Top 10 Most Influential Guitarists

Please note that these are the guitarists that had the most influence on music and not just the best guitarists. Comments that do not reference a particular guitarist's influence will not be approved.
The Top Ten
1 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 "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2011. In 2016 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of original members of Deep Purple.

An innovator guitarist who inspired a whole generation of young guitarists, the driving force behind the best band in the world is Deep Purple and the author of unforgettable riffs.

Technically and musically superior to any of his contemporaries, he was shredding neo-classical style 45 years ago -while all the others were playing pentatonic blues scales- creating the base for a new guitar playing style. He was clinical and madly skilled. But he would always play for the song -his songwriting second to none. His stage presence was huge.

His exquisite taste and unique touch made his style instantly recognizable, being the only rock player to pick almost every note staccato style instead of the usual pull-offs and hammer-ons that the others were doing at the time.

His playing inspired millions of players worldwide.

Ritchie Blackmore is, as a fact, the man who created the heavy metal guitar solo. With speed, precision and charisma he shaped the modern art of what we today know as guitar solos. With his knack of innovation, he is probably the only guitarist who can play a single note for 16 bars and still make it sound interesting.

Ritchie never needed any special effects, any special built custom guitars, plastic fingers or a violin bow to emulate a sound that, not only caught the interest of many aspiring guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen, but also make it sound new and refreshing. All he needed was his Stratocaster and a Marshall stack and he would move mountains!

A mixture of virtuosity, tasteful feel and the fact he laid down the blueprint for much of the heavy metal that was to follow makes him a towering figure in rock.
In Deep Purple he was both cutting edge and wildly popular, in Rainbow he created a new neo-classic metal style that would be more influential than his work with Purple, and even with contemporary bands including Led Zeppelin. With Blackmore's Night he is exploring the medieval music he loves while giving it a contemporary twist.
A fantastic all-rounder, whose quality as a songwriter is only eclipsed by his excellence as a improvisational and technically superior live guitarist.

2 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 musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music". Hendrix is consistently ranked on lists of musicians who died too soon.

Jimi is the most influential period. It is undeniable that is is one of the most creative, inventive, talented, and popular guitarist ever. The other guitarists are absolutely phenomenal and definitely influential in their own right, but Jimi's influence goes beyond guitar playing, he was very creative with stereo technology, and his use of it was never heard of before but has become a standard in just about ANY kind of recorded music. I could make arguments about any one of these guys being the most influential, but Jimi overshadows then all.

If you ever switched on distortion on your amp or pedalboard you are radically influenced by Hendrix. Same if you ever stood in front of a stage soloing more than you sing. Even if you don't like him or never heard his music.
This guy actually invented rock guitar as quite everybody has coceived it in the last 40 years.
What really amazes me is how anything new that happened after him in rock guitar is basically the consequence of somebody trying to imitate some aspect of his playng and yet a lot of hints he left haven't quite been developed.
He will get even grater with time.

Jimi is on a whole other level of playing. His live performances were largely improvisational and even the greatest guitarist ever, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page put their guitars down and admitted they weren't even close to him when he jammed with them. Also he was a good singer, awesome songwriter and even did some great experimental stuff like 1983 (A Mermaid I Should Turn to Be... ). When you watch him play you just can't do anything but be in awe and listen.

Jimi might not have been the greatest technical guitarist of all time, but he was up there. No one popularized the wah wah pedal and numerous other effects like he did. There are almost no other players that can improvise like Jimi did, he came up with songs in minutes and could play what ever he felt at any time. Jimi will always be the most influential and greatest guitarist.

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.

Do you remember the Yardbirds? Of course. There were three well-known guitar-players in this band: the outstanding technical virtuoso Jeff Beck, the very very good blues-guitarist Eric Clapton and the visionary arranger Jimmy Page. But what's about his guitar playing? Page plays the guitar well, but not outstanding. Of course he knows how to use traditional blues-riffs for a great sound, but his solos are practiced (Stairway to heaven/Taurus for example) or failed when he he tried to improvise live. Listen! Page is a great producer, but an overrated guitar player. And don't forget the importance of Robert Plant and John Bonham for Led Zeppelin.

