100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

It has been a while since I looked at this list. An odd list really. The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time includes Ike Turner? Lots of amazing players did not make the list.

Oh well, it is Rolling Stone magazine.

Sorry? Where was I on the list? 101st. I need a bit more practice to break the top 100.

572 replies
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      • gab
        gab says:

        you are crazy zek slash its not better than reandy

        good choise for the 9 but herman li … for my its

        1.randy rhoads
        2.jimmy page
        3.zakk wylde
        4.kirk hammett
        5.ygnwie malmsteen
        6.Dave murray
        8.buck dharma
        9. duane alleman
        10. eddie van halen

    • oliver
      oliver says:

      i love hendrix,clapton,page and santana.but as great as they
      are,they can not hold a candle to the likes of segovia,john
      williams,pepe romero,manuel barrueco,laurindo almeida.these
      are the true masters of guitar.

      • oliver
        oliver says:

        there are some absolutly fantastic guitar players from the island of jamaica.earl “chinna” smith,mickey chen,and many more.chinna is unreal good.get some trojan box sets and hear
        for yourself.

  1. bjohnson1014
    bjohnson1014 says:

    This list just blows my mind. First off I am not a guitarist or musician of any kind but I have to ask this question. Wouldn’t you think that at some point in the lives of probably 75% of the names on that list, that if asked to make their own such list they would have included Chet Atkins. To me this is a popularity contest not a true list. I know that Eddie Van Halen wasn’t the best ever but number 70? Where are any of the 3 guitarists for the original Skynyrd or even Joe Walsh for that matter?

  2. Kermit
    Kermit says:

    For Rolling Stone magazine, the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” are all American or English… by what miracle? Where are Django Reinhardt, Manuel Göttsching, Lutz Ulbrich, Ax Genrich, etc. etc. ???

  3. Peter
    Peter says:

    I read somewhere that Ron Asheton (Iggy & The Stooges) would not deserve his place in the list (29). But he surely does! Anyone who has doubts, watch the video’s on YouTube of the Stooges reunion concerts after 2003. Ron is really one of the greatest guitarists! Solid as a rock but playing faster as anyone! Such a pity he died last january… Great guitarists I miss on the list are: Robert Fripp (known from Bowie’s Heroes and lots of other stuff), Adrian Belew, Earl Slick, Reeves Gabrels and Carlos Alomar.

  4. Ravi
    Ravi says:

    Better check out the list for “greatest guitarists of all time” in http://www.digitaldreamer.com (sensible list).
    The rolling stones, for your info the list is nothing but a laughing stock.
    What is kurt cobain, frusciante and white doing at top???
    No steve vai, satriani,paul gilbert, slash, buckethead,wylde, and of course derek trucks, john mayer and joe bonamassa!!!!
    Chet atkins, reinhardt,…….
    Randy rhodes, matthias jabs,……..
    Rolling stones, plz read your magzine before you print it!!!!

    • mark king
      mark king says:

      ritchie is the best.moody yes.most prodigies are.started at age seven.he uses his pinky finger better than most.no shredder at all,just a great guitarist.I have seen the best,as i’m 53 now and ritch is the only one I have seen thathe can make a sold out concert totally quiet.Some of his stuff is sacred and at times you can’t get it out of your brain without hiring a surgeon.He also plays with all fingers and independentely if needed,doesn’t need picks,can play with fingernails and last but not least he uses all strings.A typical rock guitar player and blues guitar player might use three fingers and three strings.I know basic guitar,but I can pick out talent the best.Picking fast is fun,but far easier to play than other forms of music.I have listenen to classical players that can run circles around any or almost any rock guitarist alive,unless, they,of course,have classical skills.Blackmore does and his little clone Malmsteen has classical skills.Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,I just wish he would still stop dressing and acting like his alter ego.here is a funny for you,I’m going to learn the helicopter spin like Townsend then with little or no practice I will be as good as him.I used to listen to early Hendrix and boy he did miss a few notes, even on studio albums.Listen to ritchies studio version of hey joe, I’t blows away Hendrix’ version by far,Blackmores bolero sound is awsome;hints of classical skills.I WOULD LIKE to chat with you more on this subject.I met the man in the back of the coliseum in the late 1970’s,I got very lucky;will explain in detail later.However we spoke for 30 minutes on a damp street in jacksonville, florida.Contrary to rumurs,he is friendly,effacing,cordial and polite.I left the concert feeling well.My girlfriend at the time,who left before me,during rainbows’s show asked me who IS the guitar player,Is it that Jimmy page guy.I looked at her and replied,well ,.h e l l, no.This one plays so dreamy.needless to say,I had some dream time later that night.

