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's two players typically don't bask in the warm glow of the lead guitarist, yet they've both carved unique niches for themselves throughout the decades. First off, we have Keith Richards of the legendary Rolling Stones. Throughout the band's career, Richards has been paired up with Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ron Wood, collaborating with each of them on countless classic rock tracks while handily filling the gaps and coming up with some one-in-a-million licks ("Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" among them). Richards is known for his alternate tunings and for carrying the Chuck Berry torch into modern times.
When we let you vote in the last four participants in this tournament, no one received more votes than AC/DC's trusty rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young. Young provides the meat-and-potatoes foundation to one of hard rock's most successful acts, penning classics like "Back in Black," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Whote Lotta Rosie" in the process. No one gives Malcolm a better endorsement than Angus, who cites his brother as being a more accomplished guitarist. The only reason Mal doesn't play lead? Because it "interfered with his drinkin'."
Yesterday's matchup saw Angus Young (74.42%) handily defeat Ace Frehley (25.58%).