Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitarists

rednile1

The Top Ten

1 Tommy Emmanuel Tommy Emmanuel William Thomas "Tommy" Emmanuel is an Australian guitarist, songwriter, and singer, best known for his complex fingerstyle technique, energetic performances, and the use of percussive effects on the guitar.

Tommy Emmanuel is a brilliant guitar player. The speed with which he moves up and down the neck is breathtaking. He's a great technician. But he's not a musician. A musician uses their talent and skill to draw attention to the music, with Tommy it's the other way around.

Just saw him last night. Incredible virtuosity...it's like he "lives" the guitar. And the stylistic range is beyond compare; he can rip through "Guitar Boogie" or play a slow ballad with equal ease. And while there's certainly great showmanship in his performances, there's no excess...you get Tommy, a guitar, and a mike.

The best guitar player period.

Many ways to judge a guitar player. Tommy shows that practice practice practice can combined with passion that only he knows creates exactly what you see, when you see him live. Time slows down, and you watch a man become totally committed to the art. There are no doubt better songwriters, but I have never seen anybody work as hard and be able to hit every note, create any possible sounds that can come from a acoustic guitar and succeed in making you feel what he is feeling at the same time

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2 José Feliciano José Feliciano José Montserrate Feliciano García (born September 10, 1945), better known simply as José Feliciano, is a Puerto Rican virtuoso guitarist, singer, and composer.

Jose is the most versatile guitarist ever! There is nothing he cannot play! He moves me like no other! He can make one guitar sound like an orchestra! Self taught, passionate and always entertaining. His voice also is wonderful..if you only knew Jose for Doors cover Light My Fire, then think again!

A guitar virtuoso has performed with the world best recognized symphony orchestras and with his own band. Even George Benson re-recorded his Affirmation.

He has performed with the best symphony orchestras worldwide and his own band. He is a genius in music. He still doing strong in Europe and Latin America Markets.

Jose Feliciano's guitar work is like none other. His style is unique and so very versatile! Yes, he's the best!

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3 Phil Keaggy

I think Phil is technically better than most others but no one is as good at writing a melody, which makes his music so pleasing and evocative. I've seen him live three times and each time left feeling like I have wasted my life because I did not pursue what I loved like Phil has.

The Greatest Acoustic Guitarist of All-time! No one can match his Excellence! - Nirmal1991USA

Nobody is even in Michael Hedges league. He reinvented the acoustic guitar.

I have had the joy of working as his sound engineer for a short tour many-many years ago. He is not only the most innovative and improvisational acoustic guitarist I have ever worked with (and I do have a few to my credit), He is also the nicest man you would ever want to meet. I had played guitar at the time for about 10 years. He asked me one time, "Do you play guitar? " After watching him play every night what could I say? "No, Phil, not at all! "

Phil now has 75 albums actually. My brother has every one. Two other fantastic guitarists are classical master Christopher Parkening and (of course) John Petrucci of Dream Theater. Vastly different but both world class musicians. Phil Keaggy, in my opinion, could keep up with...not better than, not even as good as...but could keep up with BOTH Parkening and Petrucci. That's how good and versatile he is.

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4 Paco de Lucia Paco de Lucia Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomez, known as Paco de Lucía, was a Spanish virtuoso flamenco guitarist, composer and producer.

No one is as good as Paco! This guy is a pioneer.

The best acoustic guitar all time!

Amazing and so cool. When are you coming to Canada?

Definitely the best

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5 Andrés Segovia

Single handedly kept classical guitar alive and trained an entire generation. He won't win popularity contests since he didn't play pop, but he preserved the music, techniques, and passion behind classical guitar. You may not say he is the absolute best based on your preferences, but you can't place anyone above him. Buy the CDs of his lessons, and listen to them daily.

Not a pop music player so he will never get the most votes but just the best.

A W E S O M E technically and spiritually.. His performance of Bach's chaconne, or anything... For me, No. 1!

