Friday, May 27, 2011

Best Guitar Players of All Time

This post is likely to spark much debate but I want to preface this list as being a personal opinion and it is not based on record sales, other lists or criteria. Purely subjective this list was put together based upon my exposure to a broad selection of music I've been listening to from the early sixties to today.

WL Blog Uno Best Guitar Players of All Time List Number 1
(In No Particular Order or Ranking)
Quotations of Note (Not a Pun!)

Django Reinhart - Belgian Gypsy Jazz Guitarist Extraordinaire, one of the original guitar masters to play in the 40s and 50s.

Chet Atkins - The original Certified Guitar Player, Nashville A and R Exec and Fingerpicking legend - discovered and signed Charley Pride. Gracious and one of the best mentors a young guitar player could ever have, he personally wrote back to every fan who sent him a letter and amongst those very early fans (we're talking age 6 or 7) were Mark Knopfler and Tommy Emmanuel, who both got to play and record albums with Chet before he passed away. One of the most unselfish guys in the music business and deserves a lot of the credit for discovering and helping new guitar talent emerge in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Imagine -Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler

Les Paul - Inventor of the Multitrack recorder, the "Log" first solid body electric guitar with pick-ups. Les is credited with so many electric guitar and studio recording inventions that most every famous musician playing the electric guitar has credited given credit to Paul. He was also Steve Millers godfather, and taught him how to play guitar when he was 5 years old. Les was an accomplished jazz guitar player and wrote and produced many songs commercial jingles in the 1940s and 1850s with his then wife Mary Ford. He had a big hit with How High the Moon.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Les Paul 

Jimi Hendrix - Army veteran emerges and becomes guitar god that blows away Clapton and Townshend as soon as he emerged on the Rock scene. Stephen Stills was offered the bass player position in Jimi's band but turned it down but remained good friends with Jimi.

Jimmy Page - Led Zeppelin lead guitarist, The band dominated the rock scene in the seventies. All of their albums were electric and acoustic guitar rock masterpieces. Mandatory viewing for Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page fans is the recent DVD, It Might Get Loud. Very nice interchange and insight into his roots and music along with similar profile son The Edge (U2) and Jack White.

Tommy Emmanuel - One of the best fingerstyle guitarists in the world, finally getting the press and acclaim that is long overdue.

Tommy Emmanuel playing Classical Gas

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Tommy Tedesco - If you are a child of the sixties seventies or eighties you heard Tommy's guitars on most TV them song shows or Top 10 Pop Rock Hits of the day, a vested member of the "Wrecking Crew"

Larry Carlton - Mr 335 and the session musician that did a lot of the behind the scenes arrangement and stellar guitar lead performances for Steely Dan in the late 70s and eighties.He is also a studio recording legend and a stellar solo performing artist who also did some amazing work in the Crusaders and in Bob James group Fourplay. Also won a Grammy for composing and performing the theme for the TV Series Hill Street Blues. He is an extremely talented music composer, arranger and performer.

Josie - Larry Carlton at EC Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004

Danny Gatton - one of the most talented Fender Telecaster players ever. Passed away at the height of his career. He was at the verge of breaking through.

One Way Rider - Albert Lee, Danny Gatton and Vince Gill

Jeff Baxter - Most known for his early work as a member of the original Steely Dan, he contributed to most of the early hits with searing and catchy guitar licks and went on to join the Doobie Brothers. Jeff is also a DOD Department of Defense consultant and has been a major contributor to the "Star Wars" Space defence missile attack system. He is a neighbor and good friend of Senator Dana Rohrabacher.

Reelin' In The Years- Jeff "Skunk" Baxter

Pete Huttlinger - One of the best fingerstyle artists playing today. His technical mastery of the guitar is amazing and he has transcribed and written many guitar lesson books

Fingerstyle Guitar Players of the Highest Caliber play guitars made by Collings Guitars which is based in Austin , Texas. They are one of a handful of US Guitar manufacturers that still hand builds guitars in the US.

Zachary Breaux - Just as he was breaking through as one of the best Jazz guitarists and heralded as the new Wes Montgomery he rescued a woman from drowning in Florida but lost his life drowning after saving the woman. Died at the age of 34.

Lee Ritenour

Chuck Loeb - Just inherited the Lead Guitar Chair at Fourplay filling some big shoes as Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour respectively played Lead Guitar for that stellar Jazz group. A terrific Jazz Guitarist and a local boy who was raised in Nyack, New York a town just north of New Jersy on the Hudson River in Rockland County, a suburb of New York. Bob James knows how to pick them.

Chuck Loeb Playing Autumn Leaves

Quotations of Note:

"listen to Buddy Guy playing with Junior Wells to learn how to play funky and with restraint" Late Sixties - Walter Becker

Do You Have GAS*?*Guitar Acquisition Syndrome

Laurindo Almeida
John Williams
Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler Interview with Jeff Skunk Baxter

Solid Rock: Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits live at Knebworth 1990

Keith Richards

Tumblin' Dice - Rolling Stones Keith Richards

Brian Setzer - Stray Cats Alumnus, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Now resides in Minneapolis not far from Prince's recording studios.

Pete Townshend

Won't Get Fooled Again (Acoustic Version) Pete Townshend

Eric Clapton

Tearing' Us Apart  Live at Knebworth 1990 Eric Clapton

George Harrison

Carol Kaye - One of the greatest living Bass players male or female and an original member of the famous Wrecking Crew, she played on most of the Beach Boys, Association, and Monkees albums in the 1950s.

Roy Clark
Al DiMeola
George Benson
Earl Klugh
Steve Khan
Jay Graydon

 Josie Electric Guitar Solo - Jay Graydon

Rick Derringer

Denny Dias - Dyed in the wool jazz guitarist and founding member of Steely Dan. Contributed many lead guitar parts to hit Steely Dan songs. Denny has embarked on a second career as a software programmer working int he LA area. He performs from timt to time at benefit concerts and at venues when Steely Dan is performing in LA.

Elliot Randall

 Reelin' In The Years Elliot Randall

Jan Akkerman
John McLaughlin
Carlos Santana
Jerry Garcia
Jorma Kaukonen
Frank Zappa
Louie Shelton
John Entwistle

The Real Me (Quadrophenia) - John Entwistle

Dean Parks
Pat Martino
Vince Gill
Buck Owens
John Fogerty
Mike Campbell
Jon Herrington

Jon Herington - Ampli Tube Demo - Steely Dan Touring Lead Guitarist


  1. Guitar playing is both a skill and a style which opens the door to a lot of debate. Hard to argue with your list although I would love to see the consideration for the addition of:

    Jan Akkerman - Dutch master guitarist and lead guitar for the rock group Focus from the 70's. Since then he has just got better

    John McLaughlin - famed Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shaki, and overall great jazz guitarist.

  2. The number of guitar players have increased and so is the kind of music that they play but those with unique talents will always be remembered. The list provided in this post is impressive. Thanks for sharing!