Top 10 Best Blues Guitarists of All Time

The guitar has long been the heart and soul of blues music. From heart-wrenching solos to blistering slide guitar, the blues has produced some of the most iconic guitarists of all time. Each master of the six-string brought their own fire and personality to the genre, making it one of the richest and most expressive in music history.

But out of all the greats, who stands tallest? Who left the most lasting impact on the genre, inspiring generations of players to bend strings and pour their souls into the music?
The Top Ten
1 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... read more

I've been waiting for the next great guitarist since SRV passed in 1990. Many fantastic technicians have come along, fewer still who play with true soul, but no one has come close to fusing the two with that immeasurable something extra Stevie had. His emotionally sensitive ferocity is unique in the annals of electric blues rock playing, possibly music history in general.

He could simultaneously make your spine tingle, drop you to your knees, and bring you to tears in the same tune. There seemed to be an infinite supply of devastating licks and musical concepts he pulled from as easily as breathing. Imagine what he would have produced these last 25 years, as he had yet to reach his peak. Imagine him on stage with Hendrix. Rave on Stevie, and God bless.

2 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.

Face it. Vaughan and Hendrix are dead. As in gone. Bye-bye. And while they were with us, they played only one style of guitar. Ever. Clapton has been with us for half a century, is still with us, is still evolving, and has mastered every style he encountered, including reggae, acid rock, delta blues, gospel, bluegrass, and southern rock. The list keeps getting longer. Nobody has EVER done that before. I doubt anyone ever will again.

Clapton is a role model not only for being one of the most talented blues guitarists of his time but also for his ability to focus on the music and not the distractions that come with it. My hat's off to you, Mr. Clapton, for not only your musical style but also your lifestyle.

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

Made just as huge an impact on blues as Albert King. A true legend who can't be replaced. Hard to say which one of them is a better guitarist. They are both legends.

I accidentally scrolled past B.B.'s name on the list, and you're right! 47th on the list will not do! He is by far (with the exception of Stevie Ray) the most talented blues guitarist of all time!

The greatest guitarist ever. Period. Why is he not in the top 3?

4 Robert Johnson Robert Leroy Johnson was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians... read more

Robert Johnson is one of the best, if not the best, blues guitarists of all time. This list alone just shows how little people know about the blues and music in general. Robert Johnson as the 48th "most talented blues guitarist"? (At the time this comment was posted.) And he is not even the best? Where is Son House? Where is Charlie Patton, literally the godfather of the blues... Oh well.

An innovator at a time when there was less information, and it was much more difficult to excel in the manner Johnson did. This is why he is considered "ahead of his time."

5 Buddy Guy George "Buddy" Guy is an American blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of Chicago blues and has influenced guitarists including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Buddy invented the electric blues! BB King and Muddy Waters were his idols and predecessors, but no one else played with the volcanic intensity he did right through the '60s, '70s, and '80s through to today! To mention the others on this list without Buddy leading it is laughable! Now, at 78, Buddy plays and sings as intensely as he ever did. Long live Buddy Guy!

Buddy Guy is at the pinnacle of Chicago blues, with enough technique to outpace many of the older blues masters but vastly more soul in his playing than the contemporary style-over-substance figures who play an altogether too large role on this list.

6 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.

In his own words: "It's 50% music and 50% business." With wobbleheads, mugs, T-shirts, and hoodies, he walks the talk. Yes, he can channel Clapton, B.B. King, and Albert King convincingly and also does an excellent impersonation of Eric Johnson when shredding. Finally, he gives great live shows.

BUT to be in the top 5 on any list, a guitarist has to bring something new to the table. The only way Bonamassa qualifies to be in the top 5 of this list is if this list is based on the most impressive guitar/amp collection.

Joe is the Blues. Saw him live recently. Great seats. He plays the guitar better than any other Blues player I've seen or heard. His singing has also improved exponentially. Not much of a personality, just pure Blues business in a classy way.

The show started at exactly 8 p.m., to the second. This guy plays articulately, with great speed. He sweats like a true pro. Can't wait to see the hardest working Blues giant again. The band is so tight, it's scary. Pure tonal heaven.

7 Albert King Albert King Nelson, known professionally as Albert King, was an American blues guitarist and singer, and a major influence in the world of blues guitar playing.

Extraordinary guitarist and a master of single-string solos. His bends and vibratos had a huge impact on generations after him, for example, SRV, to just name a few. Extraordinary voice as well. Also, my personal favorite.

Albert is the best there is. White guys like Clapton and all the rest are just copycats. They can play, for sure, but do they really have it? I don't think so. The guy who came the closest was SRV.

What do SRV, Clapton, and Moore have in common at the time of smashing through to the mainstream?
They all copied "word for word" Albert King licks!

