Which 5 rock guitar players could be considered the best?

by | Jun 14, 2020

The answers thus far, rightfully, land on a discussion of the word “best.”

“Best” is highly subjective, so any list could be both right and highly dubious.

For me, I really like what Jeff “Skunk” Baxter articulated on about all guitarists on the History or Rock and Roll documentary. He said all guitarists today need to go through three “portals” to be a modern player.

  • Chuck Berry
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Eddie Van Halen

I think this is because all three were innovators, highly influential and of course, always Rock and Roll. No jazzers here.

Berry brought bends, double stops, and most importantly the pinky alternating the 5th and 6hts on a barre chord that is nearly indispensable to rock and blues. Nearly anyone who came around in the 60s cites him as a major influence.

Hendrix brought tone, sustain, improvisation and technology to the game unlike any other. The whole Clapton, Page or Beck debate comes to a screeching halt with the inclusion of Hendrix. Just ask Clapton, Page or Beck themselves. Everyone was blown away by Jimi.

Van Halen might not have been the first to use harmonics, fingertaps, and super fast lyrical legato runs, but he more than any before or since put it all together in a way that influenced everyone else. And yet no matter how much of a shredder he was, Van Halen was always rock and roll. “Panama” makes my case.

I think there are amazing players out there. 100’s. I always liked Allan Holdsworth, Robben Ford, and Larry Carlton (to name three virtuosos). But are they Rock and Roll? I don’t think so.

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