To make it manageable, we have stuck to the blues and a bit of rock ( Buddy Guy qualifies for both). Sorry to fans of geniuses of extraordinary fusion technicians like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani.
Ranking the choices would be a losing proposition, leading only to usage of the words “what,” “who,” “moron” and “that is the wrong order”, in my online comment area. So consider these in no particular order, although I’m feeling pretty darn good about putting Jimi Hendrix at the top as the greatest ever – and that means the top of them all.
# 1 Jimi Hendrix No one rewrote the rule book so quickly and thoroughly. What he accomplished in four extraordinary years before dying at 27 can’t even be fathomed.
# 2 Jimmy Page You can tell from the first Led Zeppelin album, released in 1969, that this was a man with a vision. It’s hard to think of anyone who has explored the dynamics of the guitar – electric and acoustic – with such inspiration.
# 3 Duane Allman His shocking slide runs and muscular blues licks fueled the Allman Brothers before he, too, left us all too soon.
# 4 Buddy Guy Claims Clapton, while in Cream, was only doing what he had been doing for years. You don’t want to think about how many people “borrowed” from Buddy.
# 5 Stevie Ray Vaughan Who took the twelve bar blues and the blues scale to new heights.
# 6 Roy Buchanan Who played the blues from deep in his heart, took his life. The greatest telecaster player ever.
# 7 Carlos Santana Quite apart from his pioneering the blend of rock and Latin jazz, his beautifully structured, ringing solos bear constant revisiting.
# 8 Albert King, was not technically considered a great guitar player, but someone that everyone borrowed from, and a blues artist supreme.
# 9 Frank Zappa for a man with a rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief sense of humor, there was wit, beauty and a wide scope of musical knowledge in his playing.
#10 Eric Johnson Who plays everything with stunning ease and precision.
It was hard to come up with 12 guitarists. My musical interests are so narrow, all I usually can think of is about half of the 12 guitar players above. Anyway, we are talking about great guitarists. Guitarists like BB King play such sweet licks that some may consider him a viable candidate, but I think his real strong point and main instrument is his voice, and he uses his guitar to play a few licks in between. He sure has a sweet voice to go with his guitar playing though.
When I listen to Rockit 88 fm, which is a blues radio station in my area (no commercials), I hear so many excellent blues guitar players that literally makes me stop what I’m doing and go see who is playing on the radio/computer right now, only to find out I have never heard of them before.
For a lot of guitar players, these guys taught us. They were our guitar teachers, practically giving us personalized guitar lessons without them knowing it. Studying them everyday without the modern conveniences available to learn to play guitar. Easy it was not. But it stuck in our brains like some sort of permanent growth. Let me know who you think should be on my list. who you would like to take guitar lessons from. GuitarPlayersCenter.com