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Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 4 — David Gilmour Vs. Jimi Hendrix

Welcome to the Sweet 16 portion of our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll!

It all started a few months back, when 128 132 guitarists went head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format. We filled all but four of the slots with the names 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 our readers to vote in the final four names, which you did, selecting Nuno Bettencourt, Chet Atkins, Malcolm Young and Jake E. Lee.

But now, several rounds later, we're into the Sweet 16, which is being brought to you by Sweetwater Sound.

Some things to take to consider before casting your vote:

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?

You can check out the full results via our regularly updated bracket here and at the bottom of this story. (Click on the bracket to expand it.)

Round 4 — Today's Match

There have been a lot of close matchups in the first three rounds of the tournament, but JIMI HENDRIX hasn't been involved in any of them. The 15-time Guitar World cover star has yet to pull less than 75 percent of the vote in any of his matchups, most recently thwarting a hot Billy Gibbons, who was fresh off a big win over Joe Walsh.

For tasteful guitar playing, there is perhaps no one more name checked by his fellow musicians than DAVID GILMOUR. The Pink Floyd guitarist may not be the fastest guy on the planet, but he has become the go-to example of what a guitar player in a band setting should be, With wins over Keith Richards and Angus Young already, don't take Gilmour lightly, even if he is up against Jimi Hendrix.

Guitar World Staff Picks

JIMMY BROWN, Senior Music Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

Gilmour's celebrated, enduring body of work epitomizes the ideal of polished, hi-fi guitar playing. One of my biggest heroes for sure. But Hendrix was a visionary crusader who revolutionized the role of his instrument and established a new paradigm called rock guitar. His rhythm playing also rules.


JOSH HART, Online Producer

Pick: David Gilmour

"David Gilmour can say more in one note than ______ can say in 100!" How many times have you heard that argument made in one of those feeling-versus-speed debates that always seem to arise among guitarists? And rightly so. Gilmour is the epitome of tasteful, emotional guitar playing and, in my opinion, a more refined guitarist than Jimi Hendrix. There's no denying Hendrix's massive influence; the fact is we simply didn't get to see enough of him to know how he would evolve as an artist given, say, another 10 years. I hate to handicap him for that, but seeing Gilmour evolve as a guitarist from A Saucerful of Secrets to a song like "Dogs" demonstrates exactly the kind of career arc I would expect from a great guitarist.


DAMIAN FANELLI, Online Managing Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

I love David Gilmour. After all, who can forget his immortal guitar solo on Paul McCartney's 1984 single "No More Lonely Nights"? (I'm kidding!) But seriously, as gifted a guitarist as Gilmour is, he's come up against the wrong opponent, hasn't he? To me, this is a bit like last Friday's poll, which pitted Brian May against Les Paul. Then, as now, we see a great guitarist going up against a revolutionary, game-changing guitarist whose name conjures thoughts of boundless inspiration and innovation. Simply put, the game changer (Hendrix) deserves to win. (P.S.: Gilmour also played on a 1989 McCartney album track, "We Got Married," plus McCartney's 1999 album, Run Devil Run.)


PAUL RIARIO, Technical Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

There are a select few who appear out of nowhere and change the rules of the game; Hendrix is one of those guys. The guitar had been a mere accompaniment instrument prior to his arrival, and through his cocksure showmanship and blazing fretwork, the term "lead guitarist" was born. Jimi was a conduit and his Stratocaster a channel to transmit otherworldly sounds from his head and body. A visionary musician and songwriter, and even now — 42 years after his death — his guitar playing still resonates with anyone willing to grapple with six strings.


TOM BEAUJOUR, Editor-In-Chief, Guitar Aficionado

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix was an icon and a visionary who toppled barriers, both racial and musical. He changed how players and non-players approach the instrument, and if they ever replace the faces on Mount Rushmore, his will be up there as one of the four; the other three would be could the topic of another Internet rumble. That said, his career was brief, and a short three years into it, there was already evidence that he had said everything he had to, compositionally and musically. Gilmour, on the other hand, has never seemed at loss for a voice and has proven to be a long-distance runner and a maker of music (not just guitar music) that has moved millions across generations. But Hendrix, he ain't ... not that he would want him to be.