Metal’s Best: Top 30 Guitarists Ruling the Genre!

Recent decades have turned out to be a booming era, especially for rock and metal genre. Many eminent names have emerged, and the influx of improvisations in playing techniques has expanded the scope of the genre by a huge margin. They’re many talented metal guitarists.  Aside from the usual big names we hear about, here are metals 30 best guitarists who have been setting a milestone for their descendants in their individual capacities.

30.  JIMI BELL

Jimi Bell of House of LordsBell was endorsed by Kramer Guitars. Kramer was the one who admitted Bell’s talent and mental abilities, and he wanted him to get to the place he deserved. Meanwhile in 1987, across the country, Ozzy Osbourne started an international campaign to search for the best guitar player in the world to replace the departed Jake E. Lee.

When Kramer heard about this audition, They sent Bell’s video to Ozzy’s wife. Bell was just surprised when he received the call for an audition. He went to Los Angeles for the audition. There were around 500 best young guitarists from all over the United States. Bell’s playing made a great impression there, and Ozzy himself decided to play with Bell the next day. He was so much nervous on that day. However he played well on that day too, and after that audition, Jimi Bell was told that it was down to him and Zakk Wylde.

In 2005, Jimi Bell joined the band House of Lords, and he never looked back

29. REB BEACH

With hits like “Seventeen,” “Madeline” and “Headed For a Heartbreak,” Reb was on heavy rotation during the MTV years with Winger.  When Winger disbanded in the 90’s, Reb joined Alice Cooper for a brief time before joining Dokken to record Erase The Slate.  He’s doing double duty with Winger and Whitesnake these days with a new Snake record due out in 2019.

28.  JAKE E LEE

Double-picked notes with palm muting to create a staccato-style effect are Jake’s style on several Ozzy songs including “Bark At The Moon.

Red Dragon Cartel’s new album “Patina” will be out on November 9, 2018.

27.  DAVE MURRAY

Dave Murray is known for his legato technique which, he claims, “evolved naturally. I’d heard Jimi Hendrix using legato when I was growing up, and I liked that style of playing.” Stating that he “was inspired by blues rock rather than metal,

26.  ADRIAN SMITH

After seeing the attention Murray received from girls, Smith took up the guitar, starting with an old Spanish guitar once owned by his brother, before purchasing an old one of Murray’s.  His early influences included Johnny Winter and Pat Travers, which he claims made him a “melodic player” rather than a “speed merchant or a shredder” as he “was inspired by blues rock rather than metal.”

25.  ZAKK WYLDE

Ozzy’s longtime axeman has made some memorable riffs on songs such as “Miracle Man,” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home.”  Aside from being the founder of Black Label Society, you can catch Zakk on the Generation Axe Tour this month with Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie, and Tosin Abasi.

24.  ANDY LAROCQUE 

King Diamonds guitarist is usually overlooked.  Andy’s talent doesn’t stop with the guitar; he’s co-written some of Kings biggest hits.  Andy is currently writing with King for a new record that has a yet TBD release date.

23.  K.K. DOWNING

Downing has an aggressive, rock-influenced guitar style featuring solos and dual leads with fellow Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton.  his solos remained of this style for most of his career, but he incorporated various techniques into his playing over the years. As opposed to Tipton, his solos tended to include a more raw, rough-edged sound, making use of techniques such as pinch harmonics, dive bombs, and tremolo picking, and often focus on speed, technical accuracy, and melody.

22.  GLENN TIPTON

Tipton is known for his complex, classically influenced solos, and he has a unique guitar-playing technique.  Many of his solos are very difficult to transcribe, and his playing is notable for his double lead guitar trades with fellow Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing. Tipton’s solos have maintained a consistent style for most of his career, but he has continuously incorporated new techniques into his playing over the years as he has developed as a guitarist. The usual arrangement on Judas Priest songs feature riffs and leads by both Tipton and Downing.

21. NUNO BETTENCOURT

Unable to make a dent in the music world with his Boston-based hair-metal act Sinful, Bettencourt rose to international prominence as a guitar player after he joined the Boston-area group Extreme in 1985. Signed to A&M Records shortly after Bettencourt joined the group, the band released its debut record, Extreme, in 1989. He then provided rhythm guitar on the single version of Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat,” which became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

20. PAUL GILBERT

Paul Gilbert composes music in a wide variety of styles, including pop, rock, metal, blues, and funk. However, Gilbert is perhaps best known for his fast playing speed and stylistic versatility. He is noted in particular for his efficient, staccato-like picking technique. He combines fast picking and legato techniques in the same phrase, usually instinctively.

19.  RITCHIE BLACKMORE

Blackmore was and is one of the most precise and technically brilliant players of all time.