      • mike king
        mike king says:

        Ritchie Blackmore should take ALL the spots on the top ten list.You can say all you want about him. It doesn’t matter because I will not be returning to this website. When it comes to music he only thing that matters is him and me.

    • michael
      michael says:

      rory is top 10 material all the way! just ask slash and a host of others.also jimi hendrix,john lennon were big fan’s of him!

    • mike
      mike says:

      thatguy you are totally correct! rory gallagher not on the list? he is top#10 all the way…just ask slash,the edge,johnny marr..etc..

  5. jimmy
    jimmy says:

    Matt Bellamy of Muse? If there was a list based on ability alone, then he would have to be in the top 10…

    btw, there is a reason why Kurt Cobain is up there. Has anyone actually heard of the 90’s? Nirvana were sort of the biggest rock band around…

  6. Super-E
    Super-E says:

    Let me teach you guy something about music, the magazine will never be able to take everybody’s opinion because of how people interact with music. I personally like older music then the newer stuff but that doesn’t mean everybody else does.

    Here is my top 11:
    1. Jimi Hendrix
    2. Eric Clapton
    3. Joe Satriani
    4. Steve Vaugh
    5. (Not sure how to spell his first name) Malmsteen
    6. Eddie Van Halen
    7. Carlos Santana
    8. Eric Johnson
    9. Stevie Ray Vaughn
    10. Jimmy Page
    11. Angus Young (Huge ACDC fan)

    Sorry, just remembered, not sure where he would fit in top 100, but the guy from the Scorpions needs to be somewhere just for the intro of “No One Like You”.

    One more thing, I think this whole blog is really overrating Slash. Don’t get me wrong Slash is good, but this blog obviously likes him a lot and he was not better then some of the other guys.

    Guitarists I didn’t put on my list that still are good:
    B. B. King
    Kirk Hammett
    Frank Zappa (because he is mentioned in Smoke of the Water 😉
    Ace (From Kiss, Kiss Army since 2006)

    And Finally……
    Les Paul: He has one of the most thriving guitar selling companies in the world!!!

  7. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    I think EVH and Angus Young are the most underrated of these guitarists….how can he not be in the top 10 the top 10 should be like this
    3.Van Halen
    5.Kirk Hammett
    8.Randy Rhoads
    9.Jimmy Page
    10.Angus Young

