Best Lead Guitarists of All Time

The Top Ten

1 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 you got to be kidding right Joe Satriani is 10 times the guitarist that slash will ever be he is the guitarists guitarist and is a teacher and he has teached Kirk Hammett Steve Via John pettruci Alex Scholnic as well as many others slash shouldn't even be in the top 50 there are much better guitar players than him! Slash the hack if you ask me! Ted Nugent is 66 years old and can play circles around slash! Slash is nothing but a pop rock star and is liked because of his popularity not his guitar playing skill!

Slash's god-like guitar skills and Axl Roses's energetic vocals were a match made in rock and roll heaven. Slash was the driving punch in the matter, showing his technique's and skills in songs such as Welcome To The Jungle, November Rain, Paradise City, and my personal favorite Sweet Child O' Mine.

That first comment is a lie slash is where he deserves to be jimmy page 1st I can see why Jimmy Page And Slash Are riff machines and slash knows how to play a guitar and where is Angus young 8th is where he should be. Eddie Van Halen slash jimmy page Jimi Hendrix and Angus young changed rock n roll. come on Thunderstruck is a monster riff and sweet child o mine

Slash is a great guitarist but extremely overrated. As far as mainstream rock goes he's an all time great but I voted Marty Friedman above him. Go outside the box and check out Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders.

2 Kirk Hammett 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.

The definitive guitarist of heavy metal, he was the art behind the masterpiece for this amazing band. With tracks like Master Of Puppets, Enter Sandman, Nothing Else Matters, and One, he is just in simpler words, a great guitarist.

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

No. He is overrated. Alright, I admit Jimmy Page is overrated. But not more than him. At least his solos sound different.

This should be richie sambora... Kirk maybe still great but no one can beat how sambora melodized the guitar

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.

Eddie Van Halen is jimmies second evolution. More technical and advanced but jimmy pages songwriting skills and guitar skills as a 1 man guitar army remains the most distinctive in classic rock. I understand eddie being 1 but jimmy is 1

Jimmy Page literally defined the definition of a lead guitarist. Showing his guitar skills perfectly alongside Robert Plant's vocals in songs such as Stairway To Heaven, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love, and Kashmir.

Slash's great, but he's no Jimmy Page. As for Eddie, he's just technical and sucks as a songwriter.
Page may not be the finest technical player, but he wrote dozens of rock classics that everybody would recognize.

Zeppelni might not be as mainstream as Guns N' Roses or Metallica, but if you know them you will see that Jimmy Page is better than Slash and the Metallica guy combined. Up to Presence, Zeppelin didn't have 1 bad song. And his riffs are simply mind blowing.

4 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.

Hendrix wrote the book on how to play the rock guitar. Just listen to the song "Machine Gun". It's a ten minute long song in which he goes entirely improvised and makes some of the greatest fills ever heard. Don't get me wrong, the whole page here is full of legendary guitarists. But Hendrix laid the foundation everyone else built upon.

Hendrix was the best guitarist on earth ever. There is no question about it. He could make a guitar talk and come alive. The sounds that he could get from a guitar was unbelievable - more so at the time when he used to play. We must judge him in comparison with others of his time. The greatest guitarist ever. That's it.

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.

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!

5 Eddie Van Halen Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen (January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020) was a Dutch-American musician, songwriter, producer, and inventor. He was best known as the lead guitarist, occasional keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.

Who in the Hell thinks Slash is #1? OH... I am sure Rolling Stone magazine has something to do with it. They don't know crap about music, and obviously, neither do the voters here.

Eddie defined Guitar Hero. In a time of Disco, he brought Van Halen to the forefront with his magic on the frets. Sure he hasn't had anything magical in like... ever... but that doesn't take away from what he has done.

Arguably the greatest guitarist in hard rock history, Eddie Van Halen was the force that drove Van Halen into decade - defining success with songs such as Panama, Jump, Eruption, and Hot for Teacher.

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

Listen to Eruption and basically any other song by Van Halen and you will feel compelled to vote for Eddie Van Halen.

6 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.

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

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

Monster riffs...Changed the world.

Greatest riffs ever written.

7 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 down at #7 on a best LEAD guitarists. I'm laughing ! This has to be a joke !
Lead = solos. No one, I mean NO ONE is on David's solos level

Packed a punch with his psychedelic rock guitar flavor in songs such as Comfortably Numb, Another Brick In The Wall Part II, Money, and Wish You Were Here, he transformed Pink Floyd into one of the greatest bands of all time.

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.

8 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.

He is by far the best rounded of any living guitarist. He continued to improve through the decades. He can play accoustic or electric equally well. He is the most respected by the best guitar players of every genre. He is probably the best developed guitarist alive.

Was also the lead guitarist in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, and Derek & The Dominos. He is the ONLY three-time inductee into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.

