Selecting the 5 best rock guitarists in history is not an easy task, but we’re going to do it. Rock has had some of the most incredible musicians in history and that is especially true for the guitar.
There are entire books about guitar gods, guitar distortion, and more, and you can find endless forums and internet discussions about this topic. In many ways, it almost seems like rock music was made for guitar players to shine, and every era features a good amount of legendary guitar solos and players. Without further ado here is the list of the 5 best rock guitarists in history.
It is hard to come up with a list of just 5 best guitarists. It is impossible to not put Jimi Hendrix on it, and quite rare to not list him as number one. Hendrix changed the way the instrument is played, combining technical prowess with incredible charisma and ferocity. His use of effects, noise creation, and the overall way to approach the instrument created the modern paradigm for a guitar player. Despite dying tragically at the young age of 27, Hendrix influenced millions and created some of the most inspiring music ever.
Led Zeppelin is often referred to as the greatest rock band ever. Jimi Page was the driving force behind their music, giving us some of the most memorable and imitated riffs and songs of all time. Before Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page used to be a session guitar player in London, and his superior ability on the instrument is on full display on every album and concert recorded by the band.
Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen picked up right where Jimi Hendrix left off. Van Halen was an incredibly gifted guitarist, with impressive technique and musicianship. Additionally, he had an uncanny ability to write catchy songs that became rock anthems. Van Halen revolutionized tapping and created a unique sound sought after by not only guitarists everywhere, but also other artists. Most notably, he played the legendary “Beat It” solo per Michael Jackson’s request.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
The ultimate bluesman, but with a monstrous amount of rock in it. Stevie Ray Vaughan took a page from Jimi Hendrix’s book and employed a fiery technique to go along with his deep musicianship and incredible tone. Stevie was also a great singer and performer, capable of taking any old standard blues song and turning it into a rock-infused anthem, wooing audiences the world over. A true legend with a massive legacy.
Jeff Beck is one of the most unique rock guitar players in history. Connoisseurs regard him as the greatest rock guitar player ever. Although he has a lower profile than the other names on this list, he is certainly one of the most gifted players ever. His combination of plectrum and fingerstyle along with his innovative use of the volume knob are nothing short of incredible. His live shows are truly dynamic and very moving, in a way that defies explanation. Jeff Beck has been a massive influence on generations of guitarists for over 50 years.
We live in a great time to be a music fan. You can spend hours listening to the guitar players above and more, and be truly impressed in the process. The music they created can be a great source of inspiration. Better yet, take the time to analyze their work from a musician’s perspective. Find the ones you connect with the most and delve in. Not only will you learn a great deal from these masters, but your life will be enriched as well.