Best Rhythm Guitarists

armthehomeless06

The Top Ten

1 James Hetfield James Hetfield James 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.

No need for an explanation why he tops other players, just listen master of puppets and justice for all, incredibly powerful and melodical riffs at the same time, this man's music had reached out of metal music era, and make others follow his example, simply put, no other names mentioned here has more influence on rock music generally than him, and on other rock metal bands. Metallica is no non stop speeding bullet, or feelingless same satanic deppessive riffs, metallica is pure music, full of this mans artictic approach, his feelings, his troubles, his demons, his rage against corruption in every aspect, no matter what others blame them for, just listen to their music, it sums it all, they are not the people what others accuse them to be just out of them jealousy, megadeth is good slayer rocks, but to be honest even those bros not even close harmonicaly, melodicaly, neither of them could express them rage on guitar and lyrics like hetfield did, thats my opinion I have been listening ...more

This amazing person can play rhythm guitar like no other- a forerunner to the best bands happening now. Not only is his guitar unmistakable but his voice is and instrument unto its own. AND he can pull a lead solo with the best of the best. Guess I am just a major fan, but when you watch him perform, there is a transport between man and instrument that happens only with the cream of the crop. King James.

Hetfield has written some of the most famous metal riffs of all time as well as barking out his incredible vocals. He is one of the most artistic singers/songwriters we have today, a true poet. He out performs anyone I've ever watched play. Long live papa het!

The only person in the top 10 that actually deserves to be there. Has made so many heavy and dynamic riffs on their first 4 albums.
Mustaine is lightyears behind, being a good lead guitarist, he has not made any riffs as cool as James'!

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2 Zacky Vengeance Zacky Vengeance Zachary James Baker, better known by his stage name Zacky Vengeance, is an American musician, best known as the rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist, and founding member for the American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold.

He is great, the perfect couple, not only he plays the chords, also he play the harmony with synyster gates, I like them. Also when they are playing solos or intros together, like AFTERLIFE!

Just a great Rhythm Zacky,.. specially with Synister,..
your awesome,...
playing with your left hand,..
Avenged Sevenfold
LOVE IT Or Die! - tirtasullivan

Combines with Gates... They are just an epic couple. - macromark

He is the perfect guy to be at the top of the list. This guy has something that pulls me towards the way he plays the guitar.Best left handed guitarists - gaurab

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3 Dave Mustaine Dave Mustaine ...read more.

Dave is definitely mor of a lead guitarist then he is a rythm guitarist, but his rythms are just wicked. not only is he a fantastic lead guitarist, he's also written some of the best metal songs in history. its rythm stuff like the wickedly hard to mimick spider chords, and snarly riffs that helped curve a new meaning to the word speed metal. not only that, but dave plays some ridiculously complicated rythms and sings at the same time! and doesn't miss a note either. songs like hangar 18, holy wars, and peace sells are absolute master pices. probobly one of the greatest guitar players of all time, extremely humble, and very underrated.
if you want to truly see what I'm talking about, check out my last words on youtube. daves rythms are wicked, and check out the guitar solo. thats definitely one of my favourite guitar solos of all time.

Dave mustaine taught james how to play guitar... Dave was lead when he was in Metallica and he's a lead rhythm switch in megadeth who also sings dave is definitely a top 3 rhythm guitarist with izzy stradlin to go with

Mustaine absolutely shreds! I can learn most riffs rather quickly. Mustaine's riffs are genius and a challenge to play. Not the being a master of your instrument makes you a better song writer but it certainly is not boring. Although Dave plays some leads on his albums he is not a gunslinger he always hires lead guitarists for Megadeth.

No one can compare to his riffs.. As Scott Ian himself said, its as impressive as someone's lead playing!

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4 Izzy Stradlin Izzy Stradlin Jeffrey Dean Isbell, better known by his stage name Izzy Stradlin, is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter.

He's just got an amazing feel and groove. His style's very simplistic but that just adds to the emotional quality of his art and just goes to a whole level of elation. His songwriting is top notch, very great.. definitely underrated, though obviously he prefers the low profile, which is very respectable.. great musician, brilliant guitar player, great person.. it all comes through in the sound

Listen to any song he made with Guns N' Roses and then listen to them without him. You can definitely hear the difference. He brought much more to the band than he gets credit for. He was essential part of the band.

Also listen to his solo music. He still makes great music. It's definitely not Guns, if that's what you're looking for then don't be surprised. It's more laid back and mellow. Slash even said that if Ronnie ever quit the Stones, Izzy's the only guy cool enough to replace him.

Together with Slash, they are just a perfect match no matter how different their styles are. This guy has so much groove, he deserves to be above Zacky Vengeance. Rhythm guitar is about creativity and groove. Not just chugging and strumming power chords. Izzy can create amazing licks in between the chords and change the song so much with his tone that without him, the band will sound extremely different

One of the most gifted of 'em all: great composer, nice singer, awesome rhythm guitarist, moody and mysterious. THE king of cool.
Where's Izzy?

