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 matchup features two grunge-rock icons in Soundgarden's Kim Thayil and Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell. Will Thayil's noise-laden, free-form leads propel him into Round 2 or will Cantrell's blues- and country- infused heavy metal licks prevail? Vote now!
Monday's matchup saw Steve Vai (72.88%) defeat Nuno Bettencourt (27.12%). Thanks for voting!