- 01. How to Define the Greatest Guitarists?
- 02. Who are Some of the Greatest Guitar Players?
- 03. Honourable Mentions for the Top 100 Guitarists, by You!
- 04. The World's Best Blues Guitarists
- 05. The Top 'World Music' Guitarists
- 06. Techniques to Become a Great Guitarist Yourself
- 07. Top 10 Guitarists of All Time
- 08. Start Learning the Guitar Today
For those of you reading this that want to learn the guitar, it's important to know of the greatest guitarist. It'll give you motivation as you continue to learn the guitar, but you can also see the passion and love people have for playing the guitar. It really is the perfect instrument to learn. As soon as you decide to learn the guitar, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with all the great guitarists who have come before you. Whether you’re a fan of classical, folk, rock, hard rock or funk music, each genre has its canon of great guitarists who have popularized it and propelled it forward. And, honestly, people are always willing to argue about who the best guitar player is. Off the top of our heads, we can name Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Django Reinhardt, Slash, Jimmy Page, BB King and countless others.
But coming up with the list of the top 10 best guitarists on the planet is no small task, as the list is bound to vary according to everyone’s tastes and preferred music genre. Nonetheless, we’re confident that our top 10 list will be a good source of information for those who are looking to learn guitar.
It’s a debated subject for music fans who all have their preferred musician or group for reasons that are extremely diverse and personal: for some, the technical skills of the guitarist are the deciding factor, and for others, it’s a question of emotion. And for others still, it comes down to how much commercial success the guitarist in question has had. Some will want Joe Satriani, and others will want James Hetfield. Some will want Chet Atkins, others will want John Frusciante. So basically we had many criteria to take into account as we ranked the most renowned guitarists. However, they can't all be in there. Our lists down below in no particular order. As we mentioned above everyone has their own opinion when it comes to the greatest guitar players or the top 10 guitarists in the world.
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How to Define the Greatest Guitarists?
Of course, as we say, it is a tricky game to play, this. Because how can you compare a genius fingerstyle acoustic player to a rock guitarist or a jazz guitar genius to a rhythm guitar player who plays power chords but exceptionally?
Can you compare them? Is it even a worthwhile exercise comparing Malmsteen to ZZ Top or Aerosmith? It's like writing a list of greatest artists of greatest albums of all time - with entries spanning everything from grunge to the bluesy to punk rock and rock&roll - with criteria including songwriting and improvisation. These are very different skills and need to be considered as such. Just as they are very different skills in metal guitar, eighties jazz, and acoustic fingerpicking.
What Makes Good Music In General?
Before we can attempt to define who a good guitar player is, we should, first of all, draw our attention to the science of music and the question, what makes good music? Why is it, for instance, that some sequences of chords are like music to our ears whereas others can only be described as noise? If you think about it logically and objectively, musicians often go into the business because they know it means (or at least it can mean) money and popularity.
What's more, musicians will (or at least modern musicians have the opportunity to) learn about their niche area through metadata analysis and find out what makes the fans tick, so that they can pick up on this connection between music maker and listener. As such, how can you be sure that the person playing the drums, strumming on the guitar or singing the song on your favourite album is feeling the music in the magical way we'd like to think they are? Some will, of course, defend their favourite star to death, and most players themselves will certainly confirm that they get transported by the music too. But as with any topic, we have to wonder about the science behind it and the fundamental reasons behind its being. If it is not to make money, then why else do so many people love to make music? Is it to spread a message, tell a story, evoke feelings? Or is it purely selfish and just a means of releasing one's inner feelings via an outlet that they enjoy?
Let's face it, without people listening and responding to your music, there's not much point in you throwing all you have into that hobby or business. Furthermore, it is relatively hard to be a passionate musician and to work in a more reliably financial-rewarding job alongside it, so one of your primary goals as a musician is bound to be to crack the music business and start making millions.
Even if your favourite musician is predominantly driven by music and is committed to releasing material for their fans, they cannot possibly deny that are several incentives for them to do so. A journalist writing for The Economist online explains that songs are 'complex mixtures of features', so composers are always trying to find the right mix of ingredients to increase their chances of success. And everyone loves a success story!
