Ten Great Young Rock Guitarists
Rock guitar is in capable hands with these contemporary guitar slingers
These days many young “shredder” guitarists are blazing through the rock and roll scene, hoping to be the best of the bunch, if not the best ever. At any rate, these young guns, if you will, are destined to replace vintage axemen such as Clapton, Page, Van Halen and Beck, as they retire or pass on to the Promised Land. Judging from what I’ve seen and heard of these young pluckers, there’s hope for the future of rock and roll guitar.
Please note this list is in no particular order and doesn’t necessarily represent all the great young rock guitarists, because I certainly could have missed one or two. Let me know if I did. Incidentally, no guitarist on this list is over 40.
Please read my list of Ten Great Young Rock Guitarists:
1. Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa is one of the ass-kicking young blues/rock guitarists, his roots firmly implanted with the likes of Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Joe is a fourth-generation musician, so his familial influence goes way back. A prodigy at the age of seven, Joe cut his teeth while plucking Hendrix’s devilish blues licks, and by 12 he opened for the legendary B.B. King, who called his talent “one of a kind.” But Joe says his greatest guitar influence comes from the British blues hybridization of the 1960s, as exemplified by the work of artists such as Jeff Beck, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Peter Green, Jimmy Page and Rory Gallagher. Joe says, “You know, my heroes were the English guys.” Since 2000 Joe has churned out a hit album per year and appears headed for a stellar explosion any minute now.
2. Alexi “Wild Child” Laiho
Man, there’s no doubt Alexi Laiho plays faster than a motherf*****! In fact, Guitar World magazine counted Alexi as among the 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time, a list published in July 2008. Of Finnish descent, Alexi has played lead guitar in a number of bands, perhaps the most prominent of which is the heavy metal assemblage, Children of Bodom. Over the years Alexi has garnered much praise; Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has equated Alexi’s guitar prowess with that of Joe Satriani. Alexi’s style has been called black metal or death metal, a mixture of kick-in-the-gut distortion, frenetic trills, tenebrous power chords and whammy bar included at will. Alexi’s influences include Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde. Alexi may not be faster than light, but he’s certainly faster than a blur!
3. Michael Paget
Michael “Padge” Paget is a Welch guitarist, singer, songwriter, who’s ripped over the fretboard while performing with the thrash metal assemblage, Bullet for My Valentine, which has produced many albums since its inception in 1998. Paget first began playing guitar when he was 17, and the first rock tune he learned was “Polly” by Nirvana. Paget plays more than a dozen guitars, particularly ESP Guitars, one of which was named for him – the ESP Michael Paget V. Perhaps Bullet for My Valentine’s greatest hit to date is the single “Raising Hell.”
4. Henry Garza
Who’s the young rock guitarist whose Texican blues/rock sound evokes the late Stevie Ray Vaughan? The answer is Henry Garza, of course. Henry is the lead guitarist for Los Lonely Boys, a trio of brothers from San Angelo, Texas. Emerging as a group from Nashville of the 1990s, Los Lonely Boys have produced chart-climbing singles and albums since 1996. Henry’s tasty licks highlight the band’s Tex-Mex, heavy blues and Latin rock style. Henry also sings, as does every other member of the trio. Henry’s musical influences include Carlos Santana, Willie Nelson, the Doors, Blind Faith and John Lennon, of whom the band does a notable cover for “Whatever Gets You through the Night.”
5. Synyster Gates
Brian Haner Jr., alias Synyster Gates or Syn is another heavy metal rocker who plays faster than a speeding electron, and is also included on the previously mentioned list of the 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time. At the age of 18, Synyster became the lead guitarist for Avenged Sevenfold in 1999. Syn has also worked with the avant-garde assemblage, Pinkly Smooth. By the by, the year 2006 was a very good one for Synyster; he won the Metal Hammer “Young Shredder” award, as well as the Total Guitar magazine “Guitarist of the Year” award. On stage, Syn’s sartorial splendor evokes punk rockers, Axl Rose and Gothic theatricality. On the Internet, you can even buy Syn’s garish garb.
