Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time.
We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host of incredible guitarists (dead and living) — players chosen for their technical ability as well as their importance and creativity, not to mention how influential they've been. We asked you to vote in the final four names, which you did. Now the 128 slots are filled, and we're deep into Round 1.
You might come across one or two interesting style matchups in this poll, which may lead some of you to wonder, "How do you compare a shred guitarist to a blues guitarist?" Aside from how good a player is at his or her given style, here are some things to take into consideration:
• Influence: Who inspired more kids to beg their parents for a guitar for Christmas? Who inspired a wave of copycats?
• Chops/Versatility: Is the guitarist in question a one-trick pony or a master of many styles?
• Body of Work: Who had the more consistent career? Who has played on more classic albums?
• Creativity: Who pioneered new techniques? Who sounds the most radically different from what came before them?
Round 1 — Today's Match
Today it's a battle of the Johns. One need only look at the list of musicians John Scofield has collaborated with over the years to see the caliber of player he is. Throughout his distinguished career, Scofield has shared the stage or studio with with Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Pat Martino and countless others. Best known for his bebop playing, Scofield also is very much at home within the confines of funk, blues, soul and fusion.
In 2010, Jeff Beck called John McLaughlin "the best guitarist alive" -- which is one of a million reasons McLaughlin is included in this poll. His work with Miles Davis -- particularly on 1970's Bitches Brew -- is legendary. Then came Mahavishnu Orchestra, where his Indian-influenced virtuosic and complex style was hard to ignore. He's a master of several sub-genres of jazz, fusion and rock and is considered a true "guitarist's guitarist."
Good luck with this one!
Yesterday's matchup saw Keith Richards (56.86%) edge out Malcolm Young (43.14%).