You will certainly want to know how you can earn money by playing your guitar...
So, now, when you think of your favourite musician - are you still convinced that they are uber-talented or is it you, the fan, and the data and algorithms you present, who leads them on the route to a chart-topping hit? Are they truly the person you thought they were or are they tricking you and just giving you what you want to hear? If we are going to go down this path, we must also ask ourselves a range of other thought-provoking questions? Are non-musical people allowed a say in what is good or bad playing? Or is it that the listeners have the power to comment on the way musical equipment is played?
So, What Makes Famous Guitarists?
With all of this in mind, how can we begin to rank musicians like guitarists and pick out the best amongst so many diverse artists? The overriding consensus is that a very good guitarist is before all else a musician who plays music uniquely; this is different from assessing a top athlete (even though there are similarities between the two, in terms of preparation and training) whose worth depends on technical feats and on meeting or exceeding previously set out expectations.
Our choice for the top 10 best guitarists is based on the musicality of the guitarist, that is to say on the art of arranging sounds in the right order, at the right moment and length, to express an emotion or idea. To be considered an excellent musician, one must be able to create emotion and energy from one’s music and give the listener chills. The great guitarists, in turn, inspire guitar instructors who give guitar lessons.
And who wouldn’t dream of having a guitar lesson by the great Jimi Hendrix?
With all of the guitarists gracing our list having been connected to the world of music for several years if not decades, we are quite confident that these successful musicians are deeply rooted in the music, despite their obvious fame. Even if you are doing a job simply to please people and to make money, it can be hard to keep up the pretense for thirty-odd years, with cameras following you around 24/7! This is yet another reason why we think these are the best guitarists in the world. Not only are they attuned to producing art that their fans love, but they have also touched audiences with their personalities, characters or stage personas, which have helped to propel their music forward.
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Who are Some of the Greatest Guitar Players?
We've surveyed about one century of music history to come up with this list of the top 10 best guitarists that the world has produced up until now.
Remember that these rankings are subjective => So leave behind your preconceived ideas on the guitar before reading this article!
Whether you’re after emotion or technique, Jimi Hendrix is considered the uncontested master of the guitar today.
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A self-taught genius, experimenter, incredible soloist and melodist, he pretty much invented and reinvented the world of rock and blues, still inspiring both big names and beginner guitarists today, all of whom will have covered “Voodoo Child” at one time or another.
He also opened the doors for left-handed guitar players by showing them that they too can master a musical instrument and make something unforgettable from it. In the same way that a “southpaw” boxer like Manny Pacquiao achieved unbelievable things in the ring, the gifted left-handed guitarist Jimi Hendrix pushed guitar playing to its highest level.
What made him truly special was that, unlike other guitarists of his time who stuck to one style of playing, Jimi combined styles and used strumming alongside licks and other additions to create a fuller and more organic sound. Amazingly, he also used his thumb to do a moving baseline whilst he was playing chords - he wanted to do what no other guitarists were doing, or were able to do, and he succeeded. The way he dressed his chords with so many different sounds and rhythms just shows how naturally talented a guitarist Jimi Hendrix was. His guitar was like an extension of his body, a part of his left hand that had no boundaries.
For those lefties who are still unsure how to play the guitar, we invite you to observe the master in action by checking out some online guitar lessons and videos. He was a part of the iconic Club27 group of musicians who all died at the age of 27, including Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Brian Jones.
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Modestly known as “God” by fans, Eric Clapton is one of the most famous rock and blues guitarists still actively playing for almost 50 years today. This Brit rocker pushed the boundaries of rock and blues. He’s a great soloist and iconic melodist who quite simply knows how to play everything.
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Also nicknamed “Slow Hand,” Clapton handles the fretboard with virtuosity. Big titles like “Cocaine” or “I Shot the Sheriff” brought him the global success that secured him a definite place in the canon of guitar-heroes. His talent is expressed in solos (we are thinking of the MTV album “Unplugged”) as well as through heartfelt collaborations with artists such as Phil Collins or Mick Jones and gigs in groups like The Yardbirds and The Cream. He is also the idol of countless students who take guitar instruction. One of the most evident talents of Eric Clapton as a guitarist is his fluidity. A singer and a guitarist, the star hears the songs he plays from both perspectives but weaves them together so smoothly to make them one. This is one artist who has a fire in his belly and can turn up the heat as and when he wishes.
