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SelfDevouringSnake

Rank of Electric Guitarists

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This topic is about ranking electric guitarists based on their greatness from #1 - #100 (although such a list could go without end). The practice of ranking guitarists is fairly common on the Internet; search "100 Greatest Guitarists" on Google and you'll get a shitload of results (often just copy-and-pastes of the list you just looked at). The most recognized (for lack of a better word) of these lists are by the popular music magazine Rolling Stone and by a media website (again, mostly focusing on popular music) called Digital Dream Door. Here are the links:

http://www.listology.com/story/rolling-stone-100-greatest-guitarists - Rolling Stone's website took off their write-up, but you can find the list here. It features a critique which is pretty interesting. Their list is okay, but it's what you'd expect from them: very commercially oriented.

http://digitaldreamdoor.nutsie.com/pages/best_newguitar.html & http://digitaldreamdoor.nutsie.com/pages/best_guitar-metal.html - There are more than two lists ranking guitarists by Digital Dream Door, but these are the two which are for almost exclusively electric genres (rock and metal). The rock guitarist list was changed just yesterday. No gigantic changes though (notably, Scotty Moore managed to kick Robert Fripp out of the top ten).

My idea for this thread is to make a list of 100 greatest electric guitarists with contributions from anybody who's willing to chip in (although unless somebody takes over the thread, I'll take care of posting the official ranks up). If by any chance we get a solid thing going here, I'd be pleased to initiate making the list longer. So why just electric guitarists? I play mandolin (acoustic mandolin), and I love many forms of music, but I chose to make this an electric guitarist list because practically all the music I frequent has electric guitars involved. As a plus, by choosing to do only electric guitarists, we have a better idea of what we're looking for than if I just said "Choose the 100 greatest guitarists in general." Looking at Digital Dream Door's list of 100 greatest guitarists (including all musical genres), the criteria is too wide for the list to seem right. It isn't nearly as satisfying as looking at one of their more specific lists. This list, if anybody wants to help me with it, will need a criteria (or at least a damn good argument for why a player is placed above or below another), although I'd like to see if anybody's interested in helping (or at least contributing something to this thread) before I set up any official rules and standards about this list. Any input about my idea at all will be welcomed. Also if this idea is taken up, I want to stress that the criteria will not be based on the guitarist's proximity in terms of style to Jimmy Page: I will listen to you if you argue that Page should be #1, but I want the list to be something that can be admired from more than one perspective, not just the perspective of a Led Zeppelin fan.

This list will suck if I'm the only one contributing to it, so please make suggestions, criticisms and whatever else you can. To get a conversation going, here's how I would begin the list:

1. Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix and his band (which was basically the world's greatest backing band), the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released three downright amazing studio albums (Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland) all marked by prolific use of electric innovation (which had already been tampered with by Les Paul and Jeff Beck among others). I would put him as the greatest electric guitarist without hesitating, but how would this work as a beginning to such a list? Rolling Stone used him as number one, as did the rock guitarist Digital Dream Door list. I think he is a very good choice for such a list, but I can see potential criticism: some might argue that the list should be based on skill because Hendrix, though incredible, is probably not the most technically skilled player. Others might argue that this choice gives it an instant disposition to classic rock, which could potentially make it monotonous. I would defend against both of these arguments, but I'm still willing to consider other choices.

Again, any feedback would be nice.

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Great idea, I think i got it...

2# TERRY KATH

Often not thought of imediatly, Kath is (IMO) one of THE greatest. Praised by Hendrix, he (IMO) is one of the master's of the wah. He was with CTA/Chicago all the way from the beggining up until 1977, when he tragicaly killed himself by accident. He was showing off to a friend of his, pulling triggers guns with no bullets in at his head, he picked up a machine pistol, checked it, and pulled the trigger. He didn't see the last bullet in the magazine. He died instantly. RIP Terry Kath :(

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I'll have to take your word about Kath: I've heard the name before, but I've never heard any of his stuff (that I know of). I'll check out his work though. Could you name a couple examples of his work that stand out to you? Also, did you name Kath as #2 just to name a guitarist, or do you actually feel that he deserves the second spot? Sorry that I have to ask, I just want to clarify if you are advocating him as the second greatest or just as a guitarist lower than Hendrix.

