Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

Top 10 Greatest Classic Rock Guitarists (2024)

Top 10 Classic Rock Guitarists.- guitarmetrics
Top 10 Classic Rock Guitarists.- guitarmetrics

Hello to all you Guitar Fanatics. Although classic rock has mostly appealed to adult listeners, music associated with this format received more exposure with younger generations of listeners.

Classic rock really boosted the Inspiration for more teenagers to pick up the Guitar and live the Rocknroll Dream!

Classic rock was one of the movements which took the whole idea of Guitar playing to another level.

Many Guitarist has created their own identity with their contribution to classic rock and we are here with the list of the ones we think have become a rock Icon in their own status.

It was really hard for us to pick top ten Rock Guitarists as we know not just these 10 but, many more artists have contributed to the Rock movement with their own sound.

Before we start with the list, we would like to show some Honorable mention of artists and their thoughts about Classic rock.

Top 10 Classic Rock Guitarists.- guitarmetrics
Top 10 Classic Rock Guitarists.- guitarmetrics
Top 10 Classic Rock Guitarists.- guitarmetrics

10. Brian May (Brian Harold May)

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Because of his participation to numerous Rock classics that define the history of Queen, lead guitarist Brian May is unquestionably one of the musicians we wanted to put in our list of the top 10 rock guitarists.
Along with the band's main singer Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor, May was a co-founder of Queen.

His notable compositions include "We Will Rock You," "We are the Champions," "I want it all," "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Flash," "Hammer to Fall," "Save Me," "Who wants to Live Forever," "The show must go on," and—most notably—Bohemian Rhapsody. His guitar playing is regarded as some of the best in Classic rock.

His father and he jointly created his signature instrument, the "Red Special," which was quite distinctive from other guitars and helped him stand out from other guitarists.

Queen was a near-constant presence in the UK charts from the middle of the 1970s until the beginning of the 1990s, and they performed at some of the biggest venues on earth, most notably Live Aid in 1985, where they received critical praise.

As a member of Queen, May gained recognition as a musical genius and was associated with a unique sound that his layered guitar playing produced. The combination of Brian May's unique usage of delay effects and his picking methods produces his signature sound.

Brian May also has a Degree in Astrophysics from London Imperial College, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in science.

Brian May was ranked at No. 26 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of all time", 2nd Greatest Guitarist in Guitar World Magazine's Poll, he was inducted into RocknRoll Hall of Fame as one of the band members of Queen and he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions in Rock Music.


9. Mark Knopfler (Mark Freuder Knopfler)

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Who can forget the "Sultans of Swing" Mr. Mark Knopfler, he is the lead singer, lead guitarist, and songwriter of the band Dire Straits.

Additionally, he has collaborated with several well-known musicians, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Van Morrison, James Taylor, and others.

Mark is renowned for his distinct fingerpicking playing technique. His guitar solos stood out from other musicians because of their technical complexity and catchy melodies.

The solo from "Sultans of Swing" is regarded as a milestone in Rock music.

He was one of the few guitarists who created his unique playing style, which elevated him to the top of the Rock music world.

His Fender signature guitar, which he primarily plays on tours. Brothers in arms, walk of life, are we in trouble now, Everybody pays, Piper to the end, True love will never fade, etc. are some of his best songs.

Since the breakup of Dire Straits in 1995, Mark Knopfler has recorded and produced nine solo albums and, like his former band, has written numerous successful songs.

He has also written music for other movies, such as Wag the Dog, Cal, and Local Hero (1983), among others (1987).

Mark Knopfler is a 4 time Grammy award winner, Ranked 27 in the Rolling Stones list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time, he has also been awarded Edison award, Steiger award, and Ivor Novello award. Mark also has three honorary doctorate degrees in Music from UK universities.

So he has rightly earned his spot in our top ten rock guitarists in classic rock scene.

He was Inducted into RocknRoll Hall of Fame in 2018 as a member of Dire Straits. Check out the video below to see Mark Knopfler's Guitar Playing style.

Video credits- Youtube channel- Dailydosesurf


8. George Harrison

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George Harrison, the lead Guitarist of Beatles can be considered one of the Pioneers of Rock Music. Beatles came like a wave in rock music and changed the history of rock.

We Promise that everyone who enjoys rock music is familiar with the Beatles. George was referred to as the "silent Beatle" because he was regarded as the most reserved and laid-back member of the Beatles.

