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Top 5 guitarist debate chapter #47, what choices would you make?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) August 11th, 2010

Best guitarist debate chapter 47. Everyone has their I deal who or what makes a great guitarist, be it their ability to improvise, finger speed, clean fretting, stage presence, etc. Who is on your list as the top 5 with honorable mention, and why did you place them as you did?

My top 5 have not changed much but the order might have waffled a bit at times. But I believe and I know I have not heard every possible guitarist so I am sure there are some not mentioned that people will wonder why they weren’t mentioned.

#1> Jimmy Hendricks: To me he was a pioneer and what he did with the guitar I believe inspired a whole generation after Him. I mean playing with your teeth?

#2> Angus Young: Don’t have the finger speed of Schenker but beats him big time on stage presentation.

#3> McCauley Schenker: The solos he does and the riffs he put together I could listen to for hours.

#4> Brian May: The way he could get sounds from a guitar that I have never heard before and a lot of it before synthesizers and other enhancements.

#5> Tommy Shaw: Could have gone ahead of May but he has what I always have heard, his fingers are fast but his sounds is nothing really different and his stage presence is lacks that of Young so in spite he is fast like Schenker he gets a 5th rank from me.

Honorable mention> I have to give it to Joe Satriani he can do the Hendicks (play with his teeth), I like his powerful sound and you and he just looks so cool with his clean dome and shades.

I know you have a different Ideal so lay it on us, who do you think is the top 5?

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38 Answers

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

In no particular order:
– Steve Lukather
– John Petrucci
– Chris Impellitteri
– Carlos Santana
– Joe Satriani

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Ooooo… could I forget Carlos?…......

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central There’s too many to mention, so it was tough to limit it to five. I’m torn that Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton didn’t make it. Frédéric Leclercq might have made it if bassists were included.

truecomedian's avatar

#1 Frank Zappa
#2 Mick Ronson
#3 John Frusciante
#4 Billy Duffy
#5 Marcus Eaton

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh @truecomedian How did you come to rank them that way, what criteria did you employ?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I said “in no particular order”, because it was hard to only include five and it would’ve been even harder to rank them. I’m new to Santana, so I can’t rank him fairly. Impellitteri is technically brilliant, but I don’t listen to his music much because it isn’t my style as much as Petrucci. I’m a little biased towards Petrucci and Lukather because I love the bands they play(ed) with so much. Satriani is undeniably brilliant, (he taught Steve Vai – need any more proof?) and I like his work so he is probably the hardest to rank. I really don’t know. Please don’t make me do it!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh You reminded me that I also forgot about Steve Vai so your answer is good enough for me. :-) Then I forgot about Buddy Guy too….......yup, hard to limit yourself to just 5.

Cruiser's avatar

Hands down in this exact order for technique and ability…

Steve Morse voted best guitarist of the year 5 times in a row and eventually was made ineligible in order to let other guitarists win. By far the best guitarist EVER
Steve Vai OMG!! Need I say more
Dave Uhrich A good friend of mine who can do anything they can do….better
Frank Marino
Stevie Ray Vaughn great great blues guitarist who sadly died in his prime.

There are “better” guitarists but I had to include Frank Marino cause he just rocks like no one else!

DeanV's avatar

I’m partial to David Gilmour myself, not because of his technical skill (which wasn’t nearly as good as others mentioned here) but because of his innovative use of effects, something I really feel was groundbreaking in that era, something that’s really shaped current “great” guitarists.
Plus, he’s still considered one of the best guitarists of all time when he doesn’t even play for the whole song in most Pink Floyd songs. Often times he’s just there for the solos and he still makes lists like these.

Truthfully, I don’t really like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani because they just seem kinda flat and boring after you pick your jaw off the floor after how fast they’re playing. Sure it’s fast, but it doesn’t really have a whole lot of melodic merit, in my opinion.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I like Stevie Ray Vaughan,Eric Clapton,Eddie Van Halen,David Gilmore and Carlos Santana ;)
My choices don’t have much to do with technical skill.I like them for the way the music makes me feel

zenele's avatar

I can’t think of any to add to the many listed already – except for the oft-forgotten and brilliant Mark Knopfler.

