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100 Greatest Rock Guitar Players

Updated on September 30, 2016

Guitar players in the various rock genres have mesmerized audiences. Dwell in an epic list of the best rock guitar players.

The exemplary guitar work by guitar players in various music genres has made jaws drop. However, not all guitar greats have achieved the desired success. Many rock guitarists have achieved considerable mainstream success with their guitar histrionics. However, what’s unfortunate is the fact that a larger number of guitarists in rock domains are underrated and haven’t achieved the success they truly deserve. The rock genre has showcased a plethora of guitar players with exceptional phrasing and technique.


Emergence of Rock Guitar Players

A large number of guitar players have added unique identity to songs with their intricate rhythm and lead. It’s various factors that give fresh perspective to musical compositions, and we must say, through rock music history guitar players have made a significant contribution towards making the genre a global phenomenon. The brigade of rock guitar players emerged in the 60s and since has branched into many subgenres. The experimental scene among bands that took shape in the late 60s and led to the emergence of the Canterbury scene saw a new breed of guitarist emerge. While being rooted in the realms of rock, guitarists started experimenting with influences and ideas adopted from diverse music genres.


Rock Guitar Players and their Guitar Techniques

Over the years guitar players have displayed an interesting array of left hand techniques and right hand techniques. Some of the techniques and styles that are employed by rock guitar players are listed below.

  • Arpeggios
  • Chanking
  • Economy Picking
  • Alternate Picking
  • Hybrid Picking
  • Sweep Picking
  • Free Hands
  • Crospicking
  • Legato
  • Finger Vibrato
  • String Skipping
  • Volume Swell
  • Tapping
  • Pinch Harmonics
  • Pull-offs
  • Artificial Harmonics
  • Hammer-Ons
  • Palm Mute
  • Down Picking/Downstroke picking
  • Five-Fret Stretch
  • Tap Harmonics
  • Left-hand Muting
  • Pick Tapping

Employing new ideas in guitar playing adds variation and subtleness to instrumental composition. Many rock guitarists have played for bands and juggled with solo albums. Guitar players dedicated to instrumental music have released solo albums and few of these albums have become epic milestones in the guitar world. Guitar players in mainstream rock, heavy metal, hard rock, and jazz fusion (jazz rock) have been often showcased in guitar magazines and online guitar portals. Guitar techniques of rock guitar players are among the most watched guitar instruction videos on video sharing websites.


Virtuoso Guitar Players and Instrumental Guitar Players

Since the 60s, every decade has witnessed a rise in virtuoso guitar players. Towards the end of the 70s many guitarist in various rock domains embarked on a solo career. The 80s and 90s is considered by many music critics as the decades that unleashed the trend for instrumental guitar players. A significant number of rock guitarists released solo albums in the 80s and 90s and this trend of solo albums has continued to this day. The 80s and 90s were decades that put instrumental guitar players in the spotlight. Guitarists in the shred guitar genre, neo- classical genre, hard rock genre, gained prominence releasing solo albums.


Guitar Players from various Rock Genres

Furthermore, guitarists in the jazz-fusion genre achieved considerable mainstream success with their virtuoso guitar playing. Right through the 90s and 2000 and beyond, jazz fusion guitarists have been making waves with their exemplary brand of guitar techniques, and creative amalgamation of complex soloing concepts derived from jazz and funk. With the 2000s emerged a whole new breed of guitarists contributing significantly towards experimental rock genres. The number of technical guitarists in various rock genres, especially in heavy metal and its subgenres has increased tremendously since the 2000s.


Articulation and phrasing are two of the most important attributes that give guitar playing new soul and identity. Guitar players with good knowledge of theory are able to explore concepts and incorporate their ideas musically. Speed, accuracy, left hand and right hand technique is developed by guitarists with practice. For some guitarists a specific guitar technique or guitar style becomes a habituated tendency that comes forth naturally and does not require a great deal of practice. What we have listened to over the years is testimony to the fact… that there is no such thing as saturation point in a guitar player’s life. Learning is constant for a guitar player. Learning unlocks new doors that open up ideas and concepts in new light.

The lines below showcase an epic list of guitar players from various rock genres.

