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.

Probably he is the best out here. He kicked out from Metallica one of the best band in the history and then he found megadeth one of the best band in the history. And megadeth is way better than Metallica.

V263 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

The Jesus of metal. Without him, metal wouldn't exist today and would be forgotten. Metallica fell flat and iron Maiden had been getting old so then Pantera comes and kicks everyone ASS!

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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, Under the Sun, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, A National Acrobat, Hole in the Sky, Symptom of the Universe, Megalomania, etc.

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

This guy and Black sabbath basically created metal. During Sabbath's early days, Iommi realized that people payed money to watch horror movies, so he had the idea to start writing scary music with the band. His slow, kick ass riffs defined the tone of metal... He is the master of tritones and syncopation. I mean, just listen to the riffs in children of the grave, N.I.B, black sabbath, iron man, paranoid, and sweet leaf... And the solos in iron man, black sabbath, war pigs, and children of the grave - fidelcanojr

The lord of the riffs. Period.

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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

He is good but not the best.

V174 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...

No doubt greatest of all time. Feel, shred, and passion plus death in his mid twenties. Can you imagine where in this list Randy would be if he was still alive?

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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 have always to be in perfect position. While when I play Kirks its more like when they are in your mind you got them, sure Kirks got something special as well, but not as special as Friedmans. It is hard to understand if you can't play such speed, but it is really amazing how Martys solos are. He plays such hard stuff and it still sounds so powerful. I don't want to underestimate Kirks playing but Friedman has so much talent; Megadeth never would have had such good Albums, like they got today without Friedman.

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

His solos are very emotional and I thing he is the best solo writer out here (for metal). He was great in megadeth but also his own solo album was awesome. Plus his work with jason becker in cacophony was excellent. Just listen speed metal symphony.

V32 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.

He is my inspiration

V132 Comments
8James 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.

Not the best guitarist all around, but he's the best down picker ever.

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9Chuck 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

Should be higher here, I voted mustaine because I think he is the best but I would say chuck needs to be at least top three. One of the most incredible writers and guitarist ever. RIP

V45 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.

Another boss. Must be 2

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The Newcomers

?Angel Vivaldi

Relatively unknown, but listen to his Universal Language EP., that's good.

?Bill Kelliher
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The Contenders

11Alexi 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

AlexI rules all the way

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12Synyster 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!
-Syn

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..

Synyster is the one of genius guitarist, he's technique, speed very awesome...

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13Slash

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

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14Adrian 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.

I love iron maiden songs and It wouldn't happen without the guitarist. So go Adrian

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15Zakk 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

V21 Comments
16Steve 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!

Simply amazing. What else is there to say.

V9 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!

Jimmy's the greatest guitarist, but he shouldn't be on this list he's not a metal guitarist, neither are Slash and Jimi Hendrix lol. Put them down.

V9 Comments
18Kerry 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.

What? Kerry at number 20?

V8 Comments
19Jeff 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!

Jeff? One of the best thrash metal guitarists is 17? He must 8 at least... 17? I don't want to live on this planet anymore!

V10 Comments
20Eddie Van Halen

Best on the list, Van Halen live was awesome No others could hold a candle to this man.

Should have been in the Top Ten.
Set the standard for heavy metal Guitarist!
Probably the most copied guitarist ever

Eruption is an epic song. End of story.
Why is Eddie at 25th? I respect Kirk and Slash and all the others, but Eddie Van Halen is the real deal, the original.

How is he this far down? No. 3 at LEAST.

V13 Comments
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List StatsUpdated 1 Sep 2015

20,000 votes
232 listings
8 years, 228 days old

Top Remixes (77)

1. Adrian Smith
2. K.K. Downing
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17MaCarollo
1. Dave Mustaine
2. Jeff Hanneman
3. Dimebag Darrell
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1. Dimebag Darrell
2. Dave Mustaine
3. Tony Iommi
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