Best Lead Guitarists of All Time

Maggot777

The Top Ten

1 Kirk Hammett - Metallica Kirk Hammett - Metallica Kirk 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.

Anyway Kirk Hammett the best
n greatest guitarist absolutely

I love you Kirk!

I like Kirk, but he isn't the best. - Userguy44

Kirk is the best guitarist. His speed is awesome. If you don't believe it see him playing master of puppets it was great

5 Comments
2 Slash 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.

This is not fair at all. Kirk Hammett's solos do not have the emotion that Slash's solos have. BOO!

Slash should be number 1 for being the master of the les Paul Gibson and for his work in Guns N’ Roses and velvet revolver

This guy is the king of all guitarists. He has such passion towards music. His fingers move like lightning all over the guitar.

Its pretty much hard to play slash parts of solo. I played every solo and conclude slash solos are a bit difficult than kirk

8 Comments
3 Angus Young - AC/DC Angus Young - AC/DC 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.

Really Angus above Ritchie Blackmore? - Userguy44

The guy that can play guitar while lying on the floor with spasms

Angus is the best... Love that duck walk!

Eddie van halen

2 Comments
4 Ritchie Blackmore 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.

After 5 years, 215 days, and 57 names, he wasn't on this list? Shame. - Metal_Treasure

Surprisingly he wasn't on the list - zxm

5 Dave Mustaine - Megadeth Dave Mustaine - Megadeth David Scott "Dave" Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. Mustaine is best known as a pioneer in Thrash Metal, being the former lead guitarist of Metallica before his dismissal in 1983, leading to finding and becoming the front man of his own ...read more.

In a wrong list I think

Way better than any body here!

I'm going Dave mustaine on this one to be the lead guitarist in the 2 biggest metal bands in the world u gotta be number one just for that and he plays rhythm and sings no one comes close to big pappa Dave

Uh, he’s rhythm - GreenDayFan21

6 Jeff Waters Jeff Waters Jeff Waters (born February 13, 1966) is a Canadian metal musician and founder of the metal band Annihilator. He's best known as the guitarist for Annihilator, appreciated for his fast riffs and solos. Waters is also the primary songwriter in the band. Very often he has taken on the role of lead singer, ...read more.

Annihilator - Alison Hell. He wrote the song and played the riffs and solo. - Metal_Treasure

7 Jimi Hendrix - The Jimi Hendrix Experience Jimi Hendrix - The Jimi Hendrix Experience 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.

What the hell? Is this a list or comedy. If Jimi Hendrix could be on top of best guitarist list then why he is low in this list. So, what was he? Wasn't he a lead guitarist? Lead guitar has rhythm parts in it. So, all lead guitarists are rhythm guitarists. - zxm

Mick Thompson better than Jimi Hendrix, that is comedy. LMAO I know this is someone's idea of a joke, and it's funny. Jimmy Page couldn't crack the top ten... it's getting funnier. I mean Page is no Kirk Hammet... we all no that, rofl!

Jimi is the greatest guitarist that has ever lived, is still living or ever will live.

Jimi is the greatest of all time!

1 Comment
8 Joe Satriani 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.

The best!

9 Synyster Gates - Avenged Sevenfold Synyster Gates - Avenged Sevenfold Brian 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.

Syn's skill is amazing! Sweep picking, dive bombs, hammer ons and pull offs, sliding. He's a master of it all. Most of his solos are superfast and clean at the same time. The solo from afterlife is what you should listen to. Jimi hendrix set his guitar on fire. Syn can do the same. ALL HE HAS TO DO IS PLAY IT! HE PLAYS SO FAST HE MAKES SLASH SEEM LIKE A ROOKIE!
FoREVer

You must be kidding me! He's the best lead guitarist ever born. Slash is nowhere even close to him.

Him and zacky and so many others inspired me to become a guitarist!

Syn great guitarist ever

1 Comment
10 Eddie Van Halen 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.

Should be in top 5.

Eddie is #12? lol.

Why would anybody in their right mind put Synyster Gates over Eddie Van Halen?! This is coming from an Avenged sevenfold fan too!

The MASTER!

The Contenders

11 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.

This guy should be 2nd, not 10th.

Synyster gates? Better than jimmy page? I don't think so. Jimmy page was the second greatest guitarist that ever lived the first being jimi hendrix.

12 Jeff Loomis Jeff Loomis Jeff Loomis is an American musician, best known for his role as lead guitarist in the progressive metal band Nevermore and death metal band Arch Enemy.

He's a technical beast. - Metal_Treasure

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

He is simply the best

Brian May is greatly under appreciated. He wrote many #1 hit songs, topping the music charts. He was also very creative using a six-pence coin instead of guitar picks using the rough side for special noises. He was also a member of the best band ever (Queen) and is a very famous astrophysicist. How many famous lead guitarists can say that. Or people in general.

