46th Post: (82) Guitarists

Prior to jumping right into the All Time Greatest Guitar players I believe it is fitting to take time to reflect upon the history of the guitar. It is noteworthy to mention that the evolution of the guitar dates back to 1257 AD (or before) in western Europe which it was then called an Oud.

Oud – The Iberian Cantigas
Photo credit: acousticmusic.org

By 1480 AD, a drawing of Wolfegg Castle is shown below playing a lute 223 years after the oud. Its early frets were made from gut material. He was known to be one of the first finger players. An example of a current lute player (John Dowland) is “Lachwimae:” (https://youtu.be/ogTbZAYh5pw).

In just seven years, or in 1487, the vihuela (or viola, the English translation) was being played in Spain. So this predecessor to the guitar was referred to todays viola played in orchestras with a bow. The design looked like this (see photo below):

Vihuela – 1487

Ninety-seven years later, or in 1581, Belchior Dias built a Renaissance guitar in Lisbon, Portugal.

Renaissance Vihuela Guitar – 1581
Belchoir Dias (luthier)

I have included 82 guitar players within the All-Time Greatest Guitar players (if there is a number after their names, this is their ranking by RollingStone magazine):

Duane Allman (9), Vincente Amigo (flamenco), Chet Atkins (21), Jeff Beck-Yardbirds (5), Chuck Berry (7), Richie Blackmore (50), Mike Bloomfield (42), Joe Bonamassa, James Burton (19), Charlie Christian, Eric Clapton (2), Fitzroy Coleman, Ry Cooder (31), Steve Cooper (39), Paco de Lucia (virtuoso), Bo Didley (27), Don Donato, Eddie Durham, Mark Fisher, Jerry Garcia (46), Billy Gibbons (32), Paul Gilbert, David Gilmour (14), Jonny Greenwood (48), Buddy Guy (23), Jimi Hendrix (1), Andrew Higgs, George Harrison-Beatles (11), John Lee Hooker (35), Elmore James (30), Tony Iommi (25), Sarah Joanne, Ledward Kaapana, Albert King (13), B.B. King (6), Freddie King (15), Eddie Lang, Steve Mackay, Felix Martin, Brian May (26), Jeronimo Maya (flamenco), Curtis Mayfield (34), Ramon Montoya (virtuoso), Scotty Moore (29), Tom Morello (40), Ichika Nito (26), Mark Nopfler (44), Jimmy Page-Led Zepplin (3), Charley Patton, Les Paul (18), Lore Paz-Ampeuro, Prince (33), Randy Rhodes (36), Johnny Romano (28), Mick Ronsin (41), Sabicas (virtuoso), Ando San Washington, Carlos Santana (20), Stephan Stills (47), Hubert Sumlin (43), Mick Taylor (37), The Edge (38), Vanny Tonon, Amin Toofani, Pete Townsend-The Who (10), Derek Trucks (16), Eddie Van Halen (8), Stevie Ray Vaughn (12), Muddy Waters (49), Doc Watson, Mason Williams, Link Wray (45), Kris Xenopoulos, Angus Young (24), Neil Young (17), Frank Zappa (22).

Ichika Nito
Plays 14 String Guitar
Photo Credit: theawesomer.com

Ichika Nito (born: July 7, 1994 [age 26]), is a Japanese musician and record producer. He has made many songs and albums, but got most of his popularity through YouTube. Ichika used to upload original music and covers, but switched to original and short videos with a meme title. With over 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube, the beautiful melodies and skills of guitarist Ichika Nito have entranced people worldwide. We learn more about his goal to create soul-stirring music.

Joe Bonamassa
Photo credit: bluesblastmagazine.com

Joseph Leonard Bonamassa (born May 8, 1977) is an American blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter. He started his career at age 12, when he opened for B.B. King. In the last 13 years Bonamassa has put out 15 solo albums through his independent record label J&R Adventures, of which 11 have reached number 1 on the Billboard Blues chart. Bonamassa has played alongside many notable blues and rock artists, and earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2013. Among guitarists, he is known for his extensive collection of vintage guitars and amplifiers. On December 6, 2013, Bonamassa and Beth Hart were nominated for a Grammy Award for their 2013 collaborative album Seesaw (https://youtu.be/UX2MSLMjorQ) (RQ 9) in the Best Blues Album category.

