Though it was tough to narrow it down to just ten as there are just too many great players that I love and listen to that have influenced me in some way… but for what it’s worth, here’s my list and brief explanation for my Top Ten Guitarists:
10. Ethan Bott – I’ve always admired and respected him for his guitar prowess and he’s also a great teacher. Creative and complex in his theory and approach – he makes it look easy!
9. Jim Kanas – My guitar teacher for the first three years of my guitar life. He was (and still is) an incredible guitarist and knew exactly how to nurture my strengths and encouraged me to be the guitarist I am today.
8. Trey Spruance – Amazing player with the sweetest clean tone ever! His work on Mr. Bungle’s first album and ‘California’ still amazes me.
7. Joe Perry – The first five Aerosmith records are killer and Joe’s riffs were always fun to learn and play. Brad Whitford and him definitely paved the way for guys like Slash and Izzy.
6. Slash and Izzy Stradlin – In 1987, they brought the cool back to guitar and popular rock music in general. I spent countless days and nights as a 16-year-old learning ‘Appetite’ from start to finish on both guitar and drums!
5. Jimmy Page – Huge influence on me early on. I still play many of his riffs most every time I pick up a guitar!
4. David Gilmour – Incredible ability to play the perfect note every time. Never too flashy, always just right!
3. Lyle Workman – Amazing player with sweet tone and feel. He always used cool phrasing with unique choices of notes, most notably with Frank Black during the mid-late 90’s.
2. Jimi Hendrix – I’ve always aspired to be as cool and soulful on the guitar as Jimi and though I may not be, he will always remain a heavy influence on me, especially during my early formative years as a teenage guitarist.
1. Eddie Van Halen – The guy who started it all for me. When I was 11 or so, I heard Van Halen’s first record and his guitar playing, especially on “Eruption” blew me away! It was all over after that. I will never be as great as him but I’m okay with that! The first five VH records remain in my all-time favorite list.
There are so many others like Jeff Beck, Brett Kingman, Angus Young, George Lynch, Nick Zinner, Brian Setzer, Stephen Malkmus, Rivers Cuomo, Will Ray, John Jorgenson, Eric Clapton, George Harrison just to name a few… that could have easily made this list for me but there just isn’t enough time or space for them all!