I think you've chosen a good ten. I'm glad Edward van Halen is there. It's a shame you couldn't have exchanged one of them with Randy Rhoads.

      • Tom Cornett profile image

        Tom Cornett 

        9 years ago from Ohio

        LOL...I have been asked that question quite a few times...He's been around since dirt...unknown dirt but dirt.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Tom Cornett. Who in the hell is Phil Keaggy?!... There always seem to be some asskicking guitarist that nobody knows about. I've seen some of those guys on YouTube, I'll bet. Ha! I really have. Later!

      • Tom Cornett profile image

        Tom Cornett 

        9 years ago from Ohio

        Good list...I would have chosen most of these too. A reporter once asked Eric Clapton,"How does it feel to be the greatest guitar player in the world?" Eric replied,"I don't know...you should be asking Phil Keaggy."

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Yeah, the kids tend to forget Chuck Berry and all he's done for rock 'n' roll; in fact, he could be called the King of Rock and Roll. Thanks for the insightful comment. Later!

      • tony0724 profile image

        tony0724 

        9 years ago from san diego calif

        Kosmo thanks for remembering Chuck Berry. People seem to forget that when it came to the rock guitar Chuck Berry was first ! None of the other artist are on this list without Chuck Berry ! Good job.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        9 years ago from California

        Yeah, I kinda like top twenties too. Maybe I should expand the list. At any rate, I have other lists for the best rock guitarists. Check 'em out. Later!

      • mkott profile image

        Michele 

        9 years ago from Reno, Nevada

        It is hard to settle on 10. For metal buffs I would put Dimebag, and would throw in Keith Richards, the Edge, Slash, Zakk Wylde and a few others. Maybe you should have done the top 20 :) It is hard to please everyone.

      • profile image

        KT 

        9 years ago

        lolz... its rubbish.

        Where are Slash & Yngywe?

        Your list will never be completed with this 2 guys.

      • brimancandy profile image

        Brian 

        9 years ago from Northern Michigan

        I'm surprised that Slash from Guns and Roses wasn't on this list. Also CC Devile from Poison. I think he's better than Van Halen. But, I did see a show where all of these guys when in the top ten at one point. Eric Clapton always seems to be at the top of the list.

        The show I saw had Clapton at number 1, Van halen second, CC Deville at number 3, followed by Hendrix, and a few others. Couldn't tell you who the rest were. It has been a while since I saw that program.

      • profile image

        Murray 

        9 years ago

        I think Ritchie Blackmore should be on this list. Check out his solo on Child in Time on the Made in Japan live album - 'nuff said.

        Cheers,

        Murray (London, Ontario, Canada)

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        10 years ago from California

        I certainly like Gallagher and Trower, but they're not Top Ten guys. However, Gallagher is on my list of Ten Forgotten Rock Guitarists. Check it out. Later!

      • Krystal Paige profile image

        Krystal Paige 

        10 years ago from Midwest, America

        Rory Gallagher and Robin Trower are better than all of those guitaristS! :) Well except Jimmy and Jimi!

      • Cher Anne profile image

        Cher Anne 

        10 years ago from Earth

        Carlos Santana

      • profile image

        nate 

        10 years ago

        are you kidding me eddie van hallen is deff number two behind jimmy hendrix

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        10 years ago from California

        Keep in mind, this list is only for rock guitarists. If it weren't, there are some jazz guitarists I'd put here! Ever heard of George Benson and Joe Pass? Later!

      • profile image

        Jim 

        10 years ago

        Great List and couldn't have wrote it better myself! The only change I would make is adding Al Dimeola to the list and that's because I dont care what style of music you like, if your a guitarist, you can appreciate Al. Theres also a few others I would add such as Chet Atkins, even perhaps Roy Clark as they are masters of the chicken picken. There are so many other guitarists that deserve to be here and I like most of them with equall enthusiasim, but as you said you cant list everyone. I love Steve Vai and he is a mind blowing guitarist, but in the 30 years I have been playing and listening to guitar, I have never heard anyone as gifted and musicaly intelligent as that of Joe Satriani, for that I would have switched places with Vai! I quite often hear that Joe plays music without much soul or feeling and for that I have to laugh. His music brings tears to my eyes!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        10 years ago from California

        What can I say? Everybody can't be on this list!

      • profile image

        vinny 

        10 years ago

        ok lets see here..ur right with evh, stevie ray vaughn and vai..but wheres slash, randy rhoads, zakk wylde, and angus..one of thems at least gotta be up there

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        10 years ago from California

        Frank Zappa was very good. He certainly had his own quirky, frenetic style. But he's not Top Ten material, as far as I'm concerned.

      • James A Watkins profile image

        James A Watkins 

        10 years ago from Chicago

        One of my personal favorites is David Gilmour but I do not expect him to make any "best" lists because tasty playing is not going to attract the attention of flash and speed. Neal Schon ain't bad either. I am surprised, though, at the omission of Frank Zappa.

      • profile image

        marmmoo 

        10 years ago from MEQUON, WI.

        Right on, The guitarists you mentioned, completely kick major butt, the problem is there are so many, and from different types and styles of music, it's hard to pick just 10, for me at least. Rock On!

      • tony0724 profile image

        tony0724 

        10 years ago from san diego calif

        You pretty much got em all covered ! And you obviously know your guitar . Because I do not think alot of people know who Al Dimeola Is . Really good guitarist .

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