Pagey is the iconic guitarist, his Charisma, versatility, song composition, studio engineering, a range of playing skill that almost no one can even hope to compare. Jimmy is #1 speaking as a guitarist of many many years he taught me everything and introduced me to the blues and my love of the Les Paul. Everyone talks about Hendrix but as a guitarist he is not #1. Personally it was Robin Trower and Pagey that got me to pick up a guitar. To this day I cannot play any length of time without running through some of Jimmy's amazing riffs. Listen to the Zep catalog, what on earth compares to that level of musicianship? I turned my Euro wife onto Zeppelin and even she was wow, these guys really are a cut above. Jimmy's blues makes her cry "it is so beautiful".

Jimmy Page's approach is entirely unique. I'm a guitar player and I swear after studying his work for many years I still haven't figured out how he does it. For example, he can take a I VI IV V progression and make it something entirely fresh and new, for example in D'yer Mak'er. Or take the song All of My Love...who would have thought of applying such a minimalist approach? It's often not what he plays, but what he chooses not to play that makes him such a force to learn from.

What do you mean "well, but not outstanding"? Jimmy Page is known as one of the biggest rock influences and a riff king. "Stairway To Heaven" is has been put as the best rock song of all time on some websites. The "Stairway To Heaven" guitar solo has been marked as the greatest guitar solo on some sites too! But I agree with the part that he's overrated. Yes, he's a musical genius.

4 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.

Eddie changed everything that came after him: songs, techniques, the guitars themselves! He also got more people started in playing guitar than anyone else in history - even Hendrix! Not to take anything away from Jimi, b/c he's the man, but Eddie got more of us started, showed more of us how to do it, and influenced ALL of our gear. Yup - definitely most influential!

This should not even be up for debate. Now 38 years after the release of Van Halen's first album, Eddie is still inspiring new players. His guitar and amp styles are still the standard in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.

Many famous modern day guitarists will say he is in a league of his own. He gets ultimate respect form many of the best.

Eddie Van Halen is most definitely the most influential player of all time. He changed the way everyone plays a guitar. I mean everyone. Hard Rock, and Heavy metal owes Eddie Van Halen along with the whole Van Halen band for there contributions to this style of music.

Eddie Van Halen has probably had the most influence in the entire history of guitar. His amazing fireblasting technique and tremelo picking, combined with his two handed tapping, definitely makes him one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Listen to Eruption and Spanish fly if you want proof.

5 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 is the most soulful, beautiful player EVER! His tone and melody are 2nd to none, and no guitarist ever has given me chills or brought tears to my eyes with their playing like he does. Nothing fancy, which makes him even more incredible. Nothing fancy, just pure musical genius!

Not only was his playing ability incredible, he has influenced more guitarist with his tone and quality of sound he was able to get out of his guitar so much so a book has been written to chronicle the black strat's life.

David Gilmour is the man who influenced me to learn guitar. I'm still not good enough to play his works but I know that one day I will master the solo from Time and on that day, I will weep.

Very understex way ahead of Clapton and van Wally, has a real soulful way of expressing the
Guitar just listen to Wish you were here; up there with the great three; Hendrix, Blackmore and Page!

6 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.

Eric Clapton is one of the best guitarists I have ever listened too. He is a incredible artists who inspired the blues into his music and there has never been another one to have Clapton sound. Love it. He listened and played with Jimi Hendrix, Gregg Allman, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, his best friend George Harrison just to name a few. Clapton is the greatest!

I find it humorous how this is literally a list of MOST INFLUENTIAL GUITARISTS and not best guitarists and two people who Clapton influenced are above him and he's only number 6. Eddie Van Halen has stated repeadetly that the only guitarist to ever influence him was Clapton and Blackmore has spoken about Clapton's influence on him as well. Why are people so unable to be subjective these days. Who tf did Blackmore influence?

The Blues, He is old, but he was in and toured with the most awesome bands... Cream, Derek and The Dominoes, Stevie Ray Vaughn... with his "woman tone" on his SG named the fool that makes him pretty damn cool, he also used a strat...

From those who are outlined here, He is the one who have played diverse genres of music during his musical career. What is more he has ability of composing remarkable songs, and his gigs are terrific

7 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 and ring fingers on his right hand, and considered giving up music. His boss encouraged him to continue playing by playing a record of the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt who became famous even though his fretting hand was limited due to an injury. He carried on and down tuned his guitar for easier playing, which helped give birth to heavy metal music.

