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Top 10 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

Updated on January 3, 2015

Who are the Most Talented Guitarists of All Time?

When asked to come up with a list of the greatest guitar players of all time then the chances are that for the most part everyone will name at least one different name and therefore no list should ever be precisely the same. The most obvious choice for inclusion here would be Jimi Hendrix, a man viewed by many as THE greatest guitar player of all time. It is true that he was an excellent guitar player and does indeed make my list, but I do not view anyone as the greatest guitar player of all time; there are so many different types of guitarists all creating different sounds and it can therefore be extremely difficult to draw comparisons and directly suggest that one guitarist is better than another if they are each producing a different style.

I shall here list 10 guitarists that I perceive to be amongst the greatest of all time. Do I expect you to agree with me about it however? Of course not! I openly encourage you to share your thoughts with me as to who you’d personally have in your list, and if you think I’m wrong with any of my picks then be sure to let me know! These are the guitarists that I think are some of the greatest of all time, and it is of course a list that’s personal to me as I can but only provide my personal opinion.

So without further ado, and in no particular order; these are the guitarists that I perceive to be the 10 greatest guitarists of all time.

Dimebag Darrell

The first person on my list personally would be the late, great Dimebag Darrell. I said before that I shan’t be ordering these names, he is merely the first that springs to mind when I think of guitar playing greats. Dimebag Darrell (Darrell Lance Abbott) was born on August 20th, 1966 and shot dead in December 2004 whilst performing a concert with his band Damageplan. During his career he was also a guitarist for both Pantera and Rebel Meets Rebel, both of which heavy metal bands as were Damageplan also. Dimebag Darrell was an exceptionally talented heavy metal guitarist and was one respected the world over. Darrell inspired many to pick up and play the guitar and therefore when he died in 2004 there was mass mourning around the world in true remembrance of a rock legend.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of metal music, I certainly love Dimebag Darrell however and he is I feel well worth his place on this list. Others may not agree with me that he was one of the very best to ever play the guitar, personally I thought he was a genius guitarist however and that’s the man reason why I was always drawn to his music, both with Pantera and with Damageplan also.

The guitar company Dean currently create a Dimebag Darrell guitar in a number of different finishes, and personally I definitely feel that he’s well worthy of having his own signature guitar as he is one of the few guitarists that has ever made me really love metal, and a guitarist that I was extremely saddened to learn had passed when he died in 2004. Dimebag Darrell is certainly sorely missed in the world of music, his memory lives on however as we remember what an absolutely brilliant musician he was and continue to listen to the music that he brought to our ears throughout his lifetime.

Jimi Hendrix

I shall now come back to the man that many perceive to be the greatest guitarist of all time; Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was born in 1942, and died in the September of 1970 as a result of circumstances that have never been fully explained. Hendrix was a fantastic musician and an excellent guitarist. It’s clear why so many people perceive him to be the greatest guitar player of all time, yet with so many exceptionally talented guitarists having emerged throughout the ages I still feel that it would be grossly unfair to name him as the greatest guitar player of all time. To do so would be a great injustice to all the other guitar playing greats that there have been throughout the years, not to name one definitive but to praise many individually talented people is the far greater option as others thus have something to aim for; to strive to become noted as one of the best guitar players ever to have existed.

Jimi Hendrix is most definitely one that is noted as being one of the best guitar players to have ever existed, and for good reason too I feel. There’s a fantastic energy when you watch a performance of Jimi Hendrix playing live, and I’m sure that those that ever had the honour of seeing Jimi Hendrix live in the flesh will definitely have been impressed by this great guitarist and savour the moment entirely. Unlike some, I won’t state my belief that Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist there ever has been, what I will say however is that he was a fantastic musician and the world is very lucky to have had him.


Slash, the former Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver man is another that makes the cut for me. I’m not really the biggest fan of the bands that he has been in, however there is no denying the power and precision with which he can play his guitar. One of the people he drew his inspiration from was the guitar great that is Eric Clapton, he also cites Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck as major influences; choices I cannot complain with whatsoever.

