Best Guitarist Ever?


Mar 19, 2008
I will vote for Neal Schon. Picks up guitar @ 11 YO. Plays live on stage with BB King @ 13 YO. Joins Santana @ 15 YO. The DAY after he commits to Santana, Eric Clapton asks him to join Derek and the Dominoes. Neal keeps his commitment with Santana.

Listen to Journey's first 3 albums. Neal is amazing when Perry isn't running the show. Unfortunately, their record label wanted hit$ more than quality music.:(

By the participants' own admission, Neal's solo for the USA for Africa metal project - Hear 'N Aid - 'Were Stars' - was the best one laid down that day.

His solo album "Voice" was nominated for a grammy. And to quote Herbie Herbert - Journey's manager for years:

"My dear, departed friend Don Pearson who owned Ultrasound, probably the best sound company in the world, and they invested so much money in this ultimate Meyer sound system, and was on tour with the Grateful Dead for years and years and years until of course Gerry died. And um, then he put that system out with other artists one of which was Andrea Bocelli. And on Neal's record Voice there was two Andrea Bocelli tracks and in front of 300,000 people in Hyde Park in London on that sound system he played those two tracks and Andrea Bocelli was back stage, and this was also a Nocturne tour, and he said 'Who in the **** is that? He's doing my vocal and every nuance of my vocal.' How can someone do that, you know? Even the singers hear it. You know Bryan Adams toured with us on the whole '83 tour. He heard 'Everything I Do I Do For You' off of that record and said, 'Jesus, that's just ****in' unbelievable.' Even the singers themselves, they just don't expect somebody to be able to play like that. "

Honorable menation - Alex Lifeson, Rik Emmett

Bass - Geddy Lee. Game over.

Drums - Neal Peart. The Master.


Flashlight Enthusiast
Dec 19, 2008
Hell yes. Also the best guitarist ever is Robert Johnson so you're all wrong. And Stevie ray, les claypool and Jimmy page are also half decent

Yeah but Robert Johnson had to sell his soul to the devil to get his ability, so it doesn't count. It is rather interesting how he became so skilled, as most accounts seem to indicate that he was very unremarkable when he was young, then suddenly turned into a virtuoso.

David Gilmour is a good guitarist but doesn't seem as technically skilled in some ways as others; he definitely isn't very "fast" at all but makes up for this with his trademark sound withe longer notes and a lot of effects.

Martin Barre is also very good; the guitar solo on aqualung is one of the best in all of rock. He really had the "metal" sound long before anyone actually came up with metal; people credit Led Zeppelin with it's invention but I think that Jethro Tull songs like "Cross-Eyed Mary" have some of the guitar elements that what we now call metal music has.

Mark Knopfler is amazing in many ways; I went to one of his concerts on his latest tour and he had a pinched nerve ( I believe it was in his leg, but it might have been in his back) which prevented him from standing, so he did the whole show sitting down and in pain. Additionally, he said he was taking some medicine for it that made his hands sweat a lot, and he kept wiping off his hands throughout the show (mostly on his pants). He still played through the whole show without missing many parts and had some good solos even though he clearly was not comfortable.
His solo in this performance of sultans of swing is particularly good:
I think that the Dire Straits album Communique has some of his best work; its a shame they didn't have more albums (and Communique is not usually a favorite for some reason).

Blind Willie Mctell (one of the many blind eastern blues musicians, and also one of the multiple blind blues musicians named blind willie) was also very good; he played 12 string guitar. Blind Boy Fuller was also pretty good as well. Blind Lemon Jefferson was influential, but he didn't keep any sort of steady beat at all.

Also worth mentioning is Paco De Lucia, a spanish flamenco guitarist. His style is pretty far away from most rock guitarists (except maybe Pete Townshend, who was a little flamenco influenced), but he has amazing skill at flamenco.


Flashlight Enthusiast
Mar 30, 2005
Northern NJ, USA
A lot of great musicians mentioned, including all of my favorites [except one]. Impossible for me to pick the one best, since the styles differ.

One I did not see mentioned, that IMHO, deserves to be here for both his acoustic and electric work: Jorma


Newly Enlightened
Mar 21, 2010
Northeast MS
Very broad subject. There are alot of great guitarists out there. Its really hard to pinpoint who the best is. Here's some of my favorites.

John Sykes- Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake 87album/ Blue Murder- It took 2 guitarists to cover him after he left/kicked out of WS.

SRV- Awesome guy that passed WAY before his time.

Jeff Beck- well, he's Jeff Beck.

Reb Beach- I'll probably catch he// from this one, but just listen to "headed for a heartbreak". 2 solo's, almost lyrical.

Jimi Hendrix- pretty phenomenal in his time. He really blew some ppl away.

Slash- Its hard to believe Appetite was releasted 23-24 years ago.

Blues Saraceno- Another one of those guys you've hardly heard of.

Country artist
Keith Urban- just watch Devil Went down to Nashville

Tony Franklin- fretless bass virtuoso


Flashlight Enthusiast
Feb 8, 2007
I like Les Claypool on Bass.

I don't think I could pick a single fave on lead. Steve Vai, Tony Iommi, Jeff Beck, Clapton... I could go on and on...

Blues would be Stevie Ray... RIP.



Interesting you said Les Claypool for Bass,..:thumbsup:

I saw Primus at Red Rocks Colorado in '95
and still to this day the most incredible show I'v seen, or outright experience for that matter.
There was planetary alignment or something

.....the energy in those hills, that night, was so strong
it makes one wonder about sacred lands ect..,
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Flashlight Enthusiast
Feb 22, 2006
Buckinghamshire, UK
My favourites.

Dave Gilmour
Eric Clapton
Pete Townsend
Jeff Beck
Ted Nugent.

Very happy to listen to them all the time and yes, rock is my kind of music.

Nice thread to resuscitate.


Newly Enlightened
Sep 19, 2010
the wilderness,CANADA
my all time favorite was jimmy page he may not be the best,and i dont know how you would measure this (speed? creativity? ect..)
page was influenced by lots of previous pioneers,and in turn his creativity influenced a huge amount of people to create what they have..


Newly Enlightened
Jul 17, 2009
I love guitar music and the question always arises...who's the best. There is no one answer. If it's merely subjective, then ok. But if technical expertise comes into it, then you have to ask , best guitarist in what style of music?
add to your list
Django Reinhardt...jazz
Link Wray..who developed most of the riffs of modern rock
Robert Johnson..blues ..ranked 5th in rolling stones list of top 100 guitarists
I love the question because I always find new artists to explore.


Newly Enlightened
Oct 10, 2009
Definitely tons of good guitarists around...Clapton always gets the accolades it seems but I've always thought that Rory Gallagher was a much better blues/rock guitar slinger...

Acoustic blues: Too many to mention really but Rev Gary Davis was and still is, unique among acoustic players.

Charlie Nady - Little Charlie and the Nitecats - jump blues
John Hammond Jr - solo acoustic, vocals and harp, great package and technique.

Just scraping the surface !!!

Drummer: Fred Bellows - unsung architect of the blues.