Greatest Guitar Player of All Time?

Who is it in your opinion?

I talked to my roomate about making this topic as we both have VERY different opinions on who we would consider the greatest guitarist ever. However, my roomate, thinking that telling you all our choices would not only make the poll answers biased or skewed a bit, also thinks that without telling you who we think is yet, it would open the door for a wider variety of answers and opinions, rather then just limiting to two choices.

So here’s just the question alone, to see if more people ultimatly agree with me or my roomate in the end (and I will, after the topic dies down, tell you who picked who eventually).

So…who do you think, in your opinion, would rank as the greatest and best guitar player of all time? It can be anyone, either known singlely or in a band, and it includes any type of guitar, both electric or acoustic.

Oh, and of course, it can be anyone past or present.

Carlos Santana

James Marshall Hendrix. In a walk.

Nope, Eddie Van Halen. Hendrix was great though.

I’ll give you Hendrix, but not Van Halen (tho I stand by Santana)

In all genres I give you the first and greatest electric guitarist - Charlie Christian
If you are looking at a guitar innovator and then a player then - Les Paul
If you want to limit it to rock or pop music - Richard Thompson

I put my vote in for Mark Knopfler. The way the guitar speaks when he plays is amazing to me.

I don’t know about the greatest but my first few favorites that come to mind are Steve Via, Joe Satriani, and Yngwie Malmsteen.

The problem is tons of guys that I don’t think of right away that are so talented and play different styles.

Guys like Roy Clark and Les Paul don’t get mentioned very often but are pretty talented players. Just not rockers.
Stanley Jordon is another guy that does not fit in to any mold that we can judge him against a guy like Dave Mustaine for instance.

How about a guy most poeple don’t even know like Andre Corbin I’d put him right there with the more famous guys.

How about Randy Rhodes, Ry Cooder, or Charo :eek: I bet Charo can smoke that Esteban dude. :smiley: :D.

Jimi Hendrix.

I could happily listen forever to

Chet Atkins
Eric Clapton
Leo Kottke
Tonino Baliardo

Damn you, I wanted to make the Esteban joke.

To the OP, I’m no music expert but I’m sure a few guys from the Blues genre deserve to be in the discussion, Bo Diddley and the like. Also, I’m sure there’s some classically trained guitarists who play professionally with orchestras and such whom very few of us have heard of who could probably dust Hendrix.

One important question to ask is are we supposed to consider creativity (song/music writing) or just abiltiy to play difficult chords and combinations? The guy with the most talented fingers and ear probably isn’t the same guy as the one who’s created the most beautiful/popular guitar riffs.

Some great guitarists: Duane Allman, Chet Atkins, Jeff Beck, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Albert Collins, Dick Dale, Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth, Billy Gibbons, Earl Hooker, Steve Howe, Eric Johnson, Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Leo Kottke, John Mayall, Wes Montgomery, Steve Morse, Joe Pass, Django Reinhardt, Otis Rush, Joe Satriani, Andrés Segovia, Johnny Smith, Robin Trower, Steve Vai, George Van Eps, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Winter, Frank Zappa

Slowhand- for his virtuosity, his soul, and for knowing what notes *not * to play.

Les Paul. Ninety years old, now. Quite literally invented the solid-body electric guitar. Still plays Monday nights…

You tell me who doesn’t owe their reputation to the father of the electric guitar…

Damn, I can only hope I make it that long. :slight_smile:

I once saw Richard Thompson do a solo acoustic show in a small club in Portland, Maine. He played there a lot, apparently, and it was kind of a relaxed informal atmosphere. Anyway he was playing with his usual virtuosity, but also stopping to joke with the crowd, many of whom he knew. At one point he launched into a shaggy dog story I can’t remember. Halfway through the story he said, jokingly, “I want you all to sing along with this.” What he did next was unbelievable. I have never seen anyone play such a complex melody so fast and with such soul in any genre. The crowd was full of guitar buffs who were used to Thompson’s usual virtuosity. When they saw and heard this their jaws hit the floor. It was only fifteen seconds or so, but for me it placed Thompson as the most incredible guitarist I’ve ever heard.

