Music is one of the purest joys in life. It can inspire us, move us and take us to new heights, allowing us to experience things we have never seen before. Guitar music is often considered some of the best in the World because of the variety of sound produced. It can be played solo, in a band and for several different genres.
It is no surprise that the top guitarists of all time are also some of the best musicians of all time. However, it is not easy to select top guitarists among so many guitarists. Trying to limit the list to the top 10 is a challenge in itself.
Key Qualities of Best Guitarists
The versatility of the instrument means there are arguably several different musicians in the running. So to keep it consistent there are a few essential qualities that have been considered.
Firstly, it is about creativity. Many great players can cover songs, but the best guitarists of all time create original and impactful music.
Secondly, it is about delivery as well as music. The best musicians not only record well but also bring their very best to the live stage.
Thirdly, it is about a variety of music. The best guitarists can chop and change as needed and demonstrate many different disciplines on the instrument.
Finally, you have to consider the heart. The best guitarists put a bit of their heart and soul into their music.
List of Top 10 Musician/Guitarist
Now you know the characteristics we are looking for. Let us take you through our list of the top 10 guitarists of all time.
10. Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson Berry, known as Chuck Berry, is one of the most excellent musicians and guitarists of all time. He was an American musician and songwriter and famous for his distinct creation in music.
Chuck Berry was born in 1926 St. Louis, Missouri, United States, and died in 2017. In his 90 years living time, he wrote many songs and composed a plethora of music. Some of his famous songs are "Maybellene " (1955), "Johny B. Goode" (1958), "No Particular Place to Go" (1964), "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (1956), "Back in the U.S.A." (1959), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957), "Sweet Little Sixteen" (1958), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), etc.
Chuck Berry is considered as father of Rock n Roll music by many people. He started his music journey at a very early age. At his school and Church, used to play music. However, he was sent to jail for three years for arm robbery when he was a teen. Though he has ups and down in his life, he managed to establish himself as a successful musician.
Chuck Berry began to produce hits in 1950 and became famous after releasing Maybellene in 1955. Chuck Berry introduced Rock and roll music and became so popular that many singers and musicians followed him.
Chuck Berry inducted Rock n Roll music in the Hall of Fame for the first time in the history. He was awarded lifetime Grammy achievement award for his work.
Chuck Berry was famous amongst all the peoples and musician. Many renowned bands like Beatles, Beach Boys, and Rolling Stones followed him and his legacy. Berry kept his foot in different genres of music like Rock n roll, Blues, etc.
Before his death, in his 90th birthday, he announced to release an album, which was dedicated to his wife, Thematta. However, he is equally popular amongst his fans after his death. Chuck Berry is a talented and true legend in the music world.
9. Keith Richards
Keith Richards is an English Musician and famous for his guitar play. He is the co-founder and lead/ rhythm guitarist of the popular band rolling stones. Moreover, he is also a songwriter and wrote many songs for his group.
Keith Richards was born in 1943 at Dartford, Kent, United Kingdom. He is not only a guitarist but also a song writer, vocalist, and solo music player. According to rolling stone magazine Richards are called the creator of rocks' most fabulous single body of riffs. The rolling magazine ranked him fourth among their top 100 greatest guitarists.
In his career, Keith Richards wrote many songs and composed much music. Some of his famous songs are, The last time (1965), Satisfaction (1965), You got the Silver (1969), Coming down again (1973), etc.
Keith Richards is a lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist in the rolling stone. Along with that he is also a vocalist and sang many songs. He also plays both the acoustic guitar and electric guitar with rolling stones. In 1993 Richards was inducted into the song 'writer's Hall of fame.
Keith Richards is one of the talented guitarists of recent time. You can hardly found any music lover who does not know Keith Richards. He is also a song producer, and he has already produced many songs and continuing.
8. B.B King
Riley B. King, known as B.B King, is one of the greatest guitarists, singers, songwriters, and producers of American music history. He is considered as the King of Blues. He started his music journey as a disc player in Memphis, later that he became famous as an R&B guitarist.
B.B King was born in 1925 in Itta, Bena, Mississippi. He joined the Second World War, and after that, he devoted himself in music. He started his recording in 1949, and soon after that, he became popular amongst the music lovers. After 1949 King began his 12 years long association with KENT/RPM/Modern.
That time, he recorded some famous blues, including "You know I love you," "Wake up in the morning," and Three 'O'clock Blues, which were national hit.
That time, he recorded some famous blues, including "You know I love you," "Wake up in the morning," and Three 'O'clock Blues, which were national hit.
