Most Skilled Guitarists

A list of what I think are the most skilled guitarist past and present of all time. I wish there were enough space to list them all but these are truly the most important and impressive guitarist who deserve to be known as the best of the best. Note, this list is made of the MOST SKILLED guitarist, that means it goes not just for technical ability but musical knowledge as well as other factors.

The Top Ten

1 Buckethead Buckethead Brian Patrick Carroll, known professionally as Buckethead, is an American guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who has worked within many genres of music.

I agree him to be top on this list. Buckethead is probably the most skilled guitarist of all time (or at leas currently). He knows about every guitar technique. He can play both fast and slow. His stuffs are unique and new. And he has a very wide range of music genre. Hard rock, heavy metal, neoclassical metal, progressive metal, funk, jazz, experimental rock/metal, ambient etc. Plus he has lots of music stuffs. - zxm

I'm sorry but Shawn Lane being #16 is almost insulting. He was the most technically proficient guitar player who ever lived by far. If you have ever picked up the guitar you would understand. Even Buckethead himself, as inhumanly talented as he is, would admit as to the superior skills/sheer command over the instrument possessed by Mr. Lane. "Freakish nervous system" as Shawn himself so eloquently and humbly put it. This is not a popularity contest. - Quicksilver1217

He can melt your face one with screaming fast shreds and then rebuild it back again the next minute with soothing quiet riffs. The spectrum of musical abilities and sounds is greater than any other artist combined!


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2 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.

Was blown off on seeing the tender surrender video... Contains all sort fast playing techniques like legato and sweep picking with not a single wrong note.. He is indeed an accomplished guitarist with high technical knowledge.. Linking at his composition when can see shredding and mad headbanging are not principles of music and high distortion songs are not something great.. It's melody and tone and emotion that matters... Check out whispering a prayer.. Vai crossed way out of limits of a guitarist

Watch "I'm the hell outta here - live at the crossroads" on YouTube and you'll see just how amazing his playing is. By far the most skilled guitarist around.

Just watched "For The Love Of God" and I have to admit that it was one of greatest visa solo's ever.

Only player able to play to his level and still be able to put feeling and soul in it. I wayan balawan is skilled, but not very much technique feeling, or versatility. allan holdsworth doesn't deserve to be in the top 10.

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3 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 more.

If he had chosen to be a pro musician before guitar instructor then he'd be more famous and we might not have Steve Vai. - zxm

Joe satriani is the most technically skilled guitarist ever! And yes he taught Steve vai!

Joe should be above Steve vai...after all he taught him

Can't believe joe's not here he's the best in my eyes

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4 Eric Johnson Eric Johnson Eric Johnson (born August 17, 1954) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist from Austin, Texas. Best known for his electric guitar skills, Johnson is also a highly proficient acoustic, lap steel, resonator, and bass guitarist as well as an accomplished pianist and vocalist.

Unmatched tone and approach to phrasing and over all musicology.

The best

5 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.

Very skilled guitarist. But the only problem is that his ego killed him. I mean, a lot of songs are same, copying licks to play in multiple songs. But other than this, pretty demanding guitar player. - zxm

6 Jason Becker Jason Becker Jason Eli Becker (born July 22, 1969) is an American neoclassical metal guitarist and composer. At the age of 16, he became part of the Shrapnel Records-produced duo Cacophony with his friend Marty Friedman. They released the albums Speed Metal Symphony in 1987 and Go Off! in 1988. Cacophony broke up more.

For me the most skilled player ever, all his solos contains difficult patterns, shapes, articulation, combination of fingers, fastest changes, tempos and melody and soul. To think he was 17-18-19 years old when he played for Cacophony and David Lee Roth make us think what it would be Jason Today? The best of all time..

Best but also made it impossible to prove

7 John Petrucci John Petrucci 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.

Can't believe he isn't on here yet. Dream Theater anyone?

There's a video of him, vai, and satriani soloing together and he was just as good if not better. The fact that he is 10th is an insult to JP

Progressive, innovative and sounds as good live as in the studio, 7 strings... just amazing.

Uhm, G3 anyone? One of the best guitarists alive? Should be in top 2, no doubt. He is the Lord of the Strings.

8 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.
9 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.

Best guitarist who ever lived.Was technically very fast & in my opinion was the guitarist who could evoke the most emotion out of everyone.
Great singer too.

10 I Wayan Balawan

Just watch his video on YouTube, He's the best guitarist ever! All you ever think about guitar technique, he can do it all better than you think...

He mixes bali ethnic and shred technic

Balawan is the best guitarist! No doubt. He can play all kind of music, accurate, smooth and fast guitar player!

Best and unique

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The Contenders

11 Jimi Hendrix 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 more.

I don't know if he is technically the best, but he was the one who really got the ball rolling with being extremely technical with guitar. He is a pioneer so I don't know it's kinda comparing apples to oranges. He taught himself and that's what he came up with?! Amazing. Now we can learn guitar by going on YouTube and copying greats like the people on this list (if we put in the work that these greats do/did and if we're lucky enough for our genetics to work for us too). Anyway, I do think he brought soul and spirit to the technicality too, which some highly skilled technical guitarists totally lack. And since it's music, I think that is a technical aspect in of itself.

