Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists


I'm in a band and I've played guitar for 25 years. Some thoughts about the list.

1 Jimi Hendrix - Can't argue with this. With his output cut short, he could have been much greater.
2 Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band - Cetainly the greatest slide guitarist ever. Another career cut short.
3 B.B. King - I assume he's this high because of influence and what he accomplished in a long career. Technically, he's got the blues chops but doesn't really waver much from that.
4 Eric Clapton - I probably differ in opinion from many, but to me, Clapton peaked on Dekek and the Dominos and his solo records have been spotty at best. He was great for a time but never really blows me away.
5 Robert Johnson - Blues legend. Recordings aren't very listenable. Created so much but relatively unheard. I have trouble with this only because he really wasn't as good as many below him but without him, they wouldn't exist.
6 Chuck Berry - Should be no. 1 in my opinion. Created rock and roll guitar. People still try to copy his licks.
7 Stevie Ray Vaughan - Many people differ on Stevie. Some call him a Hendrix rip off. Either way, he was certainly a phenomonal guitar player.
8 Ry Cooder - Played so many different instruments and in so many different styles, it tends to water down his influence. Great player.
9 Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin - Always thought him a bit sloppy. Came up with great riffs and the Stairway solo is probably one of the greatest of all time.
10 Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones - Not sure about this. Great rhythm guitar player. Great song writer. Great guitar player? I'd put him around 25.
11 Kirk Hammett of Metallica - Some great stuff. Some crappy stuff. Would I put him this high? Probably not. Master of Puppets is a great guitar album though.
12 Kurt Cobain of Nirvana - No way. Yes he started grunge and alternate music. Was NOT a great guitar player. Wrote great songs. Should be around 50.
13 Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead - Never been a fan of the Dead so I feel that might unfairly lower my opinion of Jerry. I like some stuff but I've never listened to a Dead song and had the guitar work jump out at me.
14 Jeff Beck - Great player. Small amount of impressive recorded work. Besides Blow by Blow, not a lot of listenable stuff.
15 Carlos Santana - Very good. Impressive output. A bit repetitive in solo work. Great feel player.
16 Johnny Ramone of the Ramones - Started punk rock in America. Great player? Since any guitar player can learn a Ramones song in about 2 minutes, I would disagree. Influential but not great.
17 Jack White of the White Stripes - I have no idea why he is on the list at all let alone this high. The fact that Eddie Van Halen is at 70 and Jack White is 17 is a travesty. Rolling Stone has a huge bias towards this group.
18 John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers - Good player. Fun licks. A little high but Rolling Stone had to put some names on here that some of their readers would recognize.
19 Richard Thompson - Good player that not alot of people have heard of. Hard to find his CDs as many are out of print.
20 James Burton - Country guitar picker. I haven't heard anything from him so I won't comment.
21 George Harrison - Way too high. Nice slide guitar player. Not a great guitarist.
22 Mike Bloomfield - Great blues player.
23 Warren Haynes - Joined the Allman Brothers in 1989. Nice player. A little high on the list.
24 The Edge of U2 - Hard for me to comment on Edge. Created a style of playing. Did some really nice stuff. Not a great solo player though.
25 Freddy King - Another early blues player.
26 Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave - Always thought every Rage song sounded exactly the same. Too high on the list.
27 Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits - Should be higher. Great style. Great solos. Amazing stuff.
28 Stephen Stills - Very good player. Doesn't show off a lot but has the chops. Some acoustic work is very complex.
29 Ron Asheton of the Stooges - Sigh. I guess he's here for the same reason the Johnny Ramone is here.
30 Buddy Guy - Great blues player.
31 Dick Dale - The King of Surf Guitar. Great player. One of the fastest ever.
32 John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service - Never heard any of their music. Can't comment.
33 & 34 Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth - Great at making feedback noises. Created a new guitar style.
35 John Fahey - Brilliant folk guitar player. Probably only about 10 guys on this list could even play his stuff.
36 Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG's - Played as a studio musician on countless records. Great solo player.
37 Bo Diddley - Blues innovator.
38 Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac - Haven't heard a lot of his stuff, but what I have was pretty good.
39 Brian May of Queen - Love his guitar work and sound. Amazing stuff. Should be way higher. Listen to the Sheer Heart Attack album (not the song) if you don't agree. Metalica even covered a song from it.