Bonamassa’s album Different Shades of Blue (Hey Baby – New Rising Sun) (https://youtu.be/oUIGbxQgGv0) (RQ 8) is his first solo studio album since So, It’s Like That to showcase only original songs (with the exception of a brief instrumental Jimi Hendrix cover.) Bonamassa wrote the album in Nashville with three songwriters: Jonathan Cain of Journey; James House, known for his work with Diamond Rio, Dwight Yoakam, and Martina McBride; and Jerry Flowers, who has written for Keith Urban. Bonamassa sought to create serious blues rock in the project instead of three-minute radio hits. The album was recorded at a music studio in the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. The album charted at number 8 on the Billboard 200, number 1 on the Blues Chart, and number 1 on the Indie Chart. In May 2015, Bonamassa won a Blues Music Award in the ‘Instrumentalist – Guitar’ category.

Charlie Christian
Photo credit: openculture

Charles Henry Christian (July 29, 1916 – March 2, 1942) was an American swing and jazz guitarist. Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar and a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz. He gained national exposure as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. An example of his work was “Rose Room” (https://youtu.be/x4H7M2YFK0s) (RQ 8). His single-string technique, combined with amplification, helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument. For this, he is often credited with leading to the development of the lead guitar role in musical ensembles and bands. John Hammond and George T. Simon called Christian the best improvisational talent of the swing era. In the liner notes to the album Solo Flight: The Genius of Charlie Christian (Columbia, 1972), Gene Lees wrote that “Many critics and musicians consider that Christian was one of the founding fathers of bebop, or if not that, at least a precursor to it.” Christian’s influence reached beyond jazz and swing. In 1990, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category Early Influence.In 2006 Oklahoma City renamed a street in its Bricktown entertainment district “Charlie Christian Avenue” (Christian was raised in Oklahoma City and was one of many musicians who jammed along the city’s “Deep Deuce” section on N.E. Second Street).

Eddie Durham
Photo credit: allaboutjazz

Eddie Durham (August 19, 1906 – March 6, 1987) was an American jazz guitarist who was one of the pioneers of the electric guitar in jazz. He was a guitarist, trombonist, composer, and arranger for the orchestras of Bennie Moten, Jimmie Lunceford, and Count Basie. With Edgar Battle he composed “Topsy”, which was recorded by Count Basie and became a hit for Benny Goodman. In 1938, Durham wrote “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” with Bennie Benjamin, Sol Marcus, and Eddie Seiler. During the 1940s, Durham created Eddie Durham’s All-Star Girl Orchestra, an African-American all female swing band that toured the United States and Canada. From 1929, Durham started experimenting to enhance the sound of his guitar using resonators and megaphones. In 1935, he was the first to record an electrically amplified guitar with Jimmie Lunceford in “Hittin’ the Bottle” (https://youtu.be/V_JimSuysoE) (RQ 9) that was recorded in New York for Decca. In 1938, Durham recorded single string electric guitar solos with the Kansas City Five (or Six), which were both smallish groups that included members of Count Basie’s rhythm section alongside with the tenor saxophone playing of Lester Young.

Eddie Lang
Photo credit: wbhfh

Eddie Lang (born Salvatore Massaro, October 25, 1902 – March 26, 1933) is known as the father of jazz guitar. During the 1920s, he gave the guitar a prominence it previously lacked as a solo instrument, as part of a band or orchestra, and as accompaniment for vocalists. He recorded duets with guitarists Lonnie Johnson and Carl Kress and jazz violinist Joe Venuti, and played rhythm guitar in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and was the favoured accompanist of Bing Crosby. He is the son of an Italian-American instrument maker, Lang was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up with violinist Joe Venuti. His first instrument was violin when he was seven. He performed on violin in 1917 and became a member of a trio. In 1920, he dropped the violin for banjo and worked with Charlie Kerr, then Bert Estlow, Vic D’Ippolito, and Billy Lustig’s Scranton Siren Orchestra. A few years later, he dropped the banjo for guitar when he became a member of the Mound City Blue Blowers led by Red McKenzie. He recorded one of the first solos in 1924 on “Deep 2nd Street Blues” (https://youtu.be/qD9i2rt1trQ) (RQ 7). His performances with McKenzie’s band drew attention, and he found many jobs as a freelance guitarist. Before Lang, the guitar hadn’t been a prominent instrument in jazz bands and dance orchestras. Lang and Joe Venuti recorded with Roger Wolfe Kahn and Jean Goldkette and performed with the Adrian Rollini Orchestra. Lang recorded with blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson under the name Blind Willie Dunn to hide his race and as a tribute to blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson. He also worked with Frankie Trumbauer, Hoagy Carmichael, Annette Hanshaw, Red Nichols, Jack Pettis, Bessie Smith, and Clarence Williams.

