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Best guitarists ever?


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It was only a matter of time before I got around to this thread. Anyway, last week we lost one of the greats in Dimebag Darrell, who now joins Hendrix, George Harrison and Randy Rhoads. The thing is, who do you think the best guitarists of all time are (not necessarily your favourites, just who you think are best) and would you care to tell us why that is? I'll start. I don't expect you to go into as much detail or select as many guitarists as I have, but feel free to suggest who you think are the best. Here are my choices for this:


1. Jimi Hendrix - for influencing so many people after him. He came up with a lot of new techniques that hadn't really been done before and brought in a new style - in a rythm guitar sense he hardly ever played normal chords, instead finding unorthodox ways of phrasing them or suggesting them through arpeggios and lead runs rather than just strumming them or making them obvious. He also had a hand in technology - a lot of effects pedals were first popularly used or were partly developed by Hendrix - the fuzz pedal is probably best associated with him. The first real virtuoso guitar player I would say.


2. Eddie Van Halen - again massively influential to people who followed him. He had a technology side to his influence as well, helping to develop the Floyd Rose locking trem system. He took what Hendrix had started to the next level with his use of tapping, picking and whammy bar dives. Superb.


3. Ritchie Blackmore - criminally overlooked these days. He started bringning in classical influences to rock guitar years before Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen could have the chance to further it. Check out his sweep arpeggio section in his solo from 'Highway Star', which is taken from Bach. Sweep arpeggios were also something even Hendrix wasn't really doing. I really have no idea why people have forgotten about him these days.


4. Steve Vai - I can't think of anything before Passion And Warfare that resembles it - a new type of music played with musicianship that I don't think had really been shown before even by people like Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani. He also came up the with the Universe seven string guitars, which went on to inspire other seven string models. Unfortunately nu-metal bands seem to be the main bands that use them just to play lower power chords, but again it's something new brought about by a virtuoso guitarist. For instrumental music Vai was the guitarist of the nineties I would say.


5. Robert Fripp - This guy plays music that practically no-one else plays. It's not everyone's cup of tea as it's kind of stoner music if you want to be crude about it, however it is very intelligent and original. What I loved about him when I saw him live was when he played his own music the way he wanted and then in a later jam with Satriani and Vai shredded really well, showing that unlike a lot of other people who perhaps criticise fast guitar playing just because they can't do it (*cough* Eric Clapton *cough*), he could do it if he wanted to but was simply playing music the way he wanted it to be played and was also doing it in a very unique way.


6. Tony Iommi - suffered a horrible accident that cut off part of some of his fingers, so he had to rethink how he could play the guitar, which resulted in him inventing the style that became metal. It was a new sound, sort of (Blackmore in Deep Purple is again overlooked here in my view), which went on to influence any number of other bands doing heavier music. He might not have done it if he hadn't had that accident, but with the way he played, you'd never think there was any difficulty involved as he made it look easy.


7. Dimebag Darrell - influenced by Tony Iommi, Eddie Van Halen and Rhoads, you can kind of pick out the best elements of all three. Dimebag though has a unique tone, possibly due to the fact that he's not as snobbish about what gear he uses as most guitarists, meaning that at a time when nearly everyone sounded virtually the same in terms of tone, he was unique. His lead playing in terms of technique is actually surprisingly similar to Joe Satriani's even though their music is completely different. He wasn't all about theory though - while other players deride the learning of theory because they say it limits creative thinking, only to make you think 'but hang on, don't all of your songs use this one scale?', Dimebag was unique without the theory study. He didn't follow theory patterns but he made them work in both his lead playing and rythm playing - check out his use of dead notes in songs like '5 Minutes Alone', 'Drag The Waters' and Damageplan's 'Pride'. A real unconventional talent.


8. Randy Rhoads - unfortunately he couldn't finish the fusion of classical music and rock that he had started to achieve (building on from Blackmore), but he did show his excellence in what he had done. He was great at legato and tapping for his lead playing, but also had a great sense of rythm. Check out 'Dee' for a more sensitive side to his playing, 'Crazy Train' for good rythm and 'Mr Crowley' for some tasty lead work - they're all on the same album.


9. Yngwie Malmsteen - he has a real ego about his music, seems pretentious and some of his songs are downright awful. However, he did merge classical and rock music fully in a way that built on what Blackmore (who influenced him hugely) and Randy Rhoads had started. His picking techniques are pretty awesome as well. He is frighteningly good - the fact that he isn't higher has more to do with his aping in many ways of Blackmore than being any reflection on his own abilities.