8 Muddy Waters McKinley Morganfield, known by his stage name Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician who is often cited as the "father of modern Chicago blues".
9 Gary Moore Robert William Gary Moore was a Northern Irish musician, most widely recognised as a singer, songwriter, and virtuoso rock and blues guitarist.

The reason Gary Moore wasn't number one is because not that many people have ever heard him play. I've heard all these players. Stevie Ray could come close, and maybe Bonamassa too, but unless you listen to everything he has done, you won't agree. He didn't just play blues. He played psychedelic and progressive rock with Skid Row. In Colosseum II, he played progressive rock-jazz fusion with some of his very best guitar work. Then, with Thin Lizzy and solo albums, he just rocked out with good heavy metal, and finally, he fully embraced the blues.

With Albert Collins' "Live at Montreux," the best blues I've ever heard and a great Texas Strut tribute to Stevie. His licks aren't just fast and clean but filled with real feeling and soul.

10 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... read more

Best guitarist ever, not just in blues but in everything. No one ever came close to replicating his style or writing blues and rock the way Hendrix did. Every note just filled itself with emotion, while his innovation was greater than all other guitarists. He invented the classic distorted guitar sound while keeping his original the best.

He created rhythms, basslines, and melodies all at the same time, playing fast-paced but still loyal to the blues tradition. Essentially, every electric guitarist after him was influenced by him and respected him. He also respected all those before him, performing everything from Muddy Waters to Chuck Berry to Eric Clapton in his live shows.

Woodstock and Monterey Pop were some of the greatest shows ever. Also, those psychedelic posters of him make him look divine. RIP to the greatest guitar god.

The Contenders
11 Elmore James Elmore James was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader. He was known as "King of the Slide Guitar" and was noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice.

Let's see here. What rock 'n' roll player who also plays good blues is on this list before this man? Did they not idolize him and play his tunes? "The Sky is Crying"... Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. "Bleeding Heart"... Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix even called himself "Jimi James" at one point. Come on, folks, put away your rock hats and put on your Madison Blue Shoes...

Greatest slide player of all time.

12 Rory Gallagher William Rory Gallagher was an Irish blues and rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader.

I'd put Rory Gallagher at the number two spot personally. He was a way better guitar player than Clapton. While Hendrix was a better guitar player, he really wasn't so much a blues player, so I'm not even sure if I'd put him on that list.

Joe Bonamassa even says in a YouTube interview that he doesn't consider himself at Rory's level (when he was being interviewed where he got to play Rory's guitar at two London gigs). Clapton, Slash, Gary Moore, and many others were very influenced by Rory's playing style.

13 Jay Jesse Johnson

Merging the rock genre with the blues, Johnson has his own unique style and tone. It's blues-based, but he goes for it. Where others play it safe with the same old riffs, Johnson digs in deep and creates a modern yet classic statement. Some say he's in the style of Trower, Travers, and Marino, and there is some truth to that. But I think this guy stands up to some of the great guitarists of the world.

Been a fan of Jay's since the '80s when rock was his world. Fast forward, and Jay has matured into his own style of rock 'n' blues. You can hear many of the great guitarists' influences in some of his music, but it is classic Jay Jesse Johnson's tone and inflection that comes through on every song. Hoping he will record his rendition of Over the Rainbow one of these days, as it is killer!

14 John Lee Hooker

I cannot believe that nobody has written a comment about this legendary guitarist of blues. The Groundhog was one of mine and millions of others' favorites - very traditional, interpretive blues. Honest and from the heart of a soul that beat in time with life. He will forever be a master in his field, cherished, loved, respected, and constantly reminding people of how true the blues can be.

His rhythm guitar. I've never heard another musician play blues rhythm guitar as well!

A great blues guitarist and singer. Played by his own rules and was unique as a result.

15 Roy Buchanan

Roy was incredible live - "Roy's Bluz," "I'm Evil," "The Messiah Will Come Again" - had as much fireworks as Hendrix or SRV. Definitely, his older stuff was better, and I especially liked that he was straight Telecaster and amp. His record "Second Album" is one of the best ever - Side 1 is a must-listen. For me, "5 String Blues" is electric blues guitar perfection (and he played most of it with only 5 strings!).

I was just awestruck. Roy's music had me mesmerized for days after I first heard it. It made me want more. Too bad he died the way he did. I believe his death was a cover-up. What do you think? The world was robbed of a great musician.

16 Blind Lemon Jefferson
17 Johnny Winter John Dawson Winter III, known as Johnny Winter, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer.

Number 23, really? He may not be the greatest ever but certainly worth top ten consideration. Saw him in concert about twenty years ago. It was one of the greatest concerts I have ever attended.

Johnny Winter is the greatest guitar player that ever lived! He deserves the number one spot. It is a total insult to his talent having him at number nine!

Great list. Rarely see Roy, Rory, and Johnny in the same top ten. Hard to argue with Clapton's longevity, but Beano was his biggest moment.

18 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.