Now in his seventies, Clapton is still performing on stage and is showing little sign of slowing down or not reaching the benchmark he set out for himself during his early solo career along with his stint in the band Cream. Whether performing alone or with a group, everyone agrees that is it the guitar that takes centre-stage. He manages to create this extraordinary, yet controlled sound which cleverly includes distortion, finger vibrato and spontaneous chord playing which all come together to create magic.
The fact that his guitar playing is as relevant today and is still loved by generations (even those who weren't even born at the height of his success!) is proof that Eric Clapton is a guitar hero in many people's eyes. Who can forget him singing, with just his string guitar, about his late son in 'If I Saw You In Heaven'. The overwhelming emotion is enough to send shivers down your spine.
Discover some of Slowhand's sexy songs for the guitar, like Layla or Wonderful Tonight!
One of the founding and leading members of Led Zeppelin is naturally third on our list of the top 10 best guitarists on the planet. Known as “The Wizard,” Page is a guitarist like no other, playing with a violin bow on his famous Gibson, alternating blues and rock with joy and passion.
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He wrote several music pieces with Robert Plant that have entered rock mythology such as “Stairway to Heaven” (what guitarist has not tempted at least once to play the famous intro or final solo?), “Black Dog,” “Whole Lotta Love” and “Since I’ve been Lovin’ you.” The music that Jimmy Page made was able to transport you so that you got lost in what he was playing. His solos were show-stopping and so innovative when it came to guitar-playing technique at the time. He set himself the challenge of breaking the preconceptions of what a guitar can do, so his style evolved. But he was always one of the greats, even when experimenting! A canonical guitarist.
In less than 29 songs, this blues guitar genius has had a major impact on this musical genre as well as rock guitar. The legend has said that he would have sold his soul to the devil himself to obtain guitar-playing talent: many blues players mocked his guitar playing incompetence. His death was equally mysterious, further heightening the legend surrounding this atypical man. But one thing is clear, even though there remains little written by him, the young Robert Johnson aka “The Genius” revolutionized the world of blues and earned worldwide recognition.
He is one of the pioneers of rock’n’roll. At once a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, he has been a veritable source of inspiration for other iconic artists like Elvis “The King” Presley. He revolutionized music by combining two different guitar styles who were begging to be played together, blues and country. It was through this courage and confidence that Berry was able to convey his slick attitude that made everyone stop and listen. Sadly, however, even though his lyrics and performances were positively received, the artist himself did not have as positive a reception. He was said to be quite hard to get along with... but that didn't stop his band swinging along. A sign of complete trust in what they were achieving together.
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And thus rock was born – all you need to do is listen to his famous song “Johnny B. Goode.” He is the pioneer of music as we know it today and as such, he earns his place in our top 10 best guitarists on the planet.
World music precursor, the Mexican-born Santana has inspired numerous artists around the world. Named "The Pope" of rock with Latino vibes, he’s a genius guitarist who discovered the magic formula by skillfully merging rock, blues, samba, and percussions, along with other guitar styles.
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An expert in making guitar strings ring, he’s a performer who mastered his art while always experimenting. Indeed, instead of playing the same old songs, Santana prefers to collaborate with other artists to enrich and rethink his music. His success is also due to the messages he communicates through his guitar songs with notions of peace, compassion, understanding, and joy.
Listen to “Europa” or “Smooth” and you will recognize his typical lyrical playing, and its characteristic warm and saturated sound.
With his exceptional talent, it seems that everyone wants to collaborate with Santana. What's more, when he does join hands with another artist, it seems that his raw and authentic sound always shines through, taking the limelight. That is not to say that his tracks aren't all different and uniquely great in their way! There are so many manipulations that he has found and continues to find with the Latin rhythm. People say that the Grammy-winning guitarist can be identified with just one single note - now that's an achievement! For all of the playing styles Santana incorporates into his music, his unique guitar sound is immediately recognizable.