Seek's avatar

This question is impossible to answer.

How could one choose five? or ten? or a hundred? There will always be some key innovator left out.

I couldn’t even do five metal guitarists, five blues guitarists, or five classical guitarists.

For example, looking at everyone that’s been mentioned, where are Andres Segovia and Jeff Healey? Where is Robert Johnson? Dimebag? I could probably list a hundred names, and still not get everyone that deserves to be mentioned as one of the greats.

Cruiser's avatar

@dverhey For the Love of God by S Vai is one of the more emotive guitar outings I have ever heard. Sure it is all effects but the way he masters this technology is why it is there to create the incredible sonic landscapes in a way that has made Steve famous.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

I don’t really have a top 5, but I’ll throw Kaki King into the mix. Since everyone else is listing only men. (She was after all, in Rolling Stones list of Guitar Gods)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Classical – Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening, Ida Presti, John Williams
Popular – Django Reinhardt, Syd Barrett, Eric Clapton, Dave Gilmour, Charlie Christian

Cruiser's avatar

@rpmpseudonym I had never heard Kaki King playing before and pretty exciting stuff! I swear should could have been a finger double for the guitar playing in the movie August Rush, same slap open finger picking style from the movie….very cool!!

(I just searched it and she was the guitar stunt double in the movie!)

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@Cruiser It saddens me a little, that even though she wrote & played that stunning music for the movie, she didn’t get a lot of recognition for it. She really is one hell of a guitar player.

Cruiser's avatar

@rpmpseudonym I look at those moments in the opposite as I am sure it got her a ton of recognition she otherwise would not have had. Her amazing playing and writing style is what made that movie so special for me…it was unique and unlike anything I had heard before and very emotional from within playing. Way cool!

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

For anyone interested in watching her play, here she is playing for TED. She talks in the beginning – amazing guitar playing kicks in at about 1 minute in.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

With all due respect to the people that can play guitar all while spinning plates on sticks,juggling fire balls, and walking a tightrope with a large mother-in-law strapped to their back,,I am now leaning towards the mindset that there is beauty in simplicity and I favor that most of all

Cruiser's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille With all due respect to your really “OK” guitarists who all cut their teeth on the greats like Lightning Hopkins and Robert Johnson, butt the really great guitarist are the ones without heroine or cocaine addictions to fuel their haze induced 6 string meanderings like MI great Ted Nugent!! If you aren’t shooting flaming arrows at your guitar…you ain’t playing!! ;))

Randy's avatar

There are a few names here that I feel don’t deserve to be. But, so is life. I guess that’s why best is an opinionated ordeal. Here’s a quick rundown of my top five and a few links to give you a taste.

1. Brian Carroll, better known as Buckethead. Buckethead’s music is a mix of melodic, sometimes calming sounds mixed with speed riffs that are surprisingly clean. The man writes most of his music himself including drum/beats, bass, banjo, keyboard and of course, guitar. His stage persona has been described as odd and fascinating but it fits his styles of music. And yes… He WROTE and still PERFORMS the Power Rangers Theme Song. If that doesn’t tip the scales, then I don’t know what will.

2. Alexi Laiho. Alexi is from Children of Bodom, a band that I don’t listen to much of. They’re Finish metal and I have to be in the right mood to get into their stuff but Alexi can rip up the guitar. He’s is one of the fastest guitarists on the planet, hands down. You can catch him magazines and on videos almost constantly. It’s pretty ridiculous. Even if you don’t like his style, you have to respect the man for his dedication and what he can do.

3. Brent Hinds. Brent is the lead guitarist for the prog-metal band Mastodon. He started out playing the banjo and when he picked up a guitar, his banjo playing carried over to give him his signature style. He isn’t the fastest and he’s not always the cleanest but his riffs are pretty interesting. His picking often emulates the finger picking roll patterns that are found in banjo playing. That mixed with the rest of his band mates somewhat odd, offbeat styles and a strong work ethic have lead Mastodon to their current popularity.

