The latest issue of Rolling Stone updates the rag’s “The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time” list of 2003 with a new crop of six-string deities. They didn’t rank ’em, but they did prominently feature three: John Mayer, Derek Trucks, and John Frusciante. And like good little apostles, all three have divine praise for Jimi:

John Mayer: As for Hendrix, all guitar players feel that way: “I’m not him” … The songs on Axis are an extension of beautiful guitar playing. You can almost hear Hendrix looking at the guitar as he plays, going, “I wonder what that does?” There is an element of discovery. Are You Experienced? is like a rough draft. Axis sounds like the colors on the cover.

Derek Trucks: I almost feel like pedals are a cop-out. I hate to say it’s always that way. Guys like Hendrix use them as their voice. But I’ve never had the urge.

John Frusciante: I’m an Electric Ladyland guy. His music always sounds perfect to me, because he’s bending sound, taking care of music in every dimension. Where most people think of it in two dimensions, he’s thinking of it in four. I don’t think there’s a better guitar player in history. He’s not something that can be improved on. And there’s the spirit that goes into it. He creates a place where you can be high and hang out and lose yourself. He’s bringing out aspects of sound we didn’t know were there. I feel there are people moving ahead on that front, but they’re not so much guitar players — like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. They continue the work of Jimi Hendrix started, but not on guitar.


The rest of RS’s picks come with cute descriptors. Jack’s is the best.

The Avant Romantic: Nels Cline (Wilco)
Blues-Rock Warrior: Warren Haynes (The Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule)
Skynyrd Art-Theorists: Jim James & Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket)
Prog-Metal King: Adam Jones (Tool)
Van Halen Meets Bootsy: Kaki King
Four-Armed Monster: Mike McCready & Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam)
Iron Man Of Hip-Hop Guitar: Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine)
Space Guitar Heroes: Chuck Garvey & Al Schnier (moe.)
The Extremist: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta)
Dark Side Of The Moon Explorers: Ed O’Brien & Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
Stoner Metal Ruler: Matt Pike (Sleep and High On Fire)
The Crawling King Snake: Jack White (The White Stripes and The Raconteurs)

We’ll accept any additions you’d like to make to the new council of Mt. Olympus, as long as it’s not Chris Funk. His chops are lacking, and we have video proof.

Comments (141)
  1. GiantPanda  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 +1

    Michio Kurihara

    • Nick  |   Posted on Dec 12th, 2008 -1

      What about Jake Cinniger of Umphrey’s Mcgee. Can play any style off music from country,jazz, to heavy metal. Incredible player. Must listen to him live.

    • Where in the hell is Trey Anastasio in this latest RS list? Bottom line you little pretenders (Mayer, Frusciante, Trucks, I know you guys are good) Trey can always play what you play any time anywhere, but you couldn’t hold a candle to what he plays. Do you people simply not listen to live music, too caught up with scripted studio arrangements? And don’t give me this “well, if you could hear what they play in private bullshit… I like guitarist with empirically verifiable chops, that lay it on the line night after night. Be honest experts. Have you heard the Jedi known has Trey Anastasio lay waste to your predictable riffs?

  2. Almost sounds like Trucks is dissing Hendrix. If anybody could get away with it he could, almost.

  3. NoTouchingJimi  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    The two best guitar players who will never be matched…Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

    Jimi was the teacher, anyone else is just a student.

  4. Phil  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Mick Barr!! Easily one of the best guitarists playing today.

  5. red  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    No love for any of the Drive-By Truckers? Jason Isbell should be on there at least.

  6. so is or isnt john mayer one of the top 5 guitarists on the planet? can we get an official unbiased ruling please?

  7. Robbie  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Junkyard Page: Josh Homme

  8. Robbie  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Junkyard Page: Josh Homme

  9. WhatAbout  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Stephen Malkmus???

  10. mangrilla  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Jake Cinninger – Umphrey’s McGee. He’s one of the most ridiculous guitar players on the jam-band scene.

  11. Sarah T  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Robbie Robertson.

  12. gm  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Jeff Lang – he’s more blues than rock n roll, but arguably, the ony true rock guy here is Frusciante (and some would argue he’s not even really rock, I’m sure). Having seen both Mayer and Trucks live (though not Mayer since ’01), Lang’s more reliably transcendental based on guitar chops alone. Plus, the last time I saw him, he broke a string during a solo, then used the broken string to bow-scratch the rest. Pretty fuckin’ rock n roll.

  13. bdm  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    monte montgomery

  14. brent  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    yeah, i agree. where’s josh homme??

  15. mode7  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0


  16. jake  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    graham coxon

  17. wow.. wow.. ok.. this list is horrible… to put Robert Johnson as number 5, and to not have Django Reinhardt on the list at all… wow.

    Also.. if the list if “of all time” maybe it should include, I dunno.. a dude named Niccolo Paganini? eeer… Fernando Sor? Segovia? Paco de Lucia? I mean, they really want to claim “of all time???”

    Also, Eddie Van Halen at #70 is pretty retarded… and where are the Slayer dudes??? Do these people even listen to music?

  18. matt erler  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    I think there’s a disappointing lack of indie and shoegaze on this list. Stephen Malkmus is a good selection, and you could make a case for Birgisson from Sigur Ros.