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5 Malcom Young

He is responsible for creating some of the greatest riffs in the history of rock music. Even though Angus is mistaken for writing a lot of the bands material, it is Malcolm who is the real brain behind their sound.

He is the best. people hardly know him because he is so modest and only dedicated to music. the mastermind behind huge success of AC/DC.

Malcolm have to be on the first place! ! On every top lists he is on the first place but here he is on the forth place! Nobody can play like MALCOLM YOUNG!

Wrote some of the greatest riffs of all time

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6 Keith Richards Keith Richards Keith Richards is an English musician—primarily a guitarist—singer, songwriter, best-selling memoirist, and founding member of the rock band The Rolling Stones.

Hetfield and Mustaine over Keef? , no guitarist can hold a song like Richards did, he's a genius of the guitar, he invented every Stone riff existing, he can tune his guitar to every song to get the correct tone, he's one of the rare riffers that can only challenge Hendrix or Page at riffing, and so other things

If you want to learn the essence of rhythm guitar, you need to eat, live, breathe, and listen to everything Keith plays. Do this for a few years, and you'll definitely have the feel for a good rhythm riff. Long live Keith.

Great rhythm guitar in one of the greatest rock and roll bands of the 60s, ie: Honkey tonk women, Jumpin Jack flash, Brown sugar epitomize his style.

The way Keith fit into a groove is unlike any other. No one can compare to his rhythm. No contest!

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7 John Lennon John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40 .

John Lennon made the guitar speak. Listen to Come Together, Cold Turkey, Revolution, I Want You or Yer Blues for prime examples. His solos on Get Back and The Ballad of John and Yoko are brilliantly simple and to the point. A true original and classic guitarist!

A master of time, tone and taste. Complimented George Harrison lead work. Able to play with any lead guitarist and maintain the rhythm. John and George were the first of the two guitar attack in rock music followed by Keith Richards and Brian Jones.

Just a superb solid player -unique hard playing style -one of the best ever - honed in all night German stints -drove on the best band ever and he knew it!

Don't get me wrong, I like Metallica,but John Lennon is better than Hetfield ever will be. John deserves to be #1

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8 Pete Townshend Pete Townshend Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band The Who.

Oh My God! The incredible amount of riffs he wrote, the fact he could sing perfectly, write an amazing amount of awesome songs...

Oh! And when it comes to playing guitar, he's a genius. Maybe he isn't the most talented (though he's damn close) but he's got something: passion! Just listen to the way he plays at Live at Leeds (and he was depressed that day! ) and Live at the Isle of Wight and let him kick your ass.

Pete Townshend is one of the greatest guitarists ever, let alone a rhythm player. He doesn't play many solos, but he could still kick the asses of lots of other people who do crazy solos.

Whoever didn't vote for Pete Townshend should listen to Magic Bus on the Live at Leeds album.

No comparison. Townsend is by far the greatest rhythm guitar player ever to strum a 6 string.

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9 Dimebag Darrell Dimebag Darrell Darrell 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.

This is a complete joke. Clearly whoever did this does not play guitar or have a knowledge of talent. Dimebag would crush Hetfield on rhythm guitar. Go play some Metallica riffs and then go play some Pantera riffs case closed. Anyone can cover Metallica and make it sound good. Nobody can cover Pantera like Dimebag. Just go and YouTube and type in Metallica cover by Pantera and you will see Dimebag plays it better than Hetfield and Hammet combined. If Metallica were to cover Pantera it would be an utter mess.

Dimebag should be in Top 3 along Hetfield and Mustaine! His rhythm and lead playing are out of this world. Dimebag brought the groove and all of his riffs are just crazy! Vote him up! RIP Dimebag

This guy gets respect from any real player. Dime was unique and incredible in his own right. Hetfield is good, but not that good... Chuck Berry was the granddaddy of them all... Where is he on this list?

This is stupid people like elviis kurt cobain were not good guitarists they were good and dam good artists but to say there brilliant guitarists is stupid

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10 Tony Iommi Tony Iommi Anthony 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.

He does some great solos but it's his riffs that are more memorable

The Contenders

11 Brian May Brian May Brian Harold May is an English musician, singer, songwriter and astrophysicist, best known as the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen.

Hey, buddy? Yeah... Brian May might not exactly be a rhythm guitarist... He might be a lead guitarist... Yeah...

Sometimes I think his composition skills are so good they distract from the credit he should get for how well he plays that guitar!

HE's so good he's songs are so emotional try to watch his Bohemian Rhapsody solo it's cool

He is a LEAD people gosh

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12 Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1988, he started the grunge band Nirvana. He was a talented yet troubled grunge performer. Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band. He committed suicide at his Seattle home in 1994.

