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This is my first “Artist Spotlight” blog. Normally I’ll focus on one artist, but to kick off this feature I’d like to begin with 10 Guitarists Every Guitarist Should Know (in alphabetical order)…
Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, Charlie Christian, Jim Hall, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Carlos Montoya, Django Reinhardt, Sabicas, and Andres Segovia.
Those are “easy” ones, so now let me point you in the direction of another 100+ guitarists, composers, and luthiers who are very important to the development of this instrument we love.
Classical
Luis Milan, Luis de Narvaez, Alonso Mudarra, John Dowland, Gaspar Sanz, Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, Napoleon Coste, Francisco Tarrega, Agustin Barrios, Manuel Ponce, Jose Ramirez, Hermann Hauser, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Joaquin Rodrigo, Ida Presti, Alexander Lagoya, Masaru Kohno, Jorge Morel, Julian Bream, John Williams, Leo Brower, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Christopher Parkening, Manuel Barrueco, David Russell, Sharon Isben, David Tannenbaum, Kazuhito Yamashita, Ana Vidovic, Tatyana Ryzhkova, Paola Requena.
Jazz
Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang, Freddie Green, Les Paul, John D’Angelico, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd, Tal Farlow, Laurindo Almeida, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, John McLaughlin, George Benson, Pat Martino, Ted Greene, Alan Holdsworth, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, Emily Remler, Paul Bollenback, Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel.
Rock
Leo Fender, Link Wray, Dick Dale, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Dickie Betts, Jerry Garcia, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Keith Richards, David Gilmour, Carlos Santana, Steve Howe, Brian May, Gary Moore, Steve Morse, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Warren Haynes, Trey Anastasio, Buckethead, Guthrie Govan, Derek Trucks.
Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Folk
Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Merle Travis, Albert King, Doc Watson, B.B. King, Hank Garland, Scotty Moore, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Jerry Reed, Roy Buchanan, John Fahey, James Burton, Michael Bloomfield, Albert Lee, Danny Gatton, Leo Kottke, Tony Rice, Junior Brown, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tommy Emmanuel, Vince Gill, Brent Mason, Brad Paisley, Johnny Hiland, Joe Bonamassa, Samantha Fish.
World Music
Gabby Pahinui, Jean Bosco Mwenda, Gabor Szabo, Nico Kasanda, Paco Pena, Paco de Lucia, Diblo Dibala, Nguyen Le, Fareed Haque, Vicente Amigo, Lionel Loueke, Prassana.
You may notice some of the players above are active in more than one area, and in these cases I switched them back and forth in different categories. The biggest challenge to compiling a list is always who to leave off. There are many guitar heroes not mentioned, and many many more unsung guitar heroes that deserve our attention. I can say without a doubt, everyone on this list has made a contribution to the guitar that is worthy of your investigation.