Charley Patton
Photo credit: fdleone

Charley Patton (April 1891 – April 28, 1934), also known as Charlie Patton, was an American Delta blues musician. Considered by many to be the “Father of the Delta Blues”, he created an enduring body of American music and inspired most Delta blues musicians. The musicologist Robert Palmer considered him one of the most important American musicians of the twentieth century. Patton was born in Hinds County, Mississippi, near the town of Edwards, and lived most of his life in Sunflower County, in the Mississippi Delta. Most sources say he was born in April 1891, but the years 1881, 1885 and 1887 have also been suggested. Patton’s parentage and race also are uncertain. His parents were Bill and Annie Patton, but locally he was regarded as having been fathered by former slave Henderson Chatmon, several of whose children became popular Delta musicians, as solo performers and as members of groups such as the Mississippi Sheiks. Biographer John Fahey described Patton as having “light skin and Caucasian features.” Patton was considered African-American, but because of his light complexion there has been much speculation about his ancestry over the years. One theory endorsed by blues musician Howlin’ Wolf was that Patton was Mexican or Cherokee. It is now generally agreed that Patton was of mixed heritage, with white, black, and Native ancestors. Some believe he had a Cherokee grandmother; however, it is also widely asserted by historians that he was between one-quarter and one-half Choctaw. In “Down the Dirt Road Blues”, Patton sang of having gone to “the Nation” and “the Territo'”, referring to the Cherokee Nation’s portion of the Indian Territory(which became part of the state of Oklahoma in 1907), where a number of Black Indians tried unsuccessfully to claim a place on the tribal rolls and thereby obtain land. In 1897, his family moved 100 miles (160 km) north to the 10,000-acre (40 km) Dockery Plantation, a cotton farm and sawmill near Ruleville, Mississippi. There, Patton developed his musical style, influenced by Henry Sloan, who had a new, unusual style of playing music, which is now considered an early form of the blues. Patton performed at Dockery and nearby plantations and began an association with Willie Brown. Tommy Johnson, Fiddlin’ Joe Martin, Robert Johnson, and Chester Burnett (who went on to gain fame in Chicago as Howlin’ Wolf) also lived and performed in the area, and Patton served as a mentor to these younger performers. Robert Palmer described Patton as a “jack-of all-trades bluesman”, who played “deep blues, white hillbilly songs, nineteenth-century ballads, and other varieties of black and white country dance music with equal facility”. He was popular across the southern United States and performed annually in Chicago; in 1934, he performed in New York City. An example of his work: “Spoonful Blues”(https://youtu.be/EyIquE0izAg) (RQ 6). Unlike most blues musicians of his time, who were often itinerant performers, Patton played scheduled engagements at plantations and taverns. He gained popularity for his showmanship, sometimes playing with the guitar down on his knees, behind his head, or behind his back. Patton was a small man, about 5 feet 5 inches tall (1.65m), but his gravelly voice was reputed to have been loud enough to carry 500 yards without amplification; a singing style which particularly influenced Howlin’ Wolf (even though Jimmie Rodgers, the “singing brakeman”, has to be cited there primarily). Patton settled in Holly Ridge, Mississippi, with his common-law wife and recording partner, Bertha Lee, in 1933. His relationship with Bertha Lee was a turbulent one. In early 1934, both of them were incarcerated in a Belzoni, Mississippi jailhouse after a particularly harsh fight. W. R. Calaway from Vocalion Records bailed the pair out of jail, and escorted them to New York City, for what would be Patton’s final recording sessions (on January 30 and February 1). They later returned to Holly Ridge and Lee saw Patton out in his final days.