40 John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival - Swamp guitar at its finest.
41 Clarence White of the Byrds - Hard for me to pick out exactly what he played on the Byrds songs. Not sure about him.
42 Robert Fripp of King Crimson - Another group I never liked but he's obviously good.
43 Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic - Should be in the top 10. Equal to Hendrix.
44 Scotty Moore - Pioneer guitarist on many Elvis songs.
45 Frank Zappa - Should be in the top 10. Insane at 45. Half the guys above him couldn't play his stuff with a year of practice.
46 Les Paul - Most people only think of him as making the guitar. Was a great player also.
47 T-Bone Walker - Early blues player.
48 Joe Perry of Aerosmith - Some good stuff. Some stuff recorded while stoned and sounds horrible.
49 John McLaughlin - Influential jazz guitar player. Should be higher.
50 Pete Townshend - Created the windmill and some of the greatest guitar songs ever. Not a great soloist but should be higher.
51 Paul Kossoff of Free - Ok with this placement.
52 Lou Reed - I don't think even Lou Reed would put himself this high. Wrote some great songs though.
53 Mickey Baker - Early guitarist that played a lot of session work. Was on many big hits.
54 Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane - Love Jorma. Brilliant player. Should be higher. Solo work and Hot Tuna stuff better than Airplane songs.
55 Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple - Great soloist.
56 Tom Verlaine of Television - I like his stuff alot, especially the Matthew Sweet Girlfriend album.
57 Roy Buchanan - Great blues player.
58 Dickey Betts - Held his own with Duane Allman, I think that counts for higher than 58.
59 & 60 Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien of Radiohead - Here because the band is popular. I love Radiohead but not "greatest" guitar players.
61 Ike Turner - Not a fan.
62 Zoot Horn Rollo of the Magic Band - Played on Trout Mask replica. Not sure why here's on the list.
63 Danny Gatton - Virtuoso player, mostly rockabilly.
64 Mick Ronson - Played with Bowie and Ian Hunter. Not as well known as he should be.
65 Hubert Sumlin - Blues guitarist for Howlin' Wolf.
66 Vernon Reid of Living Colour - Really like his playing. Relatively short life span of the group affects his rating.
67 Link Wray - If you've seen a Quentin Tarantino movie, you've heard Link Wray.
68 Jerry Miller of Moby Grape - Moby Grape has some nice guitar work but I'd put 20 other guys on this list first.
69 Steve Howe of Yes - Should be way higher. Very complicated intricate guitar work.
70 Eddie Van Halen - Should be in the top 10. This is insane.
71 Lightnin' Hopkins - Early blues player.
72 Joni Mitchell - Very complicated player. Lots of strange tunings. Very melodic. Not a soloist though.
73 Trey Anastasio of Phish - I like Try a lot. Should be higher.
74 Johnny Winter - Should be in the top 20 or at least ahead of the other blues players. Great player.
75 Adam Jones of Tool - Like Tool's songs. Guitar never stood out to me. Guess i need to listen more closely.
76 Ali Farka Toure - West African player. Never heard of him. Can't comment.
77 Henry Vestine of Canned Heat - Uggh. Going to the Country is one of my all time least favorite songs. Maybe other stuff is good.
78 Robbie Robertson of the Band - Very underrated. Great "feel" guitarist. His guitar sounds searing on The Last Waltz. Should be higher.
79 Cliff Gallup of the Blue Caps - Played guitar for Gene Vincent (Bee Bop a Lula). Early impressive guitarist.
80 Robert Quine of the Voidoids - Also of Television. Like his work of Matthew Sweet's albums.
81 Derek Trucks - Nephew of Virgil. Competent player.
82 David Gilmour of Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb is one of the greatest solos ever. Should be way higher.
83 Neil Young - Not a great player but well known. I like his songs a lot but it doesn't make him one of the greatest 100 guitarists.
84 Eddie Cochran - Died early. Good pinoneer guitarist (Summertime Blues).
85 Randy Rhoads - Should be in the top 10. Amazing player. Died too young.
86 Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath - More of a riff player than known for solos. Probably why he's at 86.
87 Joan Jett - I have no idea why she's on this list. Where's Bonnie Raitt? She could play circles around Joan Jett. Looking good in leather pants gets you on the list I guess.
88 Dave Davies of the Kinks - I love the Kinks. Dave created some of the great early guitar styles.
89 D. Boon of the Minutemen - Haven't heard any of his stuff. Can't comment.
90 Glen Buxton of Alice Cooper - Very good player.
91 Robby Krieger of the Doors - Hate the Doors but respect Kreiger.
92 & 93 Fred "Sonic" Smith, Wayne Kramer of the MC5 - On here for one song - Kick Out The Jams.
94 Bert Jansch - Never heard his work.
95 Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine - Like Sonic Youth, the wall of distortion and sound. Not technically impressive.
96 Angus Young of AC/DC - He's better than you think.
97 Robert Randolph - Pedal Steel player. Have not heard him.
98 Leigh Stephens of Blue Cheer - ????
99 Greg Ginn of Black Flag - Good punk guitarist.
100 Kim Thayil of Soundgarden - Pretty good guitarist.