4. Brian Elwin Haner, Jr. aka Synyster Gates. I can’t stand the band that he plays for, Avenge Sevenfold, but he is a skilled and trained musician. He has his own style that he lightly based of the video game series Castlevania. When you hear him, you know it’s him. The video starts getting good at about 1:35.

5.Kyle Gass. Kyle is fat, he’s bald, he’s goofy AND he rips! He’s an actor as well. He can do pretty much anything I suppose. The thing I really like about Kyle’s style is that he plays an acoustic guitar 99% of the time. He shreds on strings that are almost ⅓ thicker than anyone else on this list. For those of you that don’t play guitar, that’s pretty impressive. Not to mention, the tension on his strings is tighter. Skip ahead to about 2:06 to hear Kyle start to get into it.

Most of my favorite guitarist are metal guitarists of some kind or have a back ground that puts them in touch with it somewhere. I like a bit of everything musically but metal guitar just seems to stand out among most other genres.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Cruiser -I’ll still take simplicity and talent over bullshit showmanship in a pair of “pleather” package pants. ;)

El_Cadejo's avatar


By far the greatest guitarist. His range of music is just so expansive. From soothing stuff like this to to retardedly fast solos with lots of tapping and then to some melodic tunes with solos that really seem to take you places.


Ive seen him live 4 times now. His shows are quite amazing as randy alluded to. He isnt like other performers with the jumpin around stage and all that stuff. He is a giant robot. god damn he is good at the robot too He goes nuts with nunchuks in one hand while playing some insane solo with the other. And he always gives out toys to the crowd. I almost got a batman toy from him once which would have been amazing but some asshole ripped it from my hand :(. I also love that during his shows he will just segue into random songs.
@Randy he played the power rangers theme two of the times ive seen him :)

Cruiser's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Are you dissing Frank Zappa in his white pleather pants??? Blasphemy!! ;0

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Cruiser -Those pants weren’t pleather but they did mess my mind up!and not necessarily in a bad way ;)

Randy's avatar

@uberbatman No doubt the best! I had to think about most of my list but when I read the question, I knew Buckethead had to be number one on mine. I’m super jealous that you’ve seen him! I haven’t had a chance yet but I hope to!

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Randy if it ever presents itself, GO. Its sooooooooo worth it and he usually plays for like 2 hours. He has been touring with That1Guy for a while now too which makes for an awesome show.

stardust's avatar

I’d like to add Rory Gallagher to the mix.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Stardust-Yes!—how could I forget this
if you don’t feel this,you’re dead!
Woooo hoooo! :)

stardust's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille What a man, eh! Loved it :)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@stardust -No pleather pants on that man! :)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@dverhey One of the reasons I love Satriani is because he doesn’t seem to feel he has to play fast, unlike the boys from Dragonforce and a lot of Impellitteri’s work. The opening lines to Surfing with the Alien show this beautifully – he’s not exactly shredding, but it just sounds great.

Seek's avatar


I’ve written characters to my stories based on songs in “Surfing With the Alien”. Beautiful, beautiful album.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I regard it as a modern Chopin. I find his music technically brilliant, but also relaxing and one of the most aesthetically beautiful works of music I know. I’d love to read some of those stories!

Seek's avatar

^_^ I base a lot of my characters on pieces of music. My favorite one is based on a Bill Douglas piece called “Windhorse”. The one from Surfing with the Alien is based on “Always with me, Always with you”. She’s new, but quickly becoming close to my heart.

boffin's avatar

Terry Kath ~ Chicago
Steve Howe ~ Yes
Mason Williams ~ Mason Williams
Andres Segovia ~ Andres Segovia
Jeff Beck ~ The Jeff Beck Group

Harold's avatar

Steve Lukather, Marc Tremonti, Joe Satriani, Carlos Santana, Jon Petrucci. Why? I wish I could play like them, and love their music.

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