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  #1  
Old 11-11-2002, 03:50 PM
Qwertyasdfg Qwertyasdfg is offline
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Best Guitarists of the 20th and 21st Century

A few months ago I started playing the guitar. Since then my friend (who also plays the guitar) and I have gotten into a few arguments about who are some of the best guitarists of the 20th and 21st century. For instance, my friend thinks that John Mayer is a better guitarist than both Jimmy Page(!) Jimi Hendrix(!!). I think hes wrong but I don't know how I could prove that to him. So anyway, I figured that this would be an interesting topic for the Straight Dope. Sorry if this has been done before, the search function kept failing when I tried to check.

(Note that I'm excluding classical guitar since I really don't know that much about that, and its not what I'm interested in. Let's stick with rock, blues and jazz.)

Here are some names to start (along with band, and some songs that showcase their skills at playing and/or writing):
Jimmy Page - Led Zeppelin (my favorite) - Rock and Roll, Heartbreaker, Stairway to Heaven
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Chile, Red House
Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine - Bulls on Parade (all his effects are done with just an amp and guitar.)
John Mayer - Neon (I'm not really a fan of his so I don't know many of his songs.)
Nuno Bettencourt - Extreme - Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee

I've also heard about BB King, Eric Clapton and Eddie van Halen but I haven't really listened to much by these guys.

Are those choices good? Who else belongs up there?
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  #2  
Old 11-11-2002, 04:26 PM
Fiddle Peghead Fiddle Peghead is offline
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Brinsley Schwarz - he led his own band in the 70's, but really shined while playing as part of The Rumour, Graham Parker's backing band in the 70's, 80's, 90's. He always seemed to know the exact cool riff or solo to play. Check him out in "Pourin' It All Out" from GP's great album, "Heat Treatment".

Robbie Robertson - great guitarist from The Band. I suggest his great solos on "It Makes No Difference" and "Ophelia" from "The Last Waltz" album.

Waddy Watchel - Played for Warren Zevon. Great solo on "When Johnny Strikes Up the Band". Also, many great moments with Jackson Browne.
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  #3  
Old 11-11-2002, 07:32 PM
chiefhardcrab chiefhardcrab is offline
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Oscar Aleman
Danny Gatton
John McLaughlin
Charlie Christian
Richard Thompson
Andy Breckman - (who probably never has been mentioned in a best guitarist poll before, but is the master of the one-chord song)
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  #4  
Old 11-11-2002, 07:36 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Jimmy Page
Jeff Buckley
Joe Perry
Mike Campbell (Will be seen him for the fouth time on Dec 9)
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  #5  
Old 11-11-2002, 07:57 PM
Tangent Tangent is offline
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I'll second Joe Perry from Aerosmith. He is greatness.
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  #6  
Old 11-11-2002, 09:14 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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Stevie Ray Vaughan.
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  #7  
Old 11-11-2002, 09:18 PM
japatlgt japatlgt is offline
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Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was first, I was first!!! I used to want to play like Hendrix.
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  #8  
Old 11-11-2002, 09:20 PM
japatlgt japatlgt is offline
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Damn you Moto!
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  #9  
Old 11-11-2002, 10:46 PM
samarm samarm is offline
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Gary Moore.
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  #10  
Old 11-11-2002, 11:43 PM
sleestak sleestak is offline
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Well, Steve Morse pops to mind. To give you an idea of Steve's greatness he won the Best Guitarist of the year award from Guitar magazine 5 years in a row. In fact, at one point, Steve retired from music and was flying airliners for a living, hadn't released any material or toured, and he still won. Guitar magazine then retired Steve from the compitition and put him in the hall of fame. Steve has played with everyone, The Dixie Dregs (who are now the Dregs), the Steve Morse Band, Kansas, Deep Purple, Steve Walsh, Liza Minelli (WTF??), Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marcel Dadi, Manuel Barrueco, Liona Boyd and others. He has also been nominated for 3 or 4 Grammys. Anyway, check him out. His technique is near perfect and he writes everything from classical to chicken pickin to songs based on Irish folk tunes. The link to his site is www.stevemorse.com.

