Monday, March 28, 2011

Top 10 Guitarists of All Time

Not even "The D" could deny these true Guitar Heroes

I know you've missed 'em! It's time for another top 10! This time we'll be separating the men from the boys and the vastly over-rated from six-string royalty. Sometimes when it comes to music you have to weed through a whole lot of worthless BS (*Cough* Rolling Stones) until you come to what is truly inspired masterwork. And only for you, my adoring readership, have I done just that. Sit back and behold the glory! I also strongly recommend you check out any of the below artists you haven't already listened to. 

*DISCLAIMER: Since last time I wrote a disclaimer on one of my top tens, no one clearly READ IT, I capitalized, bolded, and underlined the title of this one. Anyway, as always these are MY opinions so don't get butt-hurt when you don't see Eric Clapton on this list. I think he's great, but not top 10 worthy. Keith Richards is a worthless piece of crap, so don't even waste my time talking that mess. And NO, DragonForce's guitarist, Herman Li is NOT on this list! I have a couple of their songs and certainly appreciate their work, but there is a difference between playing very fast and playing very well. Anyway, let's get this thing started!

Honorable Mention: B.B. King, Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria), Carlos Santana, and Eddie Van Halen

10. Tom Morello:
No one has come close to the way Rage Against The Machine's lead guitarist works his ax. Morello makes his guitar wail in ways that you wouldn't even think possible. Rage's unique mix of funk, rap, and metal presented the perfect stage for Morello to demonstrate his incomparable skills. His custom guitar that reads "Arm the Homeless" only adds to his mystique. I love the way he lulls you into a false sense of security with basic riffs while you focus on Zach de la Rocha's lyrics and then suddenly blows your mind with an out of control solo. He is arguably the most innovative guitarist on my top 10, and that's why he is so awesome. If you've never heard his work, I strongly suggest listening to "Bulls on Parade" or "Killing in the Name". Or better yet, just go buy the album "Battle Of Los Angeles", no relation to the stupid movie. 

9. Slash:
This former Guns and Roses guitarist is nothing short of iconic with his unkempt curls flowing out of his top hat, but it is his skill on his Les Paul that makes him truly legendary. Slash commanded the guitar with unparalleled prowess in a time when the rock music scene was muddled with worthless hair metal bands. I love that while his face is stoic, it is as if all of his emotions have been transported into the strings of his guitar and as he plays, you feel every one of them. Like all great guitarists, he is at his best when playing the solo. This is why he's still been successful after separating himself from that jerk, Axle Rose. Most people are familiar with his work, but if you've just finished an extended stay on Mars, check out "Sweet Child O' Mine" or you can look him up on YouTube playing some more awesome stuff.

8. Joey Eppard:
Not many have heard of 3's other-worldly guitarist yet, but the public is sure to soon get wise. Eppard plays electric and acoustic for 3, but only rarely gets to truly display his full talent. I can't adequately describe his playing style, but it is nothing short of incredible when he gets going. He has the ability to make it sound like at least two or three guitarists are all playing in perfect rhythm and harmony when it is only him. The only issue is that usually 3's music only requires that he plays rhythm guitar or basic riffs. I almost wish he would hurry up and go solo or 3 could change things up a bit to showcase him more. Anyway, take my word for it, this guy's amazing. If you haven't already, listen to "Bramfatura". It is Eppard at his best. "Queen" and "Circus Without Clowns" are also fairly good showcases of his abilities.

7. Ritchie Blackmore:
When Jimi Hendrix's life came to a tragic end, Blackmore picked up the torch and built off of what he had started. He is most known for his work in Deep Purple, but in my opinion, some of his best music came out of his band Rainbow. Ritchie is one of those guys that could play an out of control solo and just makes every second look effortless and easy. Like so many on my list, Blackmore was great because he FELT the music he played. Some of his best work was improvised stuff that you can find on YouTube. He would just close his eyes and let his emotions pour out through his fingers and communicate to an audience. If your looking for something specific to listen to, check out "16th Century Greensleeves". You won't be disappointed. 

6. Duane Allman:
The Allman Brothers Band is probably often over-looked because of their country roots, but their lead guitarist, Duane Allman is without a doubt one of the greatest guitarists of all time. His skills are prominently featured in virtually every single Allman Bros. song. Unfortunately, like so many on this list, Duane's life was cut short, but he left no shortage of fantastic recordings. His music was always smooth and gorgeous, as every note rolled off of his guitar. As I said before, pretty much any Allman Bros. song you dial up will be an accurate portrayal of this man's immense talent, but one of my personal favorites is "Jessica", which is essentially a seven and a half minute sustained solo coupled with some piano inserts. You can't go wrong with the The Allman Brothers Band and you can't go wrong with Duane.

