Who is actually the best ever guitarist that have graced this planet?
It is definitely a very hard question to answer the guitar as an instrument involves so many different musical genres, different techniques, playing styles, and many other aspects.
So, the answer will greatly vary according to personal tastes, preferred music genre, and more one might value the technical proficiency of the guitarist as the most important factors. For others, speed is probably the most important thing. Yet, other people might prefer tonal choices and emotions, and so on, and so on.
So, before we can answer this question, we must first establish our criteria: our choice here will be based on the musicality of the guitarist, namely how they inspire others through music.
So, technique and speed will only matter when they help the guitarist in creating a better music, and not the other way around. Also, obviously the personality and character of the guitarist will be important criteria.
With that being said, here are our top three choices after considering all the different musical genres throughout roughly one century of the modern guitar history. Let us begin with the number 3:
3. Eric Clapton
Spoiler alert: he is the only one still alive on this list (although that’s fairly obvious).
Clapton is still actively playing for almost half a century today, and even his loyal fans mentioned him as “God.. Clapton’s career peaked in the 80’s, an era dominated by shredders and hyperspeed virtuosos. Yet, he broke the norm of that era by playing a melodic, emotion-packed blues that earned his nickname “Slow Hand..
He pushed the boundaries of blues and rock and is a great example of how a guitarist must strive musical-wise.
2. Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page is one of the founding members, and arguably the leader of Led Zeppelin, one of the most influential bands on the planet that peaked during the late 60s and especially the 70s.
Page was extremely innovative during the height of his career, including how he soloed his famous Les Paul with the violin bow.
Obviously, his most famous piece is the legendary “Stairway to Heaven” with that famous intro and final solo. Page deserves all the credit for being one of the first pioneers for the electric guitar, breaking the preconceptions about the instrument back then and even today.
1. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix was only alive for a short 27 years, but he single-handedly invented and then re-invented rock and blues. Self-taught, experimental, and innovative with his incredible solos, Hendrix is the ultimate combination of emotion, tonal choices, and technique.
What truly made Hendrix special was how he showed the way for the rest of us on how to fluidly play the instrument: unlike the rest of his time who stuck to just one style, he combined all the different styles, combining licks, strumming, and other techniques one solo for a more organic sound.
Also, we shouldn’t neglect the importance of his character, simply one of the most iconic musicians ever. Even after all these years, no guitarists can deliver the complete package as good as Hendrix, and it is simply a shame he’s not with us just a bit longer.