Ask every single name on this list [the live ones anyway], and they will tell you that Segovia is the GOAT.

6 Eric Clapton 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.

His Unplugged album proves exactly why he is the most versatile guitarist to ever exist. From a Gibson to a Fender to Martin Acoustic Guitars playing Blues, Rock, Reggae and countless other genres on them, Clapton is a God at them all!

Ok I know he is known for his electric stuff but everyone knows his "Unplugged" album. Listen and watch. He is also one of the best acoustic guitarists of all time. Any guitar list without him is bogus. Come on folks at least top ten. There are Grammys for a reason!

Well he's a better elec guitar player than acoustic, but doesn't mean that he's not talented at acoustic.

Should be above talentless Ginger Ed Sheeran! - guyritchi

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7 Michael Hedges

Had the pleasure of seeing him live 3 times. The most gifted, influential, inspiring artist I have ever seen. His music, passion, energy, and love for life will truly be missed.

Absolutely one of my favorite guitarists, he explored a variety of techniques which have become common place. It's hard to hear how unique he was given the rapid spread of his techniques, and a number of people on this list use those techniques with extra pizzazz (! ). Few catch his emotional depth.

Musicality blended with musical and composition genius, Michael had it all and shared it with us.

There's a before and after Hedges. He revolutionized the way of playing acoustic guitar!

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8 Paul Simon Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel.

Number one in everything having to do with music. Genius!

9 Sungha Jung

Best not western guitarist known to the west

No words can describe his talents and technique. The complexities are mind blowing! When musicians hear Jung's rendition of their own songs they are even awe stuck at his style and approach. And the kid is young! Imagine the possibilities!

I think Sungha jung should be on top 10 cause his guitar sings the lyrics of every song he wants to cover... Listen to his videos so that you'll know what am talking about

Please help bringing Sungha to the 1st spot guys. He completely deserves it. I mean, look how young he is and even Jason Mraz (one of the best guitarist and a great singer) said that he studied Sungha's style for a whole week and he couldn't exactly do what he does and then he said that its really not easy...

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10 Chet Atkins Chet Atkins Chester Burton "Chet" Atkins (June 20, 1924 – June 30, 2001), known as "Mr. Guitar" and "The Country Gentleman", was an American musician, occasional vocalist, songwriter, and record producer, who along with Owen Bradley and Bob Ferguson, among others, created the country music style that came to ...read more.

Who else plays two songs at the same time?

His songs are as cool as his name

How is not atkins number 1?

He is the best, period!

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The Newcomers

? Cat Stevens Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

The Contenders

11 Richie Sambora Richie Sambora Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora is an American rock guitarist, producer, singer and songwriter who was the lead guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi for 30 years. He is known for his work with Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013. He is a very praised guitarist who played solos for songs like Dry County, Stranger ...read more.
12 Django Reinhardt Django Reinhardt Django Reinhardt is a famous guitarist in the genre of jazz. He lost 2 of his fingers in a fire but carried on with his playing. He later inspired Tony Iommi, the original guitarist of Black Sabbath, to continue playing after he lost his fingertips in a factory accident. His guitar is an acoustic gypsy. ...read more.

Another name with a legitimate claim to the GOAT title. A shame kids today have no idea who he was.

Lets be honest he is number 1

Founder of Gypsy Jazz. Through his influence, the guitar has become an integral part of pop music.
Many great guitarists are influenced and inspired by Django Reinhardt.

The fact that Taylor Swift is above Django Reinhardt completely blow's my mind! He is the greatest acoustic guitarist of all time. Reinhardt and Grapelli created a new genre of music when they played together.

13 John Williams

Fantastic technique and great versatility across a range of genres.

Transends classical jazz pop - rednile1

Go to youtube for John Williams playing asturias and recuerdos de la alhambra - he was also in the group Sky. Sky had a hit with toccatta.

14 Robert Johnson Robert Johnson Robert Leroy Johnson was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians.

The most innovative guitarist of all time. Created a genre that was the foundation of following genres.