Amin Toofani
Photo credit: seeitlive.co

Amin Toofani, the guitarist who got fame with his song called, Gratitude, is from Pakistan —- but wait wait – all fingers actually point to it that he is from present day Iran. Iran (especially areas of Kerman and Seestan and Balochistan and western Punjab now in Pakistan) had no borders and had open areas and people were in and out for daily business and they knew the languages very well. His name is also quite Pakistani which make things confusing. Anyways now according my knowledge he is from Iran not from Pakistan. His well known song played at the Harvard HKS Talent Show called “Gratitude” (https://youtu.be/k4ixAfJ1LuI) (RQ 7).

Fitzroy Coleman
Photo credit: issuu.com

On July 26, 2016, Trinidad and Tobago lost one of its greatest musicians — the brilliant guitarist Fitzroy Coleman — at the age of 93. Coleman had an inimitable style of playing; it was perhaps one of the qualities that made the popular website DigitalDreamDoor.com rank him Number 93 on its list of the world’s greatest jazz guitarists, alongside more internationally acclaimed greats like Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt. Trinidadian sound engineer Robin Foster, who knew Coleman well, posted several photos of the guitarist, as well as videos of past performances, one of which showed him backing Mahalia Jackson, recorded by the BBC in the early 1960s. In a telephone interview, Foster described Coleman as a “genius” — and, as many geniuses are, he was a “very emotional” man, Foster said, adding that injustices affected Coleman deeply. Foster confirmed that two of the most renowned classical guitarists in the world, John Williams and Julian Bream, once told Coleman that they considered him “the greatest chord player of all time”. As a young man, Coleman was in high demand to perform at social events for the who’s who of Trinidad society, as well as the American soldiers who were stationed on the island during World War II. A musical autodidact, he left Trinidad in 1945 and went to London to be part of a Caribbean band. While there, he was a regular fixture on the BBC, accompanying great talents such as Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, and Eartha Kitt, as well as established calypsonians such as Lord Kitchener and Roaring Lion. An example of his work: “This Can’t Be Love” (https://youtu.be/dr5UM8kkss0).

Ledward Kaapana
Photo credit: hawaiitribune-herald.com

Ledward Kaapana (born August 25, 1948) is a Hawaiian musician, best known for playing in the slack key guitar style. He also plays steel guitar, ukulele, autoharp and bass guitar, and is a baritone and falsetto vocalist. His professional breakthrough came when he was a part of the Hui ‘Ohana (means “Family Group”), with his twin brother, Nedward Kaapana, and his cousin, falsetto-great Dennis Pavao. Hui ‘Ohana released fourteen albums, each of which was a commercial and critical success. Kaapana left the group eventually, then released six albums as the leader of another trio, “I Kona” (https://youtu.be/dVq93FRWI-g) (RQ 9) and performed with the Pahinui Brothers, Aunty Genoa Keawe, David Chun, Barney Isaacs and Uncle Joe Keawe. His first solo album, Lima Wela (means “Hot Hands”), was released in 1983; the album won the Na Hoku Hanohano (means “Honored Stars”) Award for “Instrumental Album of the Year” in 1984. He released Simply Slack Keyin 1988, and Led Live in 1994 on Dancing Cat Records. He has performed and recorded with acoustic lap-steel player Bob Brozman, and released several more albums on the Dancing Cat label from the late 1990s onward. One of the greatest living slack key masters, Ledward has deep roots in the older styles, using only index finger and thumb picks to combine traditional musical phrases, some modern influences, and spontaneous improvisation to create beautiful multipart arrangements that are simultaneously old and new. Nashville great Chet Atkins was so impressed by Ledward’s playing that he paid him the ultimate country music compliment by giving Ledward his guitar. Ledward has played at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., and made many tours of North America; his fans frequently refer to themselves as “Led Heads.”