 5. Kirk Hammett:
He's the lead guitarist for Metallica, need I say more? Hammett oozes awesome playing for who I believe to be the greatest Metal band of all time (sorry Iron Maiden, I love you too). Not only can this man shred under every sense of the word, but he can also play smooth. He can tell a story with his playing filled with the entire range of human emotion. His writing is equally impressive. It is rare to find a musician that is equally technically sound as artistically sound, in that he can shred incredibly fast at times, but it's still something that you want to listen to.   As far as listening to Kirk Hammett and Metallica goes, you can't go wrong with anything on the Black Album. My personal favorite Hammett selections from the Metallica catalog are "Master of Puppets" and "One".

4. Chet Atkins:
A pioneer of country music and the Nashville sound, Chet Atkins employed his six-strings to link notes in ways no one ever thought possible. His fingers effortlessly flowed up and down the neck of his guitar creating smooth sounding magic. And the way this guy finger picked was just freaking incredible. Chet said himself that he spoke through his guitar, which is nothing short of the truth. This man could put anything on the guitar and make it amazing. I've heard him do versions of "Vincent" and "Yakety Axe" that are nothing short of flawless. You can't fully appreciate this man's craft unless you hear it for yourself. At the same time, it's hard for me to suggest just' one or two songs to listen to. You'll be good if you listen to anything with "rag" in the name. "I'll See You in my Dreams" is a great song as well.

3. Stevie Ray Vaughan:
The term "guitar god" is exclusively reserved for people like Stevie Ray Vaughan. Listening to this man play is more of an experience than anything else. His mix of blues and rock penetrates the soul. Unlike Slash, SRV visibly emotes through his guitar in an awesome display of music. As incredible as his music is on it's own, being able to watch SRV perform on video adds so much more to the experience for this reason. I feel the same way about Jimi Hendrix. Stevie was also a native Texan, thus adding to his awesomeness score. I would argue that SRV made Austin City Limits what it is today. It's so incredibly sad that his career could not have lasted longer. I mean talk about crappy luck; you get sober and then a couple years later, somebody crashes your helicopter into a mountain. If I had to only pick a few of the best SRV displays of guitar mastery, they would have to be "Texas Flood", "Testify", and "The Sky Is Crying".

2. Jimmy Page:
If you happened to read my "Artist of the Week" entry about Led Zeppelin, you have some idea of my pure adoration for Jimmy Page. This man was and is one of the best there ever was. He pioneered hard rock and flawlessly infused countless genres into Led's unique style of music. Not only could he command 12 and 6 string guitars, but also the mandolin among other instruments. And he was a fantastic writer and producer. I mean seriously, this guy is the bee's freaking knees. I would be kidding myself if I didn't say that "Stairway to Heaven" was a beyond excellent example of Page's musical prowess. After all, it's one of the greatest songs of all time. I'd also include "Dazed and Confused", "Since I've Been Loving You", and "Achilles Last Stand". Just talking about those songs makes me excited. As you can guess, I had a really hard time not putting this Jimmy #1 on my list, but as I will explain, the next Jimi is very deserving of the honor.

1. Jimi Hendrix:
Nobody comes close to Jimi Hendrix when you put playing guitar in the same sentence. Forget that he played the guitar backwards for his entire career due to the fact that he was left handed and played a right handed guitar. Just file that away. Nobody could take you to another place and portray not only emotions but vivid images through his guitar. When Hendrix played, it was more like an out of body experience than anything. That's why his band name was so fitting: The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Every time I listen to his version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, I get goosebumps, because I can see the irony, hear the screams and bombs falling, and feel the pain in the whole message. Incredible that someone can due that with six tightly pulled strings. Too many people don't fully appreciate Jimi because they don't understand his style of playing, but simply put, he's in a league of his own. Geez, where do I start with some of his best work. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "All Along The Watchtower" are without a doubt divine. The bluesy sound of "Red House" is equally incredible. Of course, you really can't go wrong with any Hendrix song. They are all amazing and transport you to another place entirely. RIP Jimi.



  1. you need to look up michael angelo batio he plays lead with one hand and rhythm with the other he is the best zack wylde should also be mentioned. ... dave mustaine

  2. Dualne Allman was long gone when Allman Bros recorded "Jessica".