His appeal is mainly his unique talent with the guitar and the fact that he plays fast, yet every single note is pronounced and distinguishable. This admittedly does not always make for great songwriting, but many people appreciate Blackmore for his unique style and tone.

18.  JOHN PETRUCCI

Petrucci is respected for his variety of guitar styles and skills. One of the most notable of these is his fast alternate picking which, as he claims, requires a “strong sense of synchronization between the two [playing] hands.” John is notable for the frequent use of the seven-string electric guitar, which he says he uses as a writing tool, taking advantage of the extended range for heavier riffing and to play extended range runs as part of a solo. Moreover, Petrucci often combines his metal shredding technique with a slower, emotive soloing style.

17.  WARREN DEMARTINI

His playing often incorporates four note per string passages, which is still relatively unorthodox and some chromatic runs give DeMartini an almost jazz fusion sound for some solos. Along with that, his playing includes fast minor scales and wide vibrato.

Warren uses finger vibrato, similar in style to George Lynch and Greg Howe.  This technique features moving the finger/wrist rapidly back and forth along the length of the string to alter the pitch (like a violinist), as opposed to bending the string.

16.  MARTY FRIEDMAN

Friedman is known for his improvisation and for fusing Eastern musical with Western music and other styles, such as neo-classical, thrash metal and later progressive rock. When playing, he often uses arpeggiated chords and various customized scales and arpeggios, some of which relate to Asian (Chinese and Japanese), Middle Eastern and other exotic scales, which are different from the typical minor/major pentatonic and seven modes based on the Major scale. He also occasionally uses sweep picking, as displayed in his famous solo on Megadeth’s “Tornado of Souls.”

As a right-handed guitarist, Friedman has an unorthodox picking technique; the angle in which his hand is clenched goes against the conventional palm mute frequently used by right-handed players in Metal music. He also often utilizes upstrokes as opposed to downstrokes, especially on the B and high E strings. Rather than strictly picking from his elbow or wrist, Friedman will also pick moving his fingers—a technique known as “circle picking.”

He is critical of being called a shredder. His feelings about creating his sound or a tone similar to what he is known for is uncertain but is nonetheless thankful for it

15. VITO BRATTA

His playing has been described as melodic, original and technically accomplished. Bratta often employed two-handed tapping, sweep picking, pinch harmonics, and various whammy bar techniques.

Although Vito Bratta has not released any music since 1992, many musicians, both singers, and guitar players have continued to praise his songwriting skills and technical ability. Zakk Wylde has stated that Bratta is the only guitarist whose tapped playing he enjoys. He has also praised Vito Bratta’s originality and pointed out that he considers the solo in “Wait” one of the best solos he has ever heard.

14.  JEFF LOOMIS

Loomis is a beast!

His path to success was not direct. After playing with numerous unknown bands and being rejected by Megadeth at 16, he refused to accept rejection and joined Sanctuary in 1990. To his disappointment, Sanctuary broke up four months later due to differences with the record company representing them. Starting in 1991, he spent three years conceptualizing a new band called Nevermore with some of the former members of Sanctuary. At last, he was rightly offered the lead guitar position in Nevermore in 1994.

Not only was Loomis the main songwriter for Nevermore, but he also set the precedence for the sound Nevermore adopted as a signature sound using seven-string guitars that are still being used till date. On April 21, 2011, he and Van Williams left Nevermore, citing personal and musical differences with Warrel Dane.

During his time with Nevermore, Loomis often focused on personal growth. For example, Loomis took some time off in 2005 during which he decided to record a solo album, stating, “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time… It will be like a Jason Becker/Marty Friedman kind of thing.”

The solo album, titled Zero Order Phase was released in 2008, featuring guest solos from Ron Jarzombek and Pat O’Brien amongst other artists.

13.  GEORGE LYNCH

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Gеоrgе Lуnсh iѕ оnе оf thе mоѕt recognizable nаmеѕ in thе world of hеаvу mеtаl guitar. With a саrееr spanning mоrе than thirtу years, George has rесоrdеd mоrе thаn twеntу albums, toured thе еntirе glоbе mаnу timеѕ, аnd iѕ thе оnе оf thе most rесоgnizаblе еndоrѕееѕ of thе wоrld’ѕ finеѕt guitars аnd еԛuiрmеnt.

12.  CRISS OLIVA

Not many of today’s guitarists speak about Criss and his influence on there playing.  He lived for that guitar” referring to his love of the guitar. “I would go over to his home for a visit, and no matter what he was doing, on the phone, eating dinner, Criss would always have a guitar in his hands,” stated his father shortly after his passing.

Criss played Jackson Guitars and Charvel Guitars. His favorite guitar was an ESP that later had a Jackson logo airbrushed on the headstock, with a maple fretboard, reversed headstock, a Bartolini single coil and humbucker pickup, and a transparent blue finish and a gargoyle painted on it called the “Gargoyle Guitar.”

11. YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

Yngwie Who? Yngwie has influenced generations of aspiring guitarists.

10.  MICHAEL ROMEO

Photo By Danny Sanchez

What’s crazy is Romeo doesn’t realize just how popular he is in the guitar world.

His love for the guitar became a real passion for listening to  Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman and Blizzard of Ozz. He was also deeply touched by the unique and neoclassical style of Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, and Uli Jon Roth.

His work was also influenced by many famous classical composers including Ludwig Van Beethoven, Igor Stravinsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Johann Sebastian Bach. Their music style and technique is quite evident in the progressive music he composed later on.

9. JOE SATRIANI

Satriani is considered a highly technical guitarist and has been referred to as a top guitar virtuoso. Satriani has mastered many performance techniques on electric guitar, including legato, two-handed tapping and arpeggio tapping, volume swells, harmonics and extreme whammy bar effects. During fast passages, Satriani favors a legato technique (achieved primarily through hammer-ons and pull-offs) that yields smooth and flowing runs. He is also adept at other speed-related techniques such as rapid alternate picking and sweep picking. Satriani was influenced by blues-rock guitar icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, and Jeff Beck, as well as jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

8. CHRIS BRODERICK

Chris practiced electric guitar, classical guitar, piano, and violin under a strict daily routine. He has said that at that time it seemed more like a “chore” than for entertainment. He was a standout player in the Denver music scene from 1988 on in bands Grey Haven, Industrial Eden (guitarist/lead vocalist) and Killing Time.

He also has a degree in classical guitar music performance at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.  He is also interested in flamenco guitar and rates Paco de Lucia as his favorite guitarist.

7. JASON BECKER

Jason arranged Paganini’s 5th Caprice, performing it during an instructional guitar video. Becker’s compositions often include high-speed scalar and arpeggio passages—trademarks of his shred style of guitar playing. Often incorporating advanced techniques such as sweep picking, alternate picking, artificial harmonic accenting, and tapping; he was among the leaders of the field during the technical shred guitar, and neoclassical metal trend of the mid to late eighties and is still respected and honored by his musician peers today. The song Serrana appearing in the album Perspective is an example of his sweep-picking skills.  He demonstrated the arpeggio sequence during a clinic at the Atlanta Institute of Music. A video of this performance first appeared on his Hot Licks guitar instructional video.

6.  CHRIS IMPELLITTERI

Photo taken in West Hills on 07/28/18.

Mesmerizing the crowd with killer guitar riffs, doing solos at breakneck speed, and creating profound melodies with aggressive tugging of the guitar strings, Chris Impellitteri takes no prisoners on the fretboard. At the age of 53, Impellitteri stands as a laudable figure of the neoclassical, heavy metal genre, and unfailingly carries the legacy of the legendary shredders before him.

5.   STEVE VAI

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Vai has been described as a “highly individualistic player” and part of a generation of “heavy rock and metal virtuosi who came to the fore in the 1980s”. He released his first solo album Flex-Able in 1984, while his most successful release, Passion and Warfare (1990), was described as “the richest and best hard rock guitar-virtuoso album of the ’80s”.

4. VINNIE MOORE

Vin’s neo-classical style regarding harmony, chord progressions, harmonic minor scale, and phrasing, we can hear progressive rock riffs (In Control’s opening, Saved by a Miracle for example), preference for modal harmony and a tendency to put melodic phrasing above non-sense runs all over the neck that were so popular back then (Daydream, Hero Without Honor).

All these innovative elements were combined to bring a new, different and unique sound approach to the guitar world.

3. TONY IOMMI

An ace lyricist, a virtuosic composer, and a master producer – Tony Iommi is one of those few legendary names in the rock and the heavy metal world that have contributed their optimum effort to innovate the genre and elevate it to a stature where it stands today.

2.  EDDIE VAN HALEN

Van Halen’s approach to the guitar involves several distinctive components. His use of two-handed tapping, natural and artificial harmonics, vibrato, and tremolo picking, combined with his rhythmic sensibility and melodic approach, have influenced an entire generation of guitarists.

  1. RANDY RHOADS

Rhoads’ guitar playing is known for many distinctive features: flowing legato sections segued to fast, palm-muted picking passages; incendiary trills and chromatic maneuvers coexisted with classically influenced melodies; jittery wrist vibrato; two-handed tapping – as well as extensive use of scales, bends, and arpeggios (especially muted) and ever-shifting rhythmic landscapes.

Another distinctive feature of Randy Rhoads’ sound was his experimentation with “weird noises” and “strange sounds” – many of his trademark licks and eerie sounds can be found on his later albums with Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne.

Randy Rhoads was known for his stellar live performances.

 

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