His presence among the top 10 best guitarists in the world may come as a surprise but he who is named “The Lord of the Blues” is an unparalleled guitarist who popularized the bottleneck technique.
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His complete mastery of this accessory and his blues virtuosity allowed him to write the great blues titles that are considered classics today like “Hoochie Coochie Man” or “Rollin Stone.” He’s often considered one of the great blues guitarists of all time along with Willie Dixon, Johnny Lee Hooker or BB King.
BB (for Blues Boys) King is the master of New Orleans blues. He’s a true legend of guitar history! Although certainly less technical than Stevie Ray Vaughan, he wrote numerous classics of the genre (“Sweet Little Angel,” “Sweet sixteen”), rounding out his songs with a rich voice full of emotions and his characteristic vibrato.
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Thanks to his inimitable touch that gives real personality to the guitar, BB King has influenced the guitar biggies like Clapton and Hendrix. Working from one sole note, he is capable of telling a story that touches the deepest depths of the human soul.
One of the leading members of the famous The Rolling Stones along with Mick Jagger, he is still one of the most talented rock guitarists today. Known for being a seducer guitarist! Called The Human Riff, he’s appreciated less for his virtuosity than for his extreme simplicity. For him, it’s preferable to have “2 notes that kill rather than virtuosity for nothing.” And 'killing' the music he played, he did. Richards was famous for bringing dark and sinister sounds to their songs which gave them their identity.
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His obsession with sound and his playing technique (thanks to his 5-string guitar with open tuning in G) rank him as one of the greatest rhythmic guitarists of all time. Though not necessarily one of the technical greats, his chord-playing conveys so much emotion it's as if the guitar is singing the notes. He has written and composed rock classics like “Jumpin Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction” and “Paint it black.”
Eddie Van Halen
For many musicians, there is a before and after Van Halen. Why? The way guitar is now played changed all because of a measly one minute and 42 seconds, or the time it takes to play his infamous “Eruption.”
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If you want to learn the electric guitar, Eddie Van Halen is the model to follow. How is it possible that a single man can play as though a group of guitarists is on stage? Whereas there is just him, his ten fingers and his incredible touch of the guitar neck! Nicknamed “Superman,” every guitar fan is awed after hearing his music and his mastery of the instrument.
These guitarists we've listed above are all too familiar with the many benefits of guitar playing.
Honourable Mentions for the Top 100 Guitarists, by You!
Thank you! A great number of you have responded with your comments and opinions after the publication of this article. While we can't provide a list as long as 100, as a bonus, we’ve followed your suggestions to expand our presentation of the best guitarists in the world. From Robert Plant and Jeff Beck to Elvis: who are the guitar legends according to you?
Do you agree with Rolling Stone’s ranking of the 100 best guitarists?
This guitarist had a decisive influence on Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
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He was a member of the Muddy Waters’ band who signed his first contracts with Chess Records. His music gave off flamboyant modernism while staying true to the musical roots of his native Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He especially impressed fans with his thunderous funk in “Howlin Wolf,” “Killing Floor” and “Wang Dang Doodle.”
Kirk Lee Hammett has been a guitarist and songwriter in the iconic heavy metal group Metallica since 1983.
In 2003, Hammett was classed 11th in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. And in 2009, Hammett was ranked number 15 in Joel McIver’s book on the 100 greatest Metal guitarists.
Thomas Baptiste “Tom” Morello is a singer-songwriter and political activist. He’s especially known for playing with the groups Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.
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Morello was also a touring musician with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He was well known for his acoustic solo “The Nightwatchman,” and “Street Sweeper Social Club.” Pioneer of rap metal, he explored the musical potential of the guitar, integrating mixing and hip hop.
Robert William Gary Moore was born in 1952 in Northern Ireland. He grew up in East Belfast and left home very young. He moved to Dublin where he met his mentor: Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac. In the years that followed he joined the band Skid Row, then Thin Lizzy in 1974, and Colosseum II with whom he played until about 1978. Since 1979, Gary led a solo career, during which time he released several very successful albums, such as the fan-favourite “Still Got The Blues” (1990). He was very active up until his premature death in February 2011. It’s difficult to put into words how Gary Moore changed the music landscape with “Still Got The Blues.” Perhaps we should let the music do the talking.