Harrison admired Indian culture and contributed to expanding the genre of popular music by using Indian instruments.

His trip to India made him incredibly spiritual. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the majority of the band's songs, Harrison is also credited with writing Here Comes the Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and Something.

Transcendental Meditation was another pastime for Harrison.

Because he followed Lord Krishna, his songwriting methods were more spiritual. Following the dissolution of the band, George launched a solo career that made him famous for his slide guitar playing.

He was a huge fan of the sitarist Ravi Shankar and studied Indian classical music with him. Together with Ravi Shankar, Harrison coordinated the benefit event for Bangladesh.

As a solo artist, Harrison put out a number of top-selling songs and albums. Additionally, he has worked with other musicians, including Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, and Eric Clapton.

George Harrison was ranked 11th in 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stones Magazine, He is a two-time RocknRoll Hall of Fame Inductee, one as the member of Beatles and other as a solo artist.

7. David Gilmour (David Jon Gilmour)

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History- getty images

We had to include David Gilmour, lead guitarist of Pink Floyd in this list for his contribution to rock music with his Melodic Guitar Playing.

David Gilmour is renowned for his distinctive sound, which is achieved by fusing his Blues-inspired playing with various guitar effects.

Additionally, he said in an interview "I just play whatever seems appropriate at the time, regardless of whether I'm playing the blues or not.

I will also employ whatever tool or gadget I come across that will enable me to play the guitar in the manner I desire."

David Gilmour said it best when he said, "The Expectation on me as a solo artist is very different from the audience's expectation of a Pink Floyd Show." Pink Floyd is unique among rock bands because of their live performances, according to Gilmour.

You should attend one of the Pink Floyd's live shows if you want to experience their music.

You'll get chills from the amazing lighting and David Gilmour's beautiful guitar performance. His greatest hits include Coming back to life, Marooned, Time, Comfortably numb, Shine on you Crazy Diamond, and many others.

Gilmour was inducted in the US RocknRoll Hall of Fame in 1996 and in the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also ranked 14th in the list of greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stones Magazine, and 36th in greatest voices of Rock by Planet Rock. A truly deserving person to be in the top ten rock guitarists list in classic rock genre.

Check out his amazing performance of Comfortably numb below.

Video credits- Youtube channel- HDPinkfloyd


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6. Angus Young (Angus McKinnon Young)

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Angus Young is one of the few guitarists who is known for his Showmanship and stage presence. Lead guitarist of ACDCand the only constant member of the band.

Millions of rock fans have been astounded by his energising performances and stage stunts! He is renowned for performing his own rendition of Chuck Berry's "Duckwalk." Angus's guitar playing is distinctive in that it mostly relies on blues approaches and his distinctive nuanced playing style.

This is evident in some of his most famous solos from songs like Black in Black, It's a Long Way to the Top, Thunderstruck, Highway to Hell, Let There Be Rock, and many others that are so well-known that they have earned him a spot on our list of the top 10 rock guitarists.

Additionally, he has experimented with a variety of stage costumes, including Spider-Man, Zorro, a gorilla, and Superman (formerly known as Super-Ang).

He has primarily played the Gibson SG guitar. He also produced a black version. ACDC is frequently criticised for their songs' simplicity; on this, Angus commented "Just rock and roll, really. We frequently face criticism for it. Many music publications publish articles asking: "When are they going to quit playing these three chords?" It's quite foolish of them if you think you shouldn't play only three chords.

We believe that a song is better if it is basic since it is more relatable to the average individual ".

Young is renowned for his outrageous theatrical antics, including his high jumps and back-and-forth sprinting. He frequently does his own take on Chuck Berry's duck walk as well as a "spasm" in which he throws himself on the ground while playing the guitar and kicks, trembles, and spins about.

George, Young's older brother, instructed him to keep playing and make it seem like it was part of the performance if he ever tripped over his lead.

As part of a mid-show ritual, he also incorporated a sort of striptease in which he slowly removed his schoolboy attire while dashing across the stage to the audience's applause.

Young was Ranked 24th in Rolling stones 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Young and the other members of AC/DC were inducted into the RocknRoll Hall of Fame in 2003

Check the video below to see what a madman he becomes on stage.