In '70's King attended an average of 300 concerts per year, both in his country and abroad. After that, he limits his show because of illness. King was the first blues performer who performed in Soviet Union in 1979. King also signed with A.B.C. records who released one of his benchmark blues concert album called "Live at the Regal" (1965). In 1969 he released one of his biggest single hits called "The Thrill is Gone."
King also performed with many renowned artists like Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Sheryl Crow and found commercial success. He was inducted into rock and roll hall of fame in 1987. He also won Grammy Awards 15 times, last time in 2009 for his great work "One Kind Favor." He performed in white house with Barak Obama in 2012, a song called "Sweet Home Chicago." B.B King died in 2015.
7. Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton one of the greatest rock n roll guitarists who performed in the band The Yardbirds and Cream. He was also a solo artist and songwriter, well known for his arts like "tears in heaven."
Eric Clapton was born in 1945 in Surrey, England and grew up in a musical family. His grandmother was an artist, and his mother and uncle loved big bang music. He played his first guitar at the age of 13. Though he found it difficult, later he became the master of guitar. In 1963 Clapton joined the band Yardbirds. Soon he recorded his commercial "Good Morning School Girl" and "For Your Love."
Later in 1965, Eric Clapton joined the band John Mayall and The Bluebreakers. Next year he recorded an album called "The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton" where he recorded songs like "'What'd I Say" and "'Ramblin' on My Mind." Due to his miraculous play and amazing works, people mentioned him "Clapton is God."
However, Clapton left the Bluebreakers and formed his own band with other called Cream. In his band, he played highly classical blues like "Crossroads," "Spoonful," and other modern blue tracks like "Sunshine of your love," and "White Room." Some of his famous albums are Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967) and Wheels of Fire (1968).
Eric Clapton is the only person who inducted three times in rock n roll hall of fame. He also awarded gammy award for 18 times. He published his autobiography in 2007, which ranked second amongst the greatest guitarists of all time.
6. Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He was also a singer and songwriter and earned a lot of success in '1980's.
Vaughan born in 1952 in Dallas, Taxas, and started his guitar play as a child. In 1975, he and some others formed Triple Threat. Later the band changed their name to Double Treble inspired by an Otis rush song. Vaughan as lead vocal and some other strong performers managed to spread their popularity within a short time. At that, they had a big fan base in Texas, and eventually, their fame spread outside the country.
In 1982, the group played a private party invited by Mick Jaggar. This year they also played in Montreux Blues and Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
The big break of Double Treble happened after publishing the album "'Let's Dance," in which he worked with David Bowie. Ray Vaughan also worked with most excellent musician and producer John Hammond in his "Texas Flood" album. He later performed with David Bowie and Jackson Browne, creating hits such as ''Crossfire'' and ''Life without you''.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was nominated for the Gammy Award for his work. In 1984 he was recognized as Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the year by National Blues Foundation Awards. He became the first white man who won both titles.
Sadly, Stevie died in a helicopter crash when he was just 35, but in his short life, he had a significant influence over the guitar music scene.
5. Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana is a Mexican-American award winning guitarist and songwriter. He is the founder of popular band Santana. His music is a blend of pop, Jazz, salsa, blues, and African Rhythms.
Carlos Santana was born in 1947 in Mexico and later shifted into San Francisco in 1960. He found his band named Santana Blues Band in 1966, then named as Santana. Santana signed with Colombia records, and Carlos was always in the front line.
Santana produced many famous recording in between '1970's and '80's. Some notable works are Abraxas, Lotus, and Amigos, etc.
Santana earned his first Grammy Award for the album Blues for Salvador in 1987. Throughout his career, he won many Grammy Awards and also inducted in the rock n roll hall of fame.
Nominated in nine categories at the Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year (Supernatural), Record of the Year and Song of the Year (both for "Smooth"), Santana won in every category. With his eight awards (the award for Song of the Year went to Thomas and Itaal Shur, who wrote "Smooth"). Santana tied Michael 'Jackson's 1983 record for most Grammy Awards won in a single year.
Carlos Santana electrified the guitar music industry from the late 1960s by combining genres like nobody before him. He used a combination of salsa, blues, and jazz to create unique music on the strings that challenged the rock and roll era of the day.
Beyond the influences, Carlos Santana injected some real spiritualism into his music and created some timeless hits such as ''Black Magic Woman'' and ''Maria Maria''. He is one of the living legends of present time.
4. Jeff Beck
Geoffrey Arnold Beck, also known as Jeff Beck, one of the English guitarists who played for band the Yardbirds. Jeff Beck performed with Clapton for several years in their band The Yardbirds where he developed his style. He focused his career on creating innovative sounds with records features blues, Rock and roll, hard Rock, and some Electronica.
