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Lists of Lists: Top Ten Guitar Players As Seen by Six Sites

guitarComparing top ten lists is fun. It should be kept in mind, however, that it is an apples to oranges type thing in a number of ways: The lists are from different years. “Guitar World” is very different than “Time.” Some writers are more interested in going outside the box. Some seem to focus on the more influential as opposed to the best technical players.

It is interesting to aggregate lists, however. There are odd things. For instance, Josh Tyrangiel from Time includes Les Paul — but not Charlie Christian. It’s hard not to love Paul. But it is hard to put any jazz guitarist ahead of Christian. Eric Clapton is not on three of the six lists. Jimi Hendrix is not the best guitarist in two of the six (and it’s just as interesting that he was knocked off by Eddie Van Halen in both cases). BB King is represented — but Freddie King is not.

No Dick Dale. No Rory Gallagher. No Johnny Winter. No Gary Moore. No Chet Atkins. No Jerry Garcia. No Merle Travis. No Frank Zappa. No Peter Green. No T-Bone Walker.

It doesn’t mean too much, of course. The eleventh best person at doing anything is damn good at it. As my mother used to say, this is what makes horse races.

Of course, I invite folks to comment and propose their own list in the comments section below.

Photo: Jacob Windham

Rolling Stone (David Fricke, 2010) Rolling Stone (2011) Guitar World (Reader Poll, 2012) Time (Josh Tyrangiel, undated) The Telegraph (2012) What Culture (2013)
 1.  Jimi Hendrix  Hendrix  Van Halen  Hendrix Hendrix Van Halen
 2.  Greg Allman  Clapton  Brian May  Slash Richards Hendrix
 3.  BB King  Page  Alex Lifeson  King King Page
 4. Eric Clapton  Richards  Hendrix  Richards Van Halen Iommi
 5. Robert Johnson  Jeff Beck  Joe Satriani  Clapton Django Reinhardt Darrell
 6. Chuck Berry  King  Page  Page Mark Knopfler Randy Rhods
 7. Stevie Ray Vaughan  Berry  Tony Iommi  Berry Johnson Dave Mustaine
 8. Ry Cooder  Eddie Van Halen  Vaughan  Les Paul Vaughan David Gilmour
 9. Jimmy Page  Allman  Dimebag Darrell  Yngwie Malmsteen Cooder Johnson
 10. Keith Richards  Pete Townshend  Steve Vai  Prince Lonnie Johnson John Petrucci

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David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.