“Still Got The Blues” is his most popular hit not only because it’s a beautiful song, but because its guitar solos highlight his melodic blues (a signature of Gary Moore). Gary Moore has a powerful playing style that every guitarist should study regardless of the musical genre they play. It’s exactly as @Fabrice explains:
“It’s the perfect union between emotion, musicality, melody, and technical skill, from how he holds notes, and the variety of big and rapid sounds. But it’s rarely just a pure demonstration of technique and speed, as it’s his underlying reserve of power that is the most impressive. Music and Melody always have priority.”
For your music fanatics, Saul Hudson aka Slash is one of the most talented guitarists of his generation and a leading member of the group Guns N’ Roses. And if you don’t know it yet, it’s something you’ll learn soon enough in a guitar lesson! While he was placed in the top 10 best guitarists by Time magazine in 2009, Rolling Stone only ranked him 65 in its top 100 best guitarists of all time…
For us common mortals, he’s known as the musician who accompanied Michael Jackson on stage to songs like “Give In To Me,” “Black or White,” and “Beat It,” playing his live guitar solos that could wake up the dead. Some of these solos went on for a bit too long, at least in the eyes of the King of Pop! Ok, this is a slight exaggeration, but like all guitarists of his generation, he is successful simply because he does what he loves. Considered by some to be the greatest guitar soloist of all time, Slash is known for his style, incredible technique and his ability to transmit his emotions to the public.
Proof of his moments of pure inspiration can be seen in the mass of concert videos you’ll find on the Internet and the many studio recordings he’s made.
Start with these songs:
- Sweet Child.
- November Rain.
- You Could Be Mine.
- November Rain.
- November Rain.
- Have we already said November Rain?
He is glaringly missing from the ranking of top guitarists! How could we not mention the fabulous soloist David Gilmore, who was part of the psychedelic band Pink Floyd? Lovers of the drug-induced melodies of this British band would not be able to argue with that…
Here’s a small quiz for his true fans: was Gilmour an original member of the group? Well?
The answer is no! Pink Floyd was created in 1965, and we had to wait until 1968 for the guitarist-singer to join up with Roger Waters, Richard White, Nick Mason and Roger Syd Barrett! A true asset for the group as it was after the arrival of the 14th best guitarist of all time (according to Rolling Stone in 2011) that Floyd flew to new heights. They produced the third highest-selling album of all time (many even consider it the best album in history): The Dark Side of the moon (1973), which stayed in the Billboard 200 for 17 years and 6 months. This major recording in the history of rock and alternative rock included tunes like the famous “Money”!
Here are some of Gilmour’s other major contributions:
- Another brick in the wall (1979)
- Wish you were here (1975)
- Comfortably numb (1979)
- Hey you (1979)
Gilmour is recognized for a great many contributions. And the great rock classics we mentioned above are not all. He’s also a magnificent singer, and a genius soloist, whose music goes directly to your core (the solos “Hey You, Wish you were here” and “Comfortably Numb” for example), with such perfect notes never before coming out of a Fender. Speaking of Fenders, David Jon Gilmour has also been considered one of the best Fender guitar players ever, alongside other legends like Hendrix and Clapton. Enough said.
Even the less aware among you will certainly remember Steve Lukather’s powerful and heavy riff from the song “Hold the line.” You have, right? I should hope so! Because yes, Steve Lukather is not only the guitarist of the group Toto, the popular group big in the 1980s FM radio. The group’s style has often been mocked and labelled “Rock FM,” as it was seen as more “pop” than “rock”… Still, Lukather is one of today’s most well-known guitarists! While this is debated in the more hard-core guitar milieu… In 2016, the group’s guitarist declared to the French newspaper Sud Ouest, before giving a concert in Bordeaux: “The whole world looks down on us, but hell, we’ve sold 40 million records the hard way, man!”
Even if the label Toto (who still tours on stages around the world) has stuck to him (which doesn’t bother him), everyone knows that Lukather is a true virtuoso, whose talents have been enjoyed at the Grammy Awards as well as in appearances in the legendary songs like Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller”! On that note, the King of Pop is not the only one who has called on him, because Clapton, McCartney, Joe Cocker, Elton John and even George Benson have welcomed him in the studio to record on their albums!
