Top 10 Most Influential Guitarists

Please note that these are the guitarists that had the most influence on music and not just the best guitarists. Comments that do not reference a particular guitarist's influence will not be approved.

The Top Ten

1 Ritchie Blackmore Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore is an English guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work in the hard rock/metal bands Deep Purple and Rainbow. He was ranked number 16 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time" in 2004, and number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the ...read more.

Love Ritchie because he made rock that was exciting, Lazy from In Concert 1980 became the reason why I became a Deep Purple addict. I couldn't quite understand why at the time, but it was like all the ingredients of a super talented musician on full display. No studio trickery just pure magic, the only other guitar player with that live spontaneity to my opinion is Rory Gallagher who I believe should be in the top five. He just got better when Burn came out, it was a more American sounding Purple with all the mystique of the keyboards/guitar/drums triumvirate. Always supported with the awesomest bass players in the world and lead singers, were the Roundabout of rock with interchanging lineups every few years. At the end of the day he made rock really interesting, although breaking everyone's hearts by leaving DP in 75. He was strangely indifferent to his own music, he couldn't care less and that's cool because of his influence it spawned the Purple family of off shoot rock bands. ...more

Jimmy Page is a great guitarist, but he shouldn't even be on this list. The influence on modern guitar playing you all guys amount to him was actually done by Ritchie Blackmore.

When you speaks about Heavy metal, the greatest names are Black Sabbath for tony iommi, BUT, when you speaks about more influence, we're spoken about Deep Purple, Blackmore is the greatest guitarist of his era, Better than Page and Iommi in live performances, this guy is an institution, the Highway star solo is the first solo of their class, maybe this man is undervalued, and its an injustice, because he bring us Neoclassical style into Metal (Rainbow), style followed by Randy rhoads or Malmsteen, well this is my opinion and if you never hear nothing about this master, please listen Made In Japan! "

Technically and musically superior to any of his contemporaries, he was shredding neo-classical style 45 years ago -while all the others were playing pentatonic blues scales- creating the base for a new guitar playing style. He was clinical and madly skilled. But he would always play for the song -his songwriting second to none. His stage presence was huge.

His exquisite taste and unique touch made his style instantly recognizable, being the only rock player to pick almost every note staccato style instead of the usual pull-offs and hammer-ons that the others were doing at the time.

His playing inspired millions of players worldwide.

2 Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter . Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated ...read more.

RITCHIE BLACKMORE ABOVE JIMI HENDRIX! There would be no Smoke on the Water riff if Jimi hendrix hadn't existed. He invented the insane guitar solos. I mean, the guy can play the guitar with his teeth. HIS TEETH!

A sheer joy to listen to Hendrix play the guitar with such fluidity and goes from graceful passages to loud aggressive playing.
Embraced the technology of the day. Fuzzes, octavers and Univibes used as instruments of themselves to inspire such amazing songs.

Jimi is on a whole other level of playing. His live performances were largely improvisational and even the greatest guitarist ever, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page put their guitars down and admitted they weren't even close to him when he jammed with them. Also he was a good singer, awesome songwriter and even did some great experimental stuff like 1983 (A Mermaid I Should Turn to Be... ). When you watch him play you just can't do anything but be in awe and listen.

Jimi is the most influential period. It is undeniable that is is one of the most creative, inventive, talented, and popular guitarist ever. The other guitarists are absolutely phenomenal and definitely influential in their own right, but Jimi’s influence goes beyond guitar playing, he was very creative with stereo technology, and his use of it was never heard of before but has become a standard in just about ANY kind of recorded music. I could make arguments about any one of these guys being the most influential, but Jimi overshadows then all.

3 Jimmy Page James Patrick Page is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin.

Prolific song writer with a melodic gift to write timeless songs.
Guitar skills good enough to support his amazing ability to craft landscapes with his music.
Used cutting

Do you remember the Yardbirds? Of course. There were three well-known guitar-players in this band: the outstanding technical virtuoso Jeff Beck, the very very good blues-guitarist Eric Clapton and the visionary arranger Jimmy Page. But what's about his guitar playing? Page plays the guitar well, but not outstanding. Of course he knows how to use traditional blues-riffs for a great sound, but his solos are practiced (Stairway to heaven/Taurus for example) or failed when he he tried to improvise live. Listen! Page is a great producer, but an overrated guitar player. And don't forget the importance of Robert Plant and John Bonham for Led Zeppelin.

