Top 3 Guitarists of All Time

Griffin Keener, Staff Writer

Within the guitar world, there will always be a debate about who the greatest of all time is. There are no clear cut guidelines for what makes one guitarist better than another, as it is impossible to be objective about music. However, there are a few distinctions between the average rock band guitarists and the all time greats. A legendary guitarist is not one who can just play fast and loud, but is one who can play with feel and flow.

Jimi Hendrix 

Undoubtedly the most legendary guitarist of all time because of his raw talent, innovation, and production. He rarely followed the status quo of music legends. His psychedelic influence allowed him to push the boundaries of mainstream music. This was exemplified in Hendrix’s rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” as an opener for his performance at the infamous 1969 Woodstock festival.

As for his production techniques, Hendrix changed the perception of what the guitar was as an instrument. He used techniques like reverse recording, shown on “Castles Made of Sand” on his second album called “Axis: Bold as Love.” Jimi also used chords in a way that no other had before. He practically invented the use of the triad chords, so much so that it was renamed the “Hendrix chord.”

Though he unfortunately joined the 27 club due to an overdose in 1970, Jimi Hendrix is still without a doubt the most legendary guitarist of all time. It is easy to speculate that he would have gone on to be an even more seasoned musician had he lived longer. Either way, his influence shaped the culture wave of the 1960s and still inspires nearly every modern guitarist today.

Stevie Ray Vaughan 

The Texan reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix, SRV is only second on my list because Hendrix came first.

Ray has been the only guitarist to have the ability to really mimic Hendrix. His powerful solos with a mix of rock and blues, along with his signature Stratocaster, are what make SRV a legend.

His influence inspired many modern guitarists like John Mayer, and revived the blues style of rock amidst the MTV era of 80s music. His ability to shred all over the fret board was closer to Hendrix than any other guitarist to ever live. His incredible soloing can be found most notably on tracks like “Look at Little Sister” and his cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.”

Derek Trucks 

Raised with the Allman Brothers, Derek Trucks grew up around some of the most famous names in music. These names include Dicky Betts, Butch Trucks, Duane Allman, Warren Hanes, and many others. He began playing guitar at age 9, and started touring at just 12 years old.

His talent is really shown through his unmatched ability to play slide guitar. His blues solos imitate that of B.B. King. In an interview, Trucks alluded to his heavy B.B. King influence saying, “We are all children of B.B. King.”

Trucks has been recognized by legendary guitarists, one of them being Eric Clapton. “He is like a bottomless pit,” Clapton said, talking about Derek Trucks’ ability to solo for long periods of time without repeating licks. Trey Anastasio, lead guitarist of Phish, says, “Derek is without question my favorite guitar player and, I think, the best guitar player on Earth right now… he never dries up.”

Trucks now plays for Tedeschi Trucks with his wife, Susan Tedeschi. Some notable tracks that highlight his immaculate slide guitar playing include “Midnight in Harlem,” and many Allman Brothers songs like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”