Paul Gilbert
Photo credit: guitar-muse.com

Paul Brandon Gilbert is an American hard rock and heavy metal guitarist (born in 1966 in Carbondale, IL). He is best known for being the co-founder of the band Mr. Big. He was also a member of Racer X, with whom he released several albums. In 1996, Gilbert launched a solo career, for which he has released numerous solo albums, and featured in numerous collaborations and guest appearances on other musicians’ albums. When interviewed about his musical and stylistic influences, Paul Gilbert mentions many different artists, including: Randy Rhoads, Kim Mitchell, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Iommi, Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, Johnny Ramone, Robin Trower, Ritchie Blackmore, Pat Travers, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Judas Priest, Akira Takasaki, Steve Clark, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, and The Ramones. On many occasions, Gilbert has stated that his uncle Jimi Kidd was vital in heavily fueling Gilbert’s childhood interest in playing guitar. Gilbert grew up a great fan of Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick and The Beatles, artists who frequently influence his songwriting style. He stated on the Space Ship Live DVD that George Harrison is one of his favorite guitar players. Guitar World magazine declared him one of 50 of the world’s fastest guitarists of all time (his five favorite guitars: https://youtu.be/SQmU185CzGA), along with Buckethead, Eddie Van Halen, and Yngwie Malmsteen. Gilbert composes music in a wide variety of styles, including pop, rock, metal, blues, and funk. However, Gilbert is perhaps best known for his fast playing speed and stylistic versatility. He is noted in particular for his efficient, staccato-like picking technique. He combines fast picking and legato techniques in the same phrase, usually instinctively. When teaching/demonstrating a particular phrase, he has to think about what he is actually doing with his right hand in order to explain it. Despite being famous for his heavy metal work and his rapid right hand ability, Gilbert has since dissociated himself from that style of playing, instead gravitating towards blues and melodic ideas. Gilbert has been voted fourth-best on GuitarOne magazine’s “Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time”. He has also ranked in Guitar World’s “50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time” list.

Mason Williams
Photo credit: Rhino

Mason Douglas Williams (born August 24, 1938) is an American classical guitarist, composer, singer, writer, comedian, and poet, best known for his 1968 instrumental “Classical Gas” (https://youtu.be/mREi_Bb85Sk) (RQ 10+) and for his work as a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and Saturday Night Live.

Doc Watson
Photo credit: law.marquette.edu

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012) was an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson’s fingerstyle and flatpicking skills, as well as his knowledge of traditional American music, were highly regarded. Blind from a young age, he performed with his son, guitarist Merle Watson, for over 15 years until Merle’s death in 1985 in an accident on the family farm. His music was recognized by winning eight Grammy Awards:

1973 Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording (Including Traditional Blues): Doc Watson for Then and Now “Bonaparte’s Retreat” (https://youtu.be/3U2ndKyjCLc) (RC 10).

1974 Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording: Merle Watson & Doc Watson for Two Days in November.

1979 Best Country Instrumental Performance: Doc Watson & Merle Watson for “Big Sandy/Leather Britches”.

1986 Best Traditional Folk Recording: Doc Watson for Riding the Midnight Train.

1990 Best Traditional Folk Recording: Doc Watson for On Praying Ground.

2002 Best Traditional Folk Album: Doc Watson & David Holt for Legacy.

2004 Lifetime Achievement Award.

2006 Best Country Instrumental Performance: Bryan Sutton & Doc Watson for “Whiskey Before Breakfast” track from Not Too Far from the Tree by Bryan Sutton.

In 1986, Watson received the North Carolina Award and in 1994 he received a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award. He is a recipient of a 1988 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. In 2000, Watson was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in Owensboro, Kentucky. In 1997, Watson received the National Medal of Arts from U.S. president Bill Clinton. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

These are the 10 guitarists you need to hear in 2020. (Peter Hodson of guitarworld)

On the lookout for jaw-dropping new talent? Here are 10 fresh guitarists to keep an ear out for in 2021:

Vanny Tonon – Italy
Photo credit: YouTube screenshot

Sometimes I start from a melodic idea or a chord progression, so I’ll choose one or the other, then I try to focus more on the sound itself, because sometimes I don’t know what will happen! Sometimes I’ll start with the guitar with no effects, or from a specific sound, like an Eventide harmonizer or modulation. I see sound as color; I try to put my emotions and feelings into my music. If I’m in more of a dark metal mood, I might experiment with more creepy, horror sounds. It depends on the mood. Here is a sample of his play: a cover of Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing” (https://youtu.be/NxBvXWCjTLI) (RQ 8).