This guy is my all-time favorite guitar player. He was as good at blues as any other blues guitarist, and better. Listen to songs like Since I've Been Loving You, Traveling Riverside Blues, When the Levee Breaks, In My Time of Dying, and I Can't Quit You Baby, and you will see what I'm talking about.

Enough said.

Even though he covered those old songs, he still invented new techniques for playing them. He created heavier songs than the originals and greatly used hard rock and blues.

Woah, he's a bit low on this list. If you doubt it, listen to songs like Since I've Been Loving You and Heartbreaker. He really has no rival when he plays blues guitar.

19 Peter Green Peter Green was a British blues rock guitarist. As the founder of Fleetwood Mac, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

A lot of people in the music industry seem to have forgotten that he even existed, but as far as I'm concerned, he will always be number one. Even fifty years on, I never tire of hearing him play or sing the blues. As Mick Fleetwood said, "Don't forget the voice." He could make a guitar talk and bring you to tears by the feeling that he put into his playing.

Just listen to "The Stumble," the sublime "Slabo Day," or "The Supernatural," and you might appreciate what I mean!

Loved early Fleetwood Mac. Greatest Hits circa 1970, given to me by a mate, led me to Then Play On, Mr. Wonderful, Pious Bird, and others. Great to be able to see some more footage now posted on YouTube.

Told my son Pete Green's Fleetwood Mac era is a different world from the later band. He could not believe just how good he was. He loved his soulful singing and haunting guitar. He found more tracks for me to enjoy, reminding me why I love his music so much.

20 Otis Rush

I think this is a rock 'n' roll guys who like or rate blues deal. Don't get me wrong, I love Stevie Ray Vaughan. I would not have ever been bitten by the blues bug if it weren't for Jimi Hendrix. His playing sent me on a search for more blues after he died and '70s rock got goofy and glam. But Otis Rush... searing and biting sounds... come on, folks!

21 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.

Pink Floyd aren't blues, but David Gilmour is a blues guitarist who uses blues licks and scales in his Pink Floyd songs. Some of the songs where he uses blues scales and licks: Wish You Were Here's riff is in a blues scale, Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2's blues-like guitar solo, and he also uses some blues licks in Shine On, etc.

David should be in the top ten. He has one of the greatest guitar solos of all time in Comfortably Numb. When you hear him play, you know right away it's him.

22 John Mayer John Clayton Mayer is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mayer attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, but disenrolled and moved to Atlanta in 1997 with Clay Cook. Together, they formed a short-lived two-man band called Lo-Fi Masters.

Probably the most mechanically gifted guitar player still playing right now. People deny him his props because they don't like his pop songs or his personality. Or, they're jealous of the fact that he can get any girl he wants.

But let me tell you, if you've listened to "Where the Light Is: Live in L.A." or if you've just seen him play live at all and you refuse to believe that he is insanely gifted with a guitar in his hand, there's something wrong with you. The man is a stud.

The new generation. He doesn't have any associated sound because he is capable of every style that all revolves around the blues influence. He is the most versatile and academic musician alive today. Anyone who doubts his indubitable capabilities, please just watch the Where the Light Is DVD.

23 T-Bone Walker Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker (May 28, 1910 - March 16, 1975) was an American blues musician, composer, songwriter and bandleader, who was a pioneer and innovator of the jump blues, West Coast blues, and electric blues sounds.

How is T-Bone Walker not near the top of this list? He influenced nearly every guitarist before him, either directly or indirectly. Hendrix learned how to play behind his neck by emulating him. Eric Clapton got his phrasing by emulating him. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King were also heavily influenced by him. And let's not forget to mention he was one of the first ones to pick up an electric guitar, which directly inspired B.B. King to start playing electric too.

Listen to the entire T-Bone Blues album, and you will immediately understand that T-Bone is the greatest and most influential blues guitarist of all time.

24 Duane Allman Howard Duane Allman was an American guitarist, session musician, and co-founder and leader of the Allman Brothers Band until his death in a motorcycle crash in 1971, when he was 24 years old.

Duane is not number one. He and Dickey are number one. Here's why. As a duo, they rewrote blues guitar. They showed the world that two guitarists, when synchronized as one, take the whole definition of blues lead to a new level. It's never been matched since.

Individually, it comes down to your choice since music is an art form. No problem. Combined, nothing has touched the phrasing these two put together on the Live at Fillmore album. And we haven't really thrown in that he rewrote the book on electric slide. Now, I love SRV because I love the blues, but Stevie's slide work reminds me of the slide work Fleetwood Mac played on their live Chicago album 20 years earlier.

25 Alvin Lee Alvin Lee was an English singer and guitarist, best known as the lead vocalist and lead guitarist of the blues rock band Ten Years After.

Saw him at Long Beach Arena, CA, on the "Cricklewood Green" tour. Blazing fast and technically perfect. For those into the blues, listen to one of his last albums, "The Bluest Blues." In a word, amazing!

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