The Riff master! The godfather of Meta! How is James Hatefiled higher then the god father of Heavy Metal, thanks to hem the genre we hear today as metal is alive all thanks to hem, James Hatefield overrated!

If Iommi didn't exist, every member of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer (keep naming them) would be delivering pizzas!

I love Toni, his rhythms were even more catchy than his lead work. His distortion tone was his biggest influence.

Inventive, innovative and heavier than all who came before combined. Without Iommi there is no metal.

8 Hideto 'hide' Matsumoto Hideto Matsumoto, better known by his stage name Hide, was a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is primarily known for his work as lead guitarist of the heavy metal band X Japan.

Hide believed in freedom through his music. People were saved by his music giving them a reason to live for. And when Hide died he cost the top news of Japan. 50,000 people came to see him. A good man indeed, all the good guys and artist just has to go first.

Hide is the best guitarist in the world, he his a very good player, and X Japan is the biggest band of the world in my opinion, I love X Japan et go hide, you are the best!

Who? I have never even heard on him and guarantee he had substantially less influence than any other guitarist in the top ten.

Probably the most influential guitarist in Japan... And secretly in the whole world.

9 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.

Definitely great props to Slash being one of the very few guitarists who is successful without the band he started with.

Richie Sambora and Joe Perry are also amazing guitarists but they don't do well without Bon Jovi and Aerosmith respectively. Meanwhile Slash can definitely work without Guns N Roses.

Slash is the most influential guitarist of all time. He is the inspiration of most guitar enthusiast and his style of playing is superb compared to any guitarist. That is why he is so famous.

The legend.
Remember the solo of November Rain or the intro of Sweet child O' mine?
Touched my soul.
He's still making music. Really an inspiration for the youth. He has everything.
He made me a Guns N' Roses fan.

Probably a bit understand, Slash is one of the more proficient guitar icons. Clearly enunciated playing at supersonic speed - not very common.

10 Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.

What is this list?!?! None of these guys would exist if it wasn't for the grand architect of rock music, Chuck Berry. He laid the foundation for basic rock music riffs and rhythm and practically introduced the art of guitar soloing to the mainstream. Plus he also in way popularized the electric guitar as an instrument. Without Chuck Berry, rock music may be very different today or may not even exist. At the end of the day, almost every single guitar player to this day has been directly or indirectly influenced by Chuck Berry. "Johnny B. Goode" is the national anthem of rock 'n roll.

Influential doesn't mean best, influential means how much he influenced the instrument. Ritchie Blackmore certainly didn't influence guitar playing as much as Chuck Berry,

The term with out him... Couldn't be truer here he paved the way for so many after him he seems to be an after thought.

In a list of the top 3 it would be: 1. Chuck Berry 2. Jimi Hendrx 3. Eddie Van Halen. Those are the 3 essential players to Rock Music!

The Newcomers

? J Mascis
The Contenders
11 Stevie Ray Vaughn

I agree with many others, not that Hendrix was bad og uninfluential, but SRV took some of his music and made his own take on the true blues, and perfected it too. Endless creativity performed with utter precision and he was way faster than most. On top of that, I've never heard him play a song the same way twice.

Very under rated player. in my humble opinion played voodoo child just as well if not slightly better than Hendrix. Awesome player.

Did Hendrix songs better than Jimi sorry but it's true listen to little wing and tell me what you think.

Stevie, definitely. He set forth a whole new era of blues which then led on to metal.

12 Michael Schenker Michael Schenker is a German rock guitarist who has played in UFO and led the Michael Schenker Group. He was an early member of Scorpions the band co-founded by his elder brother Rudolf Schenker.

Not only is he simply the greatest guitarist of all time, he's also one of the most influential. He's the reason Dave Muscatine, Kirk Hammett, Randy Rhoads, and many others play Vs. Seriously, go listen to him before you scroll down trying to find the guitarist you are sure is the best. I was gonna vote Buddy Guy, but then I saw the Blond Bomber, and realized he was more influential. Go listen to him!

Just ask most of the new breed. Maybe not the most famous with commercial success but influenced thousands of guitar players with his amazing tone, flat picking, feel and individual sound.

