Best Metal Guitarists

The Top TenXW

1Dave Mustaine

Dave was one of the pioneers of metal. His invention of the spider rhythm technique and his blistering solos inspired a generation. His solos are inventive, melodic and suit the songs perfectly. Dave has got to be the king!

Dave Mustaine is truly talented and truly the best. Most people forget that not only is he playing masterpieces, but he is also singing. He is WAY BETTER than Kirk Hammett. Kirk is better at playing other people's songs than his own. But Dave is better on his own AND other people's songs. Dave should be number one. No doubt about it. I bet if Metallica didn't kick out Dave, they wouldn't have any challenge. They would be a mono

Mustaine puts so much energy into his riffs, you can't deny he's one of the best. His solos blow your mind with his technical playing style.

You can't find someone better than this living legend.

V275 Comments
2Dimebag Darrell

dimebag should be number 1 no other guitarist can do or could do what he did he's the best end of story

Dimebag saved Heavy Metal.. Literally! More than once, with PanterA!
Even Dave Mustaine wanted him in Megadeth..
Kirk is just good.. Without the wah wah pedal, he would be nothing! James Hetfield is better than Kirk!

You just can't say anything bad about him, he had every thing, he could play fast techniques like no one could, and seriously I never heard someone play with so much feel.
Rip dimebag the best guitarist ever was we all love and miss you

A god. And the reason I didn't drop my guitar when things got difficult.

V173 Comments
3Tony Iommi

Acts such as Cream, King Crimson, and Blue Cheer helped reshape rock music. However, it was not until Black Sabbath's arrival onto the budding heavy rock scene that the face of music would be changed forever. Tony Iommi took the blueprint set before by other musicians and added heavier distortion, lightning-fast solos, and killer riffs. Mixed with the gloomy and depressive lyrics of Geezer Butler (Geezer also gets credit for being one of the most creative bass players in heavy metal history), the wailing vocals of Ozzy Osbourne, and the pummeling drumming of Bill Ward the result was that of an unorthodox rock machine that favored dark topics of obscure over the optimism of the hippy-era. And the driving force behind the band's songs were Iommi's riffs.

Songs featuring notable riffs of Iommi: Black Sabbath, N. I. B. , War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Sweet Leaf, Children of the Grave, Lord of this World, Into the Void, Wheels of Confusion, Supernaut, Snowblind, ...more

The fact that Tony Iommi and his sledgehammer riffs aren't at the top of this list is practically spitting in the face of heavy metal. Iommi and his guitar practically created heavy metal. Any guitarist on this list would more than likely say Iommi influenced them in one way or another. - ybothermatt

He may should be higher up. As far as riffs, nobody wrote heavier riffs until dimebag Darrell came around in 1990 he single handedly made metal what it is today and his influence on the entire metal genre will never be denied, that being said. He was not a great lead player, and as far as the slowly building epics I have not heard any that really stuck out enough to crush me. Still iommi as a player and an influence brought him this high and possibly deserving of a higher spot above tremonti and wylde.

Finally Tony is getting closer to where he belongs, Tony Iommi is truly God of heavy music and should be number 1

V71 Comments
4Kirk Hammett

He rocks when plays guitar. He plays leading over and above our expectations that makes us proud that we are his fans. When he plays fade to black, nothing else matters, I like his style of playing guitar lead whether he taps or treks. Fade to black lead is one f my favorite leads he have played. His Esp guitar is very rocking. I also like his hair style. I think nobody can stand in front of him, when he performs.

Maybe not the fastest or the most technical guitar player arround. But Kirk is a great composer and he plays with lots of feeling, passion and dedication. He really mean what he's playing!

He also has a strong personality and he plays the music he want, the way he want, respecting his own style, no matter what other people say.
Thats the true spirit of metal!

Kirk Hammett joined Metallica in 1983 when Dave Mustaine was kicked out of the band because of his aggressive behaviour and drug abuse... Known for his confidence and passion while playing, Kirk always uses wah-wah pedal in his solos leaving everyone amazed and jealous of him... Although playing with less technique than Dave Mustaine but with more certainty and dedication, Kirk is considered to be much better than Dave... LOVE YOU MY MASTER

If Metallica wasn't made the fade to black kirk would be nothing but because of that song he should be in top 10

V183 Comments
5Randy Rhoads

He's the best. Those two at the top are metal Gods but more so with a complete band this is about best guitarist. You're confusing the two.

