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Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 5 — Jimi Hendrix Vs. Stevie Ray Vaughan

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

There have been a lot of close matchups in the first three rounds of the tournament, but JIMI HENDRIX wasn't involved in any of them. The The 15-time Guitar World cover star didn't have a reasonably close matchup until Round 4, still knocking off Pink Floyd's David Gilmour with 62.96 percent. As far as pure blues guitar, however, his biggest challenge is yet to come.

After pulling just 50.54 percent of the votes in his first round matchup against the surprisingly social media-savvy Johnny Winter, STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN has claimed big victories over Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton and Duane Allman. The Texan will have to pull out all the stops, however, if he wants to shuffle his way past Jimi Hendrix into the Final Four.

Guitar World Staff Picks

JIMMY BROWN, Senior Music Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

Like Eric Clapton a generation earlier, SRV elevated blues guitar to new heights by smoothing out the rough edges and adding finesse, with an impeccable delivery and sense of timing, all while retaining the passion and emotional content of the style's founding fathers. In so doing, he breathed new life into a dying art form. Hendrix's contributions to music went way beyond just polishing and re-popularizing a style. He vastly expanded the lexicon of the nascent art of rock guitar and trail-blazed into the frontier of sonic possibilities afforded by an electric guitar, overdriven amplifier and effects pedals.


JOSH HART: Online Producer

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

I'll make that concession that Stevie Ray Vaughan's take on "Little Wing" gives me chills, but then again SRV's playing always did leave me a bit cold. There's no denying the Texan's blues chops, or the fact that he single-handedly resurrected the genre in the '80s, but he never quite inspired the musical revolution that Hendrix did.


TOM BEAUJOUR: Editor-In-Chief, Guitar Aficionado

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

The cosmic law of guitar battles prevents a guitarist who covered the work of another (as Stevie Ray Vaughan did with Hendrix's "Little Wing," etc.) from being selected as the superior player. Violation of this dictate can seriously disrupt the space/time continuum and should be avoided at all costs.


PAUL RIARIO: Technical Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

While I see eye to eye with Tom Beaujour's choice, I respectfully disagree with his logic, based on Eddie Van Halen's superb cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and his scorching solo in it. I'd go even further with Hendrix's interpretation of "All Along The Watchtower," regardless that Bob Dylan never intended to be a guitar hero, but my decision is rooted in the fact that Andy Aledort may never show me another Hendrix lick again if I chose otherwise.


RICK SPRINGFIELD: Singer, guitarist, writer of "Jessie's Girl," actor, man about town

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

Easy one.


DAMIAN FANELLI: Online Managing Editor

Pick: Stevie Ray Vaughan

I stand alone, going against everyone — including Rick Springfield! Besides the fact that Stevie Ray Vaughan was my favorite guitarist when I was a young'un (and I don't turn my back on immensely gifted, departed childhood favorites), let me add this: If you put these guys side by side on some fictional stage in the third level of hell and ask them to play a series of perfect solos over a I-IV-V progression, SRV will nail it every time. Jimi will be a bit more erratic, playing some good stuff wrapped in noise. I'll go with the former.