A true virtuoso, Steve Lukather is capable of navigating between heavy metal and jazz, adding in a few notes of blues and hard rock. A versatility that has allowed him to have a fantastic solo career, outside of Toto.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
After being mentioned in the comment section below SRV or Stevie Ray Vaughan we realized we had to him in the article about great guitar players. If you don't know who Stevie Ray Vaughan you're missing out on one of the greatest guitar players. He picked up his first guitar at the age of 10. He had an exceptional ear for music. By the time he reached high school, he taught himself to play the blues. Vaughan had a lot of success as a guitarist. He was voted the Best New Talent and Best ElectricBblues Guitarist in 1983. He was a fan of blues music but also had a huge impact on it.
Stevie Ray Vaughan sadly died of a helicopter crash in 1990. Fans we're saddened by the loss of their favourite guitarists. A year after Vaughan's death the Texas governor proclaimed October 3, 1991, Stevie Ray Vaughan Day. If you watch old recordings of Vaughan he was truly passionate about the guitar and loved to make music.
Pete Townshend may be questionable to a lot of people reading this article, but he plays an important part in rock. He was a guitarist, singer, composer and also had a way with words. He is more notably known for his work with The Who, which is considered to be the most important and impactful rock bands of this generation. His playing style was exciting and aggressive but he was also very fluid which is something you don't see in a lot of guitar players. Townshend was notorious for smashing his guitar after performances. He was the guitarist and songwriter for the Who from 1964 to 1982. Townshend is best known for his conceptual work. He won Best Musical Show Album in 1993 for Tommy.
Again, we want to say this list is subjective for being the greatest guitar players ever. Some guitar players you may agree with or disagree with and we welcome those comments down below. This list was made from a research along with personal opinion. We tried to include the top guitarist but we could have missed a couple.
The World's Best Blues Guitarists
In contrast to certain guitarists in this decidedly very contested category, Joe Bonamassa is both a guitarist and singer. Born in Utica, New York in 1977, Bonamassa is a pure bluesman. Non-believers need only to listen to the sounds of his group Black Country Communion to get the picture. A rare instinct developed from the age of four and honed through high-quality musical training, notably based around the sounds of BB King. Even BB King has paid homage to Joe’s talents! And there’s no disputing the master…
Today, Bonamassa is THE reference for American blues-rock. Although rough and sometimes rustic, his style is always melodious and powerful. Guitarists worldwide especially recognize his incredible technique, which is both fast and seemingly limitless. But to appreciate Bonamassa’s talent (and the rock voice), we recommend watching a live version of “Just got paid”! Trust us, you won’t be sorry!
Jeff Beck has it all. Not only is he a renowned technical guitarist, able to play with a vocalist rather than alongside them, he also stands out as an all-around nice guy. He has a way about him that makes you stop and listen, but he isn't in your face. His sound is very melodic, which is why his tone was so perfectly matched to answering the needs of the vocals, yet he still holds his own in every tune. Bright, confident and edgy, he is a serious guitar-player and he has no intention of holding back! People often say that he carries humour in his music, which is quite a clever characteristic to portray with this piece of equipment.
Criticized after his first televised concerts in 2001, John Mayer was perceived by many as just one of those artist-composers who makes music for lovelorn adolescents. Although his first album was quickly forgotten, Mayer’s unconditional love of the blues helped his career take a completely different turn…
Notably, he appeared at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004, at which time he introduced his song “City Love” with an incredible blues solo inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun.” His music mixes technique and emotion – with his thumb touching the lowest string to embellish the note – so that he ranks with the greatest blues musicians. For those who want to get a better idea of his talent, you should check out the album “Try” with the bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan. Grab those headphones!
Despite often being considered a purist of vintage blues, Jack White is not one to show off technical effects. You may be shocked to see him in this category. But it’s largely thanks to his guitarist talent that his group, The White Stripes, has made a name for itself in blues-rock (You heard that right!).
Oh yes, The White Stripes is a blues group. By covering the songs “Stop Breaking Down” by Robert Johnson or even “St. James Infirmary Blues” with his classical guitar in their first album, his listeners can revisit the history of blues music.