Sarah Joanne – U.S.A.
Photo credit: screenshot

I am very eclectic. I like experimenting with a wide range of clean and distorted sounds in every song. My band, Anchor Thought (track examples from the 2020 NAMM show: (https://youtu.be/T0iULTs3N8k) (RQ 7), put out our first EP this year, Cosmonaut, and it ranges from soft piano to metal to ambient, and I like that flexibility. I don’t write with expectations; whatever comes out, comes out, and if I like it, it will fit.

Dan Donato – U.S.A.
Photo credit: Kurt Ozan

My style is a definite in individuality with an intense passion for discipline of technical ability and an evergreen love for the passion we all feel when we first begin. That fuel of beginning contains so much of it. I want to always lay in a great medium between the tourist/purist dynamic. Here is a sample solo from Robert’s Western World in Nashville: https://youtu.be/oqz7csdvkkA (RQ 5). He was 19 at the time.

Less philosophically speaking, my style is a combination of old-style country players like Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins and Brent Mason along with the intention of psychedelic-era players like Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia. But I also was born in the Nineties, so John Mayer has equity of inspiration in nearly everything I pluck on the guitar.

Felix Martin – Venezuela
Photo credit: Mary Escalona

My style of playing consists of playing two guitars as one. Mixing two chords, two melodies, chord-melody and lots of percussion techniques spread on both fretboards. I grew up in a small town in Venezuela, and I learned without the internet, books or teachers. This was a difficult process but at the same time it made me create a few techniques on my own. For some reason, tapping was always easier for me than fingerstyle guitar, so I basically spent all my high school days practicing and developing my tapping technique, which later I applied to two guitars. In 2011 (ten years ago) he performed “High Spirit” at the Berkeley College of Music: https://youtu.be/4isMaD8yTyU (RQ 7).

Mark Fisher – Australia
Photo credit: Peter Hodgson

My style is melodic acoustic fingerstyle, extended techniques with songwriting, thoughtful lyrics and a vocal connection that makes you feel the story behind it all. A style that needs to be seen, not just heard. A good example of this can be witnessing his use of embracing the body of his guitar with his forearm to achieve a dramatic accentuation in sound. Here he is recently playing “Psychedelic Sunday” at the Loma Club: (https://youtu.be/U0z5wPkZFdU) (RQ 8).

It took me lots of practice and experimentation to get were I am today. Sourcing inspiration and knowledge from others. I always try to do what is best for the song – which means it’s notabout a particular technique, being showy or theory or speed. I reach for being the opposite of all that. I make things as easy for myself as I can, so again, I can focus on delivering music as a story, message or statement. That’s what people remember more.

Andrew Higgs – Australia
Photo credit: Jake Brown

My style comes from King of the North (Australia), it’s blues-based riffs and scales, tuned low and played really hard. I was raised in the very healthy Adelaide hard rock and punk scene of the mid to late Nineties. What I took from that schooling was the ‘leave it all out on the stage’ vibe. So I play with a lot of attack and put everything into a live performance. While playing with his Andrew Higgs Band at the Grace Darling Hotel (about ten years ago), he played “Riverside” (https://youtu.be/FsWYd8vGZbM) (RQ 6).

I really try to perform the songs, not just play them, and I feel this is reflected in my playing and singing. If I’m not exhausted afterwards, I didn’t do it right. The most unique thing about KOTN is based around how I have to play and arrange songs within the confines of my 3 From 1 guitar pedal. It’s a multi-amp interface that essentially lets me make one guitar sound like lead, rhythm and bass. Using this is an instrument in itself.

Ando San Washington – U.S.A.
Photo credit: Felix Martin

My style is based upon how I produce music. I combine hip-hop beats with progressive guitar elements to create a fresh new sound or genre. I like to call it prog-hop. I also like to incorporate thumping in my writing. A lot of my music is based on thumping, and what makes it unique is how I incorporate thumping with hip-hop beats. Here he is playing “Yuh” (https://youtu.be/E6spYutPbKg) (RQ 8). Notice how he utilizes playing primarily both hands on the fretboard!