Other meantions:
Randy Rhoads, amazing guitarist who died too soon.
Les Paul, played amazing stuff and also invented one of the coolest guitars ever made.
Chet Atkins, enough said.
John Petrucci, Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment.
Mark Knofler (SP?), ya know, the guy from Dire Straights. He rocks.

A note about your OP and these kind of polls. They are very subjective. For example I think Jimmy Page was a great song writer but only a little above average when it came to his technical skills.

Slee
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  #11  
Old 11-11-2002, 11:48 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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The absolute best guitarist ever is Jimi Hendrix and anyone who says different is an ignorant nimrod.

Other good ones:

Eddie Van Halen, probably the most influential rock guitarist since Hendrix. Extremely kick ass in his prime.

Jimmy Page, natch

Clapton, not fast or flashy, but extremely tasteful and controlled. great phrasing, master of the vibrato.

Angus Young, (AC/DC) underrated. fabulous "feel." One of the all time classic riffmeisters. Under appreciated as a soloist.

Randy Roads (Ozzy) Beautifully melodic, one of the first to incorporate classical theory into the rock genre.

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) I include him here because he basically invented the heavy metal riff, including arguably the greatest of them all, IRON MAN. Iommi has had a major influence on hard rock which he does not get enough credit for. If you want to learn about riff writing, listen to those old Black Sabbath records. They are the template.

James Hetfield (Metallica), not a soloist, but maybe the most kickass riffster of all time.

Django Rheinhardt, best jazz guitarist ever. Even more amazing when you know that he was missing three fingers on his fret hand.

Jimi Hendrix, just so you don't forget.
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  #12  
Old 11-12-2002, 12:04 AM
I can't believe that's butter! I can't believe that's butter! is offline
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In terms of playing for the song (all the powerhouse guitarists were mentioned already), I nominate any of the first call guitarists in Nashville, NY, or LA.

I also like Skunk Baxter's intricate, yet tasteful soloing.

A minor nitpick perhaps, but didn't Django have full use of his hands for much of his career, until he got burned? I say minor because he still managed to play the same with his injuries.
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  #13  
Old 11-12-2002, 12:26 AM
sleestak sleestak is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diogenes the Cynic
The absolute best guitarist ever is Jimi Hendrix and anyone who says different is an ignorant nimrod.

Jimi Hendrix, just so you don't forget.
<snipped>

Well, an ignorant nimrod checking in. While Hendrix was ahead of his time and one hell of a guitarist, his time has passed. His playing was groungbreaking at that time but now days most competent guitarists can easily play Hendrix. I can. I have nothing but respect for Hendrix but there are other players who are better, came up with new styles and basically brought guitar to a new level just as Jimi did in his time.

Also, don't you think it is a bit rude to insult anyone who disagrees with you in an opinion thread? Whether you believe it or not your opinion is not a fact.

Slee
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  #14  
Old 11-12-2002, 12:31 AM
RebelINS RebelINS is offline
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Chuck Berry: One of the forefathers of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry is also one of its greatest guitarists, his guitar style, like his songwriting and vocal performances, bending rockabilly and the blues into the classic sound most people have in their head of "Rock and Roll." You only have to hear two notes of one of his classic intros to know whose guitar you're hearing.



Dick Dale: Dale, whose fiery surf-rock exorcisms you probably know from the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack, is the father of surf music. Dragging Latin and Middle-Eastern influences through the furiously distorted lens of his turbulent, staccato guitar tone, Dale's instrumentals, in contrast to the beach-pop most people think of when they hear the word "surf," are dark and elemental.



The Edge: Never before has one man done so much with one delay pedal. As much a spokesman for pedals as a guitarist, U2's The Edge (aka Dave Evans) saves his style from being gimmicky by really knowing what he's doing with those pedals. Without the strident, explosive bursts of guitar on classic U2 recordings, would we even recognize, or have loved, those songs?



Jimi Hendrix: Arguably the best rock guitarist ever and certainly the first to achieve massive fame for his technique alone, Hendrix changed everybody's mind about what rock guitar could do. Hendrix's massively distorted blasts of noise were both showy and sincerely, and wrenchingly emotional, a delicate balance very few wankers have been able to achieve since.



Jimmy Page: Page started his career in the Yardbirds, but it was his work with Led Zeppelin that ensured his legacy. With his deafening blues riffs writ large, Page was perhaps the biggest influence on all future generations of heavy metal guitar wankers; with his delicate fingerpicking (see "Stairway"), Page was also perhaps the biggest influence on said wankers when they were trying to be sensitive.