  19. Andres  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    What about Dave Knudson from Botch/Minus the Bear? I read somewhere mentioned as the Eddie Van Halen of hardcore/indie-rock

  20. dan b  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    um this is an interesting list. i’m confused as to how Prince couldn’t crack the top 100 guitarists cos that dude has got chops. completely and absurdly underrated on the guitar, although i recall Eric Clapton mentioning that he thinks Prince is one of the top five or ten on his list.

  21. I must be Nostradamus..

    oh yeah, and the Pixie Hicks won too damn many awards last night

  22. anon  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0


  23. frankie  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    prince, lindsay buckingham, john frusciante, porl thompson

  24. frankie  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    j mascis murders, too!

  25. connie  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    I’m a huge U2 fan, but Prince is a way better guitarist than the Edge.

  26. This list also seems to be missing Four critical guitar players

    1.Joe Satriani – He taught Steve Vai, Charlie Hunter, Kirk Hammett, and Larry LaLonde to play guitar.

    2. Steve Vai -The guy played for Zappa when he was 19

    3. Eric Johnson – Watch his concert on Austin City Limits and argue otherwise

    4. Danny Gatton – This guy was the guitar players player. His body of work is incredible. His work is on you tube as well. Sadly he killed himself before he really “made” it.

    • Robert  |   Posted on May 23rd, 2009 0

      Danny Gatton is listed. He is at 63. The mystery is why Link Wray is listed at 67, far below the likes of George Harrison. I was half-expecting Duane Eddy to be in the top ten .. but he wasn’t listed at all! Cliff Gallup, Eddie Cochran and other greats are listed, but too close to the bottom of the list.

  27. Elliot  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Any top 100 guitarist list that doesn’t include Buckethead at least SOMEWHERE within it, has no credibility.

  28. Ah, yeah I can’t stand his music, but I agree with Dan above about Eric Johnson. Say what you will about Black Flag and the Minutemen, I love ‘em, but great guitar players? I think that there are a lot more “great” guitar players that would rise above them. Hell, even Prince isn’t on there, and after that Halftime show, I’d toss him up there in the top 30.

  29. dude  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    No Prince is outrageous. No Steve Vai is blasphemy.

  30. chris  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Dirty Indie Bluesman: Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys

  31. jimm  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    stop with the fucking skynyrd/mmj comparisons…it’s such a cop-out get a fucking brain and think of creative descriptions

  32. Bob's Waffles  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    How did Jack White beat George Harrison? Was this contest based on current popularity, and not skills on the chop? I think I’m gonna send Rolling Stones this t-shirt:

  33. Joey Santiago of the pixies? Nick Drake?

    Are there any women on the list?

  34. Dirk  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Whew! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that the glaring omission of Prince was more than just an oversight. Thank you responders!

  35. jonemmerling  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0


  36. dannygutters  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    Leo Kottke.

    Neil Young does more with his guitar with half the notes than most do with double.

    Trey is one of the few pedal guys who is inseperable from them, not just a guy with chops and with pedals.

    I’d say big bill broonzy but you’d laugh at me because you don’t know any better.

  37. jeffrey Smith  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2007 0

    why is Prince left off of all these list? Did they not learn a thing at his RRHF induction ceremony… or the Super Bowl Half-Time Show? Let’s see half these folks shred in the rain like he did!!

  38. dj  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    Appreciate an informed opinion, but hate the obnoxious self-aggrandizement that often comes with them. Key to the highway for you, dannygutters.

    Magic Sam? Earl Hooker? Elmore James?

  39. chulahoma  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    “Dirty Indie Bluesman: Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys”

    God bless you, young man.

  40. Greg  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    Rolling Stone is officially a joke in my mind! No wonder I haven’t picked up a copy in years. How can they leave Prince off of the list?

  41. ghostface  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    Whoever said Kubler, couldn’t be more right.

  42. nates  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    matt ward… for sure


  44. Chris  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    You absolutely can’t leave Prince, Johnny Marr, Porl Thompson or Robert Smith off this list … also, Steve Vai & Eric Johnson.

  45. No Prince, no Lindsey Buckingham, no Johnny Marr and no J. Mascis. Banish the list!!! BANISH I SAY!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Greg  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    Bonnie Raitt, Lindsay Buckingham

  47. Hugh  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    No Matt Sweeney?

  48. I think that they were trying to establish a difference bewteen giants of 60-90 and 90 to present. That being said, this is a pretty paltry list because the following amazing, creative and talented guitarists failed to make the line up:

    *issac brock of modest mouse (listen to their first few EPs and albums, the man cannot be matched)
    *doug martsch of built to spill (best performance was w/the tree people in early 90s. cover of bigmout strikes again)

    and because they seem to reach back into the 90s. Why not Guy Piccioto and Ian MacKaye of Fugazi. Hellooooo “Repeater” “The Argument.”
    BERNARD BUTLER OF SUEDE?????????????

    This is further proof that the magazine is sliding backwards towards irrelevance and disgrace.

  49. Chris  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    That list was already pretty stupid back in 2003, when they put Eddie Van Halen at #70. It’s pretty much been established for the last 15 years that he’s all-time Top 5.

    Oh, and Danny Gatton is in there, btw. Ironically, he’s higher than EVH, at 64.

  50. hater  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2007 0

    I mean, seriously, do guys ranked WAY too low (Trey, John McLaughlin, Van Halen, etc.) owe Jann money, or something? Or is it more that Ry Cooder and The Edge have incriminating photos of him?

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