I blend a lot of different chords to create an interesting sequence of melody and harmony. I do a lot of tapping, glitch tapping, hybrid picking and finger picking. So the technique side of my guitar playing and style is very fun and effective when I create new and unique sounds with some of the beats I produce. I want to keep expanding upon this prog-hop idea. I think it’s such a new sound for the guitar world. And I think the guitar has a lot to bring to the hip-hop world!

Lore Paz Ampeuro – Chile
Photo credit: Jorge Venezuela Lam

My style is based on two different trends. One refers to the clean sounds, which are inspired by phrases coming from jazz, as chord melodies, but just a little more modern since I use many techniques such as fingerstyle, tapping and thumping. The other is a little more aggressive and more connected to the sounds of metal. I always take into account long intervals too. Here she is at the 2019 NAMM show playing “Lilith” (https://youtu.be/J_BoA0u-4_8) (RQ 6).

My type of play originates by carefully listening to a bunch of modern guitarists. I got inspired by José Macario, Felix Martin and Mateus Asato, among others. I always keep in mind that to be active in the music industry, you have to be as innovative and creative as your inspirations are. I think of players like José, Felix and Mateus daily to inspire my own sound.

Kris Xenopoulos – South Africa
Photo credit: Claudine Van Der Wait

Its hard to describe my playing because it’s such an amalgamation of everything I’ve ever heard, but maybe imagine a neoclassical jazz-fusion and death metal guitarist that listens to pop and hip-hop. I’m very into modern guitar techniques like multi-finger tapping, thumping, hybrid, sweep and economy picking. I’m also influenced by microtonal genres like Indian classical music. Here is an example of his play “Vulvodynia” (https://youtu.be/zHBQFF0pAt0) (RQ 8).

In my playing, I’ve always tried to take influence from everything I’ve ever heard, whether it be bad or good. The bad helps me discover what I don’t want to sound like, and when you let everything you’ve ever heard influence you – as opposed to a few different bands – you end up sounding more like yourself.

Stevic Mackay – Australia
Photo credit: Rohan Hayes

My style can be described as “whatever-I-want-core?” Or, A deformed mutant constructed from the DNA scrapings of multiple, much better guitar players. Relegated to perpetually float in an underground formaldehyde tank in the dark; escape was only possible through an oversight in the tank’s engineering; concentrated piss taking can erode the structural integrity of mutant formaldehyde tanks.

My style escaped and aimlessly wandered the night like a drunken windmill. It eventually befriended a wise pigeon who took my style under its wing. Many years later on its death bed, the pigeon told its greatest student (my style) that pigeons don’t actually like pigeon holes… They just go in there to shit and then go somewhere else. Here he is building custom tones: https://youtu.be/rdv37YpvDV4. (RQ 6).

From that day on, my style didn’t consider pigeon holes to have any significance. So I guess my style is “escaped mutant trained by an unconventional pigeon” style.

Guitar player roles…

Guitar players sometimes lead the way, other times lay the groundwork for sound behind the scene…their ax take on different personalities:

RollingStone Magazine has ranked the Top100 guitar players. Here is the top 1-25:

Next, are guitar players ranked 26-50:

Here is the RollingStone link to their Top100 guitar players:


Here are examples by players 1-10:

Jimi Hendrix
Photo credit: bbc.com

1 – Hendrix, Jimi. (https://youtu.be/cJunCsrhJjg) “Purple Haze.” (RQ 8).

Eric Clapton
Photo credit: ft.com

2 – Clapton, Eric (https://youtu.be/O_j9KEjrY4o) “Old Love.” (RQ 10).

Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
Photo credit: Pinterest

3 – Page, Jimmy (https://youtu.be/PgA76eq2RTU) “Heartbreaker.” (RQ 6).

Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)
Photo credit: rockerarchieve.com

4 – Richards, Keith. (https://youtu.be/oZUp1gUQLyg) “Sympathy for the Devil.” (RQ 10).

Jeff Beck (Yardbirds)
Photo credit: elsewhere.co.nz

5 – Beck, Jeff (https://youtu.be/nQDjSGnmYBI) “Behind the Veil.” (RQ 9).

B. B. King
Photo credit: allaboutbluesmusic.com

6 – King, B.B. (https://youtu.be/MpRIYi721WE) “King of Blues.” (RQ 9).

