From guitar faces to different types of axes, here are the 5 Greatest Guitar Players. Narrowing down the talent that has blessed our ears over the years to a 10-man roster is as difficult as choosing which limbs to lose or keep. The list is by no means definitive, but it accurately conveys the uniqueness of the guitarist’s music. In short, these famous guitarists played tunes that made grown men cry and probably gave you a taste of what your guitar face would look like playing that solo. Of course, many great guitarists may not have made this top 5 list, but feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.
1. Tom Morello
A guitarist who makes his guitar sound like anything but a guitar. His use of kill key for staccato like helicopter steering, disc scratching and guitar riffs made him probably the most innovative guitarist of our time. He’s a guitarist who can take feedback and turn the hum from his own body into coherent music. Whether it’s Rage Against the Machine or Audioslave, you can always see Morello’s signature shine through.
2. John Mayer
Oh wait, what? Is this a pop artist? A guitar player? If all you’ve ever heard of Mayer is Your Body is Wonderland or Your Girls, then you should give his Continuum album a listen. His songs will make the most glorified tough guys miss their exes, and the rest of us will just cry in a corner. If you think his songs are too depressing, check out some videos of him performing. His guitar face is priceless.
3. Jack White
Mr. White is an incredibly underrated guitarist. His singles (From the White Stripes) always contained only three or four chords, and his simple blues rhythm and sampling styles often left him overlooked. However, his masterful use of the Digitech Whammy and choppy playing make for some of the most memorable guitar solos ever. Watch Ball and Biscuit and try not to like this solo. One of my favorite Jack White moments was at the 2004 Grammys when he took on the 7 Nation Army and covered Son House’s Death Letter (another artist he had to reluctantly cut from the list). At an awards show celebrating Justin Timberlake and Missy Eliot, Jack White took the time to salute an artist born a century ago, back to where it all started.
4. Jimmy Page
Page’s playing influenced many guitarists today, and Led Zeppelin revolutionized Rock and Roll by combining acoustic guitars, banjos and mandolins with the same hard rock image. His guitar riffs are forever etched in the Rock and Roll hall of fame. How effective was it? Walk into a guitar store and you’ll see. Thousands of 12-year-olds around the world play Stairway’s intro. Now how do you know you’ve made it.
5. BB King
Yes. He may have to sit when he plays, but he’ll keep you standing when he plays. BB’s creamy yet piercing tone, unique vibrato and ability to express his emotions through the guitar make him a top ten. The glory years of the king did not happen to him. He’s still humble as he gives front-row tickets to fans waiting in the cold parking lot to catch a glimpse of him. BB King can’t play a chord. He doesn’t read and play at the same time. But his achievements as an artist are recognized worldwide. This is the mark of a truly great guitarist.