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Ten Great Young Rock Guitarists

Updated on January 13, 2018

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. Carmen Vandenberg

Carmen Vandenberg’s musical origins were academic; that is, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (with honors) in guitar from London’s Academy of Contemporary Music. Then she developed a love for the bluesy guitar chops of Buddy Guy. Soon, Vandenberg joined up with fellow Brit, Rosie Bones, playing lead guitar on such hits as “Girls Can’t Play Guitar.” Eventually Vandenberg and Rosie Bones joined rock virtuoso Jeff Beck, producing the album Loud Hailer, on which Vandenberg played much of the rhythm guitar, as well as some lead riffs using Beck’s Strat. Vandenberg also toured with Beck on the Loud Hailer tour in 2016. And, also appearing on the bill was Buddy Guy. Who else?

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. Mac DeMarco

Born in British Columbia, Canada, Mac DeMarco, guitarist, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, plays music that’s hard to describe; it’s been called blue wave, slacker rock, indie rock, psychedelic rock, jangle or off-kilter pop, or, as he labels it, “jizz jazz.” Go figure! Just listen to his tune “Ode to Viceroy” and see what you’d call it. The chords DeMarco plays in this song seem to be from another planet! But a more down to earth description relating to his music would pin his vocal style to John Lennon or Damon Albarn of Gorillaz. DeMarco’s first studio album is Rock and Roll Nightclub (2012); and recently, Another Day (2015) and This Old Dog (2017).

4. Davy Knowles

A blues guitarist from the Isle of Man, Davy Knowles began performing with the band Back Door Slam in 2006; their first studio album was Roll Away (2007). A lead guitarist, singer and songwriter, Knowles has drawn inspiration from such artists as Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Dire Straights, Robert Cray, Rory Gallagher, Eric Clapton and Joe Satriani. Knowles also claims to be influenced by Celtic music, as shown in the song “Roll Away.” Interestingly, in 2009, Joe Satriani said Knowles is his “new favorite modern bluesman.” After becoming the obvious headliner with Back Door Slam, Knowles began a solo career, releasing such albums as Three Miles from Avalon (2016) and 1932 (2017). It seems safe to write that with great players such as Knowles around, the blues will never go out of style!

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.

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!

Orianthi (at right)
Orianthi (at right)

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. Jared James Nichols

Based in Los Angeles, singer/songwriter/guitarist Jared Nichols got his first guitar at 14 and began hitting the stage almost immediately. While still a teenager, Nichols performed with such blues legends as Buddy Guy, “Honeyboy” Edwards and “Big Jim” Johnson. Soon, Nichols was playing 12 hours per day, eventually opening with such stellar guitarists as Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Derek Trucks. By the age of 21, Nichols had performed in hundreds of gigs and had won many accolades and awards for his guitar prowess. In 2012, Nichols released his debut EP, Live at the Viper Room, highlights of which were the tunes “Let It Go” and “Blackfoot.” Moreover, Nichols likes to play songs by Mountain, thereby emulating the work of legendary guitarist Leslie West. Also, along the way, Nichols has gained the attention of such illustrious slicks as Guitar World and Guitar Player.

10. Naia Izumi

Per her Facebook account, Izumi calls herself as a singer/multi-instrumentalist, whose musical emphasis is the guitar. She describes her musical style as “elegant, intricate, bizarre, soulful, sensual and rhythmic, sometimes focused on etheric and ambient soundscapes.” Izumi claims she began her musical ways at the age of 5, playing a small keyboard. Izumi works as a solo artist, producer, stage musician and session player. She has also released many self-produced singles, including "Natural Disaster," "Don’t Ask Me," "Soft Spoken Woman" and "Ambient Improvisation," a Zen-like, acid trippy, excursion through space-time, while dancing with a flower between one’s teeth – or something like that. Anyway, Naia certainly has a lot going on in her mind and fingers!

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 musicians:

© 2010 Kelley Marks


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      This should be titled Ten-Great-Young-Shreaders, music is about the feels.

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the link to Midnight Messiah, Soundapp. Yes, indeed, Dave Strange can certainly hit the high tones. Later!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You probably didn't check him out so...

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the tip, randu. I'll have to check out Brandon Jarod the next time I visit YouTube. Later!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You must include A new guy named Brandon Jarod.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Chk out Dave Strange of 'Midnight Messiah'

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      those list r gr8 thnk u...........