Video credits- Youtube channel- Carls Darwin



5. Stevie Ray Vaughan (Stephen Ray Vaughan)

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History- getty images

The Blues Legend, Mr.Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was no doubt one of the most influential Guitarists in the Blues-rock scene.

He was the band Double Trouble's lead guitarist. Stevie's guitar playing was pure blues, and he was able to play pentatonic licks with ease.

Stevie was renowned for his commanding onstage appearance and his forceful approach to playing the guitar.

Although Double Trouble was well-liked in Texas at the time and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, it was unable to garner national prominence.

The group's fortune improved when Claude Nobs, the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival, heard about them via record producer Jerry Wexler.

He insisted that Vaughan, whom he referred to as "a diamond, one of those rarities who comes along once in a lifetime," would be fantastic for the festival's blues night, and Nobs agreed to book Double Trouble on July 17.

He appeared out of nowhere, a Zorro-like figure wearing a riverboat gambler's helmet, charging into the Montreux festival in 1982 with a '59 Stratocaster at his hip and two flame-throwing sidekicks he called Double Trouble, according to People's James Mcbride.

He didn't have a name, a record contract, or an album, but after he turned the stage into a blazing pile of cinders, everyone was curious about who he was.

We have received many wonderful songs from Stevie Ray Vaughan, including Lenny, Pride and Joy, Lovestruck Baby, and many others. But Texas Flood was the song that made him the most well-known.

While Jimi Hendrix was Vaughan's greatest inspiration, Albert King had a significant impact on him as well. I love Hendrix for so many reasons, Vaughan exclaimed. He was much more than just a blues musician; he could play any kind of guitar with equal proficiency. He played music; I'm not even sure if he played the guitar.

Throughout his career, Vaughan owned and played a variety of guitars. The Fender Strat was his preferred guitar and the one he was most closely connected with; his favourite model had a 1963 body, a 1962 neck, and 1959 pickups.

Vaughan frequently referred to his Stratocaster as a "1959 Strat" because of this. In a 1983 interview, he offered the following justification for his preference: "I enjoy the intensity of its sound.

Any guitar I play needs to be fairly adaptable. It has a powerful tone and will withstand any manipulation I give it. This instrument was also referred to by Vaughan as his "first wife" or "Number One."

Guitar Player Magazine voted him the best new talent and Best Electric Blues Guitar Player, the Blues Foundation named him Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the Year, He was also awarded Rhythm and Blues award by the Performance Magazine, He has won over 6 Grammy's and was inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame, He was inducted in the RocknRoll Hall of Fame with Double Trouble.

He was ranked 12th in 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time by Guitar World Magazine.

4. Jimmy Page (James Patrick Page)

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

Jimmy Page had to be included in our list of the top 10 rock guitarists. He is one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Who doesn't know the Led Zeppelinthey have contributed Iconic tracks to the rock music.

Stairway to heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Kashmir, Immigrant Song, Black Dog, Since I've Been Loving You, All My Love, and many more are among their best-known songs.

Jimmy Page is primarily self-taught on the guitar. He has said, "There weren't many other guitarists around while I was growing up. The first chords I learnt were actually demonstrated to me by another guitarist at my school, and I progressed from there.

I learned how to play the guitar by listening to recordings since I was bored.

Evidently, it was a highly personal matter ". Page said in a conversation with Instrument Player magazine that "Busking was prevalent in the beginning, but like they say, I had to accept it and it was wonderful education. Page brought his guitar to school every day, only to have it taken away and then restored to him after class. He was even given the opportunity to interview for a position as a lab assistant, but in the end he decided to quit Danetree Secondary School in West Ewell to pursue music.

Jimmy Page is well-known for his incredible guitar riffs and solos. His guitar playing is primarily blues-oriented, although he has also experimented with various effects and played guitar strings with a violin bow.

Led Zeppelin's success in the 1970s was greatly influenced by his experiences in the studio and with the Yardbirds.

He was one of the main forces behind the era's rock sound and contributed to Zeppelin's status as a prototype for countless other rock bands as a record producer, songwriter, and guitarist.

Jimmy Page was ranked 3rd in the Rolling Stones Greatest Guitarists of all time, He was also ranked 2nd in Gibson's 50 Guitarists of all time and 4th in Classic Rock's 100 Wildest Guitar Heroes.

