Greatest Thrash Metal Lead-Guitarists


The Top Ten

1 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 more.

The best all around guitarists in metal for sure. Not the best less but very good and the best rhythm and riffs by a good margjn. He is the man!

Mustaine is genius... All of his riffs, all of his solos are like addiction! You can't help yourself getting addicted. This started from Kill em All and still working inside me like madness. - Nord666

Dangerous Dave is tops on my list for many reasons but the number one reason is because of his perfect mix of speed, precision, substance and soul. I have friends that claim thrash players lack the soul of guys like SRV and Clapton and that's just ignorant babble. There may be guys a tad faster or maybe slightly more technical at times but if you take the complete package Mustaine edges out the others. I play guitar and his rhythms are amazing and he plays most of them while growling out his equally as aggressive lyrics. He paints a picture with his playing like no other. I'm not trying to put down other guys on the list because they are all truly great but Mustaine is the ONE Corvette on the floor in a showroom full of SUV's and modest sedans!

No beats Mustaine as a thrash metal guitarist. His riffs and solos are played at such a high level of complexity and speed, your just left in awe of his talent.

2 Marty Friedman (Megadeth, Cacophony) Marty Friedman (Megadeth, Cacophony) 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 more.

Best guitarist in the whole universe.

Marty is better than Dave honestly

Who on this list performed Tornado Of Souls, one of the greatest guitar solos of all time?

That's right, Marty Friedman did.

Nader of Souths

3 Alex Skolnick (Testament) Alex Skolnick (Testament) Alexander Nathan Skolnick is an American metal and jazz guitarist who is the lead guitarist of the Bay Area thrash metal band Testament, and heads the jazz band Alex Skolnick Trio.

This guy is the best guitarist alive today. Undisputed for me.

This guy is WAY better than Dave! Dave needed Friedman if they were to make themselves big, but Alex has it all! His rythym is unmatched, and his solos reach the heavens in terms of speed and technicality. Number 1 For Sure!

Listen to practice what you preach and over the wall enough said

Come on people Dave is great, but not #1. Kirk might be top ten if he could still play like he did in the 80s. I would honestly rather listen to Marty, but Alex deserves far more respect than he receives.

4 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.

When kirk let's rip nothing can stop him master of puppets, One, should definitely be higher up on this list

Kirk Kills all his solos - Metalhead83927

Kirk Hammett is the best thrash metal lead guitarist. Why is Dave even on this list, he's a rhythm guitarist. Yes he does play the occasional solo but that doesn't make him a lead guitarist. I think people don't like Kirk and Metallica a a whole because they went soft but if you listen to solos off death magnetic such as the end of the line you will be amazed that Kirk has still got it even though he is almost 50.

His solos are boring (not all) and they don't have a high impact, really overrated guitarist, Jeff Waters and Dimebag Darrel DESTROY Kirk Hammet.

5 Jeff Waters (Annihilator) Jeff Waters (Annihilator) 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, more.

The guy is a guitar virtuoso. Very talented songwriter and riff master, too. Go see him live - he still plays as good as 25 years ago on studio versions although the stuff is very fast and technically demanding. After their debut album (1989, Alice in Hell), Dave Mustaine wanted Jeff Waters in Megadeth. Jeff Waters declined and Megadeth hired Marty Friedman (an excellent choice, too). - Metal_Treasure

Can you Megadeth fan boys stop putting Dave Mustaine number one for everything? He's not even a lead guitarist. And stop talking trash on Metallica. Listen to real thrash like Slayer. Megadeth is more like quick rock and roll - Sabbath

Jeff deserves way more attention, he should be in the top 3. Why do you think Mustaine asked him to join Megadeth? He is way better than Friedman. His name is never even mentioned.

He's the King of the Kill! - Nord666

6 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.



Hanneman's style of soloing was chaotic, evil, and aggressive and for a band like Slayer that fits perfectly. Nobody can solo like Hanneman can and a lot of the time nobody can make a solo fit a song like Hanneman can.

Hanneman composes most of the musics of Slayer. Remember the coposition of World Painted Blood, Angel of Death or Disciple? The craziest guitarist ever. - Nord666

7 Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) 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.


Who cares about thrash or not! Dime smokes all these guys no problem..

I am confused, how is Pantera even thrash? They are amazing but they are not thrash at all.

He is the greatest metal guitarist ever but pantera was never Thrash

8 Gary Holt (Exodus) Gary Holt (Exodus) Gary Wayne Holt is an American guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a guitarist, the bandleader, and the main songwriter for the American thrash metal band Exodus and is also a guitarist for the American thrash metal band Slayer.