Jeff Beck was born in English in 1944 in Surrey. He started playing guitar when he was a teenager. Later he established himself as a rock guitarist. He joined the Wimbledon College of Art after living his school. He played music with Jimmy Page when they were both teens.
Beck awarded Grammy Awards for Eight times. He also inducted into the Hall of fame twice in 1992 and 2009 respectively. Some of his famous albums are Truth (1968), Flash (1985), Wired (1976), Jeff (2003), Loud Hailer (2016). He performed with many renowned singers of modern days and a great pioneer of the contemporary rock songs.
Beck has not had the same solo success as some of his peers, but his talent is renowned. He has influenced the guitar music scene for over 50 years and is currently ranked 5th in the Rolling Stones top 100 list. He is considered as "Guitarist of Guitarists" by many.
3. Jimmy Page
James Patrick Page, known as Jimmy Page, is an English songwriter and guitarist. He is also the founder of rock band Led Zeppelin. Before founding his band, he was in Yardbirds.
Jimmy Page was born in 1944 in London, England. At the age of eleven, he stared to play guitar when he was a school student. He was so talented that he learned guitar only by hearing the music.
In Late 1964 he replaced one of the greatest guitarists Eric Clapton and joined Yardbirds. He attended many concerts with Yardbirds. Soon Page became popular amongst his audience and the bands. But in 1968 he wished to form his group and started to work with his all efforts.
Another member of The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, found his stride in the 1970s after he founded one of the greatest bands of all time, Led Zeppelin. Page helped define the hard rock era with countless hit records and then went on to broaden his music by exploring different chords, harmonies, and sounds.
Jimmy page inducted into the rock n roll Hall of Fame twice, once in 1992 with Yardbirds and the other in 1995 with Led Zeppelin. He also crowned The Most British Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) award for his contribution to British Music.
It is this experimentation that allowed him to create and perform stairway to heaven. Jimmy Page has played thousands of gigs and is one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
2. Eddie Van Halen
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter, and producer. He is one of the founders of the band Van Halen.
Van Halen was born in Netherlands in 1955. In 1962, they moved to America from the Netherlands. He and his brothers started to learn music at the age of six. In 1972, Van Helen and his brother Alex formed a band and later named it Van Helen.
Van Halen is a successful musician and won the hearts of his fans by his hard work. In 1983 they released their one of the successful album called "Jump." The album gets them nominated for the Grammy Award. Later in 1992, they awarded Grammy for their album "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge."
In January 2007 Van Halen inducted into Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader's poll for "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".Outside of Van Halen Eddie has written and performed with Michael Jackson and helped write riffs for Black Sabbath. His unusual two-handed tapping method and melodic preferences helped create something different that has inspired other artists for decades.
1. Jimi Hendrix
One of the greatest singers, guitarists and song writers in '1960's because of his strong performance. James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.
Jimi Hendrix was born in 1942 in the United States. Though his mainstream career lasts only for four years, he influenced a lot in rock music. At the age of sixteen, he started to play ukulele and continued. In his early stage of life, he joined the military and then entered the music world.
One of his most memorable performances was at Woodstock in 1969, where he performed "The Star Spangled Banner." Some of his other albums are "Are You Experienced" (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967), and Electric Ladyland (1968) among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Some other popular solo songs of Jimi are uitar World's readers voted six of Hendrix's solos among the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: "Purple Haze" (70), "The Star-Spangled Banner" (52; from Live at Woodstock), "Machine Gun" (32; from Band of Gypsys), "Little Wing" (18), "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (11), and "All Along the Watchtower" (5).
Rolling Stone placed seven of his recordings in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: "Purple Haze" (17), "All Along the Watchtower" (47) "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (102), "Foxy Lady" (153), "Hey Joe" (201), "Little Wing" (366), and "The Wind Cries Mary" (379). They also included three of Hendrix's songs in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time: "Purple Haze" (2), "Voodoo Child" (12), and "Machine Gun" (49).
Jimi Hendrix inducted in Rock n Roll Hall of fame in 1992 and U.K. Music Hall of Fame in 2005 after his death.
Every single Jimi Hendrix album did incredibly well, and every performance had an intense energy that many have tried to mirror. His music combined blues and Rock with a psychedelic twist that made it unique.
Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded as one of the most amazing electric guitarists of all time. He created unique and memorable music that will last for generations to come.
Guitar music is never static, and thankfully, we have fresh talent continually pushing the boundaries. All of the names on this list contributed to the music we listen to today. Even though there may be debate over who is the best. We should all definitely agree that 'we're lucky to have the opportunity to listen to so many great artists.