Slash before Slash

Surely the most technically able guitarist of all time

14 Joe Bonamassa Joe Bonamassa Joe Bonamassa is an American blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter. When he was only 12 years old, Bonamassa opened for B.B. King. He was born 8th May 1977. He is known to be one of the greatest blues guitarists ever.

He was not on this list, really a shame, he beat Kirk Hammett on all fronts. - Jph

15 Adrian Smith - Iron Maiden Adrian Smith - Iron Maiden Adrian 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.
16 Yngwie Malmsteen 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.

There has never been one like him!

Black Star is a masterpiece. - Metal_Treasure

YJM deserves to be no. 1. You people heard of FBTS and BS - GreenDayFan21

17 Marty Friedman Marty Friedman Martin 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.

The mastermind of thrash metal...melodic and technical at the same time...every single solo he writes is just amazing...he should be at 1

The only one who deserves to be in the top 10 in this whole list.

18 John Petrucci - Dream Theater John Petrucci - Dream Theater John Peter Petrucci is an American guitarist, composer and producer. He is best known as a founding member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater. Compared to his level of skill, John Petrucci is relatively unknown in the modern music industry.

Here is number one! The others are incredible in their own right but this guy is on another level. But most peons won't understand this fact.

Should be higher - zxm

NOWWTF IS THIS BULLCRAP, SYNYSTER GATES OVER A GOD?

19 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.

It genuinely scares me that anybody would put Mick Thompson over Eric Clapton.

The graffiti in 1960's London alleyways said it all: "Clapton is God".

20 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.

Very under rated

He is very under rated on this site

He was also not in this list, really a shame. - Jph

21 Dimebag Darrel - Pantera

Greatest ever! The entire package and then some.!

Dimebag Darrell is the greatest of all time! Kirk? There must be some crazy dope going around.

Picture? What the hell.

O my god so good.

2 Comments
22 Steve Vai Steve Vai Steven Siro "Steve" Vai is an American guitarist, composer, singer, songwriter, and producer, born and raised on Long Island, New York.
23 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. At age 17, he accidentally lost the fingertips of his middle ...read more.

Tony in #23 and Kirk on top? Kirk wrote wonderful solos and he's a great player, but I think he's overrated. Tony is so underrated as a lead guitarist. People say that there are guitarists that can solo better than Tony, but actually there are people that can solo better than Kirk and Tony is one of them. Kirk has made great choices of notes and phrasing and he's done some good bending, but there are guitarists including Tony that not only can do that, but they use more control whenever they use vibrato and they don't overuse wah pedals while soloing. Just listen to "War Pigs", "Black Sabbath", "NIB", "Planet Caravan", "Children Of The Grave", "Symptoms Of The Universe", "Neon Knights" "Heaven and Hell", "Lonely Is The Word", etc.

24 David Gilmour - Pink Floyd David Gilmour - Pink Floyd 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.

He should be in the top 10. His feeling and playing style is amazing! - Userguy44

Most of those guitarists ranked above him bow to Gilmour

David Gilmour is probably the most soulful guitarist alive today. Kirk Hammett is very good, but no one can beat the soulful, inerrant style of David Gilmour.

Laughing at the list. He's on top 7 of "Best Guitarists Ever" list. And he's on 22 of best lead guitarist list. - zxm

3 Comments
25 Alex Lifeson - Rush Alex Lifeson - Rush 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.

One of the most inspiring musicians out there. Deep variety, sound, quality, versatility. All of his work is unique.

Should be in the top 10

26 Mick Thomson - Slipknot Mick Thomson - Slipknot Mickael Gordon "Mick" Thomson is an American heavy metal musician. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he is best known as one of two guitarists in Slipknot, in which he is designated #7.

OF course he is. He created his own tuning. Kirk is good but just any regular guitarist

Of course Mick Thompson's #1. His guitar powers are controlled by the power of his mask. My inspiration.

WHY!
He should be #1

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

He was also not in this list, really a shame. - Jph

28 Jeff Hanneman - Slayer Jeff Hanneman - Slayer Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.
29 Joe Perry - Aerosmith Joe Perry - Aerosmith Anthony Joseph "Joe" Perry is the lead guitarist, backing and occasional lead vocalist, and contributing songwriter for the American rock band Aerosmith.

Very underrated but very talented too. Should be higher without a doubt. Aerosmith wouldn't be the same without him. - Userguy44

Best ever, for a lot of reasons.

30 Alexi Laiho - Children of Bodom Alexi Laiho - Children of Bodom Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho is a Finnish guitarist, composer, and vocalist. He is best known as the lead guitarist, lead vocalist and founding member of the melodic death metal band Children of Bodom, and is also the guitarist for Sinergy, The Local Band and Kylähullut.
31 George Harrison - The Beatles George Harrison - The Beatles George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

He should be #1.

He is the greatest, his solos was for the music, not for the ego.