Jimmy Page's approach is entirely unique. I'm a guitar player and I swear after studying his work for many years I still haven't figured out how he does it. For example, he can take a I VI IV V progression and make it something entirely fresh and new, for example in D'yer Mak'er. Or take the song All of My Love...who would have thought of applying such a minimalist approach? It's often not what he plays, but what he chooses not to play that makes him such a force to learn from.

Richie Blackmore at number 1!? what!? since when is he better than Hendrix or Page. there must have been some sort of mistake.

4 Eddie Van Halen Edward 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.

Eddie changed everything that came after him: songs, techniques, the guitars themselves! He also got more people started in playing guitar than anyone else in history - even Hendrix! Not to take anything away from Jimi, b/c he's the man, but Eddie got more of us started, showed more of us how to do it, and influenced ALL of our gear. Yup - definitely most influential!

His Nice Tone His Custom Made Guitar "Frankenstien", He also Invented metal Eruption Put him on the Best Guitarist with his finger tapping Technique, Ice cream man, Hot for a teacher, my fave Panama, Jump, you really got me...

Eddie Van Halen is most definitely the most influential player of all time. He changed the way everyone plays a guitar. I mean everyone. Hard Rock, and Heavy metal owes Eddie Van Halen along with the whole Van Halen band for there contributions to this style of music.

Eddie is most well-known for his flawless incorporation of two-handed tapping, yet his percussive rhythms set him apart from imitators, of which there have been many.

Hendrix set the bar, but Ed upped the ante.

5 David Gilmour David Jon Gilmour is an English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He joined the progressive rock band Pink Floyd as guitarist and co-lead vocalist in 1968.

David Gilmour is the most soulful, beautiful player EVER! His tone and melody are 2nd to none, and no guitarist ever has given me chills or brought tears to my eyes with their playing like he does. Nothing fancy, which makes him even more incredible. Nothing fancy, just pure musical genius!

What! He didn't get the top ten that is not right he is the best guitarist mankind will ever know he influenced the globe with his guitar and I'm eleven years old he is my hero I hope you like my comment

Not only was his playing ability incredible, he has influenced more guitarist with his tone and quality of sound he was able to get out of his guitar so much so a book has been written to chronicle the black strat's life.

I hang on every note he plays in "Money." Known for one of the best sounds of all time, coupled with an ability to play the unexpected and make it classic.

6 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. At age 17, he accidentally lost the fingertips of his middle ...read more.

Should be higher on this list as he pretty much made metal a genre

Inventive, innovative and heavier than all who came before combined. Without Iommi there is no metal.

If Iommi didn't exist, every member of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer (keep naming them) would be delivering pizzas!

I love Toni, his rhythms were even more catchy than his lead work. His distortion tone was his biggest influence.

7 Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. He has also been a member of Derek and the Dominos.

The Blues, He is old, but he was in and toured with the most awesome bands... Cream, Derek and The Dominoes, Stevie Ray Vaughn... with his "woman tone" on his SG named the fool that makes him pretty damn cool, he also used a strat...

One of the most influential guitarists and musicians, he, Jimmy Page, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Tommy Iommi should be in this top, People just don't like good music anymore.

From those who are outlined here, He is the one who have played diverse genres of music during his musical career. What is more he has ability of composing remarkable songs, and his gigs are terrific

I find it humorous how this is literally a list of MOST INFLUENTIAL GUITARISTS and not best guitarists and two people who Clapton influenced are above him and he's only number 6. Eddie Van Halen has stated repeadetly that the only guitarist to ever influence him was Clapton and Blackmore has spoken about Clapton's influence on him as well. Why are people so unable to be subjective these days. Who tf did Blackmore influence?

8 Slash Saul 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.

Slash is the most influential guitarist of all time. He is the inspiration of most guitar enthusiast and his style of playing is superb compared to any guitarist. That is why he is so famous.

Slash made me a gn'r fan. when I was growing up it was slash n axl but as I matured all my feeling are for you slash. you have given me so many scripts for my air guitar. LEGEND

Probably a bit understand, Slash is one of the more proficient guitar icons. Clearly enunciated playing at supersonic speed - not very common.