Lou Reed: Though not known primarily for his guitar playing (and, in fact, not even the sole guitarist for the Velvet Underground), punk forefather Lou Reed's influence as a guitar player has been just as pervasive as the influence of his songwriting. An obsessive craftsman of guitar tone, Reed virtually wrote the blueprint for all underground rock to come after, and everything from Sonic Youth's distorted sheets of noise to indie rock's delicate, interweaving guitar lines bear his stamp.



Keith Richards: This Rolling Stone's guitar playing is the point through which all bar bands have to pass on their way to rock glory. The author of countless hooks memorable for their elegant simplicity, Keith Richards is one of the few White guitarists to integrate a genuine understanding of Delta Blues into serious, powerful rock music. Not bad for a walking drunken British corpse.



Pete Townshend: Townshend's windmill guitar strums with The Who are the perfect image to sum up the relish with which Townshend took on the "Guitar God" role. This and other antics, such as smashing guitars, would have just made Townshend seem like a preening faker if he weren't so damn good, both a dramatic guitarist and a subtle songwriter, to get away with it.



Eddie Van Halen: The master of the guiltlessly cheesy wank. Van Halen's technique - breakneck hammers and fret-taps - and his style - showy, hedonistic, poppy, fun - was a virtual blueprint for all pretenders to the Hair-Metal throne who would follow after him.



Neil Young: Where most of the guitarists on this list showcase their polished technique, Neil Young plays like a gorilla with a guitar. Young's monstrously distorted guitar workouts are often brutally primitive, a case in point being an extended solo on "Down By the River" consisting, basically, of a single note. But man, can he play that note.
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Old 11-12-2002, 12:34 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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Alvin Lee (Ten Years After)

Leo Kottke
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Old 11-12-2002, 12:36 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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And a big amen for Dick Dale (thanks for the memories, RebelINS
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  #17  
Old 11-12-2002, 12:42 AM
samarm samarm is offline
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Err... good post RebelINS. Have you seen this site, by any chance:

http://www.audiogalaxy.com/articles?&a=93
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  #18  
Old 11-12-2002, 12:44 AM
RebelINS RebelINS is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by samarm
Err... good post RebelINS. Have you seen this site, by any chance:

http://www.audiogalaxy.com/articles?&a=93
Of course, I wrote it. :wally
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  #19  
Old 11-12-2002, 01:13 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Slee, Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded by most rock musicians as the best guitarist ever. He virtually invented the entire vocabulary of all rock guitar. Pretty much everone who plays an electric guitar is influenced by Jimi whether they know it or not. The guitarists you mentioned in your post, Steve Morse, (whose playing I like quite a bit) would probably tell you that Hendrix was the best.

The fact that plenty of guitarists can play his stuff (including me) does not in any way detract from his genius with the instrument. Hendrix is consistently voted number one in every reader's poll, in every magazine, every time. If you play the instrument, then I know that you know all this. can you honestly name one player that has had anything like the impact that Hendrix has on virtually all other guitarists? Steve Morse is a great musician (I can play his stuff too, btw), but he is largely a guitar player's guitar player,, meaning that he is appreciated by other musicians, but not widely recognized (in comparison to someone like Hendrix, or Page, or Van Halen) by the public at large. The ability to communicate to non-musicians as well as musicians is important. Hendrix did this. I can't believe I'm even getting an argument about this, especially from another guitarist.

If it makes you feel better, I will withdraw the "ignorant nimrod" remark and just say that Hendrix is the guitarist most commonly cited as the best of all time.
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Old 11-12-2002, 02:59 AM
sleestak sleestak is offline
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Diogenes the Cynic,

Well, BB King started the whole thing. Jimi and everyone else praised BB for his impact. At the same time BB wasn't, and still isn't a very good player. He had a huge impact but I am a much better player than BB is technically. BB wrote great songs and inspired people. His playing wasn't technically great but his feel and emotional content was awesome.