This just demonstrates the folly of democracy. Either those who have voted for other guitarists have not listened to Randy Rhoads, or have rooted themselves in denial that any guitarist outside their obscure (probably destructive) taste could be any good. Randy Rhoads is the best metal guitarist because he doesn't play metal for the sake of metal. He plays music for the sake of music, and luckily for metalheads, he just happens to play metal. Maybe other guitarists are better at playing pretentiously technical arrangements on guitar in a metal format, but none are better at playing music in a metal format... Than the legendary Randy Rhoads.

Randy Rhoads could have use Kirk, Mustaine and Gates as his guitar pick

They are good. But, Randy is GOD...

He kicks the ass of Zakk wild

V89 Comments
6Marty Friedman

If we would play a mindgame and say Friedman would have been in Metallica and Hammett would have been the lead guitarist in Megadeth than Marty would be on top with a rate of maybe 40% maybe less maybe more neverless doesn't matter, but he would be for sure on top. And if Kirk Hammett would be at Megadeth. It could have been the way that nearly no one even had voted for him. What I want to say is that Kirk just benefits in his votes by being a part of Metallica while Friedman isn't appreciated so much, even though his lead play is unique and way more harder to copy. I play the electric guitar for 19 years now and I am playing a lot of Solos of both bands, but when I play Martys solos I have to practice parts of them so often because they contain a way of playing you can't just learn like a typical solo, ok hard to explain here for a non solo guitarist, but I can tell you I am very very good in guitar playing and it is still so hard for me to learn martys solos, because your fingers ...more

Marty Friedman can kick all of their ass. 'Cause he has really a awesome technique. He can play fast and meaningful solos with no mistake

Mustaine the best metal guitarist? Far from it. He isn't even the best in his own band.

And I love Metallica (still my favorite of the "big 4" but Marty Friedman is a better guitarist than Kirk Hammet. - Chris-1

I absolutely love his work with Megadeth, but his early work with Jason Becker is truly incredible. I honestly feel that if Jason could still play today he'd be higher than Marty.

V34 Comments
7John Petrucci

Hands down the best Guitarist on this list easily! Kurt Hammett at #1? What a joke... He couldn't stand toe to toe with John Petrucci on Kurts best day and John sick with the flu in bed!

All in one... this man is an monster... No one here even close! he has study, feeling, experience and technics... all in one definitely

This guy play anything! He's probably the one who have the best technique.

Absolutely the most technical and fastest on this list. I guess some people just don't have a clue of what makes a great guitarist

V133 Comments
8Chuck Schuldiner

Synsyter Gates? Really? All those solos are like the same, only fast shredding, no creativity, no meaning of the solo, nothing. Chuck Schuldiner should be at least in the top five, his solos are legendary and memorable. Listen to solos in the symbolic album for instance (crystal mountain, misanthrope etc)

Chuck needs to be at least in the top 10 he may not be the best shredder like Randy Rhoads but his songwriting is unmatched. I'm sick of these posers who think sinister gates is a god at everything on a guitar and for the record avenged sevenfold isn't even a metal band.

Why is Chuck not at least number ten? He might not have sold as well as Metallica or Megadeth, but his legacy was HUGE! He may have single-handedly created the entire Death Metal genre, thus inspiring countless musicians, including myself.
His writing and playing skill was no joke either. - chrisseafoodfu

He should be at #1 he is the best metal guitarist EVER

V50 Comments
9James Hetfield

this is totally unfair, james wrote all metallica's guitar parts and kirk just stood on stage and only played guitar solos

I like James the best because he comes up with legendary riffs and he can still play amazing solos even though he isn't the lead guitarist. He plays the ballad solo in to live is to die, the bluesy solo in master of puppets, the last solo in one and harmonizes with kirk in a lot of other songs.