Thank you. Iron Maiden AND Judas Priest had great guitarists.

One song. Little Wing. The SRV version. Next thing. Kenny Wayne Sheppard. Way better than half this list.


Rolling Stone, what the hell is this? You call this a list? Here are my problems with this list:

1. Why aren't EVH, Gilmour, Rhodes and Young in the top 10? They're legends, for christ sake.

2. Why are Kurt Cobain and Jack White in the top 20? Cobain shouldn't be on the list (or in the 80s or 90s for his very catchy riffs). Same with White.

3. Some people here are dissing Frusciante and Morello. Frusciante is a fine guitarist, though I'd put him in the low 30s. When you strip away the special effects Tom Morello uses, you can here not only the great riffs, but some nice solos. Probably the low 30s as well.

4. Brian May should be in the top 20.

5. Eric Clapton shouldn't be that high. As the person said, he only has a few good solo albums, with noting sticking out guitar-wise really. though he should be top 20 because of Layla and what he did with Cream.

6. Zakk Wylde and Slash aren't on this list.

7. Neil Schon (Journey) and tom Scholz (Boston) aren't on the list.

8. The MC5 guitarists are on this list. Why? Kick out the jams was a good tune but really?

9. Replace Joan Jett with Bonnie Raitt. (or lita ford)

10. Not many people know this, but Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters is a damn good guitarist. He is one of the best, if not the best, guitarist of the last 20 years. He's not top 30 material, but dammit, he should be higher than the Radiohead guitarists (who are way too high to begin with). So maybe high 50s-low 60s for him.

11. Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) could be on this list too. He could be a little higher than where they put EVH.

12. If you're going to praise Adam Jones for his riffs in weird time signatures, then put him higher than 75.

13. Robert Johnson. I know he's on here because of the influence, but Les Paul would have been higher if that was the criteria. I'd put in at maybe 28.

there are too many things to point out about this list. But it's not the worst thing i've seen (Like a Rolling Stone and Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones for their 500 greatest songs is despicable). But Rolling Stone, can you please stop making lists? thank you.

My apologies. I forgot about The Edge. Move him into the 80s. And for those of you who don't know who Chris Shiflett is, listen to all of the Foos records AFTER There is Nothing Left to Lose. There are nice riffs and solo here and there. And you can listen to his side project Jackson United. He does a lot of solos there and they are NICE.

John Mayer, Joe bonamassa where are they? Probably the best two guitarists at this moment, if you don't agree with Mayer watch him on YouTube! You will agree! Everyone saying where's slash? He is the most overrated guitarist ever (except the edge!) he uses so much distortion and makes so many mistakes that you can't hear be because of the amount of distortion he uses! Saw ZZ Top with John Mayer and slash, John Mayer killed him! Stevie Ray should be higher than seventh aswell! Incredible player!

Oh another point I came across. Kurt Cobain is probably the worst guitarist of the major bands of the era. If you put him on there you need Mike McCready, Kim Thayil, Jerry Cantrell, Dean DeLeo(STP same era different area), Rich Robinson(again same era different area). Where are they Rolling Stone? Just because they aren't dead and mediocre? Be realistic if he's on this list then where is the due credit. Billy Corgan(same era) all way way way way way way better than Kurt. I used to drive through Aberdeen every day. It sucks.