  8. EveryCommentHereIsRetarted
    EveryCommentHereIsRetarted says:

    Apparently this argument has been going on for a few years……There are many people here who have made a list and obviously confuse popularity with skill…..everybodys list consists of old or dead people….just like every other categorization, people insist on thinking that someone is the best because they were among the first to shine at what they do…..of course page, hendrix, clapton, king and all those guys of that era were spectacular guitar players…..so obviously they should all be in the top ten……but there are some younger guys who should be included as well……WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THE ROLLING STONE’S TOP 100 GUITARISTS OF ALL TIME OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T LISTEN TO MUCH MUSIC…..WHAT ABOUT ZAKK WYLDE? HAS ANYONE HEARD OF HIM? HE PLAYS GUITAR FOR OZZY…..THROUOUT THIS ENTIRE LIST OF COMMENTS HE IS ONLY LISTED BY ONE PERSON….THEY LISTED HIM AT NUMBER 8…..HE SHOULD EASILY BE IN THE TOP THREE NO QUESTIONS ASKED….IF YOU DONT BELIEVE ME GO TO YOUTUBE AND WATCH 4 OR 5 VIDEOS AND YOU’LL GIVE HIM THE PROPS HE DESERVES….HES AMAZING…..YOU PEOPLE SHOULD TRY BUILDING THIS LIST OUTSIDE OF YOUR FAVORITES. I DISLIKE JOHN MAYERS MUSIC COMPLETLELY BUT I STILL THINK HES A GREAT GUITARIST…LOOK AT ABILITY OVER HIT SONGS….

  9. goob420
    goob420 says:

    Apologize right away, but here are my peeps…

    1. Eddie Van Halen
    2. Randy Rhoads
    3. Jerry Garcia
    4. Joe Satriani
    5. Steve Kimock
    6. Trey Anastasio
    7. Marc Knopfler
    8. Bob Marley
    9. Carlos Santana
    10.Jon Gutwillig (The Disco Biscuits)

  10. concernedcitizen
    concernedcitizen says:

    I believe a lot of those picks were based on influence, which is why Hendrix and Page deserve to be very high up there, and you’re right, slash should definitely be on there, and decently high, too.

  11. bob
    bob says:

    hi, thought i’d add my opinion… while i do agree with a lot about the list doesn’t have some of the great technical guitar players like joe satriani, steve vai, paul gilbert, john petrucci, michael angelo batio, etc… to define best is kind of stupid since playing guitar is like art, there is no best, while i disagree with some of the guitarists being on that list, greatest of all time would most likely be referring to the influence they have had on the music

  12. shiree
    shiree says:

    has anyone thought about joe walsh rocky mountain way i have him playing this with joe satriani stevie vai and two other guitar legends i think one is nathan dont know his last name

  13. Lil Ginger
    Lil Ginger says:

    Top 10 Guitarists of All Time

    1. Jimi Hendrix
    2. Eric Clapton
    3. BB King
    4. Jimmy Page
    5. David Gilmour
    6. Eddie Van Halen
    7. Muddy Waters
    8. Carlos Santana
    9. Guy From The Who
    10. a.Angus Young
    b.Jeri Garcia

  14. jjs91
    jjs91 says:

    Why are joan jett, johnny ramone, kurt cobain, lou reed, ron asheton, and about 20 other people on the list? Also, where’s albert lee, pat metheny, django reinhardt, alex lifeson, bonnie raitt, joe satriani, steve vai, and ted nugent, just to name a few? The list of better guitarists that were left out could go on and on. Obviously RS was choosing players based on their popularity rather than their actual skill.

  15. scottT
    scottT says:

    Ridiculous list!

    The guitar is one of history’s most versatile instruments. It has its own unique culture and place in each genre it has contributed to.

    Segovia is widely regarded as the greatest of all classical players however let’s not forget the multitude of great classical players of preceded and proceeded him. Flamenco, the other great nylon string tradition also has a rich history of many great players, the most famous of modern times being Paco de Lucia. Brazilian guitar history has also been filled with geniuses; RS should research and listen to Raphael Rabello and listen to testaments about him by musicians like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paco de Lucia and Pat Metheny.

    Jazz guitar has produced few players who rank in the top echelons of all jazz musicians but there are several great exceptions. Django Reinhardt was very much the Mozart of guitars and one of the very very greatest players of all time. In his own way Wes Montgomery was a great jazz genius and one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Charlie Christian, while surpassed by Django as a swing musician, was very influential in the development of the be-bop movement. Modern greats like Pat Metheny and John Scofield did not rate mentions by RS. Fusion great Allan Holdsworth also rated no mention. Allan’s influence can be felt throughout fusion playing and throughout all post-Van Halen rock playing. A true genius and genuinely transcended technique while also contributing to its vocabulary. Let us not forget that technique becomes obsolete while a true improvisational voice is timeless.

