Top 10 Best Shredders of All Time

Throughout the years, many factors define a great guitarist. In this context, guitarists are defined solely by their speed. Who's the fastest? You decide.
The Top Ten
1 Buckethead Brian Patrick Carroll, known professionally as Buckethead, is an American guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who has worked within many genres of music.

Best guitarist ever! And I'll tell you why. He can play any type of music very soulfully, beautifully, and express his emotions on guitar. It's like he's speaking with his guitar! Not only that, but the guy can shred like a mother. He shreds, solos, plays bass, banjo, and piano. He's definitely the best guitarist out there... Ever, actually! I love Hendrix, and people say he was like an alien. Don't get me wrong, I love Jimi! He's damn good. But if he's an alien, then I don't know what the hell Buckethead is because he doesn't need lyrics or singing in his songs to make a masterpiece. All he needs is his guitar, his mask, and his bucket. He's known for his shredding, but he definitely does NOT shred mindlessly. Buckethead is the best for his emotional bipolar songs. The ones with passion and emotion. That's what sets him apart from any other guitarist out there!

There's something special about Buckethead that sets him apart from the crowd. He possesses unreal speed, matched by only one or two people on this list. However, on top of that, he has precision. You can hear every single note he plays without slowing the track down.

But what is most special about Buckethead is his heart for the music. Not everything he does is shredding, and that is where his passion truly sings. Musicians seem to be losing the heart of music as we progress as a society, but Buckethead has kept in touch with that sensibility.

2 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.

Laugh out loud at Buckethead being ranked before Petrucci. Petrucci has one of the most unique styles that is very hard to master. He always surprises me with every Dream Theater release. His work with Liquid Tension Experiment is amazing as well. Also, for those who think he can't play with emotion, check out the music he did with Explorer's Club. You'll be proven otherwise.

A lot of people say that Petrucci's guitar playing lacks feeling, but even when he is shredding, you experience emotions that aren't felt with Malmsteen or Batio. Petrucci should be number one here. And even if you say this isn't about feelings, just listen to the solo from "Stream Of Consciousness."

His fingers are the most flexible and stretch the widest. His sweep picking is clean and very fast. He is the calmest and most relaxed when it comes to guitar playing. I like his unique style.

3 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.

There are a handful of guitarists faster than Yngwie (Synyster Gates is not among them), but none who have contributed so much to rock/metal lead guitar technique. I guarantee you 90% of the guitarists on this list would list Yngwie as an influence, and those who wouldn't most likely came before Yngwie (and also probably shouldn't really classify as "shredders"). Also, where is Uli Jon Roth? That guy can shred insanely and came even before Yngwie!

Most newbies nowadays consider "shredding" as "playing as fast as possible". Well, that's not how it is. You need to be smooth, melodic, and innovative in various ways to be considered a full-fledged shredder.

It's also impossible to say that a certain guitarist is "the best", because all of them have a different style, and every shredhead has a different taste. However, when you compare them in terms of their musicality and compatibility with various styles of music, it is fair to say that Yngwie Malmsteen is better. When you look into his stuff, especially live shows rather than studio records, it becomes obvious that his way of thinking and using his guitar is simpler yet more powerful than any other. He also appeared in an era where everybody was rocking with their blues-based licks, and he refused to copy them, creating his own Baroque-based licks. (Guitarists such as Jason Becker, Vinnie Moore, and Joe Stump, along with other various artists, were alongside him.) Even his tone screams originality, and it's distinctly his. He is still on the road and sticking to what he has created along the path. Anyone who has heard him, even just once, can recognize his style.

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.

He was in a friendly rivalry with Randy Rhoads, but ultimately Randy was a better guitarist. His rivalry with Randy pushed both of them to make great music which influenced almost every guitarist in some way.

He is the fastest guitarist, bar none. No one can strum faster than him, and he's as if not more influential than Hendrix. Listen to how solos are done after him and see where they originate. EVH is the greatest of all-time, enough said.

Eddie should definitely be at least in the top 3. Eddie may be the king of tapping, but he shreds like a madman on that guitar too!

5 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.

I used to think the fastest shredders were Yngwie Malmsteen, Buckethead, John Petrucci, etc., and that there might be faster guitarists, but not much faster. However, when I first heard Shawn Lane play, I realized he was miles above every other shredder I had ever heard. His technicality, speed, and ability to play notes with impeccable cleanliness are almost inhuman. He even said that he was just born with a freakish nervous system, which contributed to his lightning-fast playing. Until future generations pick up the guitar, there has not been another Shawn Lane yet, and no one has ever come close to his speedy and flawless playing, all while sounding incredible.