These questions are very hard to figure out. Hendrix rocked and was ahead of his time but there are other players who now have taken Jimi's inspiration and came up with new styles. Is Hendrix a great guitarist? Yes. Is he better than say, Al Di Meola, Steve Morse and Andre Segovia? No. How about Manuel Barrueco vs. Jimi? How about Jimi vs. Zappa? Sorry, Zappa wins.

Oh, and Diogenes the Cynic, if you can really play all of Steve Morse's stuff I'd love to hear you play Tumeni Notes with just a click track at 220 beats per minute. Please send me a tape.

Slee
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  #21  
Old 11-12-2002, 03:00 AM
Dragon Phoenix Dragon Phoenix is offline
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Carlos Santana still not mentioned? Just listen to Samba pa ti.

A forgotten hero is Jan Akkerman (Focus), who was voted best guitarist in the world in the early seventies by British pop fans.
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  #22  
Old 11-12-2002, 04:42 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RebelINS


Of course, I wrote it. :wally
OK, I've written AudioGalaxy. You'd better hope that they back you up, since this is the second time you've copied text from a webpage.
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  #23  
Old 11-12-2002, 05:17 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Leo Kottke (taking country to a whole new level).

John Renbourn (taking folk to a whole new level).

Nick Drake (totally unique picking style).
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  #24  
Old 11-12-2002, 05:59 AM
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Robert Fripp seems to be about the only great guitarist not yet mentioned. So I thought I would. There.
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  #25  
Old 11-12-2002, 09:23 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Oh, and Diogenes the Cynic, if you can really play all of Steve Morse's stuff I'd love to hear you play Tumeni Notes with just a click track at 220 beats per minute. Please send me a tape.
I didn't say I could play ALL of his stuff and I doubt that you can play ALL of Hendrix's stuff. If so, let's hear you duplicate The Star Spangled Banner, with every effect, every piece of feedback, and every whammy bar dive executed precisely as it is on the Woodstock recording.

You DO know you're in the minority, putting Morse ahead of Hendrix, don't you?

Segovia was probably the greatest classical guitarist of all time, and in some ways was probably technically better than Hendrix, but it's such a different style that it's almost two different instruments. (classical accoustic and Electric rock)

Dimeola, great jazz guitarist, nice, articulate, lickety-split runs. Technically flawless, like Steve Morse a guitar player's guitar player, but IMHO, NOT better than Hendrix.

There's more to musicianship than simply level of difficulty. Clapton has almost no level of difficulty, does this mean he sucks?

Actually, speaking of level of difficulty, I'm surprised that nobody's brought up Yngwie yet.
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Old 11-12-2002, 09:33 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Oh, and Zappa always said Jimi was the best he ever heard. Zappa wasn't even the best guitarist in his own band when Steve Vai was in the group. Zappa hired Vai specifically to play the "impossible" guitar parts that Zappa had written but could not play himself.
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  #27  
Old 11-12-2002, 10:32 AM
unclviny unclviny is offline
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some of my favorite guitar players (in no particular order),

adrian belew (for being a groundbreaker)
robert fripp (for being technologically advanced/oriented)
jeff beck (for fluidity)
junior brown (for pickin')
frank zappa (for that "mangle it, strangle it" sound)
al dimeola (for sheer speed and technical precision)
ted nugent (for the "all i need is a guitar, a cord and a wall of marshall's" '70's rock sound)
brian setzer (for that "flashy/showy, aw shucks" style of his)
steve hillage (he was way too cool in the '70's)
robin trower (for being so smooth)
dick dale (for inventing "surf guitar")
steve vai (was fz's "stunt guitatist", listen to flexable, now)
pete townshend (even saddled with that howling moron (daltrey), he shines)

and since this is completely subjective, the wanker awards,

joe perry is a contestant for the lamest man in r&r

eddie van halen, the "lowest common denominator" guitar player who was never as fast or innovative as his hype suggested (but, in fairness evh could sell records)

the fudge (from u2) has been milking the same guitar line since the first album, if you want to hear that line played properly try david rhodes (peter gabriels guitar player) on the pg song "shaking the tree"

unclviny
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  #28  
Old 11-12-2002, 10:34 AM
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A little more debatable: John Squire and Bernard Butler.
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Old 11-12-2002, 10:42 AM
metroshane metroshane is offline
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Man there's a lot of misinformation in this thread. BTW, Hendrix is definitely a great, but no where near THE BEST...as if you could say there was a best. Music isn't a race.