10. Joe Satriani - Without him, there'd be no Vai as we know him, no Kirk Hammett for Metallica as we know him. While he doesn't use tapping to the extent of Vai or Eddie Van Halen, he took what Eddie had done and built on it along with Jennifer Batten and Stanley Jordan. They all kind of did it around the same time, admittedly Stanley Jordan has done more with it as his style basically revolves completely around it, but what came out of their development was the idea of tapping chords rather than single notes. For Satriani doing this, check out 'Day At The Beach (New Rays From An Ancient Sun', 'The Headless Horseman' and 'Midnight'. He also used pick tapping which hardly anyone else has done - Hammett did it on 'One' but Satriani's use of it on 'Surfing With The Alien' and 'Satch Boogie' had showcased it before then. For instrumental rock as well as his influence on other guitarists, I'd put Satriani in the top ten.


Those are my choices, I always change my mind about these things but that's what I'd say and why I'd say it, there are a few omissions there of popularly recognised guitar players like Clapton, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, Slash, Angus Young and many others, but hey, I've only selected ten!

Edited by MillionLiraMan
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Erm I'll mention a few, I don't think enough gets said for Tom Morello of RATM and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, simply for being so different to everyone else, in terms of what you can do with the guitar and some wacky effects. Their use of a guitar in a percussive sense, I also give loads of cred for.


As for others, erm BB King for his contribution to blues, Jeff Beck for his contribution to fusion guitar, also Allan Holdsworth for that. Erm David Gilmour, for his sense of timing and space, Brian May for primarily introducing the guitar world to delay and harmonising yourself.


Plus honourable mentions to Chuck Berry and Pete Townshead, for without them, we'd have never had rock and roll guitar, or such a delightful thing as feedback

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The only guitarist I have really any time for - and I'm saying this a guitarist myself - is Vernon Reid of Living Colour. His fusion of Jazz, Rock and Metal seems to me to be far more progressive than the usual extensions of Blues and Classical ideas. Not everyone's cup of tea but I find his work far more interesting than the usual fret-board wankery.


Other than Vernon Reid ? I'd have to say Geordie of Killing Joke. Extremely influential but hardly known to most.


Sorry for asking and I'm not trying to sound nagging or anything but I'm just curious. If you're a guitarist, but you're not really a fan of the vast majority of guitarists, what inspires you to play? Vernon Reid and Geordie, OK, but there must be some other guys you like, right?! Do you look to keyboard players or musicians playing other instruments to inspire your guitar playing?


You might like Robert Fripp actually. He's not blues, he's not classical, he's not a fretboard wanking widdler, he sort of creates layers of spacey sounds with his guitar, using MIDI and effects to spread sounds the way he wants them. I can't really do it justice in a description, you'd need to hear it, but check out 'Soundscapes' if you get the chance and you haven't already heard him on his own rather than just with King Crimson.


I'm just being nosey! :)

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I don't consider him to be the very best in terms of ability but I have to go with my biasm and choose Slash because he's the one who inspired me most, and anyone who can do that has my utmost respect. There are plenty of other guitarists I enjoy and think are the best (Hendrix, Santana, Wylde, etc), but Slash redefined everything for me - not to mention he owns the coolest hat ever.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hmm my favourites of all time differ greatly from everyone elses opinions


I also feel these are some of the most under rated guitarists ever


Deron Miller-cKy-Guitar, Lyrics and Bass-The man can do it all hes a genious on the guitar. Some of the rifts in many of the cKy songs, such as Lost In Contraception, Escape from hellview and even 96 Quite Bitter Beings are truely awesome. Deron is a legend and a god. And ive met him. Hes also rather hilarious


Chad Ginsburg-cKy-Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass- amazing to see Chad live. His Chad Spin is the ONLY original and best guitar spin ever. Rather nasty when he tried to do it shooting the Escape From Hellviw while in a noose and he passed out fromt he pain and had weird little spasms. Anyway truely a legend also. Also contributes to the rifts for the songs mentioned.

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Jimmy Page - The Led Zep man's work is sublime, Stairway to Heaven is pure class


Eric Clapton - Layla, White Room and many more


Steve Craddock - people know I am an Ocean Colour Scene fan and this guy is the reason. Known in the industry as Elastic hands, Craddock's guitar work is sublime.


Matt Bellamy - The Muse frontman is exceptional on both guitar and piano and knows how to hold a crowds attention.

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