Welcome to the Elite 8 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 Elite 8, 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 5 — Today's Match
With his triumphant return to the top of the guitar heap with Van Halen's new album, A Different Kind of Truth, the timing seems perfect for EDDIE VAN HALEN to make a run toward the final round. Van Halen's smooth ride to the Elite 8 has included convincing victories over Michael Schenker, Slash and Randy Rhoads.
Before 1987's Surfing with the Alien was released, it was assumed that a guitarist would simply never break out without a vocalist. A platinum album and several Grammy nods later, and JOE SATRIANI effectively took shred mainstream, inspiring a wave of copycats hoping to earn their own spot on the Billboard charts with their technical prowess. A big victory over friend Steve Vai makes Satch an undeniable threat going into the final few matchups.
Guitar World Staff Picks
We have only one pick today, and it's not from a staffer. It's from singer/guitarist/actor/swell guy Rick Springfield, who has picked correctly in the last two matchups, choosing Jimmy Page over Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix over Stevie Ray Vaughan (Hendrix grabbed 61.36 percent of the vote). Today Rick is going with Eddie Van Halen!
Agree, disagree? Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!