Clapton's abilities far and away exceeds any of the top ten listed here. What moron put this list together?

Just checking; which other of the fine guitarists listed here are also nicknamed "God"?

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

Brian is an exceptional guitarist. His skill only matched by the likes of Hendrix but has also got great songwriting ability (we will rock you, hammer to fall, now I'm here, Brighton rock, who wants to live forever, I want it all, the show must go on). Solos on bohemian rhapsody, somebody to love, Brighton rock, we will rock you to name a few have to put him up there as an innovative, creative and downright amazing musician, scientist AND engineer ( he built his amazing red special guitar with his dad). Quite underrated in my view.

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.

Brian May played solos that you actually wanted to listen to, unlike some other guitarists of the day who were considered better guitarists, but their solos were just endless noodling that went nowhere. His tone, his chops, his stage persona -- Brian sets the bar for what a rock guitarist should be.

Even tough Freddie Mercury was the literal power of the band, Brian May was a force to be reckoned with, creating some of the greatest guitar symphonies ever. This is showcased in songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, Somebody To Love, and We Will Rock You.

10 Synyster Gates 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.

He's just...amazingly talented. he plays clean and fast and I don't understand why he isn't on the list

I believe one of the best hopefully a good album coming up with new drummer! Rock n roll needs it!

The Contenders

11 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.

Inventor of power chords and heavy riffs,legend.

12 Dave Mustaine 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.

Angus Young is a great guitar player in his style, Jimi Hendrix was great in his style, they are all great! Some are more technical than others, some are more soulfull than others...Dime was the greatest, period.

Way better than any body here!

In a wrong list I think

Uh, he’s rhythm

13 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.

What is he doing at 54? He's possibly one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and the inventor of Neo-classical metal.

14 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.

Tony Iommi created a sound that would effect heavy metal greatly(in a good way). With songs such as Paranoid, Iron Man, War Pigs, and The Wizard he made Black Sabbath a staple in heavy metal.

He's kind of low in the ranking

15 George Harrison 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.

Great guitarist. Love his style. I think he is totally underrated, Just listen to the guitars on She Said She Said, I Feel Fine, I Want You... Amazing!

His minimalist technique is misunderstood to this day. His singular job was to play the phenomenal Lennon/McCartney compositions [the greatest in pop/rock history], and let the songs speak for themselves. After exposure to that genius, he began his own HOF composing career, but had learned well from the greatest.

Like everything else he did, George's playing style was understated. His solos are melodic and quick.

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

16 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.

17 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.

Rainbow - A Light In the Black, Stargazer, Death Alley Driver, Gates of Babylon
Deep Purple - Highway Star, Child In Time (live Made In Japan), Child In Time, Pictures of Home (2 solos), Burn

Ritchie has more memorable solos than any other guitarist and on that alone makes him #1!

Carlos Santana is great and all...but who in the world put him above THE Richie Blackmore?!

Blackmore is so underrated. Deep Purple have never been the same wihtout him. He is the greatest guitarist ever!

18 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.

Amazing guitar talent is what Richie Sambora is all about. With songs such as Livin' On A Prayer, Bad Medicine, You Give Love A Bad Name, and Bed Of Roses, no wonder he is on this list.

This man is a guitar god. Listen to Dry County or Lay Your Hands on Me.

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

Too bad he left

19 Carlos Santana Carlos Santana is a Mexican and American musician who first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American jazz.

This man is a bomb of guitar talent and energy, defining the genre of Latin rock with his crazy guitar solo's from the old day's too the early 2000's. With examples including Smooth, Black Magic Women, Maria, Maria, and Just Feel Better.

Always brought it

20 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.

dude, maybe Slipknot is you favorite band; but you're going to receive many bad comments in this list because you put Mick Thompson in first place... mainly because it is so wrong that he is before Jimi and Dimebag, and you forgot many great guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, Alexi Liaho, Zakk Wylde, John Petrucci, Rhandy Rhoads, Michael Angelo Batio, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Eric Clapton, Glenn Tipton...

Don't get me wrong... Hammet is one fine gutarist, but he doesn't belong in the number one slot or even the top five (and Metallica is one of my favorite bands) I'm sorry to say that, but it's true! And Dimebag should be in the top three, he blows.. Or should I say.. Could have blown Hammet out of the water.

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

Greatest ever! The entire package and then some.!

21 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.

Has both skill and class with the guitar. Was a virtual tie with Steve Vai. Also surprised Frank Zappa was not on the list...

Joe can sling it

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

Check out his solo to Tornado Of Souls and shut up.

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

His versatility is uncanny, I.e. stretches from metal heaven to pop hell.

23 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.

24 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.

Damn he is fast

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

25 Adrian Smith 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.
8Load More
PSearch List