This is the most ridiculous list ever. First of all, stupid Avenged Sevenfold fanboys that probably don't play guitar voted for him. Guitar Hero fanboys voted for Herman Li and Slash. Are you kidding me? Put Slash playing next to Shawn Lane, Jason Becker, or Petrucci, and he would look like a five-year-old trying to play what they're playing. Anyway, now that I got that off my chest, Shawn Lane is definitely the best shredder. Just watch any video of him playing. Look up the live version of "Get You Back." The licks that he plays near the end are not only insane but also sound absolutely beautiful. I tried to learn how to play them, but although I know the notes he is playing, it's almost impossible to make the stretches, make it sound clean, and play as fast as he did. In the words of Paul Gilbert, "He has amazing blazing phrasing."

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

Has tons of feeling and is very versatile. You know it's Vai when you hear a song because he has such a distinct sound. Also, the GOD of the Whammy Bar.

Steve might not have the fastest fingers, but he surely has the strongest grip. His JEM is proof of that.

Go see him live. He's god-tier, my number one.

7 Guthrie Govan Guthrie Govan is an English virtuoso guitarist and guitar teacher, known for his work with the bands The Aristocrats, Asia, GPS, The Young Punx and The Fellowship, as well as his solo project Erotic Cakes.

Guthrie Govan is an endless catalogue of technical expression. His command over the guitar is second to none. His speed is at a level that only decades of playing can supply. His precise attention to each note is remarkably revelational throughout his music. Whether it's a slow groove bend or a series of notes strung together at an alarming speed, he presents a measure of hair-splitting attention to each note that's unsurpassed by no one.

Of course, these are all robotic characteristics and would be meaningless without a beautiful marriage to real, emotion-laden sound waves. The fact that Guthrie can be such a technical heavyweight and still maintain a focus on the emotional content of music is a testament to his preeminence.

You'll love him instantly when you search for him on YouTube. He's the most complete guitarist I've ever seen. He can play almost everything, from slow jazz and neo soul to rock and traditional folk music. Best shredder in terms of musicality.

8 Synyster Gates 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.

He can mix fast licks with unbelievable feel, he has an amazing tone, and his solos are incredible. He's young and among the greatest, which shows how great his talent is. This beast can even rip amazing Jazz solos and many other different styles.

I think he never makes a mistake whenever he plays the guitar, especially when he does the melody. His fingers are really fast and accurate. And he puts his feelings into his guitar playing, so we can feel his expression in his music.

Synyster Gates is like a god among lead guitarists. His shredding is also special, and he is not a man like others. During his guitar playing, he is completely absorbed and unaware of everything surrounding him, as if the world were exploding.

9 Al Di Meola Al Di Meola is an American jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer of Italian origin.

Undeniable speed, technical ability, and creative talent. This guy is one of the all-time greats and one of the most influential guitarists of all time. I've seen many of the guitarists on this list live, and very few can match this guy.

Just ask them. A great shredder will tell you how legendary Di Meola is. Melodic, emotional, adventurous - he has Malmsteen's speed on both electric and acoustic. Ask Steve Morse, who's one of the greatest and most versatile players of all time, hands down - in all genres. He will tell you all about Al's influence and greatness.

First of all, the first shredder ever was Niccolo Paganini, who was Italian. So, it's no surprise that Di Meola is another of the amazing race of Italian Americans like Zappa, Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, Impellitteri, Michael Angelo, Vito Bratta, etc. But with Al Di Meola starts the real shred in guitar, along with McLaughlin, Corrado Rustici, the first shredders ever. Just try to imagine living in that era, and you will understand why Di Meola has to be one of the best guitar players ever.

10 Paul Gilbert 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.

- Buckethead's teacher.
- By far the cleanest at those speeds.
- Best picking in the world. Every stroke is ten times more accurate than it needs to be for the human brain to consider it spot on.
- Insane left-hand dexterity, speed, accuracy.
- Perfect genetically engineered fingers, lol.
- By far the best teacher, with more videos than the others, and more lessons on all topics. Offers better and more detailed explanations than anything I've ever seen. Has an amazing ability to simplify and pass on his point, in most cases, in the most humorous way possible.
- Most humble guy in the industry.
- Best string skipping technique ever conceived, by miles.
- Manages to do all of the above with picks like Tortex 0.60 mm, the "orange ones".
- Technical god, and very close to a musical god.

Simply the best. Best quality of shredding of all time, unlike Michael Angelo or Herman Li who just hit random notes in the purpose of being faster. I honestly never seen Slash shredding for real. Paul Gilbert is truly amazing and doesn't really try to be one. Petrucci, Yngwie, and Vai are also great shredders. Syn too, however, he won't be in the top ten. And why is Marty number 24?!

The Contenders
11 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.

