10 Most Underrated Rock Guitarists Of All Time

The Quiet Geniuses Behind the Fretboard.

Johnny Marr The Smiths
"Johnny Marr" by Man Alive! is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Any self-respecting rock fan knows that you must focus on the guitar first. No matter what type of flashy synths or charismatic vocalist you want to put over top of everything, it always comes down to how well the riff works at the end of the day. That's not to say that every guitarist gets treated equally though.

Over the years, many more-than competent guitar players have managed to fall through the cracks of rock history, often coming as just an afterthought or a footnote in terms of the scene they ran with. Regardless of their amazing playing ability, most of these players don't get heralded as the almighty gods in the same league as your Randy Rhoads' or Eddie Van Halens of the world. That needs to change FAST though.

Despite not having the overall appeal of their counterparts, each one of these six-strings have made music that was pivotal not only to their respective genre, but the entire guitar community going forward. Hell, some of these musicians were in phenomenal acts, only to be overshadowed by the more camera-friendly members of the group. Whether or not they get treated like sidemen, the rock world as we know it might not be the same if these lowlights hadn't laid the groundwork first.

10. Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley's career seems to be more known for his demise than it is for his actual music. Being the descendent of folk legend Tim Buckley, Jeff was known for his spectral form of rock music before eventually drowning in a river shortly after the release of his album Grace. While many would go to bat for his amazing vocal abilities, there's even more magic going on with his fingers.

Across nearly every song on Grace, Buckley is a real pro guitar player. Though most of his breaks are about taking a back seat to the vocals, he still knows exactly where to put the right melodic nuances into the mix to keep the entire song interesting. Even something as simple as playing through chords on Hallelujah is enough to lull you into a trance, as every note falls at the exact right time.

For as much as Grace might define him as a full artist and lyricist, the B-sides album Sketches for My Sweetheart is still just as effective at showing the kind of artist we were working with. Even in the beginning stages, a lot of these songs end up sounding phenomenal, as Jeff weaves in and out of time signature changes without a care in the world. Aside from being one of the forgotten belters of the '90s, take a closer look to what Jeff is doing on the fretboard to see what he can really do.


I'm just a junkie for all things media. Whether it's music, movies, TV, or just other reviews, I absolutely adore this stuff. But music was my first love, and I love having the opportunity to share it with you good people.