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      don't forget priyono nyoto from indonesia. He ie a fuc*in speed metal guy the best from indonesia. he can beat alexi laiho

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Fullerman5000. I'm sure I missed a great young rock guitarist or two, and perhaps Jack White is one of them. Later!

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      7 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      This was a great list. I would have added Jack White, I think he is amazingly talented and has that 60's and 70's classic guitar sound. But then again, I really dont know how old he is. Great work.

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, TheHeavyReview. All players on this list are under 40; in fact, I think most - if not all - are under 35. Is that young? To me it is. Anyway, I'll have to check out Vektor. Later!

    • TheHeavyReview profile image


      7 years ago

      Very cool hub, as always! I smiled when I saw Alexi Laiho, he is pretty awesome. I would also suggest on the metal side of things Jari Maenpaa, Gus G (is he young?), or one of the guys from the thrash band Vektor (I'm not sure of their names, but Vektor is a mindblowing band). I feel like I'm forgetting someone really big, but that's all I can think of at the moment.

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      7 years ago from California

      Oh my god, you collect musicians! Glad I can be of assistance, iamaudraleigh. Every one of these guys and gals can really rip on the guitar. Later!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you...I am looking for musicians I have never heard before to add to my collection!

    • profile image

      Bound in Blood Bass player 

      7 years ago

      synister gates is the best one on here.

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      7 years ago from California

      I really like Garza's guitar work. He sounds like a latter day Stevie Ray Vaughan. With him on lead guitar, Los Lonely Boys is one of the best trios around. Thanks for the comment, TTC12. Later!

    • TTC12 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great list! Henry Garza is a fantastic guitarist. Very impressed with the work Joe Bonamassa is doing. Good to see him getting more popular.

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Caterino. Joe can certainly wail on the fretboard. Later!

    • Caterino profile image


      7 years ago from Greenville South Carolina

      I listen to Joe all the time on my internet radio station. wont say it here or be sited for spam.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Well,out of those I only heard of Alexi Laiho and Synyster Gates(the latter being in a band I hate)and I can certianly say you missed a few shredders:

      First there's Mikael Areknfeldt from Opeth,maybe you might think that Opeth is an old band,but they are 2 years newer than Children of Bodom.His dissonance is masterful,he is extremely varied,playing a mixture of Acoustic Folk,Soft Rock,Progressive Rock and Brutal Death Metal(most of them in one song),he is also the singer/growler.I would recomand you Ghost of Perdition and The Grand Conjuring as far as soloing goes.

      Also there are two very unknown guys,from a Swedish Melodic Death Metal band called Scar Symmetry,very fast and incredebly precise tapping.

      Also,I don't think that they qualify as young(both well into their 40s) but Megadeth's Chris Broderick and Nevermore's Jeff Loomis(who played live with Chris on some Nevermore gigs) are mind blowing!

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      8 years ago from California

      I hadn't even heard of Koichi Hayakawa until a week or so ago. I listened to some of his guitar work on YouTube and then decided to write a hub about young rock guitarists, and here we are. Thanks for the comment, and I'll read your guitar hub. Later!

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 

      8 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Wow Kosmo, I just completed this course in Famous Guitarists 101, and I only recognized the "name " of one (Jonny Lang)but I am sure I have heard several others. I am truly interested in hearing the music of Koichi Hayakawa. One of my guitar instructors, Kazwo Watanabe, is Japanese and for a very short period of time he was living in my State in the USA he was my classical guitar teacher. I have one album I found in the thrift store that is all Japanese, so it will be good to hear this guitarist style. I myself am a guitarist who never had the door open to become famous and I have some fond memories of performing in the past. Therefore, I commend you on your research here and hope that maybe my dream will come true one day. Check out my hub, " My Gift of Music with My Desire To Create More". Thumbs up!!

    • FCEtier profile image


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Joe Bonamassa was involved with Lee Ritenour's Six String Theory project his year. Great stuff!

    • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelley Marks 

      8 years ago from California

      Hey, Rita S, I wish Hendrix were still young - and alive. Of course Jimi will always be young in the minds of many rockers! Thanks for the comment. Later!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You forgot to mention Henry Garza's favorite guitarist--Jimi Hendrix!

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 

      8 years ago from Eden

      Cool, thanks Kosmo. I have only heard a couple of these folks before now. I will be sure to check them out!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      8 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Cool hub! I used to be all up in this sort of thing, but nowadays I've not followed new music so much. I'm more into bluegrass/flatpicking now, but I don't get into that as much as I should either.


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