With out him blues wouldn't exist which means that rock would not exist which means metal and grudge and hair metal and rap all would not exist.

the king of the delta blues...

15 John Martyn John Martyn John Martyn, OBE, born as Iain David McGeachy, was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a 40-year career, he released 21 studio albums, working with artists such as Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Phil Collins.

John Martyn was a criminally underrated artist, his guitar playing was effortless, innovative and so far ahead of its time. Eric Clapton once quoted that "John Martyn was so far ahead of everyone at the time it was almost inconceivable" His use of an echoplex on live sets needs to be heard to believe, it sounds like you're listening to two guitars at once, incredible.

The song Spencer the Rover is one of my favorits and his style of music is like Nick Drake

Rip a legend, inspired and wrote and sang solid air has never been bettered - rednile1

He floats in the air when he plays

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16 Mark Knopfler Mark Knopfler Mark Freuder Knopfler is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film score composer. He is best known for being the frontman of the British band Dire Straits.

Although more known as an electric guitar player, check out "Mark Knopfler showing his magic on acoustic guitar" on YouTube. Probably the most epic ragpicking I've seen.

WHAT IS TO SAY?

MASTER

17 Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran Edward Christopher "Ed" Sheeran is an English singer-songwriter and musician. He was born in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and raised in Framlingham, Suffolk.

cool

What.. Clapton, Page, Slash, Cantrell? Hell, even SRV recorded on an acoustic. PisS on this pop rap playing fool.

Are you kidding me? Best ever

Invented the best sounding technique ever.

18 Al Di Meola Al Di Meola Al Di Meola is an American jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer of Italian origin.

Lol, pathetic to see contemporary artist like Ed Sheeran above Al Di Meola. Kids these days surely does not understand differences in music. I understand that determining the best is very vague, but seriously, thetoptens need to conduct some screening whether the recommended names deserves to be on the list or not

Best in the world

The absolute best

Not one person has taken the level of playing guitar as high as Al. He can read write and compose, play flamenco, jazz, improvisational world music etc. Who else would have written an entire album re-interpreting for guitar the bandoneon played Argentian Tango music of Astor Piazzola. Nobody, No guitar player could even dream of such a task, let alone do it.

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19 George Lincoln D'Costa

Oh this guy is here. Can't believe my eyes. There were many reasons why I chose to play guitar. And some of the songs that inspired me was "Poth Chola" Just listen the acoustic guitar intro of this song. Mind blowing. - zxm

20 Estas Tonne

Estas is the best acoustic guitarist of all the times! Just listen to his Internal Flight. Absolutely amazing! Masterpiece of acoustic guitar songs!

Incredibly talented!

Should be number 1, if you don't believe, you haven't heard him.

He should be number 1 actually! Incredible guitarist!

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21 Bert Jansch Bert Jansch

Like John Martyn very under rated. Still love his cover of 'Heartbreak Hotel'.

22 John Mayer John Mayer John Clayton Mayer is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mayer attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, but disenrolled and moved to Atlanta in 1997 with Clay Cook. Together, they formed a short-lived two-man band called Lo-Fi Masters.

His talents are mostly overshadowed by his genre of songs being romantic, bluesy, yet kid-like wonder. His early works were very rhythmic with a hybrid of finger picking/plucking style infused with strumming. Eric Clapton was even inspired by it! All very original and difficult yet fun to play if you can. His later works would suffer a bit from his original fans because he chose to chase the more soloist complexities that are mostly afforded to the "real electric guitarist", well, at least one would think. What we can all agree with is John is an amazingly talented guitarist regardless! For those who doubt his real depth I suggest you listen to John's own version of 'Wind Cries Mary' and be lost in his own world filled with wonder and ambrosia.

Killer singer songwriter player! Check out shadow days (acoustic) or 3x5

His not just a good guitarist but a good singer... Rarely seen on this planet

He should be 1st easily...