So this ain't too bad so far: we've got two guitarists named. Jimi Hendrix is so far uncontested as #1, and we have Terry Kath placed directly beneath him for now. My own choice for #2 would have been Page:

#2 (or #3 depending on how consensus goes) - Jimmy Page.

If you don't know who Jimmy Page is and you're reading a Led Zeppelin forum, you've disgraced your family and should go into self-imposed exile. But I'll give a description of why I chose him anyways. Page, one of three incredible guitar virtuosos to emerge from the Yardbirds, formed a band that would redefine rock: Led Zeppelin. Although not the fastest or most precise, Page has an incredible bluesy groove to his name which shined both in the studio and on stage. Led Zeppelin ruled rock for about ten years until the death of drummer John Bonham. Page remains active to this day, although it is with Led Zeppelin that he will always be associated.

The (unofficial) list so far:

#1 - Jimi Hendrix.

#2 - Terry Kath or Jimmy Page.

It occurs to me: should we just name a hundred guitarists and rank them; or should we gradually settle every debate and slowly accumulate names? I did say that the idea was to start with 100, but I don't mind if we just kind of go with the flow on this.

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Interesting topic... I am typically not into ranking guitarists because music is a feeling... if it moves you it has succeeded... however, I do like mentioning guitarists who have inspired and moved many... so, w/ that said... I would definitely agree w/ Jimi Hendrix. You have mentioned Page who... by the way... I am familiar with... LOL not so much the other chap named... but I will add to this...

David Gilmour. You hear a couple of notes and you know it's Gilmour, what more can one hope to achieve? His songs and solos are legendary... from Time to Money to Wish You Were Here to Shine On You Crazy Diamond to Comfortably Numb to Murder to On The Turning Away to Coming Back To Life... and one of my favorites ever... back where it all sort of began... Echoes...

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Yeah, Gilmour's incredible. There's so much feeling in his playing and you never get the impression that he's wanking it. BTW, it's perfectly alright if you don't want to rank your favorite guitarists. Although now that he's been mentioned, I'll do the liberty of giving Gilmour a temporary spot at #3, until I get some kind of consensus on how the four should be ranked.

I checked out some of Kath's playing with Chicago. Undoubtedly talented, and, as mentioned, heavy on the wah. But I still don't feel like I've heard enough of his work to really judge him against the likes of the other three who I listen to at fairly regular intervals.

So here goes the list in raw form.

#1 - Jimi Hendrix.

#2 - Terry Kath or Jimmy Page.

#3 - David Gilmour.

More input (especially regarding those already mentioned) would be welcomed.

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#5: Eric Clapton

Clapton IS God!!!

#6: Jeff Beck

He's a wonderful gutarist with a unique style.

(Sorry for picking two in a row, but these two belong together, IMO).

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Great thread! This is tough as Dr Death stated it is subjective...personal taste and likes. You have already covered a few of the greatest. So here is my list and why:

#1 - Mr Jimmy Page: What can I say, I truly believe that he is the greatest guitarist and to this day created the best riffs. What he did from session work, The Yardbirds, The Firm, Coverdale/Page, Outrider, Plant/Page..not to mention the reason we are all here...Led Zeppelin. Labeled Heavy Metal while being Rock, Blues, Folk based, the range of music that he has provided puts Jimmy at the top of my list. His playing touched my soul from the first song and still does to this day and I am sure into the future.

#2 - BB King: The man is in his mid/late 70's and still does over 250 concerts a year. He is the King of the Blues guitar sound. Riley B. King can make a guitar almost sing...literally! With over 50 albums and the respect of all of the best guitarist, had to rank him just behind Jimmy.

#3 - Jeff Beck - As soon as you hear him, you know it's Beck! With Blues, Rock and leaning quite a bit on Jazz, he has defined his own sound. He is a true guitarist.

#4 - Eddie Van Halen - A true rock guitarist, known for his tapping technique and speed of playing, I truly believe he was one of the very few that kept the electric guitar alive in the 80's when it almost went away. Starting in the late 70's with a homemade guitar, then came up with a new sound after coming behind many of the greatest has to say a lot IMHO.

#5 - Stevie Ray Vaughan - (RIP)- He has been compared to Jimi Hendrix. This is the American blues electric guitarist at it's finest! The man could play the strings! Just put on Double Trouble and listen to that!