    In the world of rock guitar it is very hard to go past the pioneers; Chuck Berry of the rock n’ roll movement, Jimi Hendrix of the blues rock movement and Edward Van Halen of the legato/metal/whatever movement. The hallmarks of rock music are balls out emotional communication and composition (believe it or not!). Hendrix was unsurpassed in regard to the emotion he communicated and other great players like Page were very strong composers. Blues also is a style of minimalist emotional communication with no room for excessive over playing. Buddy Guy was a great bluesman who provided one of the main inspirations for Hendrix himself and who’s guitar playing didn’t/don’t dominate his vocal brilliance. Modern blues players like the late great Rory Gallagher show this same degree of raw and real playing often not seen in many of the celebrated “guitar heros” seen on this list. The early work of Carlos Santana, which delved very much into fusion with John McLaughlin, is also noteworthy while on the topic of rock/blues.

    And the list goes on for every style of Western music imaginable style of Western music. Shame on Rolling Stone for publishing this list and contributing to the ignorant fog that is modern guitar orientated general knowledge.


  16. RacerXen
    RacerXen says:

    This list is flawed and not accurate. I’d love to have a few words with the people who worked on this list. The best guitarists of all time? Where’s John Petrucci, Vai, Satriani, Django, Segovia, Julian Bream, John Williams, Manuel Barrueco Mauro Guiliani, Fernando Sor, Dionisio Aguado? The list goes on and on. You relegated this list to just rock players? There are classical players out there who play circles around some of the players mentioned. But to not have some of the people I mentioned and not even look back at the guitar before it was an amplified instrument does an injustice to this list and history that its disgusting.
    Wake up, the electric guitar and rock isn’t the only style played, you can not be that ethnocentric, and self centered. We live on planet earth and there are literally dozens of guitarists that have been FAILED to be mentioned here.
    This list should be called:
    The Best North American and UK Electric Guitarists of all time.
    How Pompous of Rolling Stone to think it knew better than everyone else.

  17. chriss!
    chriss! says:

    yeah this list actually is kinda crazy but there is no doubt that JIMI HENDRIX deserves to be #1 he reinvented the guitar and without him we wouldnt even have half the guitarists on this list and btw EDDIE VAN HALEN is #70? are u serious??? hes my #3, and JIMMY PAGE is #9? i can live with that but hes my #2

  18. gannon90
    gannon90 says:

    WTF!!! where was Rory Gallagher, Jack White in the top 20 :O this is my list

    1. Rory Gallagher
    2. Eric Clapton
    3. Jimi Hendrix
    4. Freddy King
    5. Duane Allman
    6. Chuck Berry
    7. Jimmy Page
    8. Johnny Winter
    9. Jeff Beck
    10. Ted Nugent

  19. Sal
    Sal says:

    Only Blacks and Brits really know how to play the rok and blues guitar – Ace Frehely, Ted Nugent, Curbain, Allman – you must be kidding – what a joke! Clapton is the very best! Seen most of the others listed and only Clapton is consistently brilliant and plays with ALL his heart and NO ego.

  20. shergar
    shergar says:

    LMAO Top 100 What a load of pish, jack white,kurt cobain, the guy out of the stooges! next years list will probably be topped by Noel Gallagher or the wee gadgey out the arctic monkeys LOL. The lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum. Here is my top ten in no particular order. Buddy Guy, Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Stevie ray, Sonny landreth, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Ry Cooder, Eddie Van Halen or Joe satriani or Steve Vai or Danny gatton or James Burton or Robert Johnson. Incidently except for a select very very few, real artists only play stratocasters END OF!

  21. Aisha
    Aisha says:

    what about RICHARD BONA people? No one ever mentioned him??? what’s going on here? Am i the only one who knows this great guy??? Somebody should please talk to me.

