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The 250 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, According to Rolling Stone

Who are the best guitarists of all time? This is a question that has been debated for decades by music fans, critics, and musicians alike. There is no definitive answer, of course, as different styles, genres, and preferences can influence one’s opinion. However, Rolling Stone magazine has tried to provide some guidance by compiling a list of the 250 greatest guitarists of all time, based on the votes of a panel of experts and artists.

The list features some of the most iconic and influential guitarists in the history of rock, blues, jazz, folk, country, and beyond. Some of them are legends who have passed away, such as Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, B.B. King, and Chuck Berry. Others are still alive and rocking, such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, and Slash. Some are known for their technical virtuosity and innovation, such as Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and David Gilmour. Others are celebrated for their expressiveness and emotion, such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young.

The list is not meant to be a definitive ranking, but rather a celebration of the diversity and brilliance of guitar playing. Each guitarist has their own story, style, and influence on the music world. To learn more about each of them, you can read the full article on Rolling Stone’s website, where you can also find videos, photos, and quotes from the guitarists themselves and their peers.

Here are the top 35 of this list of the 250 greatest guitarists of all time, according to Rolling Stone:

1- Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix lighting his Fender Stratocaster on fire at Monterey Pop is one of the most iconic images in rock history. He was a showman who played with his teeth or behind his back. But underneath all the theatrics is the true master of the instrument. His career may have lasted eight years, but musicians spend a lifetime studying his dazzling technique and improvisational genius. Hendrix sang, but he chose to make his guitar the leading voice.

2- Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry didn’t just invent rock & roll guitar — he perfected it. You can hear it all in his intro to his 1956 classic “Johnny B. Goode,” as he kicks off the song with an 18-second six-string manifesto, for the definitive guitar-hero anthem. He figured out how to mix the blues and country music he loved, fusing boogie-woogie and hillbilly twang into his own original style of high-speed electric flash. In other words, rock & roll.

3- Jimmy Page

With Led Zeppelin, everything about Page became instantly legendary — from his embroidered dragon suit to his obsession with the occult — but his blazing riffs were always at the forefront. And his playing also has its delicate moments, like the stunning fingerpicking on “Going to California” or the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.” “He had this vision to transcend the stereotypes of what the guitar can do,” Aerosmith’s Joe Perry said.

4- Eddie Van Halen

Beyond the party anthems, guitar solos like “Spanish Fly,” “Cathedral,” and “Little Guitars” felt more like compositions than solos, and he never stopped experimenting; he recorded an electric drill next to his pickup on “Poundcake” to make his instrument scream.

5- Jeff Beck

A constant sound tinkerer, Beck found inspiration in jazz fusion during the mid-Seventies, choosing to make guitar his total focus on Blow by Blow, an instrumental album that found him flicking his whammy bar, tossing off grace notes, and bending notes’ pitches to mirror R&B singer Syreeta’s voice on his cover of “‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.”

6- Sister Rosetta Tharpe

7- Nile Rodgers (Chic)

8- B.B. King

9- Joni Mitchell

10- Duane Allman

11- Carlos Santana

12- Jimmy Nolen (du groupe de James Brown)

13- Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

14- Prince

15- Keith Richards

16- Robert Johnson

17- Mother Maybell Carter

18- Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine)

19- Freddy King

20- Stevie Ray Vaughan

21- Randy Rhodes (du groupe d'Ozzy Osbourne)

22- Albert King

23- James Hetfield et Kirk Hammett (Metallica)

24- James Burton (du groupe de Ricky Nelson)

25- John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

26- St. Vincent

27- Buddy Guy

28- David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

29- Eddie Hazel (Funkadelic)

30- Neil Young

31- George Harrison

32- Jack White

33- Brian May (Queen)

34- Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)

35- Eric Clapton


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