Interestingly, in 2008 the Guinness Book recognized Brazilian artist Tiago Della Vega as the guitarist with the highest number of strokes per second.
6. Jonny Lang
Another blues axeman with a viral vibrato is Jonny Lang. And as good as Jonny strokes the guitar, he may be an even better songwriter and singer, his voice being likened to that of an aging bluesman, perhaps the legendary Buddy Guy, with whom Jonny has toured and jammed. Out of Fargo, North Dakota, Jonny began playing guitar at 12. Another prodigy in the making, Jonny formed his own band, Kid Jonny Lang and the Big Bang, which produced its first album, Smokin’, when Jonny was just 15. From 1998 to 2003, Johnny dealt with “substance” issues but came out of the episode with an improved perspective, as the album, Turn Around (2006), may confirm. Jonny’s guest appearances over the years seem to show he’s played with just about everybody; and if he hasn’t yet, he’ll soon get around to ‘em!
7. Orianthi Panagaris
Some people think Orianthi Panagaris is the fastest lady gun in the West. Coming from Australia, this talented gal can play like a guy, if you will, and she sings like a young Pat Benatar. Orianthi began playing guitar at six and started performing in bands at 14, and was soon jamming with rock luminaries such as Steve Vai and Carlos Santana. Interestingly, the late Michael Jackson picked Orianthi to be his lead guitarist in his ill-fated tour, This Is It. The pretty Aussie sealed the deal when she played Michael the guitar solo in “Beat It.” In recent years, Orianthi has launched a solo career, pumping out singles and albums and appearing as a featured guitarist whenever called upon. Incidentally, Orianthi made the list of the 12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists. Who says girls can’t play lead guitar?
8. Jake Pitts
Jake Pitts is a lead guitarist, songwriter, producer and engineer, who currently slings guitar with the metal band, Black Veil Brides, a decidedly glam metal (or hair metal) assemblage. Pitts began shredding the axe when he was about 13, after having heard the haunting power chords of Metallica. His mother, a classical composer, taught Jake musical theory. Pitts has also been influenced by other heavy metal artists such as Van Halen, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Avenged Sevenfold, Mötley Crüe and Buckethead. Incidentally, Jake Pitts has won awards for being an exceptional young rock guitarist.
9. Michael Einziger
Writer Steven Rosen says, “Einziger fashions a sonic tapestry that draws heavily from the Zappa/Vai/Hendrix school of rock.” These are profound words indeed, referring to an artist who not only plays wonderful guitar but also composes orchestral compositions, one of which is titled “Forced Curvature of Reflective Surfaces.” Wow! Since the early 1990s Michael has played lead guitar for the alternative rock group Incubus and is well known for his innovative pedal effects. Michael also founded in 2003 his own project, Time Lapse Consortium. His musical influences are listed as Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa, Black Sabbath, Metallica and Björk. Also, in 2002, Total Guitar listed Michael #49 on its list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.
10. Marnie Stern
The second shredder chick on this list, Marnie Stern, plays a sound that is much harder to classify than that of Orianthi Panagaris, whose mainstream style fits the genre like Michael's jeweled glove; but Marnie’s multi-finger-tapping guitar style and Yoko Ono-like vocalizations evoke the surrealism of an acid trip on Mars! Surely there aren’t many other musicians like Marnie out there. There just can’t be! Thus Marnie has the stamp of originality - with this writer, anyway. Perhaps Marnie's CD titles are an indication of her eccentricity: In Advance of the Broken Arm, her debut, released in 2007; and her second CD titled, This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That. Awesome! Anyway, Marnie made Venuszine magazine’s list of the Greatest Female Guitarists of All Time, compiled in 2008.
Well, that’s it. Please leave a comment and let me know if I omitted some notable young guitar slingers. Then be sure to click on the link below and watch videos of these youthful rock guitarists:
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