3 chords won't make anyone a legend

Original legend...i love you kurt cobain

He always play his own music or cover with full feel

I"m curious to know why everybody kisses Kurt's ass. Because he died tragically? - STLovesTrash

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13 Johnny Ramone Johnny Ramone John William Cummings, better known by his stage name Johnny Ramone, was an American guitarist and songwriter, best known for being the guitarist for the punk rock band the Ramones.

He will be my first choice. He is the rhythm guitarist kind. Most of his songs are rhythm guitar bases. Well its not like that he can't play lead guitar. But he is best at rhythm guitar. And he is very fast at it. - zxm

He was a genius and his technique saved rock n' roll. Also The Ramones were way ahead of their time.

Long live the pioneer of punk's thrashing and awesome guitar style!

Few chords but the way he plays its awesome. - zxm

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14 Jim Root Jim Root James Donald "Jim" Root, also known by his number #4, is an American musician known for being the rhythm/lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Slipknot, and the former lead guitarist for alternative metal band Stone Sour.

Looking at this list I was like where is Jim. Slipknot solos are great

Amazingly talented and the best of the best

He's not a rhythm guitarist, he's the lead guitarist - NikBrusk

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15 Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson

Probably the most underrated guitarist. Period. Better at 61 than at 30. Amazing especially with acoustical..

Overlooked like all females in any category

Yeah, she's been awesome for decades...

16 Brad Whitford

Unlike most rhythm guitarists you can actually, you know, HEAR whiteford on aerosmith tracks. He can keep a beat better than a lot of bassists out there. It was his rhythm guitar part in helter skelter that made it ALMOST better than the beatles' original.

omg, Brad is #1! there's not any guitarrist more underrated than Aerosmith's!

One of the few Rhythm guitarists that you can actually hear in the songs.

Brad is excellent!

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17 Paul Stanley Paul Stanley Stanley Bert Eisen, known professionally by his stage name Paul Stanley, is an American musician, singer, songwriter and painter best known for being the rhythm guitarist and co-lead singer of the rock band Kiss.

He is the person responsible for the great anthems like rock n roll all nite, Detroit rock city, I was made for loving you etc. In 1973 he made KISS and laid down the foundation of one of the greatest band of all time.

I don't know why kiss is so underrated in every lost they are most talented band and he should be second after hetfield as hetfield is god but he is also lord

Second only to the great Malcolm Young in my opinion.

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18 Jon Schaffer Jon Schaffer Jon Ryan Schaffer is an American heavy metal musician. He is best known as the guitarist and last remaining original member of the Florida-based heavy metal band Iced Earth, which he formed in 1985 under the name "Purgatory".

His triplets and galloping style writing make him among the best in heavy metal... True old school at its finest.

Jon Schaffer and Jeff Waters should be in the top 10. - Metal_Treasure

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19 Jeff Waters

Jeff Waters is the Annihilator lead guitarist, extremely talented

He's one of those very talented guys who is equally good as rhythm and lead guitarist (he switches). His riffs are awesome - not only beautiful but also very fast and sophisticated. - Metal_Treasure

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20 Rick Parfitt

There's just not words to describe how much he means to The Quo. Not only does he has an exream feeling for rhythm but he has also written some of their best biggies and has an awesome Rock voice. In my opinion he's by far the best rhythm guitarists, in difference to others on this list who are more of "second guitars". If you haven't heard Rick play Caroline, you got no idea what a rhythm guitarist should be doing ;). He is the part of Status Quo that (musically speaking) is irreplaceable. Without him there would be no FF. Rossi being irreplaceable for other reasons, but a lot of musicians can do what Rossi does, not many can do what Rick does.

Rick Parfitt is truly the best. He is one of few real rhythm players. His solid style and sense of timing is of the highest order. People like John Lennon are only Backing Guitars. Anybody on this site should youtube "Caroline" or "Don't Waste My Time" or even "Over The Edge" and they will immediately see, hear, and even feel the guitar God that is Rick Parfitt. No-one else on the planet can play a guitar the way he does. He is Truly a Sensation.

His style is impeccable. None of this 3 chord malarky, no one can do what he does! Just watch him play the opening of Caroline live, or play his part in Down Down. How his right hand can cope, I'll never know! One of rock's greatest rhythm guitarists and criminally underrated.

Obvious isn't it, he simply put was the best and cannot ever be beaten, all these unknowns and American screaming bands don't even come close. Do yourselves a favor and listen to Rick you'll be blown away

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List StatsUpdated 16 Jan 2017

5,000 votes
113 listings
8 years, 281 days old

Top Remixes (12)

1. Zacky Vengeance
2. James Hetfield
3. Jim Root
animalfreak186
1. James Hetfield
2. Dave Mustaine
3. Matthew Tuck
calvinhans
1. James Hetfield
2. Tony Iommi
3. Dimebag Darrell
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