Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Best Guitar Players To Listen To

In my July 19, 2006 posting titled “Learning is Important,” I mentioned the need to listen to recorded works of other musicians as an aide for creating a background of experience in developing your own style.

Today, I would like to expand on that article by making suggestions from my own personal experience of who to listen to in a variety of styles. I remember on time that I went to a Bluegrass Guitar workshop, and the workshop presenter, Mike Nadolson, handed out a list of “essential listening.” I found this list to be useful and bought most of the albums on it. Since I am a guitarist, I will limit the list to guitar music. If other instrumentalists want to add to it, either by expanding the guitarist list or adding recommendations for other instruments, I think that would be a great service!

There are many more great players that should be on this list. These are just a few of my favorites:

Jimmy Bruno
Kenny Burrell
Joe Pass
Johnny Smith
Wes Montgomery
John Pizzarelli
Hank Garland
Jim Hall
Barney Kessell
Herb Ellis
Charlie Byrd
John McLaughlin
Larry Coryell
Al Di Meola
George Benson
Buddy Fite
Grant Green
Tal Farlow
Martin Taylor
Russell Malone (w/Diana Krall)

Smooth Jazz:
Larry Carlton
Jeff Golub (Avenue Blue)
Norman Brown
Tommy Emmanuel
Peter White
Craig Chaquico
Russ Freeman (Rippingtons)
Chris Standring
Zachary Breaux
Lee Ritenour
Ronald "Boo" Hinkson

Blues:B.B. King
Eric Clapton
Hubert Sumlin
Roy Buchanan
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Alvin Lee
John Mayer
Gary Moore
Buddy Guy
Eric Johnson
Danny Gatton
Joe Bonamassa
Susan Tedeschi
Derek Trucks

Carl Verheyen
Steve Vai
Carlos Santana
Eric Clapton
Joe Walsh
Jimmy Page
Saul Hudson (Slash)
Yngwie Malmsteen
Joe Satriani
Jeff Beck
Keith Richards
George Harrison
Steve Howe
Jimi Hendrix
Jeff “Skunk” Baxter
Terry Kath (Chicago)
Rick Derringer
Rik Emmett (Triumph)
Brian May
Jerry Garcia
Ritchie Blackmore
Leslie West
Peter Frampton

Rockabilly:Brian Setzer
Scotty Moore (Elvis)
James Burton (Ricky Nelson)
Chuck Berry
George Harrison (Beatles)
Danny Gatton

Albert Lee
John Jorgenson
Vince Gill
Jimmy Bryant
Hank Garland
Chet Atkins
Merl Travis
Danny Gatton

Bluegrass:Bryan Sutton
Ricky Skaggs
Tony Rice
Dan Crary
John Moore
Raul Reynoso

Doc Watson
John Fahey
Woody Guthrie
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
Phil Ochs
Paul Simon
Norman Blake
Doyle Dykes
Bert Jansch
John Renbourn
Gordon Lightfoot
Leo Kottke
Ritchie Blackmore (Blackmores Night)

Duane Eddy
Bert Weedon
Les Paul
Roy Clark
Tommy Tedesco
Tony Matolla
Howard Roberts
Al Caiola
Buddy Fite
Steve Cropper
The Shadows
The Ventures
Paul Johnson (the "real" king of surf guitar!)

Swing, Be-Bop, Gypsy Jazz:
Django Reinhardt
Raul Reynoso
Charlie Christian

Andres Segovia
Fernando Sor
Pepe Romero
John Williams
Julian Bream

Ramon Montoya
Paco de Lucia

Once again, I know that there are a lot of really great guitarists that are not on my list. I had to end the list somewhere! A lot of the guitarists mentioned are older. These are probably some of the guitar players that influenced the current crop of guitarists. Read interviews of your favorite guitarists and find out who influenced them. Sometimes it’s fun to go way back and listen to the “original” group of guitarists that shaped music for all the generations to follow!

As always, your comments are appreciated. If you would like to know certain specific albums or songs for one of the artists listed above, email me at and I’ll see what I can recommend.