Top 10 Jazz Guitarists

by Frederik Nielsen, Jan 25, 2020 . 4 min read

Top 10 Jazz Guitarists

This blog has already covered jazz extensively, and no wonder. Jazz Guitarists are some of the most talented and underrated musicians out there. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at some of the best jazz guitarists throughout the 20th century.

1. Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery had a different sleeping pattern than his wife. She would go to bed like normal people, and Wes would sit up playing his guitar. He was nice enough to play with his thumb so he didn’t wake her up. Coincidentally, this also became his hallmark as a musician, along with his use of octaves.

2. Django Reinhardt

The father of gypsy jazz, Django Reinhardt was one of those annoyingly talented people who already had success in his teens. That only lasted until his guitar hand was burnt in a fire at 18, but he quickly bounced back and learned how to play with two fingers. Oh, and he invented a new way of playing harmonics.

3. Charlie Christian

Before the electric guitar in the 1930s, most guitarists in big bands were just part of the rhythm section. Charlie Christian changed that and can be credited for bringing the guitar to the front of the stage (and thus feeding countless guitarist egos…). Although he died at 25, he is still considered one of the greats.

4. Joe Pass

If Charlie Christian brought guitars to the front in jazz, Joe Pass took it to the next level. His solos are incredible, and he is the perhaps one of the few musicians who can claim to be virtuoso. So much, in fact, that he released four albums called Virtuoso.

5. Jim Hall

Jazz can be tricky at times, especially because the players want to cram so many notes into an impossibly short space of time. Jim Hall could also do that with the best of them, but was more economically minded in his playing. He was the embodiment of “less is more“.

6. Grant Green

Funk guitarists are known to play in the pocket as part of the rhythm section, and this was Grant Green’s specialty. Except he did so in jazz. To get a feel for Green’s brand of funky jazz, check out his albums Idle Moments and Matador.

7. Kenny Burrell

Bringing bop and blues to the jazz scene, Kenny Burrell is heavily influenced by Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, and Charlie Christian. A great example of his boppy bluesy jazz is found in his album Midnight Blue.

8. Pat Metheny

Another early genius on this list is Pat Metheny, who debuted at 21 with his album Bright Size Life. He has netted himself no less than twenty Grammy Awards, and there’s a good reason for that. Not only is he a great guitarist, but he is also an excellent composer.

9. Bill Frisell

Moving away from bop, blues, and funk, Bill Frisell mixes in a bit of folk and twang in his jazz compositions. Not only is Frisell a very distinctive persona on the jazz scene, but he is also incredibly prolific. In addition to his collaborative efforts, he has released no less than 36 albums in his own name.

10. Lenny Breau

Not a lot of people know about Lenny Breau, as he didn’t really achieve any mainstream success, but he deserves a mention on this list. He could transition from jazz to flamenco in a heartbeat, and his album Guitar Sounds from Lenny Breau is definitely worth a listen.

Do you agree with our top 10 Jazz Guitarists List? Let us know down in the comments who we missed!



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

The 6 famous songs that use dominant 7th chords have a special quality to them. A big chunk of that particular flavor is thanks to the use of dominant chords.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 26, 2021 . 7 min read

These 5 facts about Guns N’ Roses can help us understand why they became one of the biggest rock bands ever.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 16, 2021 . 6 min read

These 7 facts about Jimi Hendrix partially show why he is such a massive influence on guitar players. They also reveal a very unique career that is impossible to be duplicated.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 12, 2021 . 6 min read

This guide to understanding the types of electric guitars will shed light on a topic that can be confusing for many.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 9, 2021 . 4 min read

A list of the best fingerstyle guitarists is a tough one to make. Instrumental fingerstyle guitar has crawled its way into the mainstream more and moreover the last few years, but it’s still swamped by almost every other genre.

Evan Ceretti
Jun 29, 2021 . 6 min read

We recently covered how different kinds of arthritis can affect your guitar playing. We also provided some tips on how to avoid it.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 21, 2021 . 3 min read

Johnny Cash, one of country music’s most influential singers sadly passed away in 2003; His words and music live on, continuing to have a profound effect on listeners.

Evan Ceretti
Jun 14, 2021 . 5 min read

The 4 lies musicians tell themselves are truly baffling. Each of them are indefensible and together they form a sure stairway to failure. However, all these lies have a common denominator: lack of any kind of work ethic.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 24, 2021 . 4 min read

These 4 legendary recording studios that are active today have survived a plethora of adversities.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 21, 2021 . 4 min read

The top 5 young guitar players today seem to defy the odds. You need a lot of time to get really good at something like playing an instrument.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 10, 2021 . 3 min read

The 5 jazz albums every music fan should have are a collection of incredible music by incredible artists. These records marked a moment in history and continue to inspire generations of music lovers across the globe.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 30, 2021 . 4 min read

These 5 interesting facts about Diane Warren reveal her incredible work ethic and persistence.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 16, 2021 . 4 min read

This list of 5 famous guitarists that are great songwriters is a whos-who of modern music. They have penned some of the most beloved songs in pop and rock, while also shredding on their guitars.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 12, 2021 . 4 min read

The top 5 underrated guitarists of all time list features some of the most incredible musicians to ever live. However, fame is a sneaky little thing that is not bestowed upon many deserving individuals.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 2, 2021 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!