Slash (Saul Hudson) is a greatly talented guitarist and is one that I can easily listen to the music of for hours without ever tiring of hearing him shred it up with his well crafted and always intelligently composed guitar work. Slash is an absolutely fantastically talented musician and he has throughout the years shown with a number of projects his ability to consistently perform and prove himself to be an extremely talented guitarist.

Since the demise of Velvet Revolver in 2008, Slash has been working on his own solo project and has further demonstrated in the last 4 years that he really is a guitarist with a hell of a lot to offer. He’s released 2 albums as a solo artist, and just keeps going from strength to strength as he continues to prove himself as an artist and musician. Slash worked with Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy on his latest album as a solo artist, in addition to the drummer Brent Fitz who has worked with Theory of a Deadman and Alice Cooper amongst others, and the bassist Todd Kerns.

Jimmy Page

Next to make my list is the supreme Led Zeppelin guitarist that is Jimmy Page. Jimmy Page is a fantastic musician that has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not just the once, but twice; once as a member of The Yardbirds, and secondly as a member of Led Zeppelin. This fact says it all I feel, and Jimmy Page is most definitely a guitarist that is well worth taking note of.

Throughout his career Jimmy Page has played a number of different Fender’s and Gibson’s, regardless of what manufacturer’s guitar he is using however, Jimmy Page, when performing, just make you want to pick up a guitar and play it for yourself. He’s a hugely inspiring guitarist, one that has no doubt led to many picking up a guitar for the first time over the years, and in the future also I can definitely see plenty more people becoming guitarists as a result of Jimmy Page and his fantastic talent for playing the electric guitar.

Is Jimmy Page deserving of his place in this list? You bet he is! This two-time Hall of Famer gets a massive thumbs up from me, and I certainly feel that Jimmy Page is a guitarist to be appreciated and respected for what he has done for music. Great guitarist and generally awesome guy; Jimmy Page is most certainly one of the top 10 guitarists of all time in my book.

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen is another guitarist that most definitely deserves his place on this list! Not just a great guitarist, Eddie Van Halen is also a superb keyboardist, and to leave him on this list would just be criminal.

I’m sure there are many out there that agree with me that Eddie Van Halen is an absolutely sensational guitarist, and he is a man that has over the years contributed to some absolutely classic albums. His notable instruments include the Frankenstrat, the Ernie Ball Music Man EVH, and the Peavey EVH Wolfgang; whatever guitar he was playing he absolutely rocked it however, and Eddie Van Halen’s talent as a guitarist has always shone through strongly.

You watch Eddie Van Halen live and you totally feed off of his energy; not only is he an incredible guitarist but also a fantastic performer. It’s one thing being brilliant at playing your instrument, having and indeed keeping people interested in watching you however is an entirely different matter and seems to be something that Eddie Van Halen is able to do with great ease.

With Van Halen having released their first album in 14 years in 2012, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’, it seems that Van Halen is still a band that is trying to keep it fresh, remain relevant, and remain as a product of the times. Eddie Van Halen is someone that is absolutely timeless though and forever he will remain as one of the very greatest men ever to have picked up and played the electric guitar.

‘A Different Kind of Truth’ has been generally well received by the press, and I thoroughly expect Eddie Van Halen to keep on cranking out completely incredible music for many years to come.

Steve Vai

Steve Vai has throughout his career sold well over 15 million albums, and for good reason too; Steve Vai is an absolutely incredible guitarist and well worth his place in this list.

I’ve always had a great soft spot for Steve Vai, and do in fact from time to time play with Steve Vai plectrums. As an aspiring musician, Steve Vai has always been a massive motivation to me, and I definitely feel that he has a lot to offer as a guitarist. There are some guitarists that just make you want to become a better guitar player when you listen to them, and Steve Vai is certainly one of them.

Steve Vai has had an absolutely fantastic career in music, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he’ll continue to impress and shine for many years to come. His guitar is iconic, he himself is extremely talented, and I have no doubt that people will continue to look to Steve Vai as being one of the very greatest for a very long time to come.