Alright, so he's not the fastest. But he comes from a time when it wasn't entirely about speed. You hear him play a solo like on "Mr. Crowley," "Diary of a Madman," or "Crazy Train," and you think, "Damn! That's a solo!" He's obviously no slouch in terms of technique, but speed's not his only trick.

Okay, Gilbert is really fast, but his solos lack substance. Randy plays with excellent taste and inspiration, showing true beauty in his solos. It's surprising how few guys here know how to shred with feeling (I'd have to mention Petrucci and Alex Lifeson as two who do). Not to mention the songs he wrote are brilliant. This man was a brilliant guitar player, who truly knew how to use a guitar.

I remember seeing the live video of "Crazy Train" which blew my mind. He was my first guitar hero.

My favorite guitarist of all time. Randy was one of the greatest guitarists to walk this earth. Inspiring and being an idol to every guitarist above and below. It's hard to imagine his true talent since he was taken so young, and no one got to hear his true talent except Ozzy, his family, and Quiet Riot.

12 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.

Dime obviously paved the way for the rest of the greats, especially Synyster Gates. I am a die-hard A7X fan forever, so I know what I'm talking about when I say Dime was the best guitarist ever. Syn is the best alive right now. But Dime is a legend, and if it wasn't for him, none of these other bands around now would even be playing this kind of music. And Kirk Hammett shouldn't be taken lightly, but Dime would've outshredded him any day. Pantera for the win!

I don't even know why Syn is on this list or is even ranked higher than Dimebag. I'm a pure Pantera and Dimebag Darrell fan, and Dime was a guitarist that could match anyone on speed but chose not to, creating his style. Dime's solos and guitar playing are unparalleled today. He could make the guitar squeal and sound different from everyone else. Dimebag's music deserves more credit than it is getting. Put him higher up.

You don't even have to like his music to be a fan of his skills. He was and always will be untouchable. Nobody can match him. He draws inspiration from every guitarist before him and then provides inspiration to every modern guitarist today. Synyster Gates owes a lot to Dime.

13 Les Paul Lester William Polsfuss, known as Les Paul, was an American jazz, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor.
14 Michael Angelo Batio Michael Angelo Batio also known as Mike Batio or MAB, is an American heavy metal guitarist and columnist from Chicago, Illinois.

I'll tell you why MAB should be above those other three.

1. Buckethead is fast, but his shredding technique often repeats the same notes, making it easier.
2. John Petrucci can't shred. Sure, he can play fast, but that's not the same as insane shredding.
3. Synyster Gates is fast, but most of his faster solos have never been played live. This suggests he would probably make a lot of mistakes.

By the way, what are Slash and Kirk Hammett doing here? Slash has never shredded in any of his solos, and while Kirk is good, he's not one of the fastest. Chris Broderick from Megadeth should be added to the list as well.

Michael Angelo Batio, Jason Becker, and Joe Satriani should be ranked higher than where they are, especially Michael Angelo Batio and Jason Becker. Because MAB has speed faster than any other. He deserves his credit for this. And Jason Becker for his great arpeggios and sweep picking. These two are ahead in these aspects compared to other shredders.

15 Zakk Wylde 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.

This man is an idiot. Besides being hilarious, he is an exceptionally good blues player and comes up with excellent riffs. Zakk is blindingly fast, and you can't forget those Pinch Harmonics.

Dude hasn't evolved much, but has a rock star personality, and can still keep up with the shred kiddies.

Synyster is the 6th and Zakk is the 12th? What the heck is going on, man? Zakk is way better than him.

16 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 Hunter, Kevin Cadogan, and Alex Skolnick; he then went on to have a successful solo music career. He... read more

What is with these lists? Joe is simply amazing. No one else even comes close. I think it's his composition and ability to express emotion in his music that sets him far above any others. I have been a fan since the early days; Not of this Earth is still one of my all-time favorite songs. This song live just is mind-blowing. When Joe is on stage, that's when the magic really happens. There is no need for any type of list. There is Joe, then everyone else.

Satch combines shred and melody like no one else. He knows his theory and has the technical ability, but always with much feeling and incredible melody, which is why he is the king shredder.

Excellent guitarist. Started the G3 tour which includes Satch, as well as two other shredders in a show that will melt your face off.

17 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 in 1989 and Becker began doing solo work, having released his first album Perpetual Burn in 1988,... read more

Slash and Synyster before Jason Becker? That's stupid! This guy just shreds! I realize that many people haven't heard of his work and think Slash and Synyster Gates (the most overrated guitarists ever) are better. Picture Jason playing guitar with one hand and playing yo-yo with the other hand (search 'Jason Becker yo-yo' on YouTube). All his solos in his solo work, in Cacophony, and with David Lee Roth are just mind-blowing!

And do you know why I think he is one of the best guitarists and composers? Because he is creating awesome music even when he can only think and move his eyes. That shows he can make good music at any time.