What's not to like about the guy? He has the look, name, style and skills. Love his guitar playing.

9 Hideto 'hide' Matsumoto Hideto Matsumoto, better known by his stage name Hide, was a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is primarily known for his work as lead guitarist of the heavy metal band X Japan.

Hide believed in freedom through his music. People were saved by his music giving them a reason to live for. And when Hide died he cost the top news of Japan. 50,000 people came to see him. A good man indeed, all the good guys and artist just has to go first.

Hide is the best guitarist in the world, he his a very good player, and X Japan is the biggest band of the world in my opinion, I love X Japan et go hide, you are the best!

Probably the most influential guitarist in Japan... And secretly in the whole world.

Greatest Musician who ever lived. Hide changed the world's music industry

10 Stevie Ray Vaughn

Did Hendrix songs better than Jimi sorry but it's true listen to little wing and tell me what you think.

Lenny, Texas Flood, Crossroads... SRV has probly pioniered Blues Guitar, He was the new hendrix

Very under rated player. in my humble opinion played voodoo child just as well if not slightly better than Hendrix. Awesome player.

Best blues guitarist of all time

The Contenders

11 Michael Schenker Michael Schenker is a German rock guitarist who has played in UFO and led the Michael Schenker Group. He was an early member of Scorpions the band co-founded by his elder brother Rudolf Schenker.

Just ask most of the new breed. Maybe not the most famous with commercial success but influenced thousands of guitar players with his amazing tone, flat picking, feel and individual sound.

Nobody better. Should be number one in my opinion. The Mad Ax Man. All day long!

Not only is he simply the greatest guitarist of all time, he's also one of the most influential. He's the reason Dave Muscatine, Kirk Hammett, Randy Rhoads, and many others play Vs. Seriously, go listen to him before you scroll down trying to find the guitarist you are sure is the best. I was gonna vote Buddy Guy, but then I saw the Blond Bomber, and realized he was more influential. Go listen to him!

He influenced possibly the best metal guitarist-Dave Mustaine

12 Randy Rhoads Randall William "Randy" Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. He was killed in a plane crash.

Randy can play technically, slowly, and just incredibly. He has the perfect mixture of everything from trem picking to tapping to trills. Had he lived longer he would’ve easily been the greatest guitarist ever.

A real talent if one he had lived longer who knows what he could created, way ahead of van Galen, Gary more and slash up there with Hendrix, blackmore and Page just listen to the two great albums he played on!

Randy was great but died to soon to be considered an all time great. His influence was starting to take hold when he was taken but what hurts him he would start his solos live with Eddie Van Halen's Irruption Which at the time was blasphemy.

the only person the top ten was missing. in my opinion the most influencial guitarist to me

I remember being blown a way when I heard Randy Rhoads for the first time. His solos were so well composed and he was so much in control. Later on I discovered that his song had a lot of complexity within. Unfortunately he couldn't quite reach of all he could have been as he was taken away at such a early age.

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

He is not a single guitarist. He is the conductor of his own orchestra made of Brian's. That's beyond the reach of any other guitarist. The harmonies he plays are out of Earth. And he is playing much more strings instruments: ukulele, banjo, harp, organ, piano and more. Who can repeat him?

One of the best soloists of his day, and still a bright light in the guitar icon pantheon. Amazing sound (built from scratch), solos that twist and turn and peak like a brilliant plot-line, there's simply no one like him.

I think you'll find Wishbone Ash were using feedback years before Brian, but that doesn't detract from how great a guitarist he is.

Brian May was extremely influential. His home built guitar was the first to use feed back, and SO many of his styles have been copied through the years.

14 Angus Young Angus McKinnon Young is an Australian guitarist of Scottish origin, best known as the co-founder, lead guitarist, songwriter and sole constant member of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. When performing live he does his own version of Chuck Berry's "duck walk" and has also spun on his side while ...read more.

how many great songs can you make in a lifetime. Angus can rock your butt

The infamous Duck Walk, His awesome SG standard, The devil horns on his head and guitar and the sig. School boy have a demonic possesion on stage he alsso has the stellar tone everyone loves, his 3-4 chord progression along with his guitar solos and licks makes him the king "The Devil in your fingers and The Blues in Your Soul, hell you got rock and roll"

His energy alone in live performances should inspire anyone, I mean he played a 16 minute solo on the Black Ice Tour!