But first let me point out a few things....

You like SRV? Check out Albert King, it's where SRV stole his chops.
Jimmy Page? Hmmpfff...Zep was great, but ripped off every blues musician in the book. And the bow? he stole that idea from Eddie Phillips.
Clapton....see Page
Vai- has chops, but Zappa sent him home telling him not to come back until he had some tone.
Bettencourt- paalleeezzee. he is good but there are hundreds of people that can play flight of the bumble bee.

Ok, here's my list and I defy anyone to argue! (based off contribution as well as talent)

#1 Django Rhienhardt

the rest....
Chet Atkins
Brian Setzer
Chuck Berry
Steve Morse
Danny Gatton (if you like speed and no soul)
Duke Robbilard
Merle Travis
EVH
Brent Mason
Hendrix - in the top ten, but not the best
John Lee Hooker - not technical but emotional
Les Paul
Elliot Easton
Duane Eddy

I'm sure I'll add a few more later.
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  #30  
Old 11-12-2002, 10:45 AM
metroshane metroshane is offline
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Oh by the way, add Billy Gibbons to my list.

And for all the hendrix worshippers "When asked by a reporter what it is like to be the best guitarist in the world, Jimi Hendrix said, "I don't know, you'll have to ask Phil Keaggy"
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  #31  
Old 11-12-2002, 01:01 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Look - bottom line, this is very much a subjective question. Having said that, there are, as Diogenes stated, some "generally accepted" truths out there for guitar players.

So, Qwertyasdfg (by the way is your name an exercise for your fingering hand?), if you asked the question more just to generate discussion and to share your POV, then, cool, you have done that and folks are responding.

If you are asking more because you are still reasonably new to guitar and want to learn more about who you should be listening to, then I have something to contribute (been playing for 25 years and actively, aggressively into music for longer)

Rather than try to establish a single ranking, it is probably better to come up with categories - with that in mind, here goes:

Generally considered the "Best" - Rock - in Rock, only Hendrix, and maybe Clapton routinely make the top of the list. And while other players may be more technically proficient, no other players combine technique, innovation, cultural impact/crossover to the mainstream, and, most importantly, quality, enduring songs the way these two do. I love Hendrix and am not a particularly big Clapton fan, but that isn't the point - as objectively as one can try to do this, these two stand out. A lot of folks think/thought Eddie Van Halen would end up here, but he hasn't for a variety of reasons.

Best Blues - The names you are likely to hear the most are Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, The Three Kings (Albert, Freddie and B.B.) and SRV - there are tons others. My biggest nominee would be T-Bone Walker, the first electric guitarist of the Blues - showman extraordinaire, great songs, great technique - hugely influential to Albert King and SRV.

Best Jazz - Django, Charlie Christian (first to place single line melodic runs with an amplified guitar in a jazz combo), Joe Pass.

If you were to focus on these players to learn about guitar, you would be doing just fine.

Now, there are other groups of guitarists that are amazing, but they don't bring the same combo of technique, innovation, cultural cross-over (e.g., famous to the masses) and songs that the ones above do, such as:

Gunslingers - Steve Vai, Malmsteen, Satriani - you know the type. Makes players drool, technique for days but limited cross over appeal and few truly great songs.

Journeymen - All Arounders - Steve Morse, Steve Howe, Adrian Belew, etc. - can play pretty much anything and do it better than most, but again, limited cross over appeal and songs. yeah, I know Yes with Howe is popular, as are many Morse bands, but let's be honest, neither have never been as famous as Clapton or Hendrix, nor their songs as burned into the culture.

Sound-scapers - Tom Morello, The Edge, Andy Summers, etc. - these guys seem to use their guitars to create interesting sonic landscapes within which their bands exist. For what they do, they are the best, but it is a little outside the standard blues/jazz/rock continuum - that is not a bad thing, just different.

Single-Noters - Jeff Beck (a personal favorite), David Gilmour, Billy Gibbons, Peter Green or Lindsey Buckingham of early and later Fleetwood Mac - these guys play amazing leads - very few, very emotional and well-articulated notes. These guys say more with one note than the Gunslingers do with a thousand.

