Guitar World’s ’100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’


Eddie Van Halen has emerged the victor in Guitar World’s inaugural list of ‘The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.’

The renowned Van Halen guitarist defeated Queen guitarist Brian May in the final round of the near six month long tournament; overcoming the likes of Jeff Beck, Slash, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Jimmy Page, Randy Rhoads and a host of others in the process.
In all, 132-guitarists were entered into the tournament and close to a half-million votes polled in order to place the winner.
Guitar World explained how it compiled the list: “Simple. We ranked the guitarists by round — first the two guitarists from the finals, then the remaining two from the final four, and so on — and then within their respective rounds by their overall vote count. Dimebag Darrell, for instance, is No. 9 because he received the most votes of any guitarist that didn’t make it to the Elite Eight.”
Guitar World’s ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’
100. Wes Montgomery
99. John 5
98. Derek Trucks
97. Tosin Abasi
96. Mark Knopfler
95. Jack White
94. Albert King
93. Gary Rossington
92. Ace Frehley
91. T-Bone Walker
90. Robin Trower
89. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
88. Neil Young
87. Synyster Gates
86. Peter Frampton
85. Jeff Hanneman
84. Malcolm Young
83. Glenn Tipton
82. Robert Fripp
81. Nuno Bettencourt
80. K.K. Downing
79. Gary Moore
78. Chris Broderick
77. Andy Summers
76. Al Di Meola
75. Joe Perry
74. Ted Nugent
73. Rory Gallagher
72. Steve Morse
71. Jeff Loomis
70. Michael Angelo Batio
69. Kerry King
68. George Lynch
67. Johnny Winter
66. Alex Skolnick
65. Pete Townshend
64. Albert Lee
63. John McLaughlin
62. Chuck Schuldiner
61. Steve Howe
60. John Lee Hooker
59. Son House
58. Steve Lukather
57. Tom Morello
56. Lindsey Buckingham
55. B.B. King
54. Jerry Garcia
53. Rick Nielsen
52. Joe Walsh
51. Allan Holdsworth
50. Dave Murray
49. Alexi Laiho
48. Joe Bonamassa
47. Eric Johnson
46. Jason Becker
45. John Frusciante
44. Chuck Berry
43. Yngwie Malmsteen
42. Carlos Santana
41. Michael Schenker
40. Keith Richards
39. Jeff Beck
38. Buckethead
37. Jerry Cantrell
36. Kirk Hammett
35. Warren Haynes
34. Mark Tremonti
33. Mark Morton
32. Django Reinhardt
31. Dickey Betts
30. Chet Atkins
29. Billy Gibbons
28. Eric Clapton
27. Frank Zappa
26. Vernon Rein
25. George Harrison
24. Buddy Guy
23. Paul Gilbert
22. Slash
21. Angus Young
20. Ritchie Blackmore
19. James Hetfield
18. Zakk Wylde
17. John Petrucci
16. Robert Johnson
15. Duane Allman
14. Les Paul
13. David Gilmour
12. Dave Mustaine
11. Randy Rhoads
10. Steve Vai
09. Dimebag Darrell
08. Stevie Ray Vaughan
07. Tony Iommi
06. Jimmy Page
05. Joe Satriani
04. Jimi Hendrix
03. Alex Lifeson
02. Brian May
01. Eddie Van Halen

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28 Responses to Guitar World’s ’100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’

  1. John says:

    Where is Tim Reynolds on this list? He is better than at least 25% of these guitarist. And Phil Keaggy should be in the top ten, hands down.

  2. Julian says:

    At least this list doesn’t piss me off like that hipster rolling stone magazine list.

    • Caleb says:

      Yeah, I agree. This one isn’t perfect but I’m not angry. It has a lot the right people but I think a few may be under or overrated.

  3. nick says:


    Where is Uli Jon Roth??lol.He is in top 5,and also Matthias Jabs!!!

  4. rOCKSTAR says:

    Van halen,number 1????nw that’s a joke..>!!

  5. Peter says:

    Why is Slash not in the top 10??

  6. “Guitar World’s ’100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’ – All Axess” was a remarkable read and I actually was in fact very joyful to read it. Regards,Shanon

  7. Nastaran Yekta says:

    Rating the one and only Mr. Mark Knopfler as the number 96 !!! in this list shows how “AWARE” and “Eligible” is the one who has made this piece of …. gem!!

    And your top of the list also shows that you have rated these guitarists according to the popularity of the bands they’ve been in or their sold albums. In other words you have not rated them for their proficiency in guitar playing and that is a real catastrophe. This is a list based on a biased mind that loves hard rock or metal music, not the one who KNOWs guitar players well.

    If you don’t know what you are talking about, please mind your own business.

    These kinds of lists, explicitly insult artists like Eric Clapton or Mark Knopfler. Another comedy of errors in your list is that artists like Daryl Stuermer or Mike Rutherford are not mentioned at all. What a wonderful list you’ve made!

  8. Mark Knopfler says:

    Hey there guys,

    Why am I number 96? Many people said to me: You’re one of the best guitarists in the world! So why number 96?!! Can anybody tell me?


