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Greatest Guitarists of All Time - Top 10

By Edited Apr 2, 2016 1 5

Ever wondered who are the greatest guitarists of all time? Here is a compiled list for you. Most of these greatest guitarists of all time come from the classic rock era in the 1960s to the late 1980s. You would find that most beginners and budding rock stars look upon them as role models. While rock music was created in the 1950s with the emergence of people like Chuck Berry and Bill Haley, they were only made popular about 10 years later. Have a read through this list of the top 10 greatest guitarists of all time and see whether you agree with them.

Greatest Guitarists of All Time

10. Carlos Santana

Born in Mexico, Santana is one of the greatest guitarists of all time with his blues band 'Santana'. Carlos's songs commonly feature Latin percussions which gives them a unique twist from the usual rock rhythms that you hear. He says that major influence came from Ritche Valens, another popular singer, songwriter and guitar player during that period. He uses a custom made PRS as the main instrument when performing. Claiming the tenth spot of the greatest guitarists of all time, some of their famous songs include 'Smooth' featuring Rob Thomas which hit number 1 on the Billboard top 100 songs in 1999 and 'The Game of Love' featuring Michelle Branch.

9. Kirk Hammett

Next up on the list of greatest guitarists of all time is Kirk Hammett from the heavy metal band Metallica. Kirk's signature instrument on stage is the 1974 Gibson Flying V. He is well known to use the tremolo bar in playing solos, giving the songs a special effect. Kirk Hammett with the group has also been featured as a guest star in the Simpsons in season 8 of the series. You may be surprised that he took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani during the early days of Metallica. Together with the group, he was admitted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2009 to be in the ranks of the greatest guitarists of all time.

8. B.B King

B.B King was made famous in the 1950s with legendary blues performances. He is well remembered for his famous soloing style which has influenced many subsequent blues players. At 85 years old now, he is still actively performing in tours, jazz festivals and also for the Crossroads Guitar Festival to raise charity. Being one of the greatest guitarists of all time, he was a prior winner a Grammy Award for the hit 'The Thrill is Gone'. Other popular tunes include 'Chains and Things' and 'I Like to Live the Love'. No matter what your music preference is, the songs from the eighth greatest guitarists of all time are something that you can enjoy anytime.

7. Zakk Wylde

Being a former member of Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde makes it into the list of greatest guitarists of all time. This group was at its peak with him playing the lead guitar role creating unique classic riffs to add color to the songs. One of Zakk's famous collaboration was with Slash, where both of them had a duel based on the song 'Voodoo Child' by Jimi Hendrix. He has a few signature guitars which you can buy from Les Paul and Gibson with an amp from Marshall. He is now also featured in Guitar Hero due to the success he had as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

6. Eddie Van Halen

Sitting at number 6 of the greatest guitarists of all time, Eddie Van Halen from the Netherlands is the co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen. He is well known for using finger tapping methods when playing solos. Being one of the greatest guitarists of all time, he has an original style of music which is different from those that you hear nowadays. Claiming that Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were his main influence, he actually played the piano as a kid. Popular tunes from these greatest guitarists of all time include Jump and Panama where both hit the top 100 charts. Eddie also played the solo of the song 'Beat It' by the late Michael Jackson, introducing a rock element into Michael's song.

5. Joe Perry

As the fifth greatest guitarists of all time, you may already know Joe Perry who plays lead in Aerosmith. With this band, this fifth greatest guitarists of all time recorded famous hits such as 'I Don't' Want to Miss a Thing' for the Armageddon soundtrack and also the catchy 'Walk This Way' which instantly hit the radio waves. During the band days, he went on to release a self titled solo record in 2005. He uses the Les Paul electric guitar series as his preferred instrument with the several models under the Joe Perry signature line. With Joe's amazing talent and skills, it is no doubt that he should be on the list of greatest guitarists of all time.

4. Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page is one of the founding members of the English rock band Led Zeppelin. With Jimmy's versatile playing skills, he brought the band to its peak of fame in the 1970s with chart topping hits like 'Stairway to Heaven' which was voted to have the best guitar solo of the century. As with several other greatest guitarists of all time, he is known to use a double necked instrument when performing live. Throughout Jimmy's career with the band, 9 studio albums have been released, all reaching at least multi platinum status. Also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jimmy Page is one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

3. Slash

With his signature tall hat and sunglasses appearance during performances, Slash has created a strong icon for himself. As one of the greatest guitarists of all time, he started his career with Guns N Roses and went on to join Velvet Revolver after a fallout with fellow singer Axl Rose. He shot Guns N Roses to fame with outstanding riffs and solo in the song 'Sweet Child of Mine'. Slash dones skills in both the electric guitar and acoustic guitar. In 2010, Slash had a solo album debuted with collaborations with famous artists like Adam Levine, Kid Rock and Fergie and lived up to the standards of the greatest guitarists of all time. He is also featured on the game Guitar Hero as a playable character.

2. Eric Clapton

Born in 1945, Eric Clapton has made a name for himself as one of the greatest guitarists of all time specializing in the blues and acoustic tunes. He has been on ranked on many lists from various magazines because of his success. He was in many bands throughout his career before starting out on a solo career in the 1970s where he rose up to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time. When Eric's son passed away in 1991, he wrote a song 'Tears in Heaven' expressing grief which went on to receive six Grammy awards that year. Other legendary hits include 'Wonderful Tonight', 'Layla' and 'Cocaine'. As one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Clapton is also a repeat performer in the Crossroads Festival.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Number one on the list of greatest guitarists of all time is Jimi Hendrix. He popularized the use of the wah pedal to give a unique pitch to the solos and also the use of amplifier feedback to add effect to his playing style. He is well known for burning and smashing the guitar at the end of the performance. Jimi Hendrix employed many unique techniques of playing the instrument such as playing with his teeth and behind his back. Jimi is one of the stars that play a left handed instrument. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1970 at the young age of 27. It takes a lot of skill and talent to reach that peak which justifies Jimi's position on the top of the greatest guitarists of all time.

There you have it, the top 10 greatest guitarists of all time. Feel free to add your comments in the comments section below.



Dec 1, 2010 11:11am
Great article! I've only seen two of the people on this list. Kirk Hammett did a Superjam with Les Claypool and Gogol Bordello at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in 2008 and I was front row center. He was amazing. Metallica also played that night and I caught a few songs. I also saw BB King at the same festival plus I saw him again later that year at the civic center in Mankato, MN. You only need to see him once as he plays the same songs and tells the same stories at all the concerts. Santana did a free concert in Sioux City, IA on the Fourth of July and I'm still kicking myself for missing it. Someday I hope to see everyone on your list (that's still alive).
Dec 7, 2010 7:56pm
Thanks for the comment Ally! You're so lucky to have seen two of them perform live. It must have been a fantastic experience. I haven't had a chance to see any of them live because they don't tour Australia that often but my dream is to see Eric Clapton or Slash live. It's a real pity to have missed that Santana concert though. I would probably kick myself too if I missed it.
Dec 7, 2010 5:13am
Man these guys can wail! While any "top 10" list is subjective, I have to say that yours is pretty close to what mine would be. Maybe move a few guys around a little, but the 10 you chose are spot on in my book, too.

... How cool would it be if all these guitar gods played together!
Dec 7, 2010 7:23pm
That would be really cool! I would definitely want to attend such an event. I'm sure if they played together for a fundraiser, the collections would go through the roof.
Sep 23, 2014 11:07pm
wow....They are great.
I'm amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that's both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this in my hunt for something relating to this.
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