Songwriters - Neal Young, Pete Townshend, even Bruce Springsteen - worthy guitarists in their own right, but more known for their songs. Keith Richards should probably be here, too, but he could also be in a separate category for Riff-meisters or something, with James Hetfield and many others.

Rockabilly - Chuck Berry, Scotty Moore, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, James Burton, Gene Vincent's players (Cliff Gallup and a couple of others) and Brian Setzer - all amazing and worth checking out.

There are plenty more to mention - Jimmy Page, Joe Perry and Slash of the Les Paul brigades come to mind, but you get the idea - there are a few that are generally considered The Best, and plenty of others entirely worth learning about.

Is this list definitive - heck no. But I have tried to find a balance between stating the "generally accepted" truth and provide a framework within which to think about different players and styles of playing.
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Old 11-12-2002, 03:00 PM
lost4life lost4life is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by metroshane
Oh by the way, add Billy Gibbons to my list.

And for all the hendrix worshippers "When asked by a reporter what it is like to be the best guitarist in the world, Jimi Hendrix said, "I don't know, you'll have to ask Phil Keaggy"
Supposedly it didn't happen.

http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/keaggy.htm


Music is like food, it has a lot of flavors. You can like gourmet meals, but you're not an idiot for liking chili dogs.

Wordman has the right idea of breaking it down to styles.

Let's not forget the riff-masters that maybe aren't too fast or technical, but they write catchy licks, like Keith Richards, Mick Ronson, even Angus Young. I mean, what constitutes a good guitarist? Technical ability or making appealing sounds? Speed or emotion? How do you classify Mick Jones, Johnny Thunders or Roger Miller?

One of my personal faves in the blues/rock category would have to be Rory Gallagher. His ability was more pronounced in concert rather then on record.
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Old 11-12-2002, 03:17 PM
metroshane metroshane is offline
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>>>Supposedly it didn't happen.

Yeah I know...I was just goofing. And Phil is a great guitarist. Also I can't believe I forgot to mention Cliff Gallup.

I don't know much about John Mayer, but I'll bet the John Mayer fan club has short meetings.
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  #34  
Old 11-12-2002, 03:27 PM
Eonwe Eonwe is online now
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What about more folk-type guitarists?

I've got a lot of respect for guitarists like James Taylor. I'd say he deserves a mention, as does Paul Simon.
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  #35  
Old 11-12-2002, 04:13 PM
NicePete NicePete is offline
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In the jazz category, what about Wes Montgomery and Pat Matheny?

Another Vote for Jimi, and for Zappa.

Nobody has mentioned Jerry Garcia, whom I respect.
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  #36  
Old 11-12-2002, 04:14 PM
metroshane metroshane is offline
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>>>What about more folk-type guitarists?

They are great musicians and song writers, but I don't think they are all that technically proficient compared to the other guys in this thread...and folk has it's roots so far back I don't think they've really revolutionized anything.
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  #37  
Old 11-12-2002, 04:14 PM
NicePete NicePete is offline
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And what about Stanley Jordan?
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  #38  
Old 11-12-2002, 04:52 PM
Bomzaway Bomzaway is offline
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wordman - while I agree with your post, I disagree with your neglecting Eddie Van Halen. In the era just prior to Van Halen, many guitarists were emulating the sound of Hendrix, Page, Clapton, etc., and there wasn't much happening that one could classify as influential, at least not to a wide range of popular music. Although some tried new sounds, for the most part, nobody did anything that significantly changed the sound of the guitars coming out of the radio (except for the Punk sound, but that's a different story.)

And then Eruption was recorded.

Regardless that the technical aspect of the song and style isn't terribly impressive, the difference in the overall sound was far enough removed from the music of the times that it turned heads. Although many pure guitarists of the day (and even now) discounted Eddie's work as simplistic and largely unimpressive, outside those small circles, it was new, fresh, and sounded "really cool". In addition, the popularity of the band itself further spread the EVH sound and influenced a great many bands from that point on.

The unfortunate part of that statement is that the Van Halen sound spawned a lot of the really cheesy "hair" bands that are so often ridiculed nowadays. Be that as it may, it still does not discount the fact that the influence was strong and widespread. I've heard EVH's influence in many styles of rock, R&B and in jazz guitar as well.

