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Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time — K.K. Downing Vs. Steve Lukather

Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, in the style of NCAA basketball's March Madness tournament.

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 ready to go.

We know there are going to be some weird style matchups in this poll, which may lead many of you to ask questions like, "How do you compare a shred guitarist to a blues guitarist?" Aside from how good a player is at their 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?

Today's Match

Today's Round 1 matchup features two blazing guitarists, and it should make for an intensely close race.

Steve Lukather gained notoriety as a member of Toto but also carved out an impressive career as a solo artist and session musician. Lukather has won a Grammy for his live album with jazz great Larry Carlton, contributed guitar tracks to more than 1,500 albums (including Thriller) and somehow found time to release six solo albums. Lukather is on the "Down Under" leg of the G3 tour with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.

Opposite Lukather is K.K. Downing, who needs no introduction to metal fans. Until his departure last year, Downing played guitar with Judas Priest for more than four decades, lending his instantly recognizable leads to classic tracks like "Painkiller," "Living After Midnight" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'."

Who advances to Round 2? Vote now!

Yesterday's match saw Dave Mustaine (51.43%) defeat Buddy Guy (48.57%).