Plus, he made Eric Clapton jealous, lol.

In my personal opinion if Jimi would of lived longer he possibly would of evolve. What he accomplished in his short time was the best. He was an Innovator despite his roots. He led the way for others. His skills and techniques however in comparison to some of today's guitarist isn't on par, but like I mentioned, imagine if he had lived another five, ten or twenty years.

How is possible? Greatest guitarist is not in this list. For knowledge amongst all. Jimi has more than other. At his time there was no facility available but he played so many things and even now people won't be able to play he had during his time. Please vote him. Jimi should be at no. 1

Simply the est ever

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12 Michael Angelo Batio Michael Angelo Batio Michael Angelo Batio also known as Mike Batio or MAB, is an American heavy metal guitarist and columnist from Chicago, Illinois.

He plays better backwards with his off-hand than most guitarist can play normal. He was at Yngwie level at age 13...

It takes two to be the best!

Very fast guitarist. - zxm

MAB should be number 1. He has amazing skills, and there is nobody in the world who can play like him. This guy can play right hamded and left hamded just as good. And he can also play 2 guitars AT THE SAME TIME! There are guitarists who has guitars with many necks, but they are only posers! MAB is the only one who can play multiple guitars at the same time!

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13 Carlos Santana 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.
14 Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal

Crazy guitar skills. A very good vocalist. A super interesting musician.

Great to see Allan Holdsworth and Chris Broderick here.

15 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 more.

When guitarists were afraid of using their whammy bar to shift the pitch of guitar, Jimi Hendrix came and did some tremendous working by throwing different kinds of whammy techniques (including dive bomb) at woodstuck in 1969 for the national anthem. The next year this guy came and also does the same thing. That's just an example. - zxm

Ask the guitarrists listed here, they would vote Ritchie.

16 Allan Holdsworth Allan Holdsworth

Of all shredders and fusion players, holdsworth is one the most prominent. his work on the album metal fatigue can go up against any of todays guitarists' work and come out on top. his otherworldly improvisation skills would make most players look like billy joe. allan holdsworth is, in my opinion, th most skilled guitarist ever! His work should not be ignored

I'd put him at like ten and Matheny at one. Yet he's still bomb.

It's him. RIP

17 Shawn Lane Shawn Lane Shawn Lane was an American musician who released two studio albums and collaborated with a variety of musicians including Ringo Starr, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Reggie Young, Joe Walsh, Jonas Hellborg and many others.

There are the best, then there is Shawn Lane. His overall ability put him into a league that can never be matched.

One of many influences to players like buckethead, shawn lane's accuracy &speed and all around abilities were more than astounding. What shawn lane accomplished in his lifetime is remarkable and his album power fo ten showcases his jaw dropping skills

There is no one, no one playing like shawn lane

18 Steve Lukather Steve Lukather Steven Lee Lukather is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer, best known for his work with the rock band Toto. A prolific session musician, Lukather has recorded guitar tracks for more than 1,500 albums representing a broad array of artists and genres. He has also contributed more.

Steven Lee Lukather (born October 21, 1957) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer, best known for his work with the rock band Toto. A prolific session musician, Lukather has recorded guitar tracks for more than 1,500 albums representing a broad array of artists and genres.
He is also recognized for his efficiency in the studio, often recording tracks in one take using minimal sound processing.

19 Pat Metheny

Not my favorite, but probably the best ever. Followed by Wes Montgomery and 8 other jazz players. I don't listen to jazz all that often, but these guys are the best.

Pat is without question the most innovative and skilled guitarist in the world. Sorry but is simply the truth

Pat is actually number 1. He is much more diverse, and his soloing and improvisational skills outdo the others.

Most talented, diverse and skilful guitarist, arranger, composer, inventer and so on from our generation.

20 Stanley Jordan

Stanley, unquestionably is just one of the most skilled guitarist in jazz and music period on this earth. his incredible two handed picking makes him the king of tapping that is second to none. he truly is a master with more to come. look at his cover of stairway to heaven and you'll more than agree!

Genius. Can't beat his arpeggios, two handed tapping and ability to play two guitars at the same time.

He is the most skilled tapper guitarist. Definitely more skilled than Shawn Lane.

Most skilled tapping guitarist. Better than any of the rock guys on this list.

21 Neal Schon Neal Schon Neal Joseph Schon is an American rock guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist best known for his work with the bands Journey and Bad English. He is Journey's last original constant member, having participated in every album and tour to date.
22 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.

Coordination, speed and technique personified.

23 Joe Pass Joe Pass Joe Pass was an American jazz guitarist of Sicilian descent. He is considered one of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century.