I think it's as injustice to not give Eddie Van Halen the credit he deserves.
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Old 11-12-2002, 08:25 PM
Sassy Sassy is offline
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Two names I'd like to throw into the pot (without comment, since y'all are violent!)

Stephen Stills
Harvey Mandel

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Old 11-12-2002, 08:48 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I'd like to applaud Wordman on the most thoughtful and incisive list yet. (although I agree with Bomzaway that EVH deserves a little more credit, for his tap-on innovation alone if nothing else.)
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  #41  
Old 11-13-2002, 05:43 AM
Typo Negative Typo Negative is online now
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For me, Joe Satriani is the best that ever lived.

Followed by:
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Steve Morse
The Reverend Horton Heat
Eddie Van Halen


Jimi Hendrix was great and an innovator, but I never really liked his stuff. Sue me.
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  #42  
Old 11-13-2002, 09:24 AM
metroshane metroshane is offline
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I can't believe we're forgetting Ralph Macchio
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Old 11-13-2002, 09:46 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bomzaway
And then Eruption was recorded.

I think it's as injustice to not give Eddie Van Halen the credit he deserves.
First - thanks to those that like the list - stuff like this can be both silly and difficult - silly because guitar playing is art, dammit, but difficult because making choices involves a critical review of what we think is important and applying that. Ultimately, it is merely an exercise to see if we like the results, but the playing itself and the songs are what truly matter, right?

Second - regarding Folk types - I agree, having one or more categories for finger pickers would be key - Keb Mo is great today along with all of the older folkies and country blues players - jeez, Leo Kottke, anyone? My point with the categories is that, once a set of criteria for Greatness [TM is established, a number of "splinter" groups break off that are vital and important in their own right. But the groups overlap and conflict and stretch on into infinity so I just listed some ones that seemed "obvious" to me...

Third - EVH in the pantheon with Jimi and Clapton. You know, I wrote a TON about that in my original post and then deleted it. Ya gotta understand - EVH was the biggest influence on me when I was really getting into guitar (after Jeff Beck, but he was before my time, whereas EVH was The Man in the early '80's. So, Bomzaway and Spooje, you aren't going to hear me fighting real hard to knock him down a notch. Having said that - let me ask a couple of questions:

- are guitarists the world over still playing a ton of tapping and hammering riffs? How about that compared to blues-infected rock, blues with more complex chords, and rhythm-and-lead work? Hendrix was the guy who blew open using more complex chords and using partial rhythm chords while playing lead lines to be both rhythm and lead at once; Clapton did this too and really was a leader in the blues-inflected rock area. EVH pushed this forward, but his true innovations feel (to me, mind you) like they were more of his era - I don't know that his techniques have much resonance outside of the 80's. During the 80's they were practically the only thing that mattered; now, they are respected, and you see them a little, but its not like they are woven as deeply into the fabric of music as Clapton's and Hendrix' influences. YMMV - this is not black and white, but a question of degrees.

- Name Van Halen's most "important" song......I am inclined to say "Eruption" for turning guitar playing on its ear or "Dance the Night Away" for making Hard Rock/Power Pop cross over on the radio. Have they ever said anything of substance in their songs? Believe me, its okay to be a good Power Pop band - I love VH. But compare that to "The Wind Cries Mary", "The Star Spangled Banner" or any number of Hendrix' other songs, or "Tales of Brave Ulysses" or the cover of "Hideaway" (the 60's version of "Eruption" by the way) or Clapton's solo stuff - including "Tears in Heaven" - you may not like all of the songs as guitar hero tunes, but there is an attempt to really say something more resonant. Sure they did party tunes as well, but there is more...artistic intent? gravity? whatever you call it, in the songs.

Ultimately it feels like, to me, that EVH was THE most influential guitarist of his era, but ultimately is not as long-term influential as Hendrix and Clapton, which is why I put him one notch below them. Again, YMMV, and I am not going to fight this one very hard.
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Old 11-13-2002, 10:29 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Wordman,

You make some good points about EVH. I remember him as being THE guitarist in the 80's, and I remember virtually everyone wanking away with that tapping technique. It just seemed so damn cool at the time. (I, like a lot of guitarists at the time, completely overused the technique to the point where I practically forgot how to play a simple blues lick) But as you say, looking around now I don't hear a lot of people doing it any more. It seems to have been one of the casualties of grunge. And Eddie doesn't really have that many truly great riffs if you really break them down. He tended to make a simple riff (e.g. "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love) sound better than it was with a lot of embellishments and fills and cool little squeals (remember when a squeal sounded fresh).

