Who are the top 20 guitar players ever? If we were to make a list of say, the top 200 guitarists of all time, what criteria would we use to pare the list down to the top 20? Therein lays the problem for most people and lists, a proliferation of which can be found online. By nature lists are personal, subjective affairs. My list is going to be different than your list which makes sense because if they were the same why would you bother reading about it?
Someone recently asked me to consider the question of who would be on my list of top twenty guitarists of all time. The question actually begat more questions than answers as I started to think about a list across a variety of genres, no easy task considering that my tastes lean heavily towards the hard rock/metal side of things. I then figured that I needed a list to compare my list to and discovered a resource that forms the backbone of how I’ve chosen to present these top twenty: the results of the 2012 Guitar World Readers Poll of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Armed with my list of 20 fav’s and the aforementioned research I lined up my choices with the results of the poll and have ordered them as such. The number in brackets is where that guitarist ranks in the Guitar World Readers’ Poll top 100. This device gets me out of having to rank my choices from one to twenty and truthfully, as I’ve written in other ‘list’ articles, I don’t really care where my choices fit one to twenty and so this works well for me. It if annoys you please let me hear about it in the comments. As for the Readers’ Poll results, let me go on record as saying that I don’t necessarily agree with the ordering of some of the selections, particularly # 1, and perhaps you’ll feel similarly.
Here are Reverend Rock’s 20 Greatest Guitarists of All Time as ranked by the Guitar World readers’ poll:
This article was first posted on February 25, 2013