Most influential guitarists.


Forum GOD!
I'll throw in one of the, perhaps, lesser-known guitarists who I absolutely love for his phrasing and understanding of music theory. Guthrie Govan.

Yes, he plays some ludicrously quick, tappety-tap-tap stuff, but he has a great grasp on making a guitar sound incredible.


Forum GOD!
Can't believe no one has mentioned Stevie Ray Vaughan yet, also his brother Jimmie Vaughan is an excellent Blues guitar player, lovely phrasing.
He's certainly a legendary player. His use of strings that you could hang a suspension bridge combined with a dimed amp and a TS9 made for one hell of a powerful tone.

My favourite SRV track features some sublime phrasing with that blistering Strat tone.



Forum fella
I recently watched the excellent Keith Richards: Under The Influence documentary on Netflix, and it prompted me to revisit this thread.

The thread has inevitably deviated at times into favourite guitarist lists, which is understandable considering the way music affects everyone personally. I love the way that music is a constant journey of discovery, and indeed a few of the names mentioned in this thread have been new to me.

As a music lover, my own tastes cover a wide range of genres and eras. As a guitarist (mostly electric), my interest focuses more predominantly on guitar-driven music from the mid 1950s onward. The way that both music and guitar playing has evolved during that time continues to fascinate me.

The Keith Richards documentary had an interesting section where he talked about the first US tours with the Stones. Now it’s no secret that The Stones were massively influenced by the original blues guys. Something I hadn’t fully appreciated was the extent that in the early ‘60s, the popularity of The Stones in the US enabled legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, and Buddy Guy to gain far more media exposure and reach a wider audience.

As Keith said, “we turned America back on to its own music”.
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Forum fella
I think one of the finest guitarists in the world and one who is looked over by many rather unfairly in my opinion is Alex Lifeson from Rush. Although I have been into Soul music most of my life I have a soft spot for Rush and have all of their albums.
Many guitarists (self included) have learned the opening riff to Spirit Of Radio.

I also spent a fair amount of time attempting to learn La Villa Strangiato. Oddly, listening to it now, sections of it remind me of early Jethro Tull. It was the '70s man.


Forum fella
Trying to stick to influential as opposed to those I like the best.

Jimi Hendrix - Show me a guitarist who hasn't tried to play like Jimi.

Les Paul - He is credited with so many firsts and innovations, both for the guitar itself as well as playing it that he has to be on this list.

Eddie Van Halen - Sure, there is Vai, Satriani and others who all have very similar sounds but all of them came after Eddie. He's the one who influenced these guys who came after him and who then took it to the next level. I actually prefer Vai over Van Halen. I agree with the comments about his first album Flex-able which could almost pass for a Zappa album. But Eddie did it first. That's influence.

Jimmy Page - I'll actually say that I don't think he is one of the greatest of all time, but his timing and the massive popularity of the band helped him to influence tons of young guitar players. I'm not a guitarist. I'm a drummer. But my teenage band played tons of Zeppelin. That's influence.
Great, insightful points there.

Les Paul was such a pioneer. He achieved so much, and also overcame so many obstacles, including nearly losing his right arm and having the doctors set it at an angle so he could still play. What an indomitable spirit.

I’ve been listening to Hendrix, Van Halen (early Roth-era), and Led Zep since I first became obsessed with music aged 11. I still listen to those albums nearly 40 years on.

Eddie Van Halen, like Hendrix before him, was a total outlier. The first VH album was released in 1978 and considering the rock climate of the time, it’s impact was stunning. It still sounds fresh. The originality and vitality of his playing and tone created a new road map for heavy rock guitar.

Like everyone, Eddie had his own influences, and the guitar geek in me enjoys recognising elements of Pete Townshend and Billy Gibbons in Van Halen’s inventive (and rarely acknowledged) rhythm work, as well as the Allan Holdsworth influence in his soloing.

The aspect of his playing I love most is that he makes it sound so spontaneous, and like he’s having a blast. It’s almost like he picks up a guitar, viewing it as some plaything made of wood, metal and electronics and says “hmm, what can I make this sound like now?” In this way, he is similar to Hendrix in attitude, if not style.

The other common factor linking Hendrix, Page and Van Halen other than their exceptional talent, is that they were all charismatic performers in great bands with huge commercial appeal. This was the dynamite ingredient in terms of increasing their influence.
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Legendary Member
Highly personal topic, of the names mentioned I would agree with Guthrie Govan and SRV. Some of my influences play here:

This chap was something else:

But if I had to pick one, it's him:



póg mo thóin
This is a very interesting question and the different perspectives each of you share seems to be based on what on what genre each of you prefer! But, what guitarist is probably the most influentia,l too all of those great guitarist? No one has mentioned him yet, So I will throw his name out there, Django Reinhardt!

Reinhardt is regarded as the greatest and most influential guitar players of all time and yet his career only spanned from 1928 to 1953. In 1928 he suffered extensive burns over half his body and the fourth and fifth fingers of Reinhardt’s left hand were that badly burned and he never regained full movement of these two injured fingers and used them only for chord work.
In a career of just 25 years, His magical guitar play has managed to influenced so many generations. From Jeff Beck, Jerry Garcia, Tony Iommi, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Les Paul, Hank Marvin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Derek Trucks; Mark Knopfler; Joe Pass; Peter Frampton; Denny Laine, Jose Feliciano, Bill Nelson; Jon Larsen; Steve Howe; Charlie Christian, Frank Vignola, Barney Kessel, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Martin Taylor; Michael Angelo Batio, Richard Thompson, Robert Fripp, BB King, René Thomas; Ray Condo, Big John Bates and Jeff Martin, Carlos Santana and Willie Nelson to name but a few!
He died at the age of 43 in 1953 from a brain haemorrhage.