Tuesday, May 19, 2009

OPINION: Top Ten Guitar Players

Eric ClaptonEric Clapton via last.fm

Top 10 Guitar Players by Vinny Chapel

Okay, I'm sure you've gotten into an argument with your buddies at some point, comparing who you think are the top 10 guitar players of all time. We've all been there, but here's the thing that few realize. Music isn't competition, it's not about who's the best at this or that. Plus, there's a LOT of musical styles, that comparing let's say a metal shredder and a blues master doesn't really work all that well. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

That being said, there's still a few guitarists that most people consider to be real heavies, and every time these types of lists come up, their names are always mentioned. These guitar players are either very skilled at a specific technique, or are the most influential guitarists to other musicians, and that's whey they deserve to be in a top 10 guitar players list.

As for me, this is probably my top 10 list of guitar players:

1. Jimi Hendrix

Need I say more? Jimi Hendrix is almost always at the top of every "top guitarists" list! He turned the electric guitar from a novelty into a laboratory, experimenting with sounds never even dreamed of before on the electric guitar. Hendrix's style of raw, fuzzy, feedback-y sound is instantly recognizable, and he has been the influence for very many younger guitarists. His stage presence is also electrifying and powerful. "Purple Haze" and "All Along the Watchtower" set the foundation for a towering monument of rock that stands to this day.

2. Jimmy Page

Another Jimmy! The Led Zeppelin guitar master has been very influential to a lot of rockers nowadays, and his guitar licks are legendary and instantly recognizable. His solo of "Heartbreaker" is immortal, and "Black Dog" and "Stairway to Heaven" are unshakable rock classics. And can you name anybody else who has a guitar solo with a violin bow? That's from "Dazed and Confused".

3. BB King

When you say blues, everything all boils down to its master and ambassador: BB King. He paved the way for the newer generation of blues players, from Eric Clapton to John Mayer. BB King's powerful bending and vibrato are classic blues techniques, still used today. Also, his guitar is also legendary - who else would name their guitar Lucille?

4. Chuck Berry

You know that four-note riff that always reminds you of 50's rock n' roll? That came from Chuck Berry. Modern rock n' roll wouldn't be possible without the awesomeness that is "Johnny B. Goode"!

5. Keith Richards

Keith Richards is a member of one of the longest-lasting, most influential active rock bands The Rolling Stones. Don't tell me you aren't aware of that classic fuzzy three-note riff from "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"! For all the hits the Stones put out that became foundations of other hit songs, Keith Richards also deserves a spot on the top 10 guitarists list.

6. Kirk Hammett

Metal was never the same way with the coming of Metallica. Kirk Hammett redefined hard rock with the pounding solos of "Master of Puppets" and, arguably their most popular song, "Enter Sandman".

7. Carlos Santana

If you're talking of instantly recognizable tone, there's the master of Latin-infused rock, Carlos Santana. Before his now-popular jams with other artists, he was a Latin-rhythm purist, improvising with solos that are full of passion and spiritual meaning. Before hits like "Smooth", there were the soaring, sustained instrumental solos of "Europa (Earth's Cry Heaven's Child)" and the like.

8. Kurt Cobain

The misunderstood genius, Kurt Cobain single-handedly ended the era of 80's hair metal in a totally different way. He favored simple, heavy tunes instead of hair metal's theatric style, and it reflected better the angst of the time. His most defining contribution to society was the original anthem of misunderstood generations, the four-chord monster "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

9. The Edge

While a lot of guitar players think of skill as playing millions of notes at blazing speed, The Edge is known for actually playing short, spare, repetitive solos. But he and his rolling delay effects created the most passionate, most anthemic rock songs in history, from "Bad" to "Where The Streets Have No Name". With the Edge at the lead, it's hard not to scream in triumph.

10. Eric Clapton

A true son of the blues, Eric Clapton had influences in rock, creating classics like "Layla" with his early band Derek and the Dominoes, and progressing to one of the most recognizable blues guitarists, from "Bell Bottom Blues" to his heartbreaking "Tears In Heaven".

I'm sure a lot of you will have top 10 guitar players lists that are very different from mine, but that's the effect of musical influences; we have a lot of talented guitarists from a lot of different styles and genres to choose from. Whoever we pick as our top 10 guitarists says a lot about our favorite styles, criteria and our personality as guitarists. Till then, happy rocking!

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1 comment:

  1. Hey Vinny, this top ten list is fantastic. Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix are my #1 and #2 respectively, I'm glad to see other people think highly of them as well. You can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.