The Top 'World Music' Guitarists
Bombino du Niger
Marked by the conflicts in his native country of Agadez in Niger, his numerous trips into exile and his Tuareg culture, Bambino du Niger is a unique guitarist on the musical stage. While some might class him under the genre “World Music”, the sacredness of Bambino du Niger’s guitar bars him from entering any musical category. Forced to flee in 1990 during his childhood, this Tuareg artist-guitarist has known persecution and governmental oppression. This included the prohibition of the string instrument, which came to be considered a symbol of resistance for the Tuareg culture.
Despite the loss of some members of his group (who were killed), Bombino du Niger continues to promote unity and social togetherness at concerts and festivals. His music, which draws on traditional Tuareg instruments and a mastery of the guitar, oscillates between sadness and joy.
Paco de Lucía
Eyes closed and head thrashing about, with hands that pivot on guitar strings with a rare dexterity that pianists would be jealous of, vibrating to melodies that transport you to another place… It’s none other than Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomez aka Paco de Lucia.
Unanimously recognized as one of the greats since his first studio album came out, the Andalusian guitarist has left his musical imprint on the history of flamenco.
Although he’s won awards since the age of 14, Paco de Lucía’s music became more perfect with time. This guitarist from the South of Spain contributed to the modernization of traditional flamenco while never straying far from its noble notes. Influenced by the United States, where he often played during his musical career, Lucía’s music is enriched with influences of jazz and diverse musical currents, which is evident in pieces such as “Entre Dos Aguas” and “Rio Ancho.” The atypical trajectory of this Andalusian guitarist is also due to his musical upbringing, initiated by his father, who taught him to play the 6-string instrument alongside his brothers Ramón de Algeciras and the flamenco singer, Pepe de Lucía. While you can learn more about his life by watching a cinematographic documentary that appeared just after he died in 2014, it’s through his music that one can best perceive (or hear) his genius on the flamenco guitar.
Today, this flamenco virtuoso counts among the eternal legends. And we are not just saying that because after the official mourning was decreed by the mayor of his native city, Google depicted the icon as a “Doodle.”
Techniques to Become a Great Guitarist Yourself
It calms nerves and unites mankind, making the guitar the musical instrument par excellence. You can strum, caress, pluck or even hit its body to produce sounds that make people laugh, dance or even cry.
- Is guitar playing talent something innate?
- Must you have a certain state of mind to learn the guitar?
- Where should one look to begin guitar instruction?
So take your instrument out of its case, tune your guitar, and plug in your amp: we’re going to discover a few techniques to improve your guitar performances.
Solfège may just be the initial challenge that has prevented so many music lovers from jumping freely into acoustic guitar training. It’s preferable to have a good understanding of solfège if one wants to launch a guitarist career, but it isn’t indispensable. The important thing for every beginner guitarist today is first to learn to read a chord chart. As such, you’ll know where to place your fingers on the strings to play your guitar chords.
Finding an acoustic guitar is another important step towards mastering the guitar! Choosing between folk, classical or manouche guitar, with strings of steel or nylon is a difficult choice to make when one is still a novice musician! It may seem like finding your acoustic guitar is a bit like Indiana Jones’ quest for the Holy Grail, so it’s better to take your time to reflect before making the purchase. Like your spouse with whom you’ll have to live under the same roof, you are going to spend many long hours with your guitar. For this reason, it’s imperative to choose a guitar that suits you, with strings and wood that produce the sounds you.
We sometimes forget that it’s important to have a good sense of music history and culture, although it’s the cornerstone of playing any instrument! Reinforcing your musical knowledge, by way of listening to solos by the great guitarists, will train your ear and improve your sense of rhythm to win over every audience.
Play guitar and sing
We love listening to singing pianists like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Nina Simone. The same goes for artists who wear the double label of singers and guitarists, such as Prince or Mark Knopfler. But this is a rare talent! Singing demands a supplemental investment of great intensity. This makes it impossible to drown your thoughts in your instrument; when you sing it’s a question of lifting your head and facing the public, breaking out of your musical bubble.
