Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 6 — Jimi Hendrix Vs. Brian May

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Welcome to the Final Four 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 Final 4, 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 6 — Today's Match

JIMI HENDRIX has had no easy path to the Final Four. After dispensing of relative newcomers like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and John Frusciante in the tournament's early rounds, Hendrix has rattled off an impressive string of victories over Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Today, the 15-time Guitar World cover star looks to add one more victory to his belt, setting up a showdown with Eddie Van Halen in the finals.

If there's one man who can stand in his way, it's Queen's BRIAN MAY. May and his loyal fans have made any match he's been involved in a wild card, taking out Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Les Paul and Jimmy Page to reach the Final Four. There's no denying his chops or catalog, but can May compete with the legacy of Hendrix? There's only one way to find out ...

Guitar World Staff Picks

JIMMY BROWN, Senior Music Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

I would say that May's playing and tone is more polished, whereas Hendrix's was more raw. Brian owes so much to Jimi though, and Jimi was more of a trailblazing pioneer, so I would have to put him higher on the totem pole.


JOSH HART, Online Producer

Pick: Jimi Hendrix


DAMIAN FANELLI, Online Managing Editor

Pick: Jimi Hendrix

During our Vaughan-Vs.-Hendrix matchup, some commenters said, "Even SRV would choose Hendrix!" That's probably true, and I think that argument also works here. May, certainly a very logical, intelligent, gifted human, would — obviously — pick Hendrix. As do I.


PAUL RIARIO, Technical Editor

Pick: Brian May

This kind of poll question makes me sweat, so I consulted my two closest friends: Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. After explaining to them for what seemed like hours on who these guitarists were, they both concluded that—without a shadow of a doubt—if they want to grow their fan base amongst the tween demographic they should consider getting Skrillex to add a phat bass drop on their next single.

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