He was Inducted in RocknRoll Hall of Fame twice. One with Yardbirds and others as a member of Led Zeppelin.

3. Eric Clapton (Eric Patrick Clapton)

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The "Slowhand " One of the most significant and influential guitarists of all time is Mr. Eric Clapton. He first joined the Yardbirds and then became a member of Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and Dominos, and other bands. Later, Eric performed solo shows in which he sang Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" in a way that had a profound effect on major music markets.

Crossroads, Tears in Heaven, Wonderful Tonight, My Father's Eyes, and many other of Eric Clapton's best songs are among his best, but "Layla" is without a doubt the song that cemented his status as a guitar icon.

Additionally, Clapton's at the time unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and fellow musician George Harrison of the Beatles, served as inspiration for the song. Later, Clapton and Boyd would wed.

"Slowhand" Eric Clapton is a well-known musician. In the middle of the 1980s, Clapton revealed to Ray Coleman, his official biographer, that Giorgio Gomelsky is the source of his nickname "Slowhand."

He thought that was a clever pun. He continued stating I was a fast player, so as a word play, he combined the slow handclap phrase with "Slowhand." Clapton's guitar style is influenced by blues music.

He primarily improvises using pentatonic and major and minor scales. But don't be deceived by this; only him is capable of playing with such melodic note selection! That explains why his solos are so well-known.

Gibson was his hallmark guitar in the beginning, but he eventually switched to a Fender Strat.

Clapton is the only Guitarist to be Inducted in RocknRoll Hall of Fame for 3 times! Once as a solo artist and two times as a member of Yardbirds and Cream.

In addition, he has received a Brit Award and 18 Grammys for his musical achievements.

He has received four Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of songwriters and composers, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also a CBE at Buckingham Palace for contributions to music.

Below is a link to his iconic song Layla.

Video credits- Youtube channel- Albert canta



2. SLASH (Saul Hudson)

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The real Guitar Hero SLASH !! Every person who loves rock music knows who Slash is and, what an icon he is!

Slash has won praise from critics and is regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in rock history. He is also one of the top 10 rock guitarists currently active, in our opinion. Slash is referred to as the Face of Rock 'n' Roll because of his iconic top hat and distinctive guitar playing.

Slash has been a part of different Rock bands like Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver, Slash's Snakepit and, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators

At one of his house parties, he displayed a lot of vigour by zipping all over the place, earning him the nickname "SLASH."

Rock music has benefited greatly from Slash's numerous Amazing Guitar solos. His most iconic song is Sweet Child o Mine, which he penned as a practise exercise. Other significant songs by him include Welcome to the Jungle, Estranged, Don't Cry, Civil War, Paradise City, Godfather, and many more.

Slash performed lead guitar on the Michael Jackson song "Give in to me" off of the album Dangerous and in the opening skit for "Black or White" on the same album.

Slash's guitar style combines hard rock riffing with fundamental blues playing! His melodic ideas are what led to Guns n Roses' biggest songs. He is skilled at both extreme note-bending and wild shredding.

Slash serves on the honorary board of Little Kids Rock, a nationwide nonprofit organisation that seeks to revitalise and restore music education programmes in underprivileged public schools.

He has performed with the students of Little Kids Rock, visited them, and given them instruments and his time. Slash's love for music is evident in both his charitable work and his creative output. The character-building benefit of being a musician, according to Slash, is that it teaches you a lot about discipline. "I consider it to be a really fantastic creative outlet."

He was ranked 65 on the list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stones MagazineGuitar World ranked his guitar solo in "November Rain" number 6 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos", Sweet child o mine was placed in 1st position by Total Guitar on their list of 100 greatest rock riff's, Gibson Guitar Corporation ranked him 34th in top 50 Guitarist of all time, He was inducted in the RocknRoll Hall of Fame as a Member of GunsnRoses.

Slash is undoubtedly the Real Guitar Hero! Check out the video of his Iconic song Sweet Child o Mine.

1. Jimi Hendrix (James Marshall Hendrix)

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History- getty images

We think that Jimi doesn't need any introduction and its obvious that we will include him in out top ten rock guitarists list, he one of the most important and worshipped guitarists in the rock community.

Too much must be said about his legacy. Despite the fact that his mainstream career lasted only four years, he is considered as one of the most important electric guitarists in popular music history and among the most illustrious artists of the 20th century.