It’s hard to tell from his records–especially his electric ones–but when he wants to, he can be unparalleled. I swear there must have been some sort of black magic or his hands had some weird macroscopic quantum mechanical properties. I’ve never seen anything like it.

How are we defining “Greatest”?

Most raw talent?
Best style?
Most influential?

A nomination for the last group: Chuck Berry.

There’s not a guitar player in the last 50 years who didn’t start out playing Chuck Berry riffs. this includes Hendrix, Clapton, Van Halen,

(though I’m not sure about Esteban)

I agree. “Greatest” is such an ambiguous word.

Even if you’re talking about raw talent, it’s hard to be narrow it down from there, and the determination is compounded by the progression of time.

For example: take Hendrix. At the time he was around, few others displayed such a command of the instrument, in terms of pushing the envelope, making good music, and sheer skill. Lots of people would swear by him. Today, though, the envelope has been pushed further, and peoples’ abilities have branched out, and the talent and virtuosity able to be displayed by guitarists has likewise increased exponentially. Tons of great guitarists rose to varying degrees of mainstream attention starting in the late 60’s, and the 70’s rock scene was overflowing with talented axe-wielders. However, in the 80’s, the electric guitar realm of virtuosity was again blown up wide even among the new wave generation, with such fantastic players as Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and Kirk Hammett taking the electric guitar to then-unheardof places. Still today, from a technical perspective, there is no shortage of virtuosos, with guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, and Steve Vai continuing to amaze their fans with their mad skills.

Best style seems like more of a subjective thing, and by that I mean, relative to your individual tastes, which seems to conflict with the notion of greatest. I mean, someone might be the greatest to everyone else, but if you don’t like him or her, they obviously aren’t to you. Personally, I try to at least appreciate all forms and styles for what they are, so I don’t think I can provide even a decent answer to this question.

As far as most influential…like the skill thing, the factor of time plays into it. For example, as Suburban Plankton pointed out, Chuck Berry was incredibly influential, being one of the biggest influences, if not the single biggest, on rock and roll. Before him and after him, there were great influences both overall and in the various genres - Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, a bunch of guys named Johnson…the list goes on. It’s really hard to narrow down the most influential…but I will offer one name - if I had to pick one for most influential, it’d be Les Paul.

Is it a coincidence that 2 of my guitars, the 2 I play most, are from the line named for and co-created by Les? Probably not. They’re incredible instruments. Besides being a very talented and incredibly influential guitarist, he was very instrumental (no pun intended) in the development of the electric guitar. :smiley:

I too have seen Thompson live but the body of his work on record is astounding - all the way from Fairport Convention through the Linda years and on to solo projects.

Clapton has been, without a doubt, the most overrated, lazy ass player for the last 35 years. If he had (in retrospect) hung it up after Yardbirds, Cream and Layla, then maybe a different opinion.

From my post #7 what say you about Christian? I can’t and don’t get too excited about the Steve Via and Joe Satriani’s of the world as they haven’t come close to those already mentioned or any of my second tier such as Hendrix, Berry, and an amazing twelve string player when I saw him live - Muddy Waters. Come to think of it those old blues guys could really play like Waters and Hooker.

Hands down the answer to this question is Tuck Andress.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a good online sample representing why I feel this way.

Check these samples at amazon, particularly Manonash for something more technical. Everything else for sheer beauty and sensitivity.

Oooh, and looking for the greatest guitar player in the world, and a great Christmas album. Now you can have both. Hymns, Carols, and Songs about Snow
Making Jingle Bells swing, bass, harmony, and lead, all at the same time!!

Lots of full tracks on their webpage: Tuck and Patti Discs
Learning How to Fly is a good one (title track). Cover of Woodstock (CSN) has got lots of subtlety as well.

Unfortunately the most convincing piece of evidence of Tuck’s genius must be experienced live. Patti typically chills out back stage for a good half hour and Tuck launches into some of the most mindblowing guitar playing ever dreamed humanly possible.