Readers Poll Results: The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

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elisabeth

I can't even begin to express how satisfying it is to see Brian May rise through the ranks, slowly climbing in the polls. Such an underrated guitarist, and has been for years, is finally given his due. Eat your heart out, pretentious RS journalists, history is not on your side!

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jsbachfan

I agree with others that this poll is much more accurate than Rolling Stone- but of course that is not saying a whole lot.

Being a long time Rush Fan was pleased Alex L. was finally getting his due. Of course there are the outliers here of folks who were more influential then technical and for that we have to recognize there are guitarists at almost the bottom of list that can play circles are guys at the top.

I also agree with questions like- where is Adam Jones of Tool? also- yes he did play with 80's hairband but Vito Bratta was incredible and easily belongs in top 50.

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vanhalen_

This list is definitely more accurate than Rolling Stone's list a few years back.... although...

1. Eddie Van Halen
2. Randy Rhoads
3. Tony Iommi
4. Jimmy Page
5. Zakk Wylde

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Jodie1203

Haters gonna hate. You all sound like a bunch of fucking babies cause your favorites didn't make the list or they weren't in the order you wanted them to be. Get over yourselves.

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ctoomey2013

i disagreed with the list alot actually

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glawakus

i understand some of them on here but the fact that jeff healey didn't even make the list is ridiculous not only is he one of the best guitarist of all time period even making the guitarist hall of fame ,but now with that being said he was also blind as well.

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JoePike357

Yeah this list isn't the greatest but it's better than Rolling Stoners lame ass top 100 list which doesn't even include Satriani in the top 100! I lost all respect for them after that. And I noticed this list doesn't include Johnny Lang? And there are some great blues guitarists that should be in the list such as Walter Trout, Coco Montoya and Michael Burks.
You know what they say about opinions, yeah, they're like a-holes, everyone has one and they all stink. You could do this survey 100 times with a different group of voters each time and get 100 different results. And I agree, Hetfield before Hammet? Really? Brian May #2? Really??? I think not!

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stardood

Seems more like a popularity contest then anything else. Lets see, we have Slash, Angus Young, Rick Nielsen but no Bill Nelson or Andy Latimer? Really? LOL

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tdemetresjr

this list is all sorts of jumbled... hetfield before hammett??? slash outside of top 20?? clapton behind harrison? i don't know, i could go on but i think most of us agree this list is wack

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themegadethfan

chuck schuldiner only #62? This list is an outrage!

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seph666

Where is Quorthon, he was a genius.

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Primatein

No Adam Jones (Tool, A Perfect Circle)? He's a 3-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist...

I'd also like to see Larry LaLonde (Primus), Jake Cinninger (Umphrey's McGee), and Mickey Melchiondo (Ween) on this list.

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telecranker

EddieVH better than Jimi? Terrible Ted Nugent #74?... I saw this jerk get boo'd off the stage back in the 70's. So much for the readers of this rag, or at least the ones that voted - probably the same people who vote for American Idol.

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seajay

I don't like this list either. Some of people in this list are famous and good musicians, but not really guitar greats

Blake Mendenhall

Where's the best guitar player of all time Phil Keaggy? When Eddie Van Halen was asked how it feels to be the greatest guitarist of all time, his answer was "I don't know, ask Phil Keaggy". If that came out of the mouth of Eddie than I am pretty sure Phil Keaggy is the greatest guitarist of all time.

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telecranker

An relatively unknown contemporary Christian guitarist is the all-time best guitarist?... save me, Jesus.

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billyedtimmy

He's not relatively unknown (Eddie knows who he is), and he is pretty amazing (religious or not). Maybe not truly the best all-time (but neither is Eddie), but at least deserving of a top-100 spot.

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SamuelBlaak

Why Mark Knopfler at 96????

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Antoniy1

There's a no competition !!! All of them are GREIT!!!

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Nikki75

Where is Hank Marvin????

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stringdoc

Who voted in this contest? I'm guessing a bunch of wine snobs or winos. Nobody else would place Brian May above Jimi Hendrix AND Jimmy Page!!! And Alex Lifeson over Tony Iommi? The list goes on . . . Jeff Beck loses to Brian May? Maybe for weirdest hair, but not for best guitarist! Steve Vai conquers Richie Blackmore?

Come on, people, this is like Elvis losing to Pee Wee Herman.

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Joseph Picklo

Is there a master list available? I want to see all the guitarist used in this poll.

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jeffvad3r

I reckon Stevie Ray could wipe the floor with pretty much anybody on that list, Hendrix and bloomin' Van Halen included.

Also, Brian Setzer should be in the top 50. After all, he's the coolest guitarist out there!

Finally - perhaps I missed him - but where the hell is Peter Green?