Gary Holt is god. Marty and Dime are amazing too. And Reece Scruggs of Havok.

I prefer Skolnick and Friedman, but seeing Holt below Hammett is upsetting. Gary Holt is probably the best example of how thrash guitarists should play the genre. Because really, anything related to Exodus is pretty definitive of thrash in general (and I'm not a fanboy. Exodus isn't even in my top favorite thrash bands). Nevertheless, Gary Holt is one of the first players that comes to my mind when thinking of thrash. That should count for something. - surgeonsanic

So under appreciated it is criminal I think this list is very good but holt needs to be in the top four. Happy to see Skolnick get the appreciation he deserves. Listen to some Exodus and you'll see why Holt needs some more votes. Saw him live with slayer during the summer he did all the soloing king stuck to rhythm and Holt just showcased what a phenom he is.

Gary Holt doesn't have the best solos, but he writes the greatest thrash riffs. And guys, stop talking about Dave Mustaine. Yeah he's a mess up at times, but he was a lead guitarist... not for megadeth but Metallica in their demo days. Lot of the stuff from the debut still had his licks

9 Miland 'Mille' Petrozza (Kreator)

He is the vocalist and lead guitarist of Kreator. Check out Pleasure to Kill and Enemy of God if you have any doubt about his talent! - Nord666

Speed, precision and pure talent. Seen them live amazing guitarist.

Great musician... World class

I think they confuse popularity vs talent, if you haven't seen 'Mille' in concert you havn't seen anything, people like Petrozza, Rico, Urbinati, Hanneman, Sifringer, Wilkens are truly underrated

10 Josh Christian (Toxik)

Josh plays with intensity! But with that comes an intricate, clean style, that is lacking in some of the other greats!

He outclasses every guitarist in this list. He's not only best in thrash but propably in whole metal genre as well. The way he combines his mad shredding and technical skills with melodic phrasing is incredible. He's a true guitar virtuoso.

The Contenders

11 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.

He should b in top 10 thrash guitarists

Best guitarist in my opinion and Dave Mustaine is just a story he sucks and Martie Friedman is way better than him

You guys haven't probably listened to Kerry king play. He deserves to be in the top ten.

Yes, we have. But sensible voters vote for their favorite guitarist instead of their favorite band's guitarist. - Alkadikce

I feel like Kerry King gets overlooked a bit. He has a lot of really good solos and leads, especially on the South of Heaven album and Seasons in the Abyss album.

12 Tommy Baron (Coroner) Tommy Baron (Coroner)

Other than Skolnick the only progressive Thrash guitarist. So technical these other retards would never be able to play his music.

Number one, undeniably so..

Master of guitar. Best riff's.

Technical thrash at its best

1 Comment
13 Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) Andreas Kisser (Sepultura)

Oh HELL NO, that loser Kerry King before Kisser? Someone needs to get his ears checked or what is (or should be) between the ears.

Why wasn't he on this list, old Sepultura was great.

All Sepultura is great, his guitar playing is better now than back in the day... Andreas is one of the best ever.

Wheter back on the days or now, Andreas always put together great guitar's technique (riffs, creativity and speed). Very well-rounded.

14 Dan Spitz (Anthrax)

Simply amazing

15 Lee Altus (Heathen, Exodus)

Lee Altus is an amazing guitar player, he plays and shreds just like Gary Holt but at the same time he stands on his own as a unique guitar player. He deserves to be in the Top 5 along with Mustaine, Friedman, Holt and Skolnick. THRASH RULES! m/

16 James Hetfield (Metallica) James Hetfield (Metallica) 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.

Not really a lead guitarist

Not a lead guitarist, and even in his rhythm guitarist he is not a very good player...

Yes, he is not really a lead guitarist. But he can play lead guitar. And he has also played. - zxm

17 Russ Anderson (Forbidden)

"Through Eyes Of Glass"

What the hell is he doing on this list?

18 Scott Ian (Anthrax) Scott Ian (Anthrax) Scott Ian is an American musician, best known as the rhythm guitarist, backing and additional lead vocalist, and the only remaining original founding member of the thrash metal band Anthrax. He also writes the lyrics on all their albums.

Lead guitarist?

19 Tom Angelripper (Sodom) Tom Angelripper (Sodom) Thomas Such, better known by his stage name Tom Angelripper, is the founding member and main songwriter of German thrash metal band Sodom.
20 Bobby Gustafson (Overkill)

He could run most of the guitarist in the top 10 out of town

Listen to the solo of shred, so fast, so powerful.