One of my personal favorite guitarists. Plays complex fast rhythms with harmony nearly as advanced as it could be (matched only by some classical/jazz guitarists) employing extended altered chord tones and scales in an elegant, natural, and in a seemingly effortless manner. While playing his single-note lines with a pick requires high skill, playing them as he did (in a classical finger picking style) is ungodly challenging. Combine that with his ability to improvise with chords and solo with comping for himself and you have a guitarist who nearly tops Bach in improvising (this is an exaggeration, Bach's ability to improvise hardly seems human). More importantly than anything I've mentioned so far is that for all his technical skill he never once plays cryptically. He always keeps the listener in mind, and doesn't care for going of on empty tangents. He knows music should be experienced viscerally rather than cognitively, and aims for that for the listener and for himself. Grant it, ...more

A solo fingerstyle jazz player who laid down the foundations of how jazz guitar playing was to be played for years to come. his skills are amazing and his playing style is incredible. his album virtuoso should be checked out period!

24 Tommy Emmanuel Tommy Emmanuel

No one else on this list can do what he can do. Plan and simple. His style shouldn't be possible and he makes it look effortless.

Broaden your horizons. Not every significant guitar player plays rock.

Amazing in all genres

What separates him are in no particular order:
1.Timing, ridiculous accuracy.
He is also a drummer.
2.Chord repertoire.
3. Simultaneous rhythm and lead.
4.Tone, this is huge. He plays an amped acoustic alone. Any mistakes will stand out to everyone. His sound is crisp, clear, fast and perfect.
5. Musicality. As a result of all of the above his playing sounds full and crisp.

25 Guthrie Govan Guthrie Govan

Guthrie is one of the best modern guitarist nowadays in term of melody, soul, and of course skill. I like almost all his stuff especially when he starts to playing jazz and blues, but actually he can also play almost

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26 Tosin Abasi Tosin Abasi

Synonym of Djent, this guy is ahead of our time.

27 Tal Farlow
28 Randy Rhoads 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.
29 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. V 1 Comment
30 John McLaughlin John McLaughlin

His improvisations along with his long prominence in many music genres make him one of the greatest guitarists to this day.

Being able hit the notes at the speed he can: few can pull that off.
Being able to make them all mean something, though, that's a talent that McLaughlin alone has.

There is no one like john mcglaughlin, he is a genius, bullet like notes sent off into dreamy atmospheres, john mcglaughlin takes people on a celestial musical journey far beyond the realms of space and time, a true technical wizzard.

31 Hizaki
32 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.

One word... Eruption Google it

33 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.

The best

34 Wes Borland Wes Borland Wesley Louden "Wes" Borland is an American rock musician and artist. He is best known as the current guitarist and backing vocalist of the nu metal band Limp Bizkit and as the lead vocalist of the industrial rock band Black Light Burns.
35 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 more.

Brutally skilled and never lost the emotions

36 John Mayer John Mayer
37 Dimebag Darrell 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.

Laughable that he was never on this list. Easily Top 3

38 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 more.
39 Todd Rundgren Todd Rundgren
40 Paco de Lucía

Even Joe Pass (who is actually higher on the list) was a huge fan and some of this best pieces were inspired by him. Honestly though, classical guitarist should be on a different list. Putting them on a list with a buch of rockers is like putting Billy Joel on the same list as Frederic Chopin.

His name is a synonym of flamenco, his music is GLORIOUS

Number 31? , just see some videos, is the most skilled with the Spanish guitar, THE FUKKEN HARDEST GUITAR, compared with him the others are like... newbies.

41 Kiko Loureiro Kiko Loureiro Pedro Henrique "Kiko" Loureiro is a Brazilian Heavy metal guitarist, best known as a member of the bands Angra and Megadeth.

Listen to his stuff with Angra and his jazz fusion bands. He's easily one of the most technically proficient guitarists I've ever heard.

42 Kim Thayil
43 Frank Gambale

Frank gambale, the inventor and developer of the sweep picking and economy picking techniques, is a fusion legend not to be left out. most guitarist today couldn't play as clean as this skilled master. his playing should be checked out by anyone who is interested in the fusion genre

44 Chuck Schuldiner Chuck Schuldiner Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner (1967-2001) was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the founder and vocalist, guitarist and bassist of the American heavy metal band Death. He is considered the most influential figure in Death Metal, with some publications referring to Chuck more.

Amazing guitarist and vocalist he and band (death) created death metal along with possessed but they disbanded in 1987 schuldiner would create a new style every album his solos were amazing and sound very good look up symbolic and crystal mountain if you want instrumentals look up flesh and the power it holds and my personal favorite voice of the soul

45 Joe Walsh Joe Walsh Joseph Fidler "Joe" Walsh is an American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.
46 Peter Frampton Peter Frampton Peter Kenneth Frampton is an English-American rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist. He was previously associated with the bands Humble Pie and The Herd.
47 Michael Hedges
48 Erik Mongrain
49 Steve Clark Steve Clark Stephen Maynard Clark was an English musician. He was the lead guitarist and principal songwriter for the British hard rock band, Def Leppard, until 1991, when he died from alcohol poisoning.
50 Phil Collen
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