23 Andy Mckee

The man the myth the legend

Has all the technical skill you could want in playing acoustic guitar and is extremely creative with his music and song writing. One of the best.

Dreamcatcher album is underrated to say the least. Great album from a great artist.

Andy mckee and don ross are the best

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24 Leo Kottke

Shows how many of these top ten lists are strictly popularity contests. He should be much higher on the list. A truly unique artist.

Best ever

None better. Should be number one.

#1 of all time!

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25 Yamandu Costa

The best of all.

Genius of the acoustic 7-string guitar.

A genius of nowadays!

26 Jimmy Page 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.

All of his acoustic songs are incredible, my personal favorites are stairway and over the hills and far away

27 Paul Buchannan

Sublime whimsical sad angry everyhing really - rednile1

28 John Butler John Butler John Charles Wiltshire-Butler, professionally known as John Butler, is an Australian singer, songwriter, and music producer. He is the front man for the John Butler Trio, a roots and jam band, that formed in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1998.

Sincerely, there is nothing to say. Listen to album Sunrise Over The Sea and you will remain mouth open!

"Ocean" is a masterpiece you can listen again and again. But best of all, when you watch him playing, you understand how physical it is and how much he has put himself into it. High in emotion.

I listened to Ocean and felt inspired... I learned to play Ocean and I WAS inspired. John Butler is the reason I've become a better player.

Improvisation and overall precision of playing is unbelievable, arguably the best open tuning guitarist out there.

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29 Earl Klugh

Maybe folks haven't really heard his works

Whoever compiled this list has obviously led a very narrow and sheltered life. Earl Klugh ranked at No. 30 is a joke, come on now he makes his guitar talk, listen closely...

He is undoubtedly the best

Who plays nylon string better - rednile1

30 Clive Carroll

One of the most creative and original musicians out there. Awesome technique, beautiful music

Incredible talent. And super sweet man. A class act.

Take a look, then decide for yourself.
Or to quote Tommy Emmanuel "one of the best guitarists on the planet"

31 John Vesely John Vesely

You did great John Vesely, you are the greatest musicians in the world and you are also an acoustic guitar player who was beautiful voice, so I'm sure if you'll be the first champion of the world

He is very good guitarist acoustic in america on the group band secondhand serenade, let's go, john vesely is my idol in Indonesia he is very excellent singer and guitarist

Come on John Vesely you should be able to outperform the others and you should be positioned on one, your wife
and kids would surely love to see it ok, you are beautiful guitar player, I support you

32 Doc Watson Doc Watson Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson was an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was a great fingerstyle and flatpicking guitarist. He wasthe real thing when it came to good old mountain music but expanded into all genres, He is a class act!

33 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and artist who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades.

Bob Dylan's has always been a great acoustic guitarist. - zxm

Should be higher

34 Dave Matthews Dave Matthews Dave Matthews is a South African born American singer and guitarist most well known as frontman for the rock band Dave Matthews Band.

Retarded that dave is not in top 10. lol look at his songs: Warehouse, Rhyme and Reason, The Stone and tell me he is not top 10. lol.

Dave is at least top 20

I meant to say copied, not cooied! You get the point I hope!

John Mayer cooied his whole persona! And Mayer is bwfore Dave! Embarassing to say the least list maker person! For shame.

35 Mike Dawes

This man is on another level. Transcends everything we ever thought was possible on an acoustic guitar. Ed Sheeran at 6? If I was Mr Dawes I would be offended by that.

36 Alan Davison

Bewitching player tells a story never took the praise he warrented - rednile1

37 Julian Bream

He can extend and blend his soul to the guitar. Forget about all those flashy stuff other guitarists do. He is the god of classical guitar!

Excuisite challenging and genre busting - rednile1

38 Ben Howard

Has his own style and sound

If you get a chance, check out his live performance of 'End of the affair' on the Jools Holland show. Absolutely breath and totally unique.