Another average guitarist really

15 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.

When he was 3 years old his father left him and in his teens his mom died and he used the music get through all of it and not only can he play electric guitar and sing but he can also play the drums and the bass... one of the most inspirational of all time.

Ok Kirk isn't influential but he is great. But if james can kirk can have a spot here.

He influenced John Petrucci, Matt Heafy and many many more great Guitarists.

I think Kirk is better than him. Maybe he isn't influential, but nor James is!

16 Gary Moore Robert William Gary Moore was a Northern Irish musician, most widely recognised as a singer, songwriter, and virtuoso rock and blues guitarist.

Along with M. Schenker, the greatest, most soulful metal guitarist EVER! Before he played the blues later in his career, he was a true hard rocker. I saw him open for Rush, never heard of the guy. His first song was "Victims of the future" and I bought every album he ever played on after seeing him! Also does some of the most beautiful instrumental songs ever. Check out "The LONER" from Wild frontier album or "The messiah will come again" from After the war album. Nobody did it better, RIP Gary!

Melodic and melting. Awesome tone and style. A true great who deserves to be too 3 with Ritchie and Jeff Beck

One of the best blues guitarist of our generation

Criminally underrated player! His work with Thin Lizzy, Coliseum II, and solo is incredible!

17 Tommy Bolin Thomas Richard "Tommy" Bolin was an American-born guitarist who played with Zephyr, The James Gang, and Deep Purple; in addition to maintaining a notable solo career.

Criminally underrated. Ask Jeff Beck. He stills plays "Stratus" live to this day. If that's not an endorsement I don't know what is.

Underrated are you kidding me! You guys must call 12-year-olds holy ! That's why you don't believe everything you read on the Internet because you're liars

A forgotten gem of a guitarist. And an amazing voice. When you consider what he did in a lifetime of only 24 years it's astounding

Way ahead of his time. Jazz, rock, whatever, he was poised for a brilliant career.

18 Yngwie Malmsteen Yngwie 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.

I saw Yngwie in concert once. The first 2-3 songs were jaw dropping, fastest guitarist I had ever seen. However he never changed the pace, playing a million notes every single solo. He bored the crap out of me after that. Good at what he does, but he only does one thing great and that's shredding. To many notes!

Maybe not the best songwriter but best guitarist for sure.

A true innovator brought the neoclassical style into the forefront for today's shredders to copy, much like Eddie Van Halen introduced the finger tapping style. Technically, Malmsteen is the best rock guitarist to walk planet earth ever! However, he cannot write rock songs like Blackmoore, Hendrix or Gilmoore so will never be at the top of the tree.

Best guitarist ever for sure

19 Alex Lifeson Aleksandar Živojinović, better known by his stage name Alex Lifeson, is a Canadian musician, best known as the guitarist of the Canadian rock band Rush.

I would put Alex Lifeson #! He has been voted #1 just a few years ago by Guitar Player Magazine as the best Rock Guitarist. He is so overshadowed by the best DRUMMER and Perhaps the best BASSIST in ROCK. I think he is the best at his instrument then the other two! Hendrix gets his POPULAR vote by being BLACK and DEAD! (he's good don't get me wrong). Most these guys are rated on popularity, not talent! Eric Clapton SUCKS compared to most these guys. BORING BLUES ERIC.

Alex should be at least 11 on this list. His guitar playing is deceiving. He happens to play with two of the best in the world and his leads are crisp, fast, well thought out. He is a master and a hell of a nice guy to boot. He has influenced many a guitar player and will continue to do so for years to come. His latest music shows he's lost nothing off his fastball.

Compositional genius - we are looking at many hundreds of songs - with as close to zero repetition bar to bar - continuous time and rhythm changes and melodic accuracy throughout. Of course having Neil and Geddy on board helps - 40 years of continuously new music. RUSH rocks the world.

Alex is one of the most impressive and non-standard player. He should be at the top of list, he's really master. No words to speak how Alex's guitar singing. RUSH forever.

20 Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.