100 Greatest Rock Guitar Players

  1. Guthrie Govan (Jazz Fusion/Rock)
  2. Allan Holdsworth (Jazz Fusion)
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen (Neo-Classical/Rock)
  4. Eric Johnson (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  5. Joe Satriani (Instrumental Rock/Rock)
  6. Steve Vai (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  7. Jeff Beck (Blues Rock/Rock)
  8. Al Di Meola (Jazz Rock/ Rock)
  9. Greg Howe (Jazz Fusion/Rock)
  10. Frank Gambale (Jazz Fusion)
  11. John Petrucci (Rock/Progressive Metal)
  12. Jimi Hendrix (Blues Rock/Rock)
  13. Paul Gilbert (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  14. Michael Romeo (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  15. Vinnie Moore (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  16. Michael Lee Firkins (Jazz Rock/Rock)
  17. Tosin Abasi (Experimental Rock/Rock)
  18. David T Chastain (Rock)
  19. Michael Angelo Batio (Instrumental Rock/Rock)
  20. Wayne Krantz (Jazz Fusion/Rock)
  21. Steve Morse (Jazz Fusion/Instrumental Rock)
  22. Scott Henderson (Blues Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  23. Eddie Van Halen (Rock)
  24. Shaun Baxter- (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  25. Jason Becker (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  26. Tony MacAlpine (Rock/Jazz Fusion/Neo- Classical)
  27. Marty Friedman (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  28. Brett Garsed (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  29. Shawn Lane (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  30. Ron Jarzombek (Rock/Experimental Rock)
  31. Joey Tafolla (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  32. Theodore Ziras (Rock)
  33. Robben Ford (Blues Rock/Rock)
  34. Dweezil Zappa (Experimental/Rock)
  35. Alex Hutchings (Rock/Blues Rock)
  36. Mattias IA Eklundh (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  37. Andy Timmons (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  38. Chris Broderick (Rock)
  39. Jeffery Kollman (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  40. Zakk Wylde (Rock/Heavy Metal)
  41. Buckethead (Rock)
  42. George Lynch (Rock)
  43. Alex Masi (Rock)
  44. Gary Hoey (Rock)
  45. Chris Impellitteri (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  46. T. J. Helmerich (Rock/Experimental)
  47. Dave Martone (Jazz Fusion)
  48. Blues Saraceno (Rock)
  49. Chris Brooks (Rock)
  50. Jeff Loomis (Rock/Heavy Metal)
  51. George Bellas (Rock)
  52. Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Rock)
  53. Tony Smotherman (Rock)
  54. Kiko Loureiro (Rock)
  55. Reb Beach (Rock)
  56. Marco Sfogli (Rock)
  57. Jan Cyrka (Rock)
  58. Andy James (Rock)
  59. Joe Stump (Rock)
  60. Neil Zaza (Rock)
  61. Rusty Cooley (Rock)
  62. Mike Campese (Rock/Progressive Metal)
  63. Alex Skolnick (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  64. Marc Bonilla (Rock)
  65. Hedras Ramos (Rock)
  66. Alex Machacek (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  67. Dimebag Darrell (Rock/Heavy Metal)
  68. Rob Marcello (Neo Classical/Rock)
  69. John 5 (Rock)
  70. Steve Stevens (Rock)
  71. Gus G (Rock)
  72. Paul Hanson (Rock)
  73. Walter Giardino (Rock)
  74. Edu Ardanuy (Rock)
  75. Dave Sharman (Rock/Heavy Metal)
  76. Tiago Della Vega (Rock)
  77. Prashant Aswani (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  78. Matias Kupiainen (Rock/Heavy Metal)
  79. Patrick Rondat (Rock)
  80. Ethan Brosh (Rock)
  81. Jake E Lee (Rock)
  82. Tom Hess (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  83. Rex Carroll (Rock)
  84. Timmo Tolkki (Rock)
  85. Mick Barr (Rock)
  86. Randall Padilla (Rock)
  87. Mike Orlando (Rock)
  88. Syu (Rock/Neo Classical)
  89. Takayoshi Ohmura (Rock)
  90. Scott McGill (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  91. Nuno Bettencourt (Rock)
  92. Lars Eric Mattsson (Rock)
  93. David Valdes (Rock)
  94. Jan Akkerman (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  95. Todd Grubbs (Rock)
  96. Damjan Pejcinoski (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  97. Marcel Coenen (Rock)
  98. Fernando Miyata (Rock)
  99. Goncalo Pereira (Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  100. Brian Maillard (Rock)


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