Chuck Berry
Photo credit: closerweekly.com

7 – Berry, Chuck. (https://youtu.be/Uf4rxCB4lys) “Johnny B. Goode.” (RQ 7).

Eddie Van Halen
Photo credit: theconversation.com

8 – Van Halen, Eddie (https://youtu.be/mIpHZo7BsT8). “Live without a Net.” (RQ 7).

Duane Allman
Photo credit: morrisonhotelgallary.com

9 – Allman, Duane. (https://youtu.be/FUvxRjYqjEQ) “Whipping Post.” (RQ 8).

Pete Townshend – The Who
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10 – Townshend, Pete (https://youtu.be/6BSWV5zO7ZU). “El Salvador.” (RQ 10).

In Spain, guitars take on different personalities:
Flamenco guitars can cost over $20,000

Listen to how these flamenco guitar players make complicated picking and strumming sound beautiful:

Paco de Lucia
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Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gómez (21 December 1947 – 25 February 2014), known as Paco de Lucía was a Spanish virtuoso flamenco guitarist, composer, and record producer. A leading proponent of the new flamenco style, he was one of the first flamenco guitarists to branch into classical and jazz. A good example if Lucia’s work is “Entre dos aguas” (https://youtu.be/2oyhlad64-s) (RQ 10) Richard Chapman and Eric Clapton, authors of Guitar: Music, History, Players, describe de Lucía as a “titanic figure in the world of flamenco guitar”, and Dennis Koster, author of Guitar Atlas, Flamenco, has referred to de Lucía as “one of history’s greatest guitarists”.

Ramon Montoya
Photo credit: worldmusiccentral.org

Ramón Montoya (November 2, 1879, Madrid, Spain – July 20, 1949), was a Flamenco guitarist and composer. He was the single most influential flamenco guitarist of the 20th century. His innovations made possible the solo careers of such later greats as Sabicas and Manitas de Plata. In 1936, Ramon played “Siguiriya Gitana” (https://youtu.be/ZVC1ng2dtdo) (RQ 7).

Sabicas (proper name: Agustín Castellón Campos) (16 March 1912 – 14 April 1990) was a Spanish flamenco guitarist of Romani origin. One example of his work would be: “Fantasia” (https://youtu.be/ZnFtLjQ_rr8) (RQ 9). Sabicas was instrumental in the introduction of flamenco to audiences outside of Spain and the Spanish-speaking world. He was probably best known for his technical skills: blazingly fast picados (scales), fast arpeggios, quality composition for the many forms of flamenco, and infallible rhythm, which was critical when playing with a dancer. He was also considered to have perfect pitch.

Vincente Amigo
Photo credit: World Music Central

Vicente Amigo Girol (born 25 March 1967) is a Spanish flamenco composer and guitarist, born in Guadalcanal near Seville. He has played as an accompanying guitarist on recordings by flamenco singers Camaron de la Isla, and Luis de Cirdoba, and he has acted as a producer for Remedios Amaya and Jose Merce. His album Ciudad de las Ideas won the 2001 Latin Grammy for the Best Flamenco Album and the 2002 Ondas award for the best Flamenco work. An example of his work: “Tres Notas Para Decir Te Quiero” (https://youtu.be/_TzhCp9HNz8) (RQ 10+).

Jeronimo Maya
Photo credit: El Violero Blogspot

Jerónimo Maya, a real guitar genius, and a direct descendant from the guitarist Ramón Montoya, started his musical career at the early age of 5. He was immediately recognized as a gifted child by the audience and the flamenco community, and whose worth was recognized by great masters, such as Sabicas or Paco de Lucia. His playing is full of personality and character, as well as virtuosity. His complex harmonies and his conception of music are definitely forward-thinking. One of the examples of his works is: “Bulerias” (https://youtu.be/gwlNewS94c4) (RQ 8). He has accompanied many singers: Diego el Cigala, Chano Lobato, Esperanza Fernández, Estrella Morente, José de la Tomasa, and more frequently his uncle Ricardo Losada el Yunque, Ginesa Ortega or Paco del Pozo, as well as sharing stage with artists such as Paco de Lucia, Camarón de la isla or Sabicas, who were friends as well as colleagues.