Wait, wait...where's Nokie Edwards of the Ventures? Come on!

only just joined and have with a smile looked read and listened to most ideas on and not on list . we all know r/s is very biased and journalistic in its compiling . never saw hendrix live. but i have had the pleasure of seeing albert lee and ollie halsall play they were good.
and roy buchanan is one of best 2

I guess we can all agree that Rolling Stones list is really poorly put together.

Been reading thru the comments and we can also probably agree we choose the players we like to listen to.

I'm surprised I didnt see any posts mentioning Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa and Robben Ford and so many others - especially jazz players(havent read all of the posts yet).

I love Clapton but I think he's too high up on the list.

Kurt Cobain LOL!!!!!!

Wow -- I'm shocked Alvin Lee is right up there in the top 5 (fastest fingers in the East, I'm Going Home at Woodstock rocked and his "Pure Blues" is the cleanist guitar playing I've ever seen and I have seen the best, most of the ones on here. I saw Hendrix and he's good but not as good as Lee and some of the others you have mentioned. How about Phil Keagy? Hendrix said he was the best. How about Roy Clark, I'm prejudiced because he's my cousin, I saw him play flamenco at a wedding once and I was mesmerized, I couldn't move. How about the Edge and you are kidding me about Ike Turner -- what a joke. Clapton should be a little lower but in person in a coffee shop in Bel Air, CA, you should have been there. How Ron Wood? Why do you think the Stones talked him away from Rod Stewart and who replaced Jeff Beck? Clarence Gatemouth Brown? Albert Collins? I saw Rory Gallagher -- nothing to write home about!

Yeah, Alvin Lee is super.

Forgot Danny Kirwan and 2 new comers: Aynsley Lister and Guthrie Govan.

Not sure if I'm more suprized as to who is on the list or who isn't on the list.

Typical rolling stone. I can't believe they would dare to put Jack white and Kurt cobain higher than EVH and Angus young. Those fools don't even come close to even be considered as rock gods. Thor will smote thee rolling stone!!

these lists are always so arbitrary. There are so many relatively unknown (or entirely unknown) phenomenal muscicians around. Two guitarists among the best I've ever heard , Dave Natchmanoff, travels with Al Stewart as a duet team in small venues 200-400 people, throughout NA and Europe playing Al's hits from his rock band days. A great show, worth looking for and attending, Al (a fairly scookum guitarist himself) spends a lot of the time on stage just sitting back and enjoying Dave's guitar along with the audience. Dave was discovered and introduced to Al by Pete White while teaching at U of C Davis campus by playing the odd local gig. His own music is not my fave, nor his piano, but his guitar is up there with the best and very versatile.
A band that was big around Hamilton and Toronto in the 80's , The Minstrel's, whom's music was picked up by Sony and sadly Sony did nothing with it, totally messing up the bands potential career, had a guitarist I would describe as a heavy metal Dick Dale , Dave Evans (not the Australian Dave Evans). Unfortunately because of the timeing and the control by Sony, their music is not on the internet and extremely obscure. Dave is also just a generally talented guy, he is a make-up artist, one of a crew that did the rebuilding scene of Jason in 'Freddie versus Jason' film and also a reasonable drummer, comedian, and voice artist.

how do you put buddy guy at 30 and just call him a blues guitarist and put jimmi hendrix at 1 when jimmi hendrix learn all his licks and stage presence from watching buddy guy learn your history wouldnt be a jimmi without buddy even eric clapton learn from buddy guy and calls him the best

Never played guitar but that's beside the point. I've paid my dues and been to many concerts and have seen the best. My only question here is have none of you ever heard of Joe Bonamassa? Go google him and come back and find a place on your top 10 list for this guy. He has played all over the country side including "Royal Albert Hall" in London and Vienna Opera House to mention just a couple of places. (They don't let just anyone play there" He started professionally when he was 4, he's 36 now and in his prime. He writes most of his own music and can jam with the best. A couple of his good friends are B.B. and Eric Clapton. I was a big fan for many years of SRV and this guy took his place. You owe it to yourself to check him out!

Joe Bonamassa. Why isn't he on the list somewhere? Either Rolling Stoned hasn't heard or heard of him or they are totally ignorant! Period!

What about, Pat Travers, Tony Joe White. Or Billy Powell, of Wish Bone Ash.