The ones mentioned already are all beyond amazing..and this is really tough when you start thinking that without Les Pauls (RIP) innovations, what would the electric guitar be today?? Then I thought about quite a few of the old Mississippi Delta Blues and the Chicago Blues guitarist, but for me and my taste these are my choices. I can't wait to hear other peoples choices and why as well.

Edited by Deborah J

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I suggest Stevie Ray Vaughan at no. 6 and then Jeff Beck at no.7 .

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Hendrix and his band (which was basically the world's greatest backing band.[end quote]............................ No no no Noel Redding was not a great bass player. He only got the job because he looked the part, Given more time to audition Bass players he would not have been Jimi's choice, his playing style often irritated Hendrix as evident in particular on the Experience DVD He also seemed to have an overly inflated ego and an air of arrogance and self importance. Now if you mention Billy Cox ..now there is a mighty fine player of the Bass...much much better tha Redding and more suited to Hendrix's needs.

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This is in response to Deborah J's list.

I agree with those 5 listed above as top electric guitarists. However I don't think you can leave Hendrix out of any top 5 list, and Clapton and Gilmour should come in somewhere as well.

I would take those 5 + Hendrix, Clapton, and Gilmour in this order.

1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Jimmy Page

3. Stevie Ray Vaughn

4. Eddie Van Halen

5. Eric Clapton

6. BB King

7. Jeff Beck

8. David Gilmour

As a side note to this list. I am not a huge SRV or Jeff BEck fan, however their guitar skills are undeniable. I prefer Clapton to both of them, however I think that more people would agree that SRV is more talented.

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This is in response to Deborah J's list.

I agree with those 5 listed above as top electric guitarists. However I don't think you can leave Hendrix out of any top 5 list, and Clapton and Gilmour should come in somewhere as well.

I would take those 5 + Hendrix, Clapton, and Gilmour in this order.

1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Jimmy Page

3. Stevie Ray Vaughn

4. Eddie Van Halen

5. Eric Clapton

6. BB King

7. Jeff Beck

8. David Gilmour

As a side note to this list. I am not a huge SRV or Jeff BEck fan, however their guitar skills are undeniable. I prefer Clapton to both of them, however I think that more people would agree that SRV is more talented.

Hello Zep 4 Life!

I have had the priveledge to see all on your list live with the exception of Hendrix. This is going to get interesting when we get past the first ten. :D

I am enjoying this thread and we will probably end up with a better list than RS!!

Edited by Deborah J

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#5: Eric Clapton

Clapton IS God!!!

#6: Jeff Beck

He's a wonderful gutarist with a unique style.

(Sorry for picking two in a row, but these two belong together, IMO).

By 'Clapton IS God!!!' you mean 'Green IS God!!!' right? ;):P

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I'll have to take your word about Kath: I've heard the name before, but I've never heard any of his stuff (that I know of). I'll check out his work though. Could you name a couple examples of his work that stand out to you? Also, did you name Kath as #2 just to name a guitarist, or do you actually feel that he deserves the second spot? Sorry that I have to ask, I just want to clarify if you are advocating him as the second greatest or just as a guitarist lower than Hendrix.

I wasn't completly sure what to do, I just thought we were making a list of the best guitarists, not numbering in ability, 'cos that would be oh so very hard, I've got about 10 no. 1's :lol:

Anyway, here's some Terry Kath with early chicago, sadly they didnt really use him later on as they turned poppy........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lghDG9vYfRQ&feature=related

Also, if you can find it, Liberation is just great :D

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I wasn't completly sure what to do, I just thought we were making a list of the best guitarists, not numbering in ability, 'cos that would be oh so very hard, I've got about 10 no. 1's :lol:

Anyway, here's some Terry Kath with early chicago, sadly they didnt really use him later on as they turned poppy........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lghDG9vYfRQ&feature=related

Also, if you can find it, Liberation is just great :D

They did'nt use Terry Kath on later material because he blew his brains out playing Russian roulette.

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They did'nt use Terry Kath on later material because he blew his brains out playing Russian roulette.

He wasn't really playin russian roullet, he didnt think there were any bullets in any of the guns. He died in 77' so he was with them in the later years :rolleyes:

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I don't know about a list or top ten,I'm not a guitarist anyway,but I know who I enjoy to listen too.Personally I'd have to find space for Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac,the original band),Mick Green (The Pirates,sessions for the likes of Paul McCartney,Van Morrison,etc, and man with the ability to play lead and rhythm and the same time)and the mighty Link Wray,after which guitar never sounded the same again and had an instrumental banned (Rumble).