  22. Geoff
    Geoff says:

    Anything that Rolling Stone is involved in is a joke. Just like this list. Ace Frehley not in the top 100? He should be no 2. behind Hendrix. He has been compared to Hendrix in every major Guitar magazine. Kurt Cobain in the top 100? Give me a break, at best he was passable.

  23. Brian mccleaf
    Brian mccleaf says:

    How can Joe Satriani, nominated 15 times for grammys, not be on this list? {btw that’s more than ANY other guitar player}

  24. michael
    michael says:

    in my opinion,there are 25-30 guitarists who could qualify as top 10 material!danny gatton,roy buchanan easily could be in the top 10.alot of it depends on whom you like.

  25. michael
    michael says:

    when asked in the early seventies who(jimi hendrix)thought was the best guitarist? hendrix replied”ask rory gallagher”

  26. Howie
    Howie says:

    1. Steve Morse
    2. Andre Segovia
    3. Steve Howe
    4. Allan Holdsworth
    5. Jimi Hendrix
    6. Pat Metheny
    7. Jeff Beck
    8. Eddie Vanhalen
    9. David Gilmour
    10. Jimmy Page

  27. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    How can you people forget David Gilmour
    For me the top three guitarist this world has ever seen would be
    1)David Gilmour
    2)James Marshall
    3)Jimmy Page

    and somewhere down the order you can definitely find
    Slash along with Kurt Cobain and Kirk Hammett

  28. Johnny Fastback
    Johnny Fastback says:

    I’ve seen the name GW Williams around for a couple years now. He’s a solid rock,jazz and blues dude.
    some i guess think he’s world class top 10 material. I must admit I think he’s right in there.
    But what amazes me is a couple songs on his new album ( Acoustic Blues,Electric Rock,Acoustic Jazz)
    This new guy,i should say GW goes plays acoustic better than anyone I’ve ever heard before. You can’t fake that. I’ve heard electric rock guys who are pros, that stink up the place on an acoustic.
    So I did some checking and comparing of great guitarist to GW Williams. I have near 200 concerts on DVD and I was shocked to say the least.
    GW Williams song – Acoustic Guitar Rock N Roll Blast Off – has to be the best acoustic guitar I’ve ever heard played, it’s just amazing when he does.
    I compared him to Stevie Ray Vaughan when he played his unpluged performances of Rude Mood,Pride and Joy and Testify on MTV and Stevie Ray was awesome, but GW is I’d say possible 10 % better.
    I also listened to a song called Road to Nash Vegas by two guitarist who are incredible names,Dan Tyminski and Ron Block which was played on Eric Claptons Cross Roads Show a few years back.
    I also looked at Struns and Farah and no one is even close to GW Williams.
    Right now I am tryng to figure out what GW Williams did,how he played that song Acoustic Guitar Rock N Roll Blast Off, if any of you know please let me know.
    I have to learn his style.
    Anyways when all is said and done, GW Williams is a great electric and acoustic rock guitar player.
    If I had to rank him, he’d be number 5 or 6 on electric and number 1 on acoustic. He’s for real.
    Hope to see him in concert soon on his next tour.

  29. Matthew Cleaver
    Matthew Cleaver says:

    I have never seen so many comments on just one page…………….. Wow.

  30. Tom
    Tom says:

    Roger McGuinn.

    In 1965, a guy comes up with a totally unique, blazing and inimitable solo in 8 Miles High, has a sound instantly recognizable, and can out flat-pick and finger pick everybody but Clarence White….and he doesn’t make the top 100? But Ike Turner gets a spot?


    Rolling Stone should stick to torpedoing American generals and get out of the music business.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] of mine, Richard Cleaver, blogged not too long ago about a Rolling Stone magazine article on the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. It caused me wonder if we were to do a poll, who the 100 greatest violinists of all time would […]

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