A guitarist is a musician who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of instruments such as acoustic guitars, electric guitars, classical guitars and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar while singing.
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.
The guitarist has long been a popular subject for artists. One of the more famous examples is the painting by Edgar Degas showing the guitarist Lorenzo Pagans playing the guitar, with his elderly father Auguste de Gas in the background. Painted somewhere between 1869–72, the painting is currently owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
There are several lists made by magazines or websites with the purpose of finding out who are the greatest guitarists of all time for example The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine or 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World magazine. Based on different criteria, these lists, particularly Rolling Stone polls, often meet with criticism and ridicule by many guitarists but they are also praised by others.
In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine published a list called The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. This list included 100 guitarists which the magazine considered the best with a brief introduction for each of them. 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. The list is heavily in favor of blues rock guitarists. The Top Ten of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone are:
|01||Jimi Hendrix||United States|
|02||Duane Allman||United States|
|03||B.B. King||United States|
|04||Eric Clapton||United Kingdom|
|05||Robert Johnson||United States|
|06||Chuck Berry||United States|
|07||Stevie Ray Vaughan||United States|
|08||Ry Cooder||United States|
|09||Jimmy Page||United Kingdom|
|10||Keith Richards||United Kingdom|
In informing the list to readers, Paul MacInnes from British newspaper The Guardian expressed: "Surprisingly enough for an American magazine, the top 10 is fair jam-packed with Yanks", although he also noted three exceptions in the top 10. The online magazine Blogcritics criticized the list for introducing some undeserving guitarists while forgetting some artists perceived being perhaps more worthy, such as Phil Keaggy or John Petrucci.
Guitar World, a monthly music magazine devoted to 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. Different than the list of the Rolling Stone which was introduced in descending order, Guitar World preferred dividing the 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, this publication by Guitar World was criticized for including no female musicians within its selection.
Following the death of Les Paul, TIME website presented their list of 10 greatest artists in Electric guitar. Like the Rolling Stone's list, Jimi Hendrix was chosen as the greatest guitarist followed by Slash, B.B. King, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. 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.
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