  9. Brian Magana says:

    I don’t understand the judging criteria. To have B.B. King on the list is ridiculous. Nothing against B.B. or his contribution to guitar playing, but the only thing he has going for him (technically speaking) is his killer vibrato shake. That one note vibrato is his strength. Nothing more. He can’t even play rhythm. He doesn’t know how to by his own admission. That’s why he has a backing instrumental group behind him at all times. Put B.B. out on a stage by himself and he is lost. No disrespect. Just a fact. So, how do you add him to this list? Unbelievable. This is a popularity contest and not a true ranking based on technical ability and innovation. I like Van Halen, but I don’t think he’s top of the list either. Rory Gallagher at 73? You have to be kidding. And if you are a “guitar player” magazine, you should know how to spell the names of the guitar players you are citing. ALVIN LEE. Not ALBERT LEE. Geesh. Get a clue. And if you are going to drop names like “Chet Atkins” and “Django Rienhardt”, as though you are including players from the past, then where is Charlie Christian and Lonnie Johnson? Derek Trucks at 98? Give me a break. And they have Warren Haynes at 33, and Duane Alman at 15? I love the old Alman Bros, the Duane couldn’t tune Warren Haynes guitar for him. Simple as that. This list is a sham and not to be taken seriously by any knowledgable guitar players that listen to more than top 40 music. Guitar Player magazine should be ashamed of itself for this ranking. Many of the players deserve to be on the list, but too many serious GREAT guitar players are missing, and the ones they have listed are mostly in the wrong order. IMO. Peace.

    • x says:

      Yes, how ridiculous for a guitar magazine to have B.B. King on their list of their 100 greatest players of all time. I mean, you said it yourself- he has a BACKING INSTRUMENTAL GROUP BEHIND HIM AT ALL TIMES! How dare he call himself a musician, nay a GUITARIST when he has a fucking band? And to completely misspell a player’s name? That would have been stupid had that been the case. Alvin Lee didn’t make the list, ALBERT did however. Dropping names from the past like “Chet Atkins” and “Django Reinhardt, AS THOUGH YOU ARE INCLUDING PLAYERS FROM THE PAST? It’s not like it’s a list of the greatest guitarists of ALL TIME! Oh wait, it is. The magazine polled readers for the list. I suggest you take the list and familiarize yourself with the playing of every player on their you haven’t heard or haven’t given a chance. You won’t get anywhere with your close-minded attitude as a musician. At least you’ll never have to worry about how you rank amongst the 100 greatest guitar players.

  10. Brian Magana says:

    Hey, and I love Jerry Cantrell, but how can you seriously rank him over Carlos Santana, Joe Walsh, and Joe Bonamassa? Those three could play circles around Cantrell. So could Pat Travers and Jeff Healy (who aren’t even on the list). Guitar Player you have lost any credibility here with your idea of who the best guitar players of all time are. Too bad.

  11. Brian Magana says:

    And Keith Richards over Gary Moore? Yeah, right…

  12. Brian Magana says:

    …and where is Stanley Jordan???

  13. Eric Lent says:

    Dude, Holdsworth not in the top 50…this is a joke.

  14. Pingback: Joe Walsh

  15. AS says:

    i stopped reading the moment I saw Michael Angelo, the clown rated higher than Al Di Meola :D

  16. Lee Christie says:

    I have two names. Were Tommy Emmanuel or Doyle Dykes consider?

  17. Pedro says:

    Van Halen is the WORST guitarist ever. No musician-ship, no originality, and no…..fuck all of anything that makes for a good guitarist. Billy Joe Armstrong is better than that dipshit.

    Also, I appreciate that they put a lot of the jazz greats in there, but they are WAY better than the positions they actually filled.

    And let us not forget some of the other greats that needed to be put in Where is Gus G?

  18. sepehr says:

    mark knopfler should be in top ten

  19. Jesse Durnin says:

    Don’t get me Brian May is a good guitarist but 2nd place…. really?

  20. Red says:

    Brian May is of course the greatest guitarist. He hand built his own guitar selecting only the best materials, even making and turning the screws. The result is a very unique sound that is unmisstakable. Many years ago Hendrix watched a Queen concert, Brian played some Hendrix stuff and his comments were this May guy from Queen is better than me were did he get that guitar from!!
    At freddies tribute concert Slash asked Brian can I try the Red Special, he handed it back saying it sounds like a normal guitar but when you play it dos’nt. Brian May is underrated, listen to the albams not the singles, like Liar,Great King Rat,Brighton Rock,Good Company won a grammy award for technical guitar work making it sound like wood wind instuments.

  21. Craig says:

    By that logic John Sykes would be the greatest for useing a violin bow … bottom line is that when it comes to the quote unquote greatest and that music is ultimately judged accepted or rejected by the individual in every instance no one will ever agree …. i just heard on the radio a couple stabs each other over this same arguement the 2 being slash and evh proponant s of the knife

  22. Craig says:

    Oh yeah u should really delete the players that only play in one chord e.g. Jack White,Ted nugent,prince,jerry garcia,frank zappa,keith richards

  23. Thistle says:

    Yep, Mark K needs to be in the top ten, for sure. But where’s Robby Krieger?

  24. Randy says:

    This is the best guitar player list I’ve seen. Solos aren’t the only thing that make great guitar players, riffs are even arguably more important. Also originality is key. Pretty much everyone who needs to be here is on here. Way better than Rolling Stone’s list

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