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Top 10 Greatest Guitar Players All Time

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Jimmy Hendrix

Jimmy Hendrix

Top 10 greatest guitar players

My picks for the top 10 greatest guitar players of all time, may be a little different than yours, but you can't disagree that these guys are fantastic. This is not necessarily the order that I would put them in from best to 10th best, it's really hard to pick the best ever. 1. Jimi Hendrix 2. Joe Satriani 3. Eric Clapton 4. Stevie Ray Vaughan 5. Nils Lofgren 6. Eddie Van Halen 7. Jimmy Page 8. Paul Gilbert 9. Allen Collins 10. Jeff Beck.

Below is a video slide show that I made as a tribute to all of them.

Top 10 Greatest Guitar Players

Jimi Hendrix

I don't think there is anyone who wouldn't have Jimmy in the top 10 greatest guitar players. Many people would say he was the best ever. He could do things with a guitar that I have never seen anyone else do.

Born Nov. 27 1942 in Seattle Washington. Jimi got in trouble with the law and was forced to join the army in 1961. He was discharge in 1962 because they said he was not a good soldier. He was stationed in Ft. Campbell Ky, so he moved to Clarksville TN because it was close. He started a band with an army buddy. He then moved to Nashville.

He was having no success, so he moved to N.Y. There he got together with the Isley Brothers and Little Richard and started to get some fame.

In 1966 he signed with a London record label and formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He became a big hit in Europe first. He became famous in America in 1967 at the Monterey pop festival. Then as the headliner at Woodstock in 1969, and the Isle of Wright festival in 1970.

He developed the use of amplifier feedback which until that time, everyone tried to avoid. He made extensive use of the wah-wah pedal and string bends like nobody else could do. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the U.K. music hall of fame in 2005. He died in London on Sept, 18 1970. The real truth about his death is not really known.

Joe Satriani

Born July 15 1956 in Westburry N.Y. Joe was inspired to play at age 14 by Jimi Hendrix death. Joe has played with or been inspired by all of the other 9 greatest guitars players on my list. He played with Mick Jagger on his 2nd solo album. Joe has also played with Frank Zappa.

He spent most of his early career as a guitar teacher, teaching some other great guitar players, like Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett, Marty Friedman, David Bryson, Kevin Codogon, Larry Lalonde, Alex Skolonik, and many other heavy metal guitarists.

In 1987 he released Surfin with the Aliens, which was the highest charting instrumental album in many years. He then produced several albums for other bands. In 89 he released Flying in a Blue Dream. In 92 he released The Extremist, his most successful album. Joe toured with Deep Purple in 1993 - 1994 in Japan.

In 1996 he formed a group G3, with Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson. There have been many other big name musicians who have toured with G3 over the years. He has released several more albums since then, and is now in a band with Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, and Chad Smith called Chickenfoot.

Eric Clapton

Clapton was born in Ripley Surey England on March 3 1945. He was raised by his grandmother after he mother just moved to Canada. His first band in 1961 was the Roosters. In 1963 he joined The Yardbirds. He played in a couple of other bands before he formed Cream in 1966. He was by this time considered one of the top guitar players in England, but was virtually unknown in America. In just 2 years, Cream was a huge success in Europe and the U.S. In 1968 Cream broke up. He then played with Blind Faith and did several gigs with Dr. John, Jeff Beck, Leon Russel, and Stephen Stills.

He released his first solo album in 1969. In 1970 he joined Derek and the Domino's. He wrote the song Layla after falling in love with George Harrison's wife Patty Boyd. 1970 and 1971 were hard years for Clapton. He lost 2 good friends, Hendrix, and Duane Allman. That combined with the attraction to Patty Boyd and not being able to be with her, drove him to drugs and alcohol.

Pete Townsend helped him get back on his feet. He finally did get together with Patty in 1979 and married her. They were married until 1984. Since then he has played with every big name guitar player in the music business and has had great success. He is also considered by many to be the best guitar player ever.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan

Born Oct. 3 1954 in Dallas Texas. He got his first guitar at age 7 and started his first band in 1970 named Blackbird. In 1973 joined a band called Night crawlers. In 74 joined Paul ray and the Cobra's. In 1977 formed the Triple threat review. He did a couple of tours with David Bowie and a couple of projects with Jackson Brown.

In 1982 he signed with Epic records and released Texas Flood in 83. In 84 released Couldn't stand the weather. In 84 he won the Entertainer of the year award. In 85 released Soul to Soul. He released live alive in 86. The live version of Texas flood is one of the best blues rock performances I have ever seen. He appeared in a couple of movies and worked with B.B. King, Phil Collins, Gladys Knight, Chaka Chan, Billy Ocean, and Stevie Wonder.

In 1989 he played at the inaugural party of George H. W. Bush. He release another album called In Step in 1990 and toured with Joe Cocker also in 1990.

He was performing with Clapton in Alpine Valley Wisconsin. on Aug. 25 and 26th. To avoid traffic they had 4 helicopters to get them from the show. There was a thick fog in the area and the helicopter he was in didn't get high enough to clear a hill and crashed, killing Vaughan, the pilot and 3 members of Claptons traveling group. Vaughn like Hendricks could do some unbelievable playing tricks with a guitar. He also has to be considered as one of the best guitars player ever.