If anyone on this list actually heard him play hard wasn't playing his usual backup, Then he would have made the list. I've heard him let loose and he's one hell of a guitar player. Remember, its not about how fast you can play, its about what you play and how intricate it is. Not only did he write most of the riffs for his music but he has an agreement with his manager that he MUST be recorded whenever he picks up a guitar, because of his creativity and natural talent he always comes up with new material every time he plays.

I like James just as much as the next person but the best? NOT

V42 Comments
10Dave Murray

This guy can play! That's the main thing you need to know... - kameel

Dave Murray should have been replaced with dave mustaine. It is sure that Iron Maiden is one of the best metal band of all time. Also known as NWOBHM. And the guitarists play the main role in metal songs. Dave Murray is a hero.

It's not about being the fastest, or heaviest guitar player. Rhodes would probably get my pick for best player of his time, but if you're talking longevity, there are not many that can compete with Murray for his amazing technical skill and memorable riffs. Not only that, but to be that consistently great for over 3 decades of kick-ass metal, is outstanding and noteworthy in its own right.

Dave is simply a VERY UNDErrated GUITARIST

V44 Comments

The Newcomers

?Fred Gorhau

Outstanding mixture of melodic rock and interesting lead guitar!

?Aaron Marshall

Highly creative and a technical wizard. His ear for melodies and ability to turn them into mind-numbingly amazing music should place him very high on this list.

The Contenders

11Synyster Gates

He's the most talented guitarist on the planet who has achieved this huge spot in a very young age. I bet in the upcoming few years he will be the number one in the greatest guitarists ever as he is number one in best metal/rock guitarist. His solos are full of feelings and creativity. This century has come for him.
Additionally, he is the most good looking guitarist ever... No offense!

If I'd make a list syn wouldn't be in top 10. He is not bad, he is just not "the best" glenn tipton or darrell deserves the title. Best guitarist ever is jimmy page or David gilmour.

He playing very good in no matter type of music such as acoustic, solo, metal, rock and etc... He can play it better...

... Dave and kirk plays greatly, yet this guy can play better... Try listening to any song by the avenged sevenfold.. All have great instrumentals..

Who is he?

it is shame to have this in your list

V220 Comments
12Alexi Laiho

Hey, whoever made this is kind of stupid I guess. Alexi and all the guitar player listed here are just like listed the lord and slaves. He alexi are far higher than all of them.

Just go and watch cob live in Stockholm guys...
And for those who vote for kirk, go and read his interviews about the best guitarist of world! He himself said alexi.. Forgive me for my english

This one should be voted number 1 because alexi was really fast. Just listen the song : Needle 24 7, every time I die. It has very fast guitar shred

Great musician, Great guitarist

V99 Comments
13Adrian Smith

His melodic riffs make Maiden music the great metal materpieces that they are!

His solo in wasted years, alexander the great, caught somewhere in time, powerslave and countless others are more memorable than those played by Herman Li. Speed does not make you a great guitarist, it is the feel of the music that makes you great. P. S Kirk Hammett deserves top 5, Listen to Fade to Black. SMith and Murray should be in top 15 at least.

When Adrian Smith joined Iron Maiden, he formed a partnership with Dave Murray that became one of the most impressive yet underrated in metal history. The styles of the two guitarists formed the riffs and solos of some of the most influential and ground breaking songs in metal history - (Hallowed be Thy Name, The Trooper and Aces High) to name a few.

13th? He has the best solos in metal, great songwriter. Way too low on this "list".

V19 Comments

Even though he's NOT ACTUALLY A METAL GUITARIST he has an amazing sense of improvisation and melody, and sounds a hell of a lot better than the pick-thrashing that is played by metal artists nowadays

Slash is probably the best technician after Jimi Hendrix, and he is a important part of one of the best bands ever.. So, my vote goes to him.. My favorites are also Dimebag, Iommi and Hammet, though there are too many good guitar player, so in a probably in the next ten minutes I'll change my mind, and I'll say 'I forgot some excellent guitarist'.

The best guitarist is always and will always him. He Was AWESOME, no one can't beat him. He stunned us when he enter the fields.