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Chaseusrey

I dislike this list,
My list would have jimi hendrix first, and where is PRINCE!!!!
He's up there in the top ten at least!! Eddie van halen can't do what
Jimi can. Iv seen kids do what halen does but they can't do what jimi can.
It's all opinions but prince deserves this and jimi deserves first place. ( slash over rated)

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Chaseusrey

I dislike this list,
My list would have jimi hendrix first, and where is PRINCE!!!!
He's up there in the top ten at least!! Eddie van halen can't do what
Jimi can. Iv seen kids do what halen does but they can't do what jimi can.
It's all opinions but prince deserves this and jimi deserves first place. ( slash over rated)

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Chaseusrey

I dislike this list,
My list would have jimi hendrix first, and where is PRINCE!!!!
He's up there in the top ten at least!! Eddie van halen can't do what
Jimi can. Iv seen kids do what halen does but they can't do what jimi can.
It's all opinions but prince deserves this and jimi deserves first place. ( slash over rated)

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olli666

1. Pat Metheny
2. Jimi Hendrix
3. EVH
4. Steve Morse
5. SRV
6. Alan Holdsworth
7. Clapton
8. Jeff Beck
9. Jason Becker
10. Eric Johnson

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billyedtimmy

Not bad. Better list than the original (I wouldn't put EVH in the top 10, personally, but that's just my opinion).

davelees

Brian May ... ppppffftt .... Dave Mustaine? really? and Alex Lifeson at 3? CMON

strat714

My opinion is better than your opinion because my opinion is my opinion and your opinion is your opinion. FACT!!!!!!!!!!!

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Beeze

I knew this list was bullshit when I saw Derek Trucks at the bottom and guys like Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman ahead of him. Those guys have shown no progression in skill since Seasons in the Abyss. Their new stuff is pitiful! Bill Steer and Michael Amott should have replaced these clowns. I guess it's just a popularity contest.

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sashastowers91

Kieth Richards over Carlos Santana, Seriously?
George Harrison over Eric Clapton, Are you insane?
Joe Satriani over Stevie Ray Vaughn, PURE BLASPHEMY!!, and absolutely no mention on Henry Garza? What has the world come to?

Don't get me wrong all these guitarists definitely know how top play their axes but I'm just saying they totally got the order from 100 to 1 WRONG?

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Otherside of in...

I see many frustrated people on here commenting about the selection of the top 10 players on this poll but my friends there is a very clear as day reason for the 10 guitar players selected, what is it ? There is something so very obvious about these guitars players that they ALL have in common...not about chops, speeds, licks....there is one very clear theme amoung them?

ABSOLUTE PERSONAL VOICE!!... Each one of these guitar players have a very immediate recognizable signature to their overall SOUND(isn't it about the HUMAN EAR at the end of the day? Like a Pavlov's Dog when the dog heard that bell he began drooling because he knew it was Dinner time! (lick chops sound insert here;)

....And so it is with the first SCHWAM!! of Eddie Van Halen's first chord on "Eruption" it doesn't take ANY OF US Guitar players more than a NANO SECOND to KNOW EXACTLY WHO THAT IS PLAYING with his detuned E flat guitar back in 1978! Time for Dinner Boys and Girls ;)

....Or Alex Lifeson who has one of the most signature chord voicing styles with his BIG Signature open voiced F# chord...This guy just doesn't want to choke that guitar with crap bar chords because he realized so very early on that he could create such a bigger sound with open voiced chords....These kinds of elements seem to resonate with Guitar players clearly as this is a Guitar World Poll and Justin Beiber fans(for the most part I like to believe;) are NOT participating in a poll like this, so this is what Guitar Players are thinking....Yes there were many unfair matchups early on, like where is Neal Schon? eliminated ?!?...He is a great guitar player but more of song writer/band guitar player overshadowed by one of thee best singers of all time with Steve Perry so I can see he is a afterthought to many....

Overall the theme is clear among the top 10 guitar players..Personal Signature Voice! =)

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sashastowers91

What's a more recognizable sound than the signature sound of SANTANA!!

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WONKY

This list is funny.....As some of the previous members have said....Most of these votes must have come in from non guitar players or those that have not seen enough of the more unknown guitarists!!!! In these polls people tend to vote for their favourites rather than the best. There is no way on earth John Lee Hooker could be considerd a better guitarist than Albert King...I love JLH but he is one of the most basic guitarists you will ever hear. No Magic Sam , Guitar Slim , Earl Hooker , Otis Rush , Elmore James , Hollywood Fats......Crazy!!!

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sashastowers91

Agreed.

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WONKY

Eddie Van & Brian May 1st & 2nd??? Really???? Too many cock rockers voting on this one. Also too many pupils ahead of their teachers...