Eric Clapton

Born in 1945, Eric Clapton is another that I consider to be amongst the greatest guitar players of all time. He is an exceptionally talented guitarist; the man has had a long and fruitful career in music and this I feel is a resultant force of his huge musical talent. Starting off in The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton also was a member of bands such as Blind Faith, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and of course Cream also. Eric Clapton achieved great success with Cream, since the 1970s he has become best known as a solo artist however and over the years has released many a great album.

If Jimmy Page is impressive for being a two-time Hall of Famer, then Eric Clapton should be seen as an absolute guitar genius as he is the only person to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a fantastic three times. As a solo artist, with The Yardbirds, and with Cream, Eric Clapton has made his mark on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with absolutely incredible style, and has throughout the years contributed to an extremely impressive haul of studio albums, as well as releasing 20 as a solo artist alone. Eric Clapton is not just hugely talented, but also massively prolific and has very much earned his respect and status as one of the greatest guitarists there ever has been.

Eric Clapton truly is a fantastic guitarist, when considering the idea of potential greatest guitarists of all time then this is one man that I feel would most definitely be thought of by most. He’s a great musician, a fine songwriter and a man that I happily include here in my personal list of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Brian May

I’m not a big fan of Queen, I do however greatly appreciate the talent of Brian May and feel that he is richly deserving of a mention here. Queen formed in 1970 and is a band still going strong today albeit without Freddie Mercury. Admittedly Queen without Freddie Mercury isn’t quite the same, Brian May is still a guitar playing guru however and sure knows how to rock the crowd.

There are some people that never seem to hit a wrong note when they play guitar, it’s not in their nature and personally I perceive Brian May to be one of those people. When I pick up a guitar the sound that is created is horrendous, when Brian May plays guitar on the other hand the most amazing music is produced and he is I feel a huge talent.

Brian May has provided lead vocals for a number of Queen tracks over the years; he’s not just a talented guitarist, but also an absolutely fantastic artist and musician. Queen may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect band (I know they’re not mine), Brian May is brilliant however and Brian May is I feel thoroughly deserving of his place in my top 10.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Having started playing the guitar at the age of 7, Stevie Ray Vaughan is an incredibly talented guitarist more than worthy of his inclusion in this top 10. He was unique and different, he pushed boundaries and he had his own inimitable style; like most great musicians, Stevie Ray Vaughan was an innovator always pushing to achieve something new and different with his instrument.

Stevie Ray Vaughan had a string of successful singles and albums in his lifetime, releasing a large body of music despite the fact that he was still only 35 years old when he sadly passed away in 1990.

Stevie Ray Vaughan may now be gone, his music lives on though and if you're not yet familiar with the work of Stevie Ray Vaughan then you should certainly seek to learn a little more about the man and the great things that he achieved and accomplished with his music.

Carlos Santana

In the 1970s Carlos Santana was best known for his work with Santana and his Gibson endorsements also. The Gibson SG was one of his trademark guitars and currently the man endorses PRS guitars. He’s an exquisitely fine guitarist, a massively talented musician and a man that I personally feel deserves all the success that he has received throughout his life. He is known for his Latin rock musical style and the music that the man makes is I feel absolutely excellent, refreshing to listen to and always packed full of passion.

For a while the appeal of Carlos Santana seemingly trailed off a little, the ‘Supernatural’ album of 1999 sure changed that however and is in fact now certified Diamond in America having sold over a million copies there alone (it’s actually gone 15x Platinum so has in fact sold in excess of 1.5 million copies to date). I’m glad that Carlos Santana returned to the fray and once more gained a huge amount of success with this album, he truly is an excellent guitarist and it’s only right that his music must always be heard by many. It’s only right that his talent is always heard, millions around the world can play the guitar and many are of great ability; it takes a special quality to be considered amongst the best and Carlos Santana is a man that I do believe is one of the worlds greatest ever guitarists.

Carlos Santana has 10 Grammy Awards to his name and has over the years contributed to a large number of studio albums as a solo artist, as a member of Santana, and has also featured as a guest musician on a large number of other artists’ albums.

Who are your favourite guitarists of all time?

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