Nils Lofgren

Nils was born in Chicago in 1951. He started playing the accordion when he was 5. He studied it for 10 years. At 15 he started playing the guitar. In 1969 he formed a band called Grin. He joined Neil Young on After the gold rush. He played several time with Neil Young over the years. After Grin Nils started a solo career. He released several successful albums after that. He has written and performed for several movies and played several songs for the Simpsons.

He joined Bruce Springsteen just before the Born in the U.S.A tour in 1984. He has done several solo tours and has played with Springsteen since 1984. In 1997 he did a live acoustic album called Acoustic live that is one of my favorite albums of all time.  Nils is my pick for the best ever acoustic guitar players.

Eddie Van Halen

Born Jan,. 26 1955 in Amsterdam. His family moved to Pasadena Ca. in 1962. Eddie first played piano, didn't feel it was enough, switched to drums, that wasn't right either, finally got to the guitar, and that was it. Eddie would practice for sometimes 15 hours a day.

He and his brother started a band called Genesis, they found the name was already taken by a successful band so they changed it to Mammoth. They were playing some shows and renting equipment form David Lee Roth, he said the name Van Halen would sound cool, so they changed it and then hired Dave to do vocals.

In 1976 Gene Simmons from KISS heard them play and financed their first demo tape. He sent them to NY and they signed a deal with Warner Bros. records. From 78 to 84 the released 6 albums, but they could not get along. In 85 Roth left and Sammy Hagar joined the band. Roth came back to the band later on and so did Sammy for some shows.

Eddie had hip replacement surgery in 1999 and was twice treated for tongue cancer and had a third of his tongue removed. Since 2004 Eddie has been out of the public eye.

Jimmy Page

Born Jan 9 1944 in the west London suburb of Heston. He started playing at age 13. His first influences were blues and folk music. He also loved painting, and went to art school. He came down with a bad case of Mono and was sick off and on for 18 months.

He then began working as a studio musician, and played with some of the biggest names in England. The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Van Morrison, and many others. He was asked to join the Yardbirds, but didn't want to leave his good studio job, so he recommended Jeff Beck. He joined the Yardbirds himself later on. The group broke up and page reformed the New Yardbirds with Robert Plant, John Bonham, John Paul Jones. In 1969 the changed the name to Led Zeppelin.

After Bonhams death in 1980 the band broke up. Page was devastated and did not play for a year. After he started playing again he played with Beck, Clapton, and many others. In December 2007 he got back together with the surviving members of Zeppelin along with Jason Bonham, Johns son, and played a charity show in London. He has produced several other albums and even a movie called It might get loud, about the history of the electric guitar. It is reported that Page owns over 1500 guitars.

Paul Gilbert

Born Nov. 6 1966 in Illinois. He formed his first band in L.A. in 1985, called Racer X. He was heavily influenced by Judas Priest. Paul has been knows as one of the fastest guitar players ever. He left Racer X in 88 and started Mr. Big. they were a huge success in Japan. Left Mr. Big in 97 to do a solo album. He gained international fame with the album Lean Into It, and the song "To be with you", that went to #1 on the billboard charts.

Paul has been back together with Racer X and Mr. Big several times over the years. Paul has focused on teaching over the last several years.  Paul has also taught many other great guitar players.

He has done 9 albums with Racer X, and 9 albums with Mr. Big, and 15 solo albums. He has also performed on 32 other albums. In 2007 he also toured with G3.

Allen Collins

Born July 19 1952 In Jacksonville Florida. He helped form Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964 with Ronnie Van Zant. He and Ronnie wrote most all of their songs. The band gained national success in 1973 when opening for The Who. On Oct 20 1977 the bands plane crashed in Mississippi killing 3 band members. Collins survived but suffered 2 broke vertebrae in his neck and severe damage to his right arm. He made a full recovery.

He returned to performing in the early 80's with the Rossington Collins band. He lost his wife when she had a miscarriage and bled to death. He then began heavy drug and alcohol abuse.

In 1986 he was driving drunk and killed his girlfriend and left himself paralyzed from the waist down. He never played again after that. The band got back together and he did tour with them and spoke out against drunk driving at every show. The band gave most of the money from the tour to a charity to study paralysis.

On Jan 23 1990 Collins died from pneumonia, a complication from the paralysis.

Jeff Beck

Born June 25 1944 in Wallington England.Jeff started playing guitar at age 10. He tried to make several of his own guitars, none of which worked very well. Jeff met Jimmy Page through his sister. He joined the Yardbirds on recommendation from Jimmy Page. Jeff was only with the Yardbirds for 18 months, he had a bad temper which made it hard for others to get along with him.

He then formed The Jeff Beck Group. They released 2 highly acclaimed albums over a 2 year period. The band broke up and Jeff reformed it 4 times over the next 4 years, he kept the same name each time. Jeff also played with Clapton a couple of times in the early 80's.

Over the past several years he has played with Roger Waters, Cindy Lauper, Kelly Clarkson, and B.B. King. Jeff is still one of the best guitar players.