With Bobby they didn't need a second guitar player.what other band can really say that

21 Reece Scruggs (Havok)


22 Harry Wilkens (Destruction)

Incredible talent!

23 Eric Peterson (Testament)
24 Frank Blackfire (Sodom, Kreator) Frank Blackfire (Sodom, Kreator) Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV (born April 6, 1965) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the frontman of the influential alternative rock band Pixies, with whom he performs under the stage name Black Francis.


A very good guitarist that definitely deserves to have a higher ranking on this list because compare the "persecution mania"solo to Metallica's "hit the lights" solo and you'll more than likely see a drastic difference.

Why is there Frank Black from the Pixies on the pic?

25 Meritt Grant (Overkill)
26 Mitsos Jacks (Fatal Mutiny)
27 Chris Broderick Chris Broderick Christopher Alan Broderick is an American musician, best known as the former lead and rhythm guitarist of the American heavy metal band Megadeth.

He deserves much better place.

His fingers can fly.

Only 40 and kicks everyone on this list's ass

28 Chris Poland (Megadeth)

Come on we forgot the guy who played on peace sells? One of the most essential and influential thrash albums of all time? No? Anyone?

What! Chris Poland is criminally underrated man.Why he's so low in the list

29 Samir Hafiz (Powersurge)
30 Mike Sifringer (Destruction)

Brilliant guitar ideas realized in their songs

One of the very best, period. So underrated!

A true legend! Destruction rules!

31 Rocky George (Suicidal Tendencies)

This guy deserves to be in the top ten. Listen to his albums with Suicidal (like "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow" or "Lights...Camera...Revolution! ") and you'll see why he deserves to be in the top ten.

How the hell is Rocky so low on this list? His solos are amazing! He should at least be in the top 5. - memo273

32 Dave Linsk (Overkill)
33 Darren Travis (Sadus)
34 Ol Drake (Evile)

He's relatively new in the game of thrash however he is dominating the new era with his brother

35 Alexi Laiho Alexi Laiho 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.

This man is extremely good but not thrash, no better than thrash; melodeth.

He is called the wildchild for a reason. Thrash metal has been redefined by him.

This guy ain't a thrash metal guitarist, he is a donkey fokkah

36 Andy Laroque
37 Rob Caggiano (Anthrax)

Rob Caggiano Shredds!

38 Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society) Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society) Zakk Wylde is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor who is best known as the former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society.
39 Michael Stützer (Artillery)
40 Adam Jones Adam Jones Adam Thomas Jones (born January 15, 1965) is a three-time Grammy Award-winning American musician and visual artist, best known for his position as the guitarist for Tool.

He thrash metal? LOL. - Metal_Treasure

41 Paul Gilbert (Racer X) Paul Gilbert (Racer X) 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.
42 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.

Oh my god, stupid emo kids everywhere. AVENGED SEVENFOLD IS NOT THRASH METAL.


Synyster Gates is not really a thrash lead guitarist. his solos are fast and also heavy. which leads him to a heavy metal guitarist. but not thrash metal guitarist - zxm

43 Shishir (Aurthohin)

Again, he was a hard rock guitarist (both lead and rhythm guitarist). when Komol joined the band, basically he had to pick rhythm guitar. and he is mostly a hard rock guitarist. he played some metal songs. but most of them are heavy metal, not thrash metal. - zxm

44 Ibrahim Ahmed Kamal (Warfaze) Ibrahim Ahmed Kamal (Warfaze)

He is a very good guitarist. And yes he can play thrash lead guitar. and he has also played some. but he didn't focus on thrash metal. instead he focused more on heavy metal. and even if he played thrash metal, then he is better at rhythm guitar than lead guitar (for thrash metal) - zxm

45 Severin Korhonen (Hellraiser)
46 Kristian Havard (Xentrix)
47 Axel Katzmann (Tankard)

Very underrated, amazing guitarist.

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List Stats

1,000 votes
47 listings
7 years, 247 days old

Top Remixes (11)

1. Alex Skolnick (Testament)
2. Eric Peterson (Testament)
3. Marty Friedman (Megadeth, Cacophony)
1. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
2. Alex Skolnick (Testament)
3. Jeff Waters (Annihilator)
1. Jeff Waters (Annihilator)
2. Marty Friedman (Megadeth, Cacophony)
3. Alex Skolnick (Testament)

View All 11

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