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I prefer Clapton to both of them, however I think that more people would agree that SRV is more talented.

Not trying to pick on you Zep 4 Life... but this is why I hate polls when it comes to music. To say that SRV is more talented than Beck or Clapton or Hendrix is just wrong. Let me explain...

Stevie had a bunch of licks that he played. He played them over and over, licks you hear in Pride & Joy are in Lenny and Texas Flood and Couldn't Stand The Weather and Soul To Soul and Crossfire and The House Is A Rockin' and on and on. He even admitted this in a Guitar World interview when he said, and I am paraphrasing here, "There are certain licks that once I start I just have to play all the way through..."

Which means... when he was learning guitar he got licks... most likely Lonnie Mack - Jimi Hendrix - Buddy Guy licks and he learned those licks inside/out and then when it came time to play his own songs he played those licks. When you look at Jimi's very brief career you see him constantly expanding and growing as a musician, same w/ Jeff Beck. However, w/ Stevie, you hear the same licks on In Step as were on Texas Flood.

Now, I am not saying he wasn't a great guitar player - he was. And I got into the guy as well. But, to say that someone who made a career out of recycling blues licks picked up from other guitarists is more talented than someone like Hendrix or Beck is, in my opinion, completely wrong.

I put SRV and Clapton together because they both did the same thing; they took the blues and made careers out of that style of music. Nothing wrong w/ it... but they are nowhere near the level of a Beck - Hendrix - Page - Gilmour - Van Halen because those guys took music to a whole new level and did something new and different with it.

Again, not trying to pick a fight, just thought I would offer my two cents.

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Hi Dr Death!

Since I posted SRV, you know we have to agree to disagree :P I think it's great to all share our thoughts, maybe learn a few things along the way.

I bet it takes a while just to get to the first 10, but this is interesting to get opinions on why we feel and pick our choices. Our thread host may need a little patience to get to the 100 mark, but again, a lot of fun along the way!!

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Besides those already mention.

Joe Satriani.

Duane Allman.

Keith Richards.

Joe Perry.

Gary Rossington.

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Without giving it any analysis, other than the fact that these are the guitarists for the most frequently played songs in my iTunes (ABB guys are listed together):

Eric Clapton

Jimmy Page

Jeff Beck

Keith Richards

Duane Allman/Dickey Betts

Derek Trucks/Warren Haynes

Jimi Hendrix

David Gilmour

Slash

Joe Perry

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IMHO, Keith Richards is the world's greatest rhythm guitarist, but terrible in a lead role (Sympathy for the Devil, for instance). Mick Taylor was tremendously better as lead. Ronnie Wood is somewhere in between.

Duane Allman is THE MAN on slide guitar, well worthy of all accolades.

Rossington is a nice pick, he and Collens could really get it together.

I also respect the combo of Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker from The Scorpions. "Blackout" is fantastic all the way through the album and they played off each other awesomely.

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Jesus, I come back a day or two later and I've missed this much, lol. Glad to see everybody's at least discussing things.

More people have been named than I'd be able to keep track of. I probably should've thought of some sort of way of keeping a general consensus. This thread is yielding a lot of interesting conversation though at the least.

I want to note that ranking guitarists is not an easy thing to do in some ways - it can be very unsatisfying if you aren't sure of yourself.

One idea of how to do this occurs to me: should we name one guitarist, brew on him for say a week, and then choose a rank for him? For example, every week we'd choose one person to put on some sort of official list. Just a suggestion, think about it if you will. Of course if we do decide to use this, we could theoretically pick any guitarist to begin with: it could be the greatest guitarist ever or the worst. Naturally I'd be more inclined to pick someone I think is truly great to begin the list (I'm sure most people would feel that way; who's going to begin a ranking by naming someone they think is bad or mediocre?). Anyways this is a no pressure thread, although I'm still intent on doing the list.

Edited by SelfDevouringSnake

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Johnny Winter.

Lowell George.

Angus Young.

John Fogerty........What makes him great is songwriting, just like Keith Richards. Even Mick Jagger said he was proud of the songs that he and Keith had written.

To me, thats what makes a guitarist great.

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