To become a good guitarist, you must practice and guitar lessons will help you develop quickly. Your hands should be on the strings like a pastry chef handles dough nonstop or like an athlete has his eyes on the ball. And if you want to become a really good player, you must learn to lift your head, look at the audience, and share your emotion. Your concentration must be at once focused on your notes and on communicating your feelings to the public.
Top 10 Guitarists of All Time
The problem with the top 10 lists is they can subjective. Everyone has their own opinion, especially when it comes to guitarist top ten lists. We touched on a few of these points above throughout the article. It could depend if you like a certain genre better, your style of playing, how you learned the guitar and so many other things. At the end of the day, we're all going to have our own opinions which is okay. We'll list our top 10 guitarists of all time down below in no particular order. Let us know your thoughts and opinion. Some of these guitarists may have been featured above, but want them to be included in the top 10 list.
Tommy Emmanuel - He is most notably known for being the best at fingerstyle solo guitar. Emmanuel was learning the guitar at the young age of 4. He had a very unique tone when he played the guitar. he used different tunning types and string gauges to bring out his unique tone.
Brent Mason - He is most recognized for being consistent with the tone and quick hands on the strings. Brent Mason has a lot of skill on the guitar but he's also a songwriter and guitar teacher. He's played over 1000 albums for all genres but mainly known for playing for country stars. Mason has won guitarist of the year and musician of the year countless times.
Pat Metheny - He is known as a world-class musician around the world. Methany is the only person to win 10 categories at the Grammys. He has a unique voicing and phrasings which all fans loved hearing. Pat Methany is a passionate and disciplined guitar player.
Stevie Vai - At only 13 years old Vai was taking lessons from Joe Satriani. He practiced for at least 10 hours a day. It's no surprised Stevie Vai was able to turn playing the guitar into a career. He's known for being a master with the whammy bar and his solo work. Stevie Via is also known for being one of the best technical players in the guitar world.
Stevie Ray Vaughan - We mentioned Vaughan above but we didn't want to leave him off this list. He's a guitar icon that is most likely one of the most impactful guitarists in blues music. Stevie Ray Vaughan has a unique style when playing the guitar that doesn't compare to anyone else.
Guthrie Govan - He is known for having the best technical skills that can be used in any genre. Govan has passion and incredible love for the guitar. He teaches world-class lessons all over the world. Guthrie Govan has been on numerous top 10 list right at number 1.
David Gilmour - Unlike other popular guitarists David Gilmour didn't have his own guitar until he was 21. He is known for his ambient chords, and note bends. Gilmour has plenty of talent and skill on the guitar but can actually play other instruments. Nobody can come close to how he plays the guitar hie has quick fingers and knows how to use them well.
Jimi Hendrix - He has ultimately changed the way we play the guitar. Hendrix was the first person to bring the whammy bar into effect. He was playing the guitar around 15 years old. It's astonishing the impact Hendrix had on the guitar world. He's brought a lot of new techniques.
Eddie Van Halen - For not ever learning how to read sheet music it's impressive the amount of success Halen has had, but for his skill on the guitar, it's no surprise. He uses a style called tapping which is where you use both hands on the neck of the guitar. This helps you play notes more rapidly, but Halen definitely makes this look easier said than done.
Eric Clapton - He is a talented guitarist that's even been the only person to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 3 times. Clapton is loved by so many people in the guitar world. He's arguable the most likeable guitar player in the world, even if you don't like Clapton you at least like the music he's put out.
Start Learning the Guitar Today
After reading and learning about the top guitarist it can make you feel like you want to start playing. Superprof is the perfect place to learn how to play the guitar. They have 100s of guitar tutors ready to teach you how to play the guitar. Superprof's tutors offer lessons in person and online giving you the freedom and flexibility to learn the guitar when you want to learn. Don't wait any longer to learn the guitar. If it's something that has been on your mind for a while. You should finally allow yourself to learn the guitar. It could be the perfect new hobby you learn.
Let us know in the comments what you think about our lists of the greatest guitarist in the world. One of the great things about the guitar is it helps bring people together. Whether it's to listen to someone play, play with other people or even read about guitarists on the internet the guitar brings everyone together.
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