Wolfgang Van Halen names his favorite guitar player right now

Woflgang Van Halen
(Image credit: Mario Skraban/Redferns via Getty)

Best of 2022: It goes without saying that Wolfgang Van Halen is one the today’s standout six-stringers, inspiring countless aspiring electric guitar players who would all comfortably call the Mammoth WVH frontman their favorite guitarist of the year.

Such a decision wouldn’t be a shock: after releasing his debut album last year, Wolfgang has since gone on to pioneer a new EVH semi-hollow and recently covered – and nailed – Van Halen at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, among many other achievements.

As part of the Guitar World January 2023 issue, Wolfgang Van Halen sat down to go through his own highlights of the year, including his favorite new album, song, riff and gear of 2022. During the discussion, Van Halen also let slip who he considers to be his favorite guitarist right now.

Not only that, the EVH SA-126 mastermind also went on to say the guitarist in question subscribes to a certain approach to soloing that his father, the late Eddie Van Halen, personally held in high regard.

When asked about the album, new or old, that he listened to the most this year, Van Halen replied, “Intervals, Circadian. It’s been my most-listened-to album for the past two years, so it’s my pick for 2021 and 2022. 

“Aaron Marshall is my favorite guitar player of today,” he revealed. “An important thing my dad always said: when it comes to soloing, you should be able to hum the solo. 

“On top of Aaron’s ridiculous chops, he manages to work in the catchiest melodies. His melodic sensibility is one of my favorite things about his playing.”

But Van Halen's praise for Marshall didn't stop there, with Wolfgang going on to reflect that he has developed as a guitar player because he tried to emulate the Intervals shredder's chops on Circadian.

“He is one of my favorite guitar players,” Van Halen emphasized. “On top of that, he’s a wonderful man, a very kind dude. I feel like I have become a better guitar player because I’ve tried to learn all the songs on that album. 

“He has such a wonderful melodic sensibility that is so different from people in his genre of the heavier, progressive, metal-y rock sort of thing. It really separates him from everyone else. I can’t speak enough of how wonderful a guitar player and songwriter he is.”

In his round-up, Wolfgang also reserved honorable mentions for Animals As Leaders heavyweights Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, whose playing on their recent album Parrhesia he labeled as “otherworldly”.

Elsewhere in the interview, Van Halen was asked to pick out his guitar moment of the year and, rather than cherry-picking a singular event, selected a whole guitar-related cultural movement that has been taking shape over the past 12 months.

“The fact that guitar is working its way back into the mainstream again is my favorite guitar moment of the year,” Van Halen responded. “From Nita playing with Demi Lovato, Olivia Rodrigo and Lorde’s new albums, bands like Måneskin getting popular and the Taylor Hawkins tribute being broadcast on national television, it really seems like guitars and playing instruments are making a noticeable resurgence.”

Head over to Magazines Direct (opens in new tab) to pick up the latest issue of Guitar World, which features a bumper 2022 highlights round-up with contributions from the likes of John Petrucci, Nita Strauss, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Joe Bonamassa, Mark Tremonti, Samantha Fish and many more.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.