Uses alternate tunings, partial capos, delay pedal, belts into the soundhole of his guitar, bloke is a freak and the best acoustic guitarist on the planet, period.

39 John Fahey John Fahey John Aloysius Fahey was an American fingerstyle guitarist and composer who played the steel-string acoustic guitar as a solo instrument.

Most of these guys would not be playing if John hadn't had been there first

Should be much, much higher on this list!

40 Tony Rice

Tony Rice should never be out of any legitimate top 5 ever list. He may be the best acoustic player still alive.

Best guitar Player for ever.

Tony is the greatest

Tony...The man!

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41 Johnny Cash Johnny Cash John R. "Johnny" Cash (1932-2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. He died of ...read more.
42 Oystein Sunde

Eric Clapton ones sayd ''I am not the best guitarst in the world, there is one guy in Norway and his name is Øystein Sunde and he is without a doubt the best guitarst in the world''...

43 Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson Nancy Lamoureaux Wilson is an American musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and composer. She rose to fame alongside her older sister, singer Ann Wilson, as a guitarist and backing vocalist in the rock band Heart, which she joined in 1974.

She's one of my favorite acoustic guitarists of all time. - SpinelliFan

44 James Taylor James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Probably one of the most influential acoustic artists of all time.

Crisp and clean

45 Robert Fripp Robert Fripp Robert Fripp (born 16 May 1946) is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. As a guitarist for the progressive rock band King Crimson, Fripp has been the only member to have played in all of King Crimson's line-ups from their inception in the late 1960s to the present. He has also worked ...read more.

Forget the prog and rock (though brilliant) listen to the other side - rednile1

46 John Renbourn

Listen to his first two albums. Another Monday or the song Buffalo. Kottke, Fahey. Jansch, Hedges, Dykes, Watson, Django, Emmanuel-Renborn. All great. And many more of course. Charlie Chistian, Larrry Corryell, Mclaughlin, Tony Rice. It's a golden age of guitar recordings. Past and present.

47 Richard Thompson

A prolific songwriter, sure. There are songs I've heard him play 3 or 4 times live in concert and on 3 or 4 additional live albums. Each rendition is different, but each is immediately identifiable as Thompson on guitar, and each true to the song. Very few on this list can approach his mastery of the guitar and combine it with sensitivity to mood and personality.

RT at 67 is very wrong. He should have been in top 10. He is one of the founders of Modern Brit folk /folk rock. In addition he is a topnotch singer songwriter.His gruffy vocals are best suited for the acoustic ditties that he often sings.He is also an excellent electric guitar player with with flowing meldies. His work with Fairport, His ex Linda and solo work are of the highest order. His guitar work, abilities as singer songwriter are intact ( may have actually improved) since almost half a century. Listen his albums Stil(2015) or Acoustic (2016) to get a taste of this wonderful musician.

48 Doyle Dykes

Seriously I had to add him? Easily top 5 with Tommy Emmanuel. Guess people just haven't heard or seen him. Do yourself a favor and do so!

49 Raphael Rabello

Rafael Baptista Rabello (October 31, 1962 " April 27, 1995), was a virtuoso Brazilian guitarist and composer. During the 1980s and 1990s, he was considered one of the best acoustic guitar players in the world and played with many famous artists, such as Tom Jobim, Ney Matogrosso, Paulo Moura and Paco de Lucia.

50 Kyle Gass

Seriously? This man may play comedy music, but this guy is really a ledgend. His speed is just awesome. Listen to tribute and kickapoo and tell me the guitar isn't good

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List Stats

1,000 votes
83 listings
9 years, 258 days old

Top Remixes (4)

1. Tommy Emmanuel
2. Phil Keaggy
3. Paco de Lucia
zxm
1. José Feliciano
2. Django Reinhardt
3. John Williams
Guitarist100h
1. Phil Keaggy
2. Michael Hedges
3. Paul Simon
Nirmal1991USA

WRemix
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