Technique, speed, tone, melodic and subtle when required... Using classical devices and things like arpeggios when most people were still stuck on basic pentatonics... A massive influence on me as a young player.

King of the flying V and One of the most under-rated guitarists EVER! He has soul, melody, and killer technique that few other players can match. Check out the last two UFO albums with him {Lights out, Obsession] and the first two Michael Schenker Group albums... Pure brilliance.

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

He is not a single guitarist. He is the conductor of his own orchestra made of Brian's. That's beyond the reach of any other guitarist. The harmonies he plays are out of Earth. And he is playing much more strings instruments: ukulele, banjo, harp, organ, piano and more. Who can repeat him?

One of the best soloists of his day, and still a bright light in the guitar icon pantheon. Amazing sound (built from scratch), solos that twist and turn and peak like a brilliant plot-line, there's simply no one like him.

Brian May was extremely influential. His home built guitar was the first to use feed back, and SO many of his styles have been copied through the years.

I think you'll find Wishbone Ash were using feedback years before Brian, but that doesn't detract from how great a guitarist he is.

14 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.

Randy was great but died to soon to be considered an all time great. His influence was starting to take hold when he was taken but what hurts him he would start his solos live with Eddie Van Halen's Irruption Which at the time was blasphemy.

A real talent if one he had lived longer who knows what he could created, way ahead of van Galen, Gary more and slash up there with Hendrix, blackmore and Page just listen to the two great albums he played on!

Randy can play technically, slowly, and just incredibly. He has the perfect mixture of everything from trem picking to tapping to trills. Had he lived longer he would've easily been the greatest guitarist ever.

One of the very best guitarist of all time. Played with Ozzie and was sadly killed way too young in a plane crash.

15 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 still playing songs accurately.

The infamous Duck Walk, His awesome SG standard, The devil horns on his head and guitar and the sig. School boy have a demonic possesion on stage he alsso has the stellar tone everyone loves, his 3-4 chord progression along with his guitar solos and licks makes him the king "The Devil in your fingers and The Blues in Your Soul, hell you got rock and roll"

His energy alone in live performances should inspire anyone, I mean he played a 16 minute solo on the Black Ice Tour!

AC/DCs guitar style has been copied to death, very influential, although Malcom is responsible for a lot of that.

His energy, technique and Longevity is hard to beat. A great performer.

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

Along with M. Schenker, the greatest, most soulful metal guitarist EVER! Before he played the blues later in his career, he was a true hard rocker. I saw him open for Rush, never heard of the guy. His first song was "Victims of the future" and I bought every album he ever played on after seeing him! Also does some of the most beautiful instrumental songs ever. Check out "The LONER" from Wild frontier album or "The messiah will come again" from After the war album. Nobody did it better, RIP Gary!

Criminally underrated player! His work with Thin Lizzy, Coliseum II, and solo is incredible!

Melodic and melting. Awesome tone and style. A true great who deserves to be too 3 with Ritchie and Jeff Beck

17 Tommy Bolin Thomas Richard "Tommy" Bolin was an American-born guitarist who played with Zephyr, The James Gang, and Deep Purple; in addition to maintaining a notable solo career.

Not number one but judging by this list, he belongs in the top ten. His work with Billy Cobham and Alphonse Mouzon set the bar for all Jazz fusion players. The Deep Purple and solo albums really expanded the definition and overall skill and technique of rock players.
As with Zappa, shamefully underrated and slowly being forgotten

Criminally underrated. Ask Jeff Beck. He stills plays "Stratus" live to this day. If that's not an endorsement I don't know what is.

Underrated are you kidding me! You guys must call 12-year-olds holy ! That's why you don't believe everything you read on the Internet because you're liars

A forgotten gem of a guitarist. And an amazing voice. When you consider what he did in a lifetime of only 24 years it's astounding

18 James Hetfield 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.

James should Be number 1. If you give me hell for this, I don't care. I'm just sharing my opinion.

Ok Kirk isn't influential but he is great. But if james can kirk can have a spot here.

He influenced John Petrucci, Matt Heafy and many many more great Guitarists.

I think Kirk is better than him. Maybe he isn't influential, but nor James is!

19 Alex Lifeson 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.

Alex should be at least 11 on this list. His guitar playing is deceiving. He happens to play with two of the best in the world and his leads are crisp, fast, well thought out. He is a master and a hell of a nice guy to boot. He has influenced many a guitar player and will continue to do so for years to come. His latest music shows he's lost nothing off his fastball.

