Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 132 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time.
We filled all but four of the slots with the names of a host of incredible guitarists (dead and living) — players chosen for their technical ability as well as their importance and creativity, not to mention how influential they’ve been. We asked you to vote in the final four names, which you did, selecting Nuno Bettencourt, Chet Atkins, Malcolm Young and Jake E. Lee to take the last four slots. Now all of the slots are filled, and we’re finally into the Sweet 16, which is being brought to you by Sweetwater Sound.
You might come across one or two interesting style matchups in this poll, which may lead some of you to wonder, “How do you compare a shred guitarist to a blues guitarist?” Aside from how good a player is at his or her given style, here are some things to take into consideration:
• Influence: Who inspired more kids to beg their parents for a guitar for Christmas? Who inspired a wave of copycats?
• Chops/Versatility: Is the guitarist in question a one-trick pony or a master of many styles?
• Body of Work: Who had the more consistent career? Who has played on more classic albums?
• Creativity: Who pioneered new techniques? Who sounds the most radically different from what came before them?
Round 4 — Today’s Match
Our first matchup of Round 4 could very accurately be called a Clash of the Titans, with two of the most revered guitarists — as well as the top two vote-getters in the tournament so far — going head-to-head for a spot in the Elite 8. Who will move on? Vote now!