What makes a great guitarist? According to Rolling Stone magazine, “it’s about innovation, risk-takers and originators.”
In October, the magazine released “The 250 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” a re-release of its “100 Greatest Guitarists,” which was published in 2011.
The Jambar decided to make its own list of the greatest guitarists of all time. The criteria for the ranking will value technique, integration and the overall impact the musician made on the instrument.
To start the list at No. 5, Carlos Santana reworked Latin music in his own style by incorporating the electric guitar into the genre.
Santana showed his solo and guitar technique on tracks such as “Samba Pa Tí” and “She’s Not There.”
Santana successfully combined Afro-Cuban jazz, rock and blues together and utilized clave-based rhythms on the guitar, which was new to Latin music in the ‘70s.
Some may argue that B.B. King is the greatest blues guitarist of all time, but when looking at the integration of rock into traditional blues, Stevie Ray Vaughan combined both genres and holds the No. 4 spot.
Vaughan’s successful blues rock revival paved the way for artists such as John Mayer and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
With several guitar options, Vaughan primarily used a Fender Stratocaster to bring out strong and bright tones, which can be heard on tracks such as “Texas Flood” and “Pride and Joy.”
In 2000, Vaughan was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and enshrined eight years later in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Another guitarist who utilized the Fender Stratocaster was Eddie Van Halen who mastered the tapping technique on the guitar to claim the No. 3 spot.
It’s unclear whether Van Halen invented tapping, but he contributed to its popularity in the late ‘70s. The self-taught guitarist built the legendary “Frankenstrat” with components from several other guitars to achieve his popular tone.
From “Eruption” to “Beat It,” Van Halen dabbled in several different genres and would recreate animal noises using his instrument. Van Valen’s flashy stage presence also changed how guitarists carry themselves during live shows.
At No. 2 is David Gilmore, who changed the landscape of guitar playing with the band Pink Floyd and his vibrato on tracks such as “Comfortably Numb,” “Time” and “Hey You.”
In 1996, Gilmore was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Pink Floyd and was previously ranked as one of the greatest guitarists in the world.
Finishing the list at No. 1 is Jimi Hendrix — the greatest guitarist of all time. Hendrix popularized the electric guitar and delivered an impressive performance at the 1996 Woodstock Festival.
Hendrix drew attention to himself during his live shows by setting his guitar on fire and smashing it into pieces. Hendrix offered a new musical sound that changed the ideology of what rock and roll was and is.
For Hendrix, his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. He also popularized the use of the wah-wah pedal on “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and an octave pedal on “Purple Haze.”