I would put Alex Lifeson #! He has been voted #1 just a few years ago by Guitar Player Magazine as the best Rock Guitarist. He is so overshadowed by the best DRUMMER and Perhaps the best BASSIST in ROCK. I think he is the best at his instrument then the other two! Hendrix gets his POPULAR vote by being BLACK and DEAD! (he's good don't get me wrong). Most these guys are rated on popularity, not talent! Eric Clapton SUCKS compared to most these guys. BORING BLUES ERIC.

Compositional genius - we are looking at many hundreds of songs - with as close to zero repetition bar to bar - continuous time and rhythm changes and melodic accuracy throughout. Of course having Neil and Geddy on board helps - 40 years of continuously new music. RUSH rocks the world.

Alex is one of the most impressive and non-standard player. He should be at the top of list, he's really master. No words to speak how Alex's guitar singing. RUSH forever.

20 Ace Frehley Paul Daniel "Ace" Frehley is an American musician, singer and songwriter best known as the former lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band Kiss.

When it comes to influence Ace is top 3 top 5 minimum. An entire generation of guitar players who evolved in the eighties sight him as there main influence. Slash, Dime Bag, Mike Mcready, John 5, Lenny Kravitz...just a few of thousands.

Ace's Les Paul/Marshall sound on the early Kiss records was just so cool. Dimebag had Ace TATTOOED on himself. You want influence? There it is.

Ace should be higher not only is he great but just how many famous guitarist did he influence? Thousands!

Ace Frehley influenced various musicians to learn to play guitar.

21 Steve Vai Steven Siro "Steve" Vai is an American guitarist, composer, singer, songwriter, and producer, born and raised on Long Island, New York.

Maybe the most technically brilliant player ever. Still though, like Jeff Beck, a great player who doesn't write great songs. The guy is an absolute monster on the fret board though and plays things few others could. Check him out as the Devil's guitarist in the movie Crossroads... Brilliant!

Steve Vai is one of the best guitarists I've ever heard. His skill is as if he had sold his soul to the devil, he is that good.

Above him, there is no other.

22 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.

I'm sticking my neck right out now! Joe is the best guitarist ever full stop,. A genius. And a one off never to return. He's one of the most influential to most people that actually know anything about guitar. A true gentleman from another world if you ask me! I'm listening to one of his melodies as I write this. UNBELIEVABLE! If I'm reincarnated, please bring me back as Joe... I want to play like him but he's just to good!

The best guitarist since Eddie Van Halen and king of the instrumental song. Great melody's and a guy who knows when to shred and when to quiet down. A true genius with unmatched technical ability, he really makes it look easy! It's not!

From an old man the 'Satchman" is the best! I have heard them all and all are great but I find Joe to be the best of the best "Original Instrumental"

Best of all time... He is the great teacher of greatest guitarist.

23 B.B. King Riley B. "B.B." King was an American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer.

Buddy guy, Joe bonnamassa, eric clapton, srv and even greats such as eddie van halen or slash have all been influenced by the speed, cleaness and perfection and soul of luciell, the guitar who squeels and sings when played by king. Hendrix himself was in awe

Maybe not too well known, but he is the grandfather of the guitar solo as we know it in rock songs.

24 Dave Davies
25 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.

A true innovator brought the neoclassical style into the forefront for today's shredders to copy, much like Eddie Van Halen introduced the finger tapping style. Technically, Malmsteen is the best rock guitarist to walk planet earth ever! However, he cannot write rock songs like Blackmoore, Hendrix or Gilmoore so will never be at the top of the tree.

I saw Yngwie in concert once. The first 2-3 songs were jaw dropping, fastest guitarist I had ever seen. However he never changed the pace, playing a million notes every single solo. He bored the crap out of me after that. Good at what he does, but he only does one thing great and that's shredding. To many notes!

Yngwie may have a style that doesn't change much between songs and albums, BUT if you can deal with his outstreched shreds you can really hear the music he's written and understand how great he is.
As a fellow six stringer he helped me get my signature sound.
As a fellow swede he is a true inspiration.

Maybe not the best songwriter but best guitarist for sure.

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