I can't believe he is number #40

32 Kerry King - Slayer Kerry King - Slayer Kerry Ray King is an American musician, best known as a guitarist for the American thrash metal band Slayer.
33 Michael Padge Paget - Bullet For My Valentine

Man he is so underrated :(
He should be on top 5 :(

Tears don't fall, shows what he is

34 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.

Can't believe he isn't higher. He is one of the greatest ever! - Userguy44

35 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.

I think he's more like a rhythm guitarist. - Userguy44

36 Stevie Ray Vaughan Stevie Ray Vaughan Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of music, and ...read more.

He was the best playing lead guitarist and rhythm blues too at the same time on one guitar.
That's a gift not many guitarists have

You should all be ashamed of your selves one of the best bar none

He was also not in this list, really a shame. - Jph

37 John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
38 Dan Donegan - Disturbed Dan Donegan - Disturbed Dan Donegan is an American musician and guitarist for heavy metal band Disturbed. Donegan began playing guitar as a teenager and eventually formed a band called Vandal, which was an 1980s-style hair band.

All ready gone has awesome guitar

Haha, Disturbed's my favorite band and I love Danny to death. However, he should not be in the the top 20, let alone the top 10. That's not to say he's bad guitarist. He's an excellent guitarist; the man learned how to play just by watching someone on T.V. and he down-picks exclusively. Considering this list is bad enough as is, I'll support the home-team and give the guy my vote

39 Daron Malakian - System of a Down Daron Malakian - System of a Down Daron Vartan Malakian is an Armenian–American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer.

Just for the madness he has got, I would rank him in top ten. My personal favorite though.

40 Jeff Beck 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.

He was also not in this list, really a shame. - Jph

41 Brad Delson Brad Delson Bradford Phillip Delsonis an American musician, best known as the lead guitarist and one of the founding members of the Grammy Award winning rock band Linkin Park.

He's ok. I like Linkin Park but their guitarist is mediocre. - Userguy44

He rocks
Have you ever heard waiting for the end?

42 Paul Gilbert Paul Gilbert Paul Brandon Gilbert is an American hard rock/heavy metal guitarist. He is best known for being the co-founder of the band Mr. Big. He was also a member of Racer X, with whom he released several albums.
43 Robin Trower
44 Matt Bellamy Matt Bellamy Matthew James "Matt" Bellamy is an English musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and compose most famous for being the main vocalist in alternative rock band Muse.

His solos are pretty cool. - Userguy44

45 Mick Taylor Mick Taylor Michael Kevin Taylor is an English musician, best known as a former member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and the Rolling Stones.
46 Tom Delonge Tom Delonge Thomas Matthew "Tom" DeLonge, Jr., is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and film producer. He was born in Poway, California on December 13, 1975. When he was in high school at age 15, he got expelled for drinking at a basketball game. He also used to play the trumpet, ...read more.
47 Frank Marino

This guy was doing taps before Eddie Van Halen was even around he was also the first to use the wireless on the guitar as well as the first to do the backward guitar sound he was way ahead of his time and was the first after Hendrix died to do that style of music as well as some Hendrix songs on the guitar! No one sounds as close as Hendrix than this guy can if he wants! He also builds his own amps and effects pedals to meet his personal sounds and needs!

48 Uli Roth
49 Johnny Ramone - Ramones Johnny Ramone - Ramones 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.

Like I said in the remix, he is not really a lead guitarist. A band that has only one guitarist doesn't really mean he has to be lead guitarist. Lead guitar is more complex than rhythm guitar. Rhythm guitar usually means some notes played repeatedly. That means rhythm guitarists mostly play riffs. While lead guitarists play more than just riffs. They play solos, use more techniques - pull off and hammer on, bending, difficult licks etc. Johnny Ramone could play lead guitar. But he did rhythm part more than lead part. So he shouldn't be so high on this list. And its not just for him. Also for a lot of punk guitarists. They use more rhythm guitar part than lead part. - zxm

50 Ray Toro Ray Toro Raymond "Ray" Toro is an American musician who served as lead guitarist and backing vocalist of the band My Chemical Romance until their split in 2013.

He's good. The hidden Talent.

8Load More
PSearch List

Related Lists

Top 10 Lead Guitarists of the '80s Top 10 Lead Guitarists of the '70s Top Ten Guitarists Who Are More Famous Than Their Lead Singers Top 10 Extreme Metal Lead Vocalists / Guitarists Top 10 Guitarists Who Switch Rhythm / Lead Guitar Role on a Regular Basis

List Stats

700 votes
73 listings
8 years, 212 days old

Top Remixes (6)

1. David Gilmour - Pink Floyd
2. John Petrucci - Dream Theater
3. Alex Lifeson - Rush
zxm
1. Ritchie Blackmore
2. Jeff Waters
3. Jeff Loomis
Metal_Treasure
1. Joe Bonamassa
2. Mark Knopfler
3. Gary Moore
Jph

WRemix
View All 6

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.