Any musician that cares about their art is going to try to find a sound that no one's heard before. Even though there are some that are happy to wear their influences on their sleeve from time to time, it's always good to think outside the box and push the boundaries of what this little electronic instrument in your hands can do. When you hit on that style though, you basically have it trademarked.
As the years have gone on, there are still very few guitarists who are able to sound like what these artists bring to the table in the studio. From the way they approach writing riffs to the different mannerisms that they have when they play, there's something that is almost inhuman about the way these people approach their instrument. This isn't just a case of people who have one effect and run with.
Whereas the Kirk Hammetts of the world find something like wah and turn it into their signature sound, the real genius behind these players is taking the confines of what is commonly accepted of a guitar player and turning them on their head, leaving legions of people trying to come up with something even better. After these guys came along, the entire world of rock and roll looked a hell of a lot different.
10. Jack White - White Stripes
Ever since the turn of the century, the idea of guitar heroes has really been downplayed in the rock community. Though there have been people like Synyster Gates out of Avenged Sevenfold keeping the virtuosic side of the guitar alive, the rock bands that actually reach the top of the charts aren't necessarily the masters of their instruments or anything. Even when the world seemed to turn their back on guitar, Jack White made us pay attention by stripping everything back to its bare essentials.
At a time when nu metal and pop punk were some of the hottest trends in rock and roll, the arrival of the White Stripes was insanely fresh at the time, taking the old school sounds of blues and turning it inside out on every record. While you can tell that Jack wears his influences on his sleeve a lot of the time, you can never pinpoint which artist he's trying to be, like when he's playing a Muddy Waters style guitar riff with a guitar that sounds like it's being beamed in from space.
That's before you even get to his setup whenever he plays live, going from your traditional acoustic guitar for the slower songs to making his electric sound like horns, a robot, and anything in between. The blues may have been the starting point here, but Jack White has turned himself into the modern mad scientist with his guitar.