Putting slash as no.12 is total madness

Agree, he's not even a metal guitarist and shouldn't be on this list! - Metal_Treasure

V31 Comments
15Jeff Hanneman

Jeff hanneman should be in the top 10 he wrote pretty much every song slayer has and he just really great I think Kerry is just a little overrated

85 you gotta be joking Hanneman is easily number two while Mustaine is number one

Jeff & King are in my top 10! Reign in blood is my all time favorite album!

He has amazing talent - RockStarr

V12 Comments
16Zakk Wylde

Few guitarists can take the pentatonic scale as far as zakk. Epics like no more tears and mama I'm coming home had just perfect solos. One thing he lacks with is grooving with a drummer. He seems to work more off a bass player, in other words the riffs aren't fun to listen to. Zakk has started slacking the last few years, but hell we all get old.. But his stage precense is unmatched by anyone. Rockstars typically are short so seeing a large muscular Viking is epic all by itself.

Zakk Wylde should be #1 on this list. Top 3 at the very least. For one thing, many guitarists mentioned don't play Metal! The poll clearly says Metal. If your talking greatest guitarists of all-time period, he's still top 10. In my opinion, in a guitar duel, Wylde can stand with anyone whose ever held a guitar.

zakk is the best guitarist of the world is fast & have the best sound - carlos

What? The crap that is synyster gates made it on the lists and zakk Wylde didn't! Whats the world coming to

V22 Comments
17Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page is the reason that most kids have picked up a guitar in the first place. He is the god of the fretboard, without denial. I think that he should easily be at #1!

I changed my mind as an atheist when I first heard Jimmy Page's guitar playing. Since then I believe in the god of guitars.

Jimmy is the best!

He's the best guitarist ever, but he isn't metal, so he doesn't belong here.

V11 Comments
18Steve Vai

Steve vai is one of the greatest legend guitarist of all time!
He is obvious amazing guitar hero in new generation and forever.
Nobody is compare with steve vai skills except his master joe satriani.

Steve Vai is one of those who has influenced me deeply. He is a God's incarnation. Nobody's skills are meant to be compared to his. His solos are just to incredible.

.. Best tone comming out of his fingers... Passion, creativity, control, shredding skills, humor.. All on highest level!

Absolute joke he is not number one he is the sole reason I picked up the guitar

V10 Comments
19Kerry King

This freaks me out that Kerry King isn't listed as one of the best guitarist in the world. Who plays faster, tighter, and cleaner than him. Whether you listen to him live or recorded you cannot tell the difference. Slayer has 3 of the best musicians in metal/thrash. King, Hannemin and Lombardo.

1. The speed he plays at is nothing compared to countless other guitarists, he doesn't even sweep pick 2. His solos are atonal and pretty much display no talent at all whatsoever, it is just him mindlessly moving his fingers while abusing his whammy

Slayers lead guitarist. I don't even know how they get through an entire set list at the rate they play. - DieForMetal555

Kerry King is a boss, he has executed some of the greatest riffs of all time.

Biggest inspiration when I started playing guitar

V9 Comments
20Alex Skolnick

Why is alex at 64? Definitely one of the most diverse guitarists out there, which shows from his soft metal, to death metal, to his jazz trio he is currently part of, not to mention being one of the lead guitarist for the philharmonic orchestra.. Testament!

This man is EVERYTHING a metal guitarist should be. Heavy, melodic, fast, precise, technically sound, innovative and a great song writer. He's way more enjoyable to listen to than many on this list, in my opinion.

Skolnick and Eric Peterson are both exceptional players of metal. Kirk Hammett is physically and mentally incapable of reaching the skill that Alex has incorporated in his time with Testament. - surgeonsanic

Can do it all, so accomplished. A master of his art, deserving of a much higher rating.

V7 Comments
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List StatsUpdated 1 Dec 2015

20,000 votes
241 listings
8 years, 319 days old

Top Remixes (82)

1. Adrian Smith
2. K.K. Downing
3. John Petrucci
1. Dave Mustaine
2. Jeff Hanneman
3. Dimebag Darrell
1. Dave Mustaine
2. Alex Skolnick
3. Marty Friedman

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