This is interesting because he is one of the greatest shredders, and he was in his early 20s! He was playing Yngwie flawlessly at age 17. He is also a musical genius and continues to write music even with ALS. He is unable to move, yet he still manages to create really beautiful music note by note, using only his eyes. A true inspiration to all guitarists and musicians around the world.

18 Kirk Hammett 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.

Are you kidding? You're asking if Kirk can shred. Tell me this after listening to The Four Horsemen solo. He's probably the best and also one of the top guitarists in the world. He has changed the metal genre and is indeed THE GOD OF METAL.

Kirk Hammett at 21. This list is a joke.

19 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.

Can you take a man with a Kentucky Fried Chicken basket on his head seriously?

He's the Darth Vader of musicians, but who's the Anakin? Why not Slash? He gets my vote.

He has the capacity to play like Jimi, like BB King. He is amazing without changing parts of a guitar.

This guy got me into shred. And his music makes much sense and flows!

20 Ilan Ashkenazi

Mr. Ashkenazi's technique is unmatched. His speed and clarity are insane. Malmsteen can't touch him. His songs are also very melodic and not just a bunch of notes, which is rare for shred at that level. He should be much more famous. There are some monster videos of him on YouTube. Truly a monster virtuoso!

I have no clue how to say this name! Basically, it's insane shred taken up a few notches and truly one of the fastest and cleanest shredders around. Songs to check out: "Master" and "Endurance" for pure shred. Ashkenazi has a great melodic mind and combines sheer speed and intense skill with great musical content.

21 Alexi Wildchild Laiho Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho (April 8th 1979 - December 29th 2020) was 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. He was also the guitarist for Sinergy, The Local Band, and Kylähullut.

He's been underestimated just because he's a Finn, a man from a very odd, cold country. If he's not as fast as the others, it might be due to his childhood. He didn't have gloves, but he had guts. He trained his skills with a "keppi" or "stick" outside in temperatures below -36 degrees Celsius. All he cares about is the pure sound he creates, fast and clean. This is truly a man who deserves a top 6 place. Thank you. Carry on, Perkele.

Although I think that Alexi doesn't stand a chance against Dimebag or Zakk Wylde, I do believe he's better than Herman Li. Just an opinion, but other than Petrucci, I'm not much of a Dream Theatre fan. Children of Bodom have had me hooked since Hatebreeder.

He might be a little unclean, but he can write one of the heaviest licks and manage to make a melodic solo. He is far, far better than Slash and many more on the list. Just listen to his Sinergy Project.

22 Richie Sambora Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora is an American rock guitarist, producer, singer and songwriter who was the lead guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi for 30 years. He is known for his work with Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013. He is a very praised guitarist who played solos for songs like Dry County, Stranger In This town And Wanted Dead Or Alive. He has 3 solo albums - Stranger In This town (1991) Undiscovered... read more

Richie Sambora, the musical shredder with feeling, will make the other shredders look like just... shredders.

However, the following shredders should also be ranked much higher:
Yngwie Malmsteen, Shawn Lane, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Randy Rhoads, Buckethead, Dimebag Darrell, Eddie Van Halen, and Eric Johnson (all great musical shredders).

Musical shredding is the secret, not just shredding! Richie Sambora does exactly that. He shreds with feeling and emotion!

Shredding equals Richie Sambora. End of comment!

23 Vinnie Moore

Melodic, speed, feel, creative talent that fans and musicians can only dream of.

He's in the top ten.

Amazing melodic and accurate player - Very cool runs. Love all his solo and UFO work.

24 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 Japanese television programs such as Rock Fujiyama and Jukebox English.

This list should be renamed to Most Popular Guitar Players of All Time. Marty, Jason, Yngwie, and so many great players after that - Kirk and Slash, disgusting.

Dragon's Kiss, the first Marty Friedman solo album, is THE masterpiece of shredding. It's even weird that people tried to make some guitar albums after that...

He was one of the pioneers of shred metal. He should be right up there with Gilbert and Becker. He can add substance and shred really fast.

25 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... read more

This guy is the original Guitar Shredder who completely changed the way people played guitar. I can't believe he wasn't on this list before now! What blasphemy! There were no shredders before him, period! Eric Clapton definitely influenced Jimi before he was famous, but Eric didn't shred. Even though he was no Buckethead or Satriani, he should still be on the top ten of this list because of his influence on today's music.

Top 10 at least. Come on, guys, it's JIMI HENDRIX. Listen to him playing the national anthem, and all of the unrelated shredding he breaks down into. He more than doubled the length of the national anthem by breaking down into the most famous shred in history.

One of the best shredders in my opinion.
His licks are hard as hell.
So I consider him very talented.
He might not have a destroying tone, but damn, he plays fast, hard, and good.

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