By Andrew Catania
When making a list of this type, there will always be someone pissing and moaning that a particular player isn’t on it. When I was going through this list, I was looking to see who has an album coming out in the later part of 2017 and 2018. This list is not in any specific order. There are so many great players to choose from, and I believe this list represents the top tier talent of guitar playing in the hard rock/metal genre.
Acclaimed for his harmonized and melodic style, Vinnie Moore is considered as one of the most virtuosic guitarists of the 1980s. Also known for his association with the UFO, Vinnie holds a unique identity when it comes to improvised shredding and licking. He establishes his tones on multiple parameters in octave, and the resultant effect itself speaks for the mastery of his technique.
Primarily known for his association as the lead guitarist for Nevermore and later with Arch Enemy, Jeff Loomis is considered as the unrivaled wizard of shredding techniques. Jeff has aced a variety of playing techniques such as alternate picking, riffs, shreds and pulls. His signature shredding, in particular, is considered as an emblem of seer brilliance and aesthetic finesse. Jeff should have a solo album out by the end of the year.
Paul Gilbert is the co-founder of Mr. Big. Paul Gilbert and has been ranked as one of the ‘Top 10 Greatest Shredders of all Times’. Paul enjoys unrivaled supremacy when it comes to fast and furious picking. An axeman at staccato and a master at incorporating fats picking with legato, Paul’s signature playing style is intuitive, and his tones flow out of the chord naturally.
Aside from his associations with the Arch Enemy, Kamelot, Nightrage, Angel Vivaldi, Mystic Prophecy and making numerous guest appearances and solos, Gus mentions that playing for Ozzy was an experience of a lifetime, and the honor itself outweighs all other accolades and awards he has accomplished to date. You can distill his enviable soloing skills down to two approaches: alternate-picked scale runs and string-skipped arpeggios
Gus’s recent releases include Brand New Revolution and a couple of guest appearances for Attitude and Attitude. Gus has been ranked at 3rd position among the top 3 guitarists in the world by Japanese magazine BURRN! In 2003. His new album, Fearless, will be released on April 20th, 2018 via AFM Records.
The 2017 Guitarist of the Year for All That Shreds Magazine has enjoyed continued success after departing Megadeth in 2014 citing creative and musical differences. The current Act of Defiance guitarist has two albums released with the band he co-founded with former Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover. Chris can play virtually any kind of music. His teacher at the Lamont School, Ricardo Iznaola is well respected in the classical guitar community. With this patented thumb pick holder, He enjoys the Hungarian Gipsy Scale as well as Harmonic and Melodic Minor.
The Dead Daisies Guitarist should be on everybody’s list as a top talent. Doug is one of those players who knows how to use the pentatonic scale. He uses a lot of blues-based licks with a mixture of picking and legato to attain a very smooth and exciting style of play. He is also notable for playing using a classical guitar position, where the hand is upright, not angled. This makes it harder to perform string bends, but it can be developed just like any other technique. However, the advantages of a classical guitar hand position are an improved reach and an advantageous position for performing legato. Check out Doug’s incredible playing on the new Dead Daisies album, Burn It Down on April 6, 2018.
Chris was very much into the whole neo-classical thing that was popular at the time. Super fast picking runs, sweep arpeggios, you name it. Similarities and comparisons to Yngwie were inevitable, but Chris has carved out his niche in guitar history, playing some outrageously cool solos and writing some killer songs.
Chris is notable for mainly using his bridge pickup during all his fast runs, as opposed to switching to the neck pickup like most of his contemporaries. This requires one to be more confident in their technique and muting abilities. The neck pickup can hide a lot of inaccuracies, but the bridge pickup is not so forgiving. Chris also plays a lot of arpeggios with alternate picking, when the tempo allows, instead of sweeping. This asks a lot of skill of a player, but the maestro Impellitteri does it! Impellitteri’s “Nature of the Beast” should be out this summer.
Stevens is of course known for his performance on the Top Gun theme. One of Steve’s unique techniques is taking his inspiration from fingerstyle guitarists and applying it to rock songs such as Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” or Vince Neil’s version of “Set Me Free.” This is a cool technique involving the use of the thumb for the bass notes and the first two fingers taking care of the upstrokes on the highest two strings.
Jake E. Lee
Red Dragon Cartel’s album should be out this summer. Jake’s style of playing has changed since playing with Ozzy. Jake used a ton of flash tricks with Ozzy. Particular Lee trademarks include Four finger hammer on (Secret Loser), Overhand slide/fake echo and violin bow/pick scratching (Never Know Why). On Thank God For The Bomb, he used the nut bends, and simulated radio sounds by fretting notes with his thumb on the fretboard.
In Badlands, Lee was more blues-based hard rock. Same can be said for Red Dragon Cartel.
Tony rose to prominence in the 80’s wave of neo-classical shred guitar with albums like Edge of Insanity and Maximum Security. Also an incredibly gifted pianist, Tony inserted lots of lightning-fast keyboard runs alongside his guitar lines in the vein of his contemporaries IE Vinnie Moore and Paul Gilbert, but the difference was that Tony was also doing the keys on his records!
Tony uses a lot of tapped arpeggios which are useful for extending the range of an arpeggio. His Album, Death of Roses was All That Shreds Magazines Album of the Year for 2017.
Father Nuno is one of those guitarists that can write incredibly soulful music. With Nuno using harp staccato alternate picking with Molten legato playing, his sound and tone are unbelievable. Extreme’s fretboard master is often undercelebrated in guitar circles which is completely crazy. Nuno is the complete package with writing music and unbelievable guitar skill.