As you said, his most important composition was probably "Eruption" and that one song featured pretty much his entire vocabulary of techniques and ideas. I don't know that he really evolved much after that first album (at least as a guitarist, never mind that keyboard crap) he was pretty much complete at that point.

So, yeah, he doesn't seem to have had the enduring influence of Jimi or Clapton, but he's a sentimental favorite for me. I remember when the gauge of a guitarist was "Can you play 'Eruption?'" I still think that, at his best, Eddie could hold his own with any other soloist out there.

Ironically, EVH has always cited Clapton as his own biggest influence. I, for the life of me, cannot hear Clapton in Eddie. Do you hear it at all?
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Old 11-13-2002, 10:53 AM
DaToad DaToad is offline
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Some that haven't been mentioned: Elvin Bishop, Michael Bloomfield, Roy Buchanan, John Cipollina, Larry Coryell, Gary Duncan, Rory Gallagher, Dave Mason, Sandro Oliva, Carl Perkins, Mick Taylor, T-Bone Walker, Henry Vestine, Johnny Winter.... The list can go on and on
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  #46  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:00 AM
Bomzaway Bomzaway is offline
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wordman - I see your points and agree. So EVH does at the very least deserve a nod.



Quote:
I can't believe we're forgetting Ralph Macchio

OMG! How could we forget? He totally kicked Jack Butler's ass when he was playing for Willie's soul.
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  #47  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:15 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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How would you like to see Vai and Macchio go head to head for REAL? Without Arlen Roth to secretly play Macchio's parts, and without Steve Vai pretending to not be able to hit the high bendy part?
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  #48  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:39 AM
lost4life lost4life is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaToad
Some that haven't been mentioned: Elvin Bishop, Michael Bloomfield, Roy Buchanan, John Cipollina, Larry Coryell, Gary Duncan, Rory Gallagher, Dave Mason, Sandro Oliva, Carl Perkins, Mick Taylor, T-Bone Walker, Henry Vestine, Johnny Winter.... The list can go on and on
i said rory gallagher
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  #49  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:47 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diogenes the Cynic
Ironically, EVH has always cited Clapton as his own biggest influence. I, for the life of me, cannot hear Clapton in Eddie. Do you hear it at all?
Okay - so you, Diogenes, and Bomzaway and I seem to be on the same page - we'll have to see where others end up.

As for your question above, yeah, that has been a well-pondered one for some time, and frankly EVH has never done a particularly good job 'splainin' himself, has he?

The way I see it, the thing that Hendrix, Clapton, SRV and EVH all do in a way that separates them from the pack is something I mentioned in my previous post - that whole "play partial chords while inserting lead fills, so you keep the rhythm and lead going at once" thing. It's the electric guitar, flatpick, rock god equivalent of fingerpicking rhythm and lead parts more or less simultaneously. It is hard to do, it is rhythmically interesting, and can be emotional when the lead fills support or provide a counterpoint to the rhythm parts. Diogenes you mentioned "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" - which is a great example - he is playing a simple rhythm, but is injecting cool fills in between - sometimes the fills are complex tapping things, but other times they are simple 1 note squeals or 2 - 3 note melodic phrases - but always, they work within the rhythm and support the overall song.

I think THAT's what Eddie got from Clapton - the approach of "keep the song moving" and play rhythm and lead in a give and take way within that context. He is applying this approach to hard rock/power pop and using new techniques, all of which makes it sound very different from Clapton, but the same intent seems to be there, y'know? All IMHO, mind you.

PS: BTW, my favorite EVH quote was, early in his superstardom he said, I think in a Guitar Player, that "I always like to have my solos sound like I tripped and am falling down the stairs, but somehow land on my feet" I love that - he wants the solos to have some risk to them, some (seemingly) obvious improvised discovery, but have them resolve in a clean way. Very cool.
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  #50  
Old 11-13-2002, 12:38 PM
DaToad DaToad is offline
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lost4life, you did indeed mention Rory Gallagher. Sorry I missed it.
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