A guitarist (or a guitar player) is a person who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of guitar family instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar by singing or playing the harmonica.
While with an ensemble, a guitarist can take the role of rhythm (playing with bass in the ensemble) or lead (playing on top of the bass in the ensemble) guitar.
A guitarist can also play along with a harmonica as a second instrument. Examples include Bob Dylan and Neil Young.1 Other instruments can be played successfully by a guitarist, i.e., hi-hat cymbals, organ pedals, bass drum, nose harp, etc.
The guitarist has several ways of playing the guitar depending on the type of strings (see Nylon-string guitar or Steel-string acoustic guitar) and including the guitar pick, fingernail, and/or fingertip (see fingerstyle guitar).2 It involves techniques derived from other stringed instruments such as 'legato playing' and various harmonics.
While music is an art form in itself, playing an instrument such as the guitar has long been a popular subject for painters. One of the more famous examples is the painting Degas's Father Listening to Lorenzo Pagans Playing the Guitar by Edgar Degas, which was painted sometime between 1869–72 and is currently owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.3
Several magazines and websites have compiled what they intend as lists of the greatest guitarists—for example The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine, or 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World magazine.
In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine published a list called The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. This list included 100 guitarists whom the magazine editor David Fricke considered the best, with a brief introduction for each of them.4 The first in this list is the American guitarist Jimi Hendrix introduced by Pete Townshend, guitarist for The Who, who was, in his turn, ranked at #50 of the list.
In describing the list to readers, Paul MacInnes from British newspaper The Guardian wrote, "Surprisingly enough for an American magazine, the top 10 is fair jam-packed with Yanks," though he also noted three exceptions in the top 10.5 The online magazine Blogcritics criticized the list for introducing some undeserving guitarists while forgetting some artists perceived being perhaps more worthy, such as Johnny Marr, Phil Keaggy or John Petrucci.6
In 2011, Rolling Stone updated the list, which in this time was chosen by a panel of guitarists and other experts with the top 5 consisting of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck. Artists who had not been included in the previous list were added. Rory Gallagher, for example, was ranked in 57th place.7 The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time is mentioned in many biographies about artists who appear in the list.8910
Guitar World, a monthly music magazine devoted to the guitar, also published their list of 100 greatest guitarists in the book Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time from the Pages of Guitar World Magazine.11 Different from the Rolling Stone list, which listed guitarists in descending order, Guitar World divided guitarists by music genre—such as "Lords of Hard Rock" for hard rock artists or "Jazzmen" for jazz players. Despite the appearance in other magazines like Billboard,12 this publication by Guitar World was criticized for including no female musicians within its selection.13
Following the death of Les Paul, TIME website presented their list of 10 greatest artists in electric guitar. Like Rolling Stone magazine's list, Jimi Hendrix was chosen as the greatest guitarist followed by Slash from Guns 'N' Roses, B.B. King, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.14 Gigwise.com, an online music magazine, also ranks Jimi Hendrix as the greatest guitarist ever, followed by Jimmy Page, B.B. King, Keith Richards and Kirk Hammett.15
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- List of guitarists
- List of classical guitarists
- List of bass guitarists
- List of lead guitarists
- List of rhythm guitarists
- List of slide guitarists
- Category:Lists of guitarists
- "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2003-09-18. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
- MacInnes, Paul (2007-02-13). "Who are the 100 greatest guitarists of all time?". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
- The Theory (2003-08-28). "The Top 100 Guitarists According to Rolling Stone". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
- 2012 Rolling Stone; Jann S. Wenner, Jann S. (2012). "100 Greatest Guitarists: Rory Gallagher". Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
- The Crisis. The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc. Autumn 2008. p. 18. ISSN 0011-1422.
- Ogunjobi, Rotimi (2008). The Essential Jimi Hendrix. Lulu.com. p. 28. ISBN 1-4116-9923-8.
- Clement, Vivian (2007). How to Succeed As a Female Guitarist: The Essential Guide for Working in a Male-dominated Industry. Alfred Publishing. p. 1. ISBN 0-7390-4304-8.
- Jeff Kitts, Brad Tolinski (2002). Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time from the Pages of Guitar World Magazine. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0-634-04619-5.
- Billboard, vol. 117, n° 49, pp. 67
- Leonard, Marion (2007). Gender in the music industry: Rock, discourse and girl power. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 38. ISBN 0-7546-3862-6.
- "The 10 Greatest Electric-Guitar Players". TIME. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
- "The 50 Greatest Guitarists... Ever!". Gigwise.com. Retrieved 2010-01-14.