Saying someone is one of the greatest guitar players is a subjective thing. There is no way to prove that I am right, but this is my choice. Hope you enjoyed the Hub.

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ralph on March 23, 2018:

No Robin Trower.... come on !!!

DOUG on November 30, 2013:

Terry Kath??????????????????????????????????

Jimi called him .........." The greatest guitar player in the universe "

Jonathan Glass on November 07, 2013:

Where is Marty Friedman??

He even has a guitar loops pack now.

Rob Lattin from Born in Chicago, now I'm in the Quad Cities on July 14, 2013:

I just wanted to add that I like the way you put your article together and attaching videos so we can sample the music. Nils does sound good. Joe Satriani starts out good but after a while you get tired of the sound effects. Jeff Beck was probably best as instrumentalist because he had more melody to his songs. Perhaps Joe is great as a guitarist, but not so as a song writer. Pat Travers was pretty good if you ever considered him as an alternate to Joe Satriani.

Shredder on July 12, 2013:

In Reality , No One on Your List Except Gilbert , Is In The 100

Bruce Davis on May 01, 2012:

I'm partial to Danny Gatton. RIP. Any style better than anybody in that style.

spease (author) from Minneapolis Mn on January 05, 2012:

Roy Clark was a great guitar player, no doubt. Good one to add.

Rob on January 04, 2012:

Great list! I just wanted to post this for people who have never seen it to go and watch on youtube: "Roy Clark Guitar Wizard". All I much remember him for was banjo on Hee Haw; Pickin & Grinnin. I got watching that video and thought how he's pretty darn good on guitar. I kept watching and thought he's really good. Then when he went into whatever it's called at just gotta go check it out.

Oisín Tarrant on November 24, 2011:

Rory Gallagher deffo

TTC12 on October 12, 2011:

Great list. My list includes Duane Allman, Randy Rhoads, Shawn Lane - sadly, all have past on.

Guitar Crazy on October 03, 2011:

Eric Clapton is the best , for sure and far away . then would be Jimi . but some guitar players like joe satriani or paul gilbert aren't in the same league !!!

Rob Lattin from Born in Chicago, now I'm in the Quad Cities on August 23, 2011:

I like your list of 10 which mixes famous with not so famous guitar players. Hendrix could be considered the best depending on what reasons - perhaps as an influence.

Tony Mead from Yorkshire on July 06, 2011:


good list, Hendrix I think was probably not the best guitarist, But he was an improvisor and other guitarists could only try to copy what he was doing in the late 60's.

you can only invent the wheel once and that was the great thing about one else had done it quite like that before. If you listen to Buddy Guy you will hear where all those super guitarists got the licks and rifts from, even Jimi.

so my vote would have to be Buddy Guy.

James on May 11, 2011:

Jimi Hendrix is the man. Hands down best player

CJamesIII from Minneapolis, MN on April 18, 2011:

I have to add Prince. John Mayer will probably be on these kinds of lists in 20 years.

hypebuster on February 07, 2011:

Really good list. I think that Ritchie Blackmore was and still is a better player than others of his era - I'm talking Beck, Clapton and Page - the trouble with Ritchie of course was that he was his own worst enemy, whereas teh others guys tended to get along with everybody and Page had the best Manager in the world.

Crazyhorse on November 11, 2010:

I've looked at many of these sites........... Has no one ever heard of Johnny Winter? WTF. Mean Town Blues. (live) Check it out!

Michael Brent on September 25, 2010:

The icons, ever the icons..

All dead?

Rock is young.

The best guitar player of world now is Pedro Castilho.

The rock man.Guitar is dressed in your body.


Scott M on September 09, 2010:

So glad you led with Jimi - in the studio he was so precise, creative and refined and on stage he was like a man possessed by a higher force. I've read he was seldom seen without a guitar in his hands. Nice hub, Shimla

lml on September 08, 2010:

michael angelo batio

is better


Jimi Hendrix

Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on August 06, 2010:

I've also created a list of the Ten Greatest Rock Guitarists, and your list pretty much coincides with mine. Such a list is very hard to compile. What, no Steve Vai on this list? What a shame. Later!

Gregbo on July 07, 2010:

Django. Period.

tony0724 from san diego calif on July 03, 2010:

You should listen to a guy named Leo Kottke sometime , he was unbelievable.

cellconcrete on June 27, 2010:

Yes, it is hard to pick ten - this could go on and on... David Gilmour, Andy Timmons, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson... you could make a top 100 and that too wouldn't be enough.

nekros729 on April 21, 2010:

Steve Vai.

Ernesto on April 09, 2010:

Where is BUCKETHEAD!?????????????????????????????????????

Renee S from Virginia on January 26, 2010:

I love this hub. My husband and two older boys all play guitar, one is majoring in music. Great hub.

pddm67 from Queens, New York on October 20, 2009:

Great hub. Great list. Rock on!!!

spease (author) from Minneapolis Mn on September 07, 2009:

It is really hart to just pick 10. I agree he is one of the best.

gusripper on September 07, 2009:

if you add RITCHIE BLACKMORE i agree with all of them,nice hub

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