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Frank Cajon

A quick look at list shows a few of the problems with polls like this. Guthrie Govan isn't on the list. Between 47 and 73,we have Rory Gallagher, Al DiMeola, Steve Morse, Johnny Winter, Albert Lee, John McLaughlin, Joe Bonamassa, and Eric Johnson-all for whom a top ten argument could easily be made. In the top ten there are some good players, but I have played for 49 years and written about music for 10 and and will never be able to figure out why Eddie Van Halen would make the top fifty much less top five of a poll like this, and challenge anyone with ears to play 'Led Zeppelin Live at the BBC' and tell me that the sloppy overplaying by Page on it doesn't make them cringe. He wrote and arranged a number of catchy '70s tunes, but a virtuoso guitarist, he is not.
I like the idea proposed that a list by players would read differently. For one thing, Wes Montgomery wouldn't be the anchor man, and while I'm sure SRV would still be in the top 10 with Hendrix, that there would be fewer sweep-picking metal specialists and more players like Lee and Morse who are technique masters.
I would list the top players by genre, and like this:
Jazz: John McLaughlin, George Benson, AlDimeola, Larry Carlton
Blues: Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Bonamassa, BB King
Country, Blues Hybrids: Steve Morse, Albert Lee, Luther Dickinson
Metal/Prog Rock: Guthrie Govan, John Petrucci,Uli John Roth, Steve Vai
Others: Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Brian May, Alex Lifeson.
That is 21 names, and I think they all belong in the top 25 of any guitar player's list of top guitarists. Many will disagree, but that is what music is all about.

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revo74

"and challenge anyone with ears to play 'Led Zeppelin Live at the BBC' and tell me that the sloppy overplaying by Page on it doesn't make them cringe. He wrote and arranged a number of catchy '70s tunes, but a virtuoso guitarist, he is not."

Just "catchy" tunes? How about legendary tunes. Led Zeppelin is arguably the greatest rock band ever, certainly top 5 -- and Page makes it in the top 20 of every single all-time guitarist list I have even saw. He usually ranks in the top 10.

Van Hallen is certainly not #1 and in my opinion shouldn't be in the top 10, but he deserves to be in the top 50.

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telecranker

Jimmy Plage ripped off many old blues musicians & got the intro to Stairway to Heaven from Spirit. Google it, there are at least 6 volumes of his thefts.

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RattandRoll

Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Eliot Easton, Don Felder, Jake E Lee, John Sykes, Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Chuck Berry, Steve Stevens, John Norum, Keith Richards, Andy Taylor, Nile Rodgers, Warren De Martini. This is my list of personal favorite guitar players of all time.

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MetalSkull

1. Hendrix
2. Jimmy Page
3. Iommi
4. Blackmore
5. Eddie Van halen

I think without the first 4, no van halen, no satriani, no nothing...

Stay Tune

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Priest-The-Beast

Although I have my personal ranking list based on my understanding of guitar-playing as a guitarist, yet I'm not gonna comment on this list or some other one, as far as the ranking from the 2nd to the 100th is concerned.

But not ranking Jimi Hendrix at number 1 is a blatant foul.

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ozzyrr

RANDY RHOADS might be the best after reading this list i believe he is the most underrated not in the top 10 that is bogus

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redstrat8

DOES ANY ONE PLAY CHORDS ANY MORE GEEZ.HA HA

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meguitarman

An issue of Guitar World Magazine cost $2.00 back in 1983 and now, $7.99 :D

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GreenBird

I am going to break it down for you ladies one more time.
I think this final list was very disappointing, but it was fun to count them down. In the end I do not think people who really play guitar dictated the outcome of this poll. It was fan bases and active PR on the part of some guitarist. If this poll had been put together by people who actually played guitar it would look very very different. I think even the people at GW would agree with that! In the end that is what it comes down too, who voted was it guitarist or simply fans who do not really know much about playing guitar. In this poll it was fans and fanboys who probably could not tell you the difference between a scale and chord. So take this entire poll with a grain of salt it tells you nothing in regards to playing but a lot in regards to who still has an active fan base.

linkonhayes

To all of those people who voted for Eddie Van Halen I guess you never saw the backstage video from the '69 Stones tour where Hendrix was jamming with Mick Taylor using Taylors Right handed Les Paul Strung for a right handed player & Hendrix played the guitar left handed with Taylor till his jaw dropped because they had never seen anyone ever do it then or not that I know of since. I don't think Eddie could do that before now or ever. To me that is the greatist guitarist who ever lived.

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furto1981

Polls are polls but....I am a rush geek. 20 straight years listening to Moving Pictures. And, obviously, I always thought of Alex as one of the most underrated guitar players of the rock era....More important than Jimi? Never ever...Van Halen? That "Alex" deserve respect and admiration for his skills and technique. But is not quite as important in rock music and guitar playing as Jimi Hendrix... (English is not my main language. I apologize in advance for my grammar and spelling errors)

jefffos

If you let guitarists vote on this poll it would've looked a lot different. And there were a lot of players that may seem weird ahead of others because of the way the matchups were set. For example, Hubert Sumlin. Hubert's first round match up was against Robert Johnson (who should have at least been in the top 5, as should Les Paul. Hubert didn't have a chance. This was a great poll until Brian May's people ruined the entire competition. I've been a Queen fan for over 25yrs, but I have to admit that I can't look at May the same way. Prostituting one's self to garner votes is pathetic in my mind and it was done for May. "Brian isn't the one who controls his social media", that's what May's fans have said. Well, it's his name and likeness, as well as that of Queen's. He should control it. Having said that, EVH is absurdly overrated and hasn't done anything remotely relevant since the early 80's...

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