The entire landscape of rock music was altered when Jimi first picked up a guitar. He demonstrated to us how to perform feats that were thought to be impossible on a guitar at the time.

The guitar itself started to resemble a part of his body. It was as though he was constructing a new musical universe while he played the guitar! So many individuals have been inspired by Jimi Hendrix to pick up the guitar and develop their own style.

Artists including Slash, Joe Satriani, John Mayer, and many others. By manipulating the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio, and the stage, Jimi Hendrix, according to Tom Morello, "exploded our idea of what rock music could be."

Throughout his career, Hendrix played a number of different guitars, but the Fender Strat is the one that has been most closely linked to him.

He bought his first Stratocaster in 1966 after borrowing money from a lover to pay for a used one that was made in 1964.

Jimi experimented a lot with whammy bars and effects pedals, which set his playing apart from other guitarists of the time. Wah pedal was another instrument he liked to employ in his guitar solos.

Hendrix liked using overdriven amplifiers with lots of volume and gain. He also made the sound of a guitar amplifier feeding back popular.

Little Wing Is Among the Best Songs by Jimi Hendrix. The Star-Spangled Banner, Foxy Lady, Hey Joe, Voodoo Child, Purple Haze, All Along the Watchtower, and many others.

Jimi Hendrix has been Awarded Performer of the year by Rolling Stones in 1968, Disc & Music Echo newspaper honored him with the World Top Musician of 1969 and in 1970 Guitar Player magazine named him the Rock Guitarist of the Year. Hendrix was ranked 1st in the list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time by Guitar World Magazine, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005, In 1999, readers of Rolling Stone and Guitar World ranked Hendrix among the most important musicians of the 20th century.

Hendrix has also won a number of Grammy's and Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Jimi Hendrix is undoubtedly the 1st in our list of Top 10 Classic Rock Guitarists.

Check out the Jimi Hendrix inspired Shaky Jimi Chorus Effects Pedal in Our Pedals section.

Here are some of the best classic rock guitar players of 2023

As of 2023, classic rock continues to be defined by the guitarists who have shaped the genre. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best classic rock guitar players of the year, and what makes them so special.

Billy Gibbons

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

As the guitarist for ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons is a true master of the blues rock sound that defined classic rock. His unique use of harmonics and his signature sound, often achieved through a cranked-up vintage amp, have made him one of the most influential guitarists in rock history.

Dan Auerbach

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

The lead guitarist for The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach has been praised for his innovative use of effects and his soulful playing style. His ability to blend blues and rock into a cohesive sound has made him a favorite among fans and critics alike.

Gary Clark Jr.

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

Often compared to Jimi Hendrix for his explosive and soulful playing, Gary Clark Jr. has quickly become one of the most exciting guitarists in the world of rock. His combination of blues, rock, and soul influences, as well as his impressive improvisational skills, have made him a standout in the genre.

John Frusciante

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

As the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante has become known for his melodic playing style and his creative use of effects. His ability to blend funk, punk, and rock influences into a cohesive sound has made him a true icon of modern rock.

Tom Morello

Top 10 Best Classic Rock Guitarists Who Changed Music History

Although he's often associated with the alternative rock and rap metal genres, Tom Morello's innovative use of effects and his unorthodox playing style have earned him a place on this list. As the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, he has become known for his heavy, politically charged riffs and his creative use of noise and feedback.

In conclusion, the best classic rock guitar players of 2023 represent a diverse range of styles and influences, each contributing to the rich history of the genre. Whether it's through soulful playing, innovative use of effects, or raw power and energy, these guitarists continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in the world of rock music.


 Check out some other Blogs we recommend for Top Classic Rock Guitarists 


25 Greatest Classic Rock Guitarists


Top 13 Best Classic Rock Guitarists

So Tell us Your Thoughts about our List of Top ten Classic Rock Guitarists in the Comments. Also, tell us which Artist Inspires you the most. 

We Would Love to Hear it.

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Van Halen. Having him not on this list destroys it’s credibility.

James Sheppard

Eddie Van Halen doesn’t even get an honorable mention?! If EVH is not in the top 5, the list is bogus.


Y’all ever heard of Jerry Garcia…


You’re out of your minds for not listing Eddie Van Halen as #1. GTFO

Joe Ziebardt

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