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.

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.

He is rhythm - GreenDayFan21

V 34 Comments
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.

OK Mustaine is the brain of music, his riffs and so are far the best. But look for Megadeth after Marty left. What is that? Suddenly the music is empty. There is no one who can compete with Dave than Marty. And Marty can even play better than Dave. And talking about best LEAD guitarist, the vote should go to Marty.

Marty Friedman needs to be number one. He is hands down the most talented virtuoso in this group. Skolnick maybe comes close, maybe. Hammett is a very distant second. Just listen to Marty's solo work and you'll know why.

Come on, guys, use your ears. Tornado of Souls beats everyone else on this list. The only true competitors on this list are Skolnick and Jeff Waters.

He is great. - bg75

V 12 Comments
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.

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.

I'm glad to see he is at least 4th in this list. I think common sense is not dead! And for those of you that don't know his work, check out the solos of Apocalyptic City and Practice What You Preach. They're a perfect combo of technique and emotion.

You simply cannot beat him. He plays and composes genius music backed by musical theory and yet is behind mustaine and the EXTREMELY overrated Kirk Hammett. :/

Skolnick isn't only great in thrash, he's jazz guitarrist too, and man know how to shreds.

V 12 Comments
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.

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.

He played his finest solos in Master of Puppets, Ride The Lightning and... And Justice for all. But he abuses his wah wah pedal. ;( - Nord666

Kirk Hammett is no doubt the best lead metal guitarist the world ever has, his amazing solo timing and cry baby paddles are worth to listen for, Metallica rules and so does Mr. Hammett... - Noobie

V 18 Comments
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.

Dave Mustaine, Dimebag Darrell and Jeff Waters are my top three. no one shreds like these guys.

V 8 Comments
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

I think Jeff Hanneman is (was) the greatest trash metal guitarist ever, even the best metal guitarist!

He's better Dave Mustaine and Kirk Hammett -_-

V 10 Comments
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.

Nothing can be as much groovy as Pantera with Darrell! Enough said. - Nord666

Really, kirk hammett ahead of him, he should be number 1

Will people stop saying that Pantera isn't a thrash band? Groove metal is a sub genre for thrash metal and anyway. Thrash metal fans are idiots. - Sabbath

No it isn't... they're actually pretty different... Dimebag Darrell is better than most and maybe all of these people, but groove metal is not thrash metal... - 678

Number one

V 4 Comments
8 Gary Holt (Exodus) Gary Holt (Exodus)

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

I thought he'd be like around 20s or 30s, but he's where he should be: top tens.

V 8 Comments
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.

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

V 1 Comment
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 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.

This guy is awesome but is less known because the band is less known (technical thrash).
Try Nosferatu, Arc-Lite (and these are old instrumentals, from the 80s). - Metal_Treasure

V 1 Comment
12 Dan Spitz (Anthrax)

Simply amazing

13 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/

14 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

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

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

15 Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) Andreas Kisser (Sepultura)

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.

16 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.

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

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.

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.

Lead guitarist?

19 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

20 Reece Scruggs (Havok)


PSearch List

Recommended Lists

Related Lists

Top 10 Metal Lead Guitarists Top Ten Greatest Guitarists of the Thrash Metal Big 4 Top 10 Metal/Rock Lead Guitarists Top 10 Thrash Metal Guitarists with the Best Technical Skills Top 10 Extreme Metal Lead Vocalists / Guitarists

List Stats

1,000 votes
46 listings
5 years, 321 days old

Top Remixes (10)

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 10


Add Post

Error Reporting

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