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The best guitarists of all time: Rolling Stone's Top 20

In its issue 931 of 18 September 2003, the well-known music magazine Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 best guitarists of all time. The list is mostly made up of American rock, blues and jazz guitarists, and although there are some of the best artists in the history of music, some feel that certain positions are unfair. 

The list was later revised by Rolling Stone after eight years: in particular, the new ranking was published in the 8 December 2011 issue. Here are the top 20 places. 

Of course, there is nothing more subjective than music, which means that this list does not necessarily indicate whether one musician is better than the other in absolute terms, but everyone will always have their own personal and unquestionable opinion.

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The best guitarists of all time: Rolling Stone's Top 20
In its issue 931 of 18 September 2003, the well-known music magazine Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 best guitarists of all time. The list is mostly made up of American rock, blues and jazz guitarists, and although there are some of the best artists in the history of music, some feel that certain positions are unfair. The list was later revised by Rolling Stone after eight years: in particular, the new ranking was published in the 8 December 2011 issue. Here are the top 20 places. Of course, there is nothing more subjective than music, which means that this list does not necessarily indicate whether one musician is better than the other in absolute terms, everyone will always have their own personal and unquestionable opinion.
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20. Carlos Santana
Opening the Top 20 is Carlos Santana. The Mexican guitarist was among the early innovators of fusion music, mixing together different genres, from classic rock to blues and salsa. Santana's solos are among the most appreciated in the world and few have managed to experiment with the guitar as well as he has.
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19. James Burton
James Burton is the historic guitarist of Elvis Presley, who accompanied the king of rock and roll in live performances from 1969 until his death. Throughout his career, Burton worked with many other internationally renowned artists, from Roy Orbison to Joni Mitchell.
Thomas Faivre-Duboz Paris, Wikimedia Commons
18. Les Paul
Les Paul was not only a skilled guitarist, but also an inventor: he was, of course, the famous creator of the guitar that bears his name (Gibson Les Paul). Many musicians use or have used a 'Les Paul', among them: Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Gary Rossington and Slash.
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17. Neil Young
After debuting at a very young age with the historic band Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young established himself as one of the most influential artists since the 1970s. Neil Young is a unique and eclectic singer-songwriter, and it is impossible to classify his music into one genre: by many, Young is also considered the forerunner of punk and grunge.
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16. Derek Trucks
Derek Trucks founded the Derek Trucks Band and the Tedeschi Trucks Band, but that's not all: the guitarist was also a member of the historic band The Allman Brothers Band, of which his uncle Butch Trucks was the drummer. Usually, Derek plays without using a pick, preferring to touch the strings directly with his fingers.
Lionel Decoster, Wikimedia Commons
15. Freddie King
Freddie King was one of the inspirers of Eric Clapton and is regarded as one of the main innovators of blues music. According to his acquaintances, his untimely death at the age of 42 was due to the stress of performing so many concerts: Freddie performed up to 300 days a year.
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14. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
In addition to his career with Pink Floyd, Gilmour also pursued a solo career while becoming a record producer for other artists. According to Classic Rock magazine, Gilmour's solo in 'Comfortably Numb' is the second best of all time in rock music.
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13. Albert King
Albert King is one of the three kings of the blues guitar along with B.B. King and Freddie King. Albert began playing guitar when he was just 16 years old, after moving with his family to Arkansas to work on a cotton plantation.
Bbadventure, Wikimedia Commons
12. Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan is considered one of the most influential American blues musicians, despite the fact that he died at only 35 years of age and released only four studio albums and one live album.
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11. George Harrison (The Beatles)
Among the most famous songs George Harrison composed with The Beatles are "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun." After the group disbanded, Harrison released 12 solo albums and collaborated with many other musicians including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty.
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10. Pete Townshend (The Who)
Born in London in 1945, Pete Townshend is the leader and historic guitarist of The Who. He has composed over 100 songs for the group, but has also had a solo career in parallel. In addition, Townshend can play many other instruments: keyboard, accordion, ukulele, mandolin, violin, synthesiser and drums.
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9. Duane Allman
Famous for his ability to improvise on the guitar, Allman founded the group called The Allman Brothers Band with his brother Gregg. Sadly, Duane died at a very young age in a motorbike accident at the age of 24. At that time, he was working on the album 'Eat a Peach'.
Carl Lender, Wikimedia Commons
8. Eddie van Halen (Van Halen)
Eddie Van Halen is considered an innovator in the use of the guitar, especially for having perfected the tapping technique. Eddie has also played as a session player for other artists: in 1983, for example, he was hired to play the solo on Michael Jackson's 'Beat It', a song produced by Quincy Jones.
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7. Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry is universally considered as one of the founders of rock and roll, as well as one of the quintessential myths of rock and roll. His songs, in fact, were the first to make use of the guitar as the main instrument.
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6. B.B. King
B. B. King was one of the most important exponents of the blues. In particular, the artist became an icon thanks to his guitar, nicknamed Lucille. During his career, B. B. King won 14 Grammy Awards.
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5. Jeff Beck
He died in early 2023, but his musical legacy will stay with us forever. Jeff Beck experimented with using the guitar in so many genres of music, from blues to heavy metal, fusion and hard rock. In 1965 he was also recruited by the Yardbirds, who had just lost Eric Clapton.
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4. Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
Keith Richards has always played a fundamental role in the Rolling Stones: it is the one who builds the rhythm, improvises and gives the songs the rough and dirty sound that has always distinguished the Stones. Furthermore, it is he who, together with Mick Jagger, has been writing the band's songs since 1964.
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3. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
According to the AllMusic database, Page is considered one of the main creators of hard rock, although he himself has reiterated that he dislikes the classification of his music as heavy metal. Since his teens, he has been one of the most sought-after guitarists in England, and is also one of the few musicians to have been inducted twice into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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2. Eric Clapton
Over the course of his long career, Clapton has been a member of numerous bands, but he has mainly established himself as a soloist, experimenting over the years with various musical styles, from blues to psychedelic rock, reggae and pop rock. Clapton received his first guitar when he was 13 years old. It was so difficult for him to learn how to play it that he stated on one occasion that he initially thought about giving it up.
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1. Jimi Hendrix
At the top we could only find him. Jimi Hendrix was one of the main innovators in the use of the electric guitar in rock music. The young Hendrix's first instrument was a right-handed guitar given to him by his father after the death of his mother, while he was left-handed. He quickly learned to play by turning it upside down, and this habit characterised his entire career.
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