Best Metal Guitarists

The Top TenXW

1Dave MustaineDavid Scott "Dave" Mustaine was born September 13, 1961. He is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. He is best known as the co-founder, guitarist, and lead singer of the American thrash metal band Megadeth, and well known as the original lead guitarist for the American heavy metal ...read more.

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.

I totally agree! Dave Mustaine is the best by a LONG shot! He wrote almost every song on Metallica's first two albums. Listen Megadeth's first three albums, and then to Rust In Peace, and Countdown To Extinction; nobody in metal is even close to his speed, and technical skills, combine that with the guy singing.

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2Dimebag DarrellDarrell Lance Abbott, also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan, alongside his brother, Vinnie Paul. Abbott died in 2004 after he was shot by a mentally unstable fan.

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

Hands down the best metal guitarist, king off the riff, king of the lick, king of the passion.

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3Tony IommiAnthony Frank "Tony" Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. Best known as lead guitarist and founding member of the pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, he has been the band's sole continual member and primary composer.

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

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

Heavy metal guitarist at his best

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4Kirk HammettKirk Lee Hammett is the lead guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica and has been a member of the band since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus.

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

Has anyone noticed all his solos sound the same with one or two exceptions?

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5Randy RhoadsRandall William "Randy" Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot.

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...

His solos were absolutely amazing being that he got famous in 2 years is mind boggling and the worst part is he died at 25

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6Marty FriedmanMartin Adam "Marty" Friedman is an American guitarist, known for his tenure as the lead guitarist for heavy metal band Megadeth which spanned nearly the full decade of the 1990s, as well as Cacophony alongside Jason Becker until 1989. Friedman has resided in Tokyo, Japan since 2003, where he has hosted ...read more.

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

His bends... damn!

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7John PetrucciJohn Peter Petrucci is an American guitarist, composer and producer. He is best known as a founding member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater.

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.

This man deserves #1 with no doubts. His technique is perfect and his compositions are pieces of art

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8Chuck SchuldinerCharles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the founder and vocalist, guitarist and bassist of the American heavy metal band Death. He is considered the most influential figure in Death Metal, with some publications referring to Chuck as the "Godfather ...read more.

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

RIP, Chuck, May your metal live on forever

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9James HetfieldJames Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

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.

It's actually sad that people think Kirk is better than James. Have you seen Kirks solo's lately? They're pretty bad. There's a reason why James always plays the riffs first by himself and not Kirk like in Blackened, Battery and Creeping Death. He wrote almost all of their riffs from Kill em all to...And Justice for all and then some. Enter Sandman is an iconic metal riff written by Kirk Hammet, but Master of Puppets, Creeping Death, Battery, Harvester of Sorrow, One and Ride the Lightning all have riffs that are masterpieces. The stuff James plays and sings at the same time is incredible. Not much I need to say about that. And James has also had his share of solo's from Nothing Else Matters to Master of Puppets to The Outlaw Torn etc. He puts more emotion in his solo's. The only emotional solo from Kirk was the Unforgiven solo. But of course, Kirk is the better guitarist when it comes to solo's cause Creeping Death, One and Blackened all have amazing thrash solos. - DunnaNunnaBatman

Actually kirk helped write the guitar solos and wrote a lot of the guitar riffs including the creeping death part but ya know

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10Dave MurrayDavid Michael Murray is an English guitarist and songwriter best known as one of the earliest members of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

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.

He is amazing, iron maiden is one of the best bands of All times

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The Contenders

11Synyster GatesBrian Elwin Haner, Jr., better known by his stage name Synyster Gates or simply Syn, is an American musician, best known for being the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of the band Avenged Sevenfold.

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..

He is my idol he is funny good looking an amazing guitarist who can always rock a solo and when paired with zacky vengeance they are unstoppable he also has a great voice

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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

He plays really well when he's not canned

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13Adrian SmithAdrian Frederick "H" Smith is an English guitarist, best known as a member of Iron Maiden, for whom he writes songs and performs live backing vocals on some tracks.

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.

It's Iron maiden

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14SlashSaul Hudson, known professionally as Slash, is a British-American musician and songwriter. He is best known as the lead guitarist of the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, with whom he achieved worldwide success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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.

Synyster is way better

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15Jeff HannemanJeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

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!

Come on top 5 at least.

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16Yngwie MalmsteenYngwie Johan Malmsteen is a Swedish guitarist, songwriter and bandleader who was born on June 30th, 1963, in Stockholm, Sweden. He was known for his neoclassical metal playing style back in the 1980s.

While ironically beat at his own invention by Glenn, this man is still the next best sweep picker. His shred arpeggio's are hard to beat, but he doesn't experiment much so I ranked him down a bit. After Randy and Ritchie invented Neo-classical metal, Yngwie invented the sweep pick and developed the genres true stylistic sound. - 17MaCarollo

I love this guy! I have ADD and drinks pots of coffee so I need a guy that plays like this! Thanks Yngwie!

Yngwie is the King! A big plus besides his musical geniality and technical skills is that he is mostly inspired by the greatest and most influential composer of all time Johann Sebastian Bach.

Listen to I Can't Wait, Aftermath, and/or Evil Eye. Those songs will show you how awesome this guy is. - awesomehorror

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17Kerry KingKerry Ray King is an American musician, best known as a guitarist for the American thrash metal band Slayer.

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

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

While King isn't the best at leads nor at composing songs, it was King who taught Hanneman how to play guitar. In fact, King is the ONLY Slayer guitarist who can play Sex. Murder. Art. live, and has the correct picking technique, as Jeff Hanneman started picking with the elbow and not the wrist.

Awesome guitarist. I prefer Jeff but Kerry is one of het best, too - NjakDjak

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18Eddie Van HalenEdward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, occasional keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.

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

The problem with this list is the fact that some people do not consider Eddie Van Halen or Jimmy Page metal players, so they get less votes. If this was a best guitar player list not best metal list these two would EASILY be top three, in my opinion they are better than Hendrix so top two. They are, along with Iommi THE biggest inspiration to metal guitar players, Zeppelin were the the heaviest at the time other than sabbath, and Eddie Van Halen basically invented the metal guitar solo, with pinch harmonics and whammy dives, but with a lot of feeling(although his rhythym playing is untouchable and I wish he got more recognition for it).

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.

He basically started tapping. Eruption, just pay attention to the stuff he creates. Nobody cares how fast you play, but his riffs define rock

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19Zakk WyldeZakk Wylde is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor who is best known as the former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society.

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

Zakk Wylde, not only makes playing the guitar look easy, but he also has a amazing mesmerizing voice.

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20Steve VaiSteven Siro "Steve" Vai is an American guitarist, composer, singer, songwriter, and producer, born and raised on Long Island, New York.

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!

Brought the seven string guitar to the hard rock and metal genre. What more needs to be said?

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List StatsUpdated 3 Dec 2016

22,000 votes
263 listings
9 years, 322 days old

Top Remixes (99)

1. Marty Friedman
2. Dave Mustaine
3. Chuck Schuldiner
OstrichGuitar
1. Adrian Smith
2. K.K. Downing
3. John Petrucci
17MaCarollo
1. Dave Mustaine
2. Jeff Hanneman
3. Dimebag Darrell
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