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Great Lead Guitar Players. Who Is The Best Lead Guitar Player? Who Is The Best Guitarist?

Updated on May 5, 2012

Lead Guitarists

If you are like me there is nothing better than a lead guitarist who can shred. I have compiled ten of my favorite guitar players. There are many others that could make my list but I narrowed it down to ten. I hope this gives you some inspiration to listen to some guitarists that you may never have heard of before.

I have played guitar for well over thirty years, it is one of my favorite activities. Though I no longer play for money, there was a time when I was booked for two to three nights a week. Through this experience, I have come to judge a guitarist by the techniques that each guitarist may use.

The following list includes guitarists that are known as shredders, they play very quickly and their style is very difficult for guitarists that are not proficient in their craft.

Everyone will have a different opinion on who is the best guitarist. I have highlighted some of my choices, of course your list may be different. The guitar is such a versatile instrument that there are hundreds of different styles of playing. Depending on your musical preferences, your choice of favorite guitarist will vary.

Take the time to watch the videos and leave a comment on what is your choice for best guitarist.

John Petrucci

John Petrucci is best known as the guitarist from Dream Theater. The band met while attending Berklee college of Music in Boston.

John is well known for playing seven string guitars. He has incredible picking skills as well as writing many of the lyrics on the Dream Theater albums.

John also writes articles and makes videos on music theory and guitar playing, John is a great source of knowledge.

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani is best known as an instrumental guitarist. He is best known for his second album Surfing With The Alien. Joe has taught many very successful guitar players such as Steve Vai (see below)as well as Kirk Hammet lead guitarist for the band Metallica. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine fame also studied under Joe Satriani

Joe is also founder of the ever changing lineup of the G3 concerts touring with other musicians of renowned talent.

Steve Vai

Steve Vai started out working for Frank Zappa transcribing music.  He eventually became part of Zappa's band. Steve Vai became a household name when he joined David Lee Roth on his solo album.  He has also toured with Joe Satriani on the G3 tour.  He had studied under Joe Satriani.  Steve is also a graduate of Berklee college of Music.  He also replaced Yngwie Malmsteen as lead guitarist for the band Alcatrazz.    He has produced numerous songs for both video games and movie soundtracks.  He has 13 solo albums.

Dimebag Darrell

Darrell Lance Abbott also known as "Dimebag"  was a founding member of the band Pantera. Dimebag is one of the most influential guitarists in metal.  He wrote articles for Guitar World magazine and was voted one of "The 50 Greatest Tones of All Time" by Guitar Player magazine.  He is known for using unconventional scales and is just an all out shredder.

Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert is best known as the lead guitarist for the bands Racer x and Mr. Big.  He also toured with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci on a G3 tour.  He also wrote for the British Magazine Total guitar as well as the American magazine Guitar Player Magazine.  Paul also teaches at the Guitar Institute of Technology.  He appears on almost fifty different albums with two bands and several solo projects.  He has appeared on numerous tribute albums also.

Zakk Wylde

 Zakk Wylde is best known as one of the guitarists under Ozzy Osbourne.  He also founded the band Black Label Society. Known for his bullseye painted Les Paul Zakk had big shoes to fill replacing Jake E. Lee and Randy Rhodes in Ozzy's band.  He is a complete guitarist and more than a competent shredder.

Eddie Van Halen

Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen is best known as the guitarist and founder of the band Van Halen.  Known for his rapid playing style.  He uses many tapping techniques and a virtuoso when it comes to feedback on his guitar. Gene Simmons from KISS discovered the band and brought them into the mainstream.  Eddie made the famous "brown tone" famous throughout the music industry.  He also made volume swells a fundamental guitar technique.  Eddie Van Halen single handedly changed the way guitarists looked at guitar playing.  He is definitely one of the most influential guitar player of our day.

George Lynch

George Lynch is famous as the lead guitarist in the band Dokken. George Lynch tried to join Ozzy Osbourne's band twice losing out first to Randy Rhodes and again to Jake E lee.  He formed the band Lynch Mob and had a successful career with them. George likes open chords to bar chords for the most part taking advantage of the open strings. Lynch is known for playing ESP guitars.

Nuno Bettencourt

Nuno Bettencourt was the lead guitarist and founder of the Boston based band Extreme.  He has his own line of Washburn guitars.  He is particularly good at arpeggios using string-skipping tapping. One of his strongest techniques is his sense of rhythm, often using a very loose wrist technique to execute fast triplet picking licks to create a funky sound to his rhythm playing.

Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen was born Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck in Sweden. Best known for amazing speed techniques and fiery arpeggios Yngwie could easily be called one of the best guitar players in the world. He founded the band Rising Force as well as having a stellar solo career. Yngwie is known for playing Fender guitars and being very active in a live setting. He has a great classical sound to his playing and calling him a virtuoso would seem appropriate.  He also toured with Joe Satriani on the G3 tour.


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    • profile image

      Taryn 4 years ago

      Dude, you forgot Randy Rhoads. He could easily outplay everyone on that list COMBINED.

    • profile image

      michael turrell 4 years ago, his name is em k, I spelled it wrong the first time,this is his acoustical music unbelievable player

    • profile image

      michael turrell 4 years ago

      emkay from chumbi during the 80,s out of philly came to marin county ca, bill gram to a real likeing to him became hisd headliner band at the old waldorf,aldo nova ,nightranger,openedup for him ,he shocked the all African American crowd when he opend up for bb king & milly Jackson,when this tall skinny white kid who nomaly played rock,brought the crowed to their feet when his blues,dixy land chops blew them away,his band chumbi can be found on you tube,check him out emkay ,(Michael klapoltz) chumbi,you can also go to his website were he now is plaing acustical solos sounds like three guitarist playing its only him

    • profile image

      sid 5 years ago

      how come I do not see Rik Emmett from Triumph, or Alex Lifeson from Rush, a lot of talent comes from Canada and yet everybody seems to forget them

    • profile image

      Tommy Gunz 5 years ago

      What about Slash from Guns N Roses? How dare You..

    • ChristopherWilley profile image

      ChristopherWilley 5 years ago

      I enjoyed the list. Of course there are always going to be people who got left out, but that's just the way it goes. Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci are 2 of my favorites. I think some one needs to make a list of the top ten Jazz guitarists. Maybe that someone will be me. ;)

    • profile image

      person 6 years ago

      'Bout SLASH??

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 6 years ago from North Florida

      Though my all time favorite is Slash, I'd have to say either Joe Satriani or Yngwie Malmsteen are the best lead guitar players of all time.

    • Arthur Fontes profile image

      Arthur Fontes 6 years ago from Fall River,MA

      @suman khanal Tom Morello is absolutely one of my favorite guitarists. Although a great musician, I do not think Morello would be one of the best guitarists. Overall maybe, but not one of the best....

    • profile image

      suman khanal 6 years ago

      did you forget TOM MORELLO.He is one of the best.The way he plays guitar is just amazing and the melody its out of the world better.No one can challege his style even slash or john petrucci

    • Arthur Fontes profile image

      Arthur Fontes 6 years ago from Fall River,MA

      Clapton Nugent and Clapton are all in Rock guitarist category. These guys are all pure shredders! thanks for the comment.

    • DrPPoorluk profile image

      DrPPoorluk 6 years ago from NH

      I could argue some of these saying, what about Ted Nugent, Jimmy Page, Clapton, and on... But that would be futile as opinions are never moved by whatabouts. Great Hub!

    • profile image

      Tom Guitarist 7 years ago

      Check out Stephen Lill, plays for Vanden Plas. Agreed tha John Petrucci is #1. And it's easy to leave out Hendrix and Page even though Page did some nice work but he sucked live, Petrucci is amazing live.

    • profile image

      Landon 7 years ago

      Come on give Slash some credit

    • Arthur Fontes profile image

      Arthur Fontes 8 years ago from Fall River,MA

    • pjk_artist profile image

      pjk_artist 8 years ago from Turkey Point, ON



    • profile image

      Madame X 8 years ago

      Yes, I did notice that. Great guitar playing to me goes outside of genre though. Very fun hub Arthur :)

    • Arthur Fontes profile image

      Arthur Fontes 8 years ago from Fall River,MA

      I actually had Stevie and Gary Moore in here for awhile before I published it. They did not fit in with the genre of the others so I added Zakk Wylde and George Lynch instead. Just to keep the styles similar.

    • profile image

      Madame X 8 years ago

      Great hub Arthur! But you left out the greatest guitarist of all time - Stevie Ray Vaughan!! - just my humble opinion :)

    • profile image

      --=JOE=-- 8 years ago

      What about Buckethead?

    • Arthur Fontes profile image

      Arthur Fontes 8 years ago from Fall River,MA

      Thanks suziecat7 I have been watching the videos myself.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great tribute to great guitarists. Enjoyed this Hub.


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