Jimi Hendrix considered Terry Kath of Chicago one of the top 5 guitarists of the time, and he doesn't make the top 100? Have you heard him play? He did die young, but actually had more time in than Hendrix. He was outstanding technically and musically.

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I agree that a lot of these names were on the wrong end of the list. I am no expert and don't play guitar, but I know what I like. A lot of deserving guitarist were left off entirely. I guess Rolling Stone had to please all of their potential readers.

I think Stevie Ray was awesome & don't agree with the analysis of the original poster. He had the sound!

Buddy Guy should have been higher.

Why wasn't Chuck Berry higher? He started it all as mentioned.

Jimmy Page was on the right end of the list by me!

I agree that Van Halen and Mark Knopfler were about as good as it got in the late 70s and the 80s, as far as new, emerging players went. Van Halen was ranked way too low.

Ever heard the early Queen stuff, especially on the firt album? There was some fantastic playing! Brian May is overlooked by too many in the industry. He was very talented.

Skynrd didn't have a decent picker? Yeah right!

David Gilmore #82? What???!!!

I guess the Rolling Stone ranker lost site of his goal of properly guaging talent early on.
What a list of the 100 best guitarists means to me is: Greatest guitarist=greatest technical practitioner of the instrument. It doesn't necessarily mean most important contributor to a certain style of rock and roll.

This list had to step on a lot of toes. I don't think it probably made Rolling Stone very many friends way back when.

Not only is Walter Becker not on this list. Anyone not having him in their top 10 needs to stop listening to music, and try to enjoy an alternative form of art :-)

Unless I missed a few, they missed a lot. I listen to a lot of different music, sooooo, Robert Johnson, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Gaines, Brad Paisley,Billy Gibbons. I think on the top ten, too many people that aren't musicians, go by the music they like, what others say, and solos. Personally, I would hate to be judged by something that I get to practice for hours and hours. There was a guy in the UK that Jimmy Page said taught him a lot, but he was never high profile. He was strictly sessions. He played guitar on all James Bond movies, Vic Flick. Also I could have missed it but I don't think that you can have Buddy Guy that low. He influenced too many people. I also think Leo Kotke and Joe Bonamasso and Nils Lofgrin should be on it. Now to piss of everyone.. I can't give somebody a left handed guitar and they can't play it and give them a piece of music and they can't read it the number one spot. He was the most innovative, except he copied Buddy Guy. I can't remember him playing any acoustic. If this was my list, I couldn't do it.It should be complete body of work in a career. That's just my thinking. Did I mention Steve Gaines or Chet Atkins?

I didn't see a couple on the list. I guess this is the wrong way to look at it but even a solo artist is a member of a band. If they didn''t do the fundamentals and just did look at me solos, they would suck.How good is a guitar without a bass> Pretty soon it would get boring. It all comes down to what we like to listen to. Personally, I think they do the list to piss us off. There has to be a classic guitar on the list, not acoustic. I mean like you would hear in Mexico. I know People over look this but having played for 60 years, I like to think that people that play several instruments are usually damn good musicians so if they concentrated on one instrument, maybe we don't hear what they can do. They completely overlook rhythm guitars. To completely overlook country, even if it is a rock magazine show narrow mindedness and a true lack of musical knowledge. There are probably great players that are completely overlooked. List are pretty much someone's opinion that isn't even in the field he critiques. Personally the one I can't see is Cobain and missing Alvin Lee and Mason Williams.

I'm not a guitarist myself, but over the years I've been lucky enough to see Jimmy Vaughan (Stevie's brother) and Steve Morse of Dixie Dregs. I'm surprised they didn't make the top 100.

Angus should be way higher but Malcolm should be up there too, way under-rated, and way better than Richards, by his ( Keiths) own admission.

No Buckethead... haaaaaa. Worst list ever made. He is known for shredding, but the guy can play literally anything extremely well. No Doyle Dykes... wow. Eddie Hazel should easily be top 20... So should Trey Anastasio. David Gilmour is amazing... wtf. Django Reindhart... countless artists name him as one of their biggest influences... the guy had a crippled hand and could play better than 75% of the people on this list. Darrell Abott deserves to be on here somewhere. Tosin Abasi is absolutely incredible... even though his style is way out there, watching him destroy and 8 string is incredible. Erik Mongrain is an amazing player in his own right... I would love to see someone like him or Keller Williams on this list for ripping tap guitar.