What is this list?!?! None of these guys would exist if it wasn't for the grand architect of rock music, Chuck Berry. He laid the foundation for basic rock music riffs and rhythm and practically introduced the art of guitar soloing to the mainstream. Plus he also in way popularized the electric guitar as an instrument. Without Chuck Berry, rock music may be very different today or may not even exist. At the end of the day, almost every single guitar player to this day has been directly or indirectly influenced by Chuck Berry. "Johnny B. Goode" is the national anthem of rock 'n roll.

Influential doesn't mean best, influential means how much he influenced the instrument. Ritchie Blackmore certainly didn't influence guitar playing as much as Chuck Berry,

The term with out him... Couldn't be truer here he paved the way for so many after him he seems to be an after thought.

Are you all retarded? Metal wouldn't exist without Chuck Berry's blues-rock

21 Ace Frehley Paul Daniel "Ace" Frehley is an American musician, singer and songwriter best known as the former lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band Kiss.

Ace should be higher not only is he great but just how many famous guitarist did he influence? Thousands!

Ace's Les Paul/Marshall sound on the early Kiss records was just so cool. Dimebag had Ace TATTOOED on himself. You want influence? There it is.

Ace Frehley influenced various musicians to learn to play guitar.

WHY DO YOU THINK DIME BAG PICKED UP A GUITAR ACE INFLUENCED MANY GREAT GUITARESTS

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

Maybe the most technically brilliant player ever. Still though, like Jeff Beck, a great player who doesn't write great songs. The guy is an absolute monster on the fret board though and plays things few others could. Check him out as the Devil's guitarist in the movie Crossroads... Brilliant!

Steve Vai is one of the best guitarists I've ever heard. His skill is as if he had sold his soul to the devil, he is that good.

Above him, there is no other.

23 Joe Satriani Joseph Satriani (born July 15, 1956) is an American instrumental rock guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. Early in his career, Satriani worked as a guitar instructor, with many of his former students achieving fame, such as Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Rick Hunolt, Kirk Hammett, Andy Timmons, Charlie ...read more.

I'm sticking my neck right out now! Joe is the best guitarist ever full stop,. A genius. And a one off never to return. He's one of the most influential to most people that actually know anything about guitar. A true gentleman from another world if you ask me! I'm listening to one of his melodies as I write this. UNBELIEVABLE! If I'm reincarnated, please bring me back as Joe... I want to play like him but he's just to good!

The best guitarist since Eddie Van Halen and king of the instrumental song. Great melody's and a guy who knows when to shred and when to quiet down. A true genius with unmatched technical ability, he really makes it look easy! It's not!

Best of all time... He is the great teacher of greatest guitarist.

Rescued Deep Purple after Blackmore left, before legendary Steve Morse stepped in

24 Jeff Beck Geoffrey Arnold "Jeff" Beck is an English rock guitarist. He is one of the three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds (the other two being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page). Beck also formed The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice.

Jeff Beck is astonishing in Cause we've ended as lovers and many more like Freeway Jam.

He has continuously evolved. Others seem happy to rest on their laurels but not Jeff.

Should be much higher on this list. His ability in all styles of music is unequaled.

Simply amazing! He has mastered so many styles!

25 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.

Pete Townshend invented and mastered the way we play the guitar in the following way:
1. The windmill. No one can match him with this signature move - it's classic and unique to Pete Townshend. Anyone who attempts to copy this move should pay a royalty to Pete or simply thanks him.
2. The artistic acrobatics of jamming while in mid-flight and timing his jumps at precise moments in a tune for dramatic impact is another signature Pete Townshend playing style. Anyone who cannot contain themselves while playing live by ways of jumping, sliding, flying, throwing guitar in the air, etc. should thank Mr. Townshend for popularizing this style of playing a guitar during a live performance. No one does this better than Pete or has been captured in film doing this better than Pete.
3. The power chord in a musical composition. No one used chord composition and progression as a lead force during a song with an electric guitar such as Pete - listen to The Seeker, Won't Get Fooled Again, Go ...more

Whatever the dude with the 8 points said about Pete is what I think. Way underrated and used the instrument in ways people never did before. Guitar as art.

This man has influenced generations, without him some that are up higher on this list may not have been there.

Who? Pete Townshend HisAwesome SG and Rickenbackers have been smashed every concert, along with his hard to do Windmill...

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