4 Best Rock Guitar Players Ever

Did you know that the term “Rock and Roll” originally referred to 17th century sailboats braving turbulent waters? Or that it transformed into a euphemism for sex and dancing during the 1920s? These were popular uses for this phrase until the 1940s an 1950s when American music began fusing and evolving. With the advent of electric-guitar-focused bands, “Rock ‘n Roll” became the name for the revolutionary genre we are familiar with today.

Since then, “Rock ‘n Roll” has evolved to include an array of similar styles under the broad descriptor, “Rock.” All of these styles are united in at least one way: their focus on electric guitar. And thus, over the past 70 years, the world has seen the rise of the best rock guitar players ever. In this article, we’ll be focusing on 4 of these top rock guitarists and why they were important to the development of modern music. Here we go!

David Gilmour Rock Guitar Player
Joep Vullings and deep_schismic @ flickr – [2], CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

1. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

One of ways that Rock music manifested itself in the 1960s was in the form of psychedelia. Yes, Jimi Hendrix and Cream had their hands in pioneering the genre. But another band found their way to the vanguard: the English progressive rock group, Pink Floyd. David Gilmour, who was originally a fill-in for guitarist, Syd Barrett, served as one of the key components of Pink Floyd’s mainstream success.

In fact, David’s lead guitar playing and singing became hallmark factors in Pink Floyd’s signature sound. His style of playing could be described as blues-influenced, big-sounding, and tasteful despite its apparent lack of technical complexity. It’s no surprise that, with Pink Floyd’s massive global success (over 250 million records sold worldwide), David Gilmour’s influence has reached far and wide, inspiring the next generations of experimental guitar players.

To learn how to play like David Gilmour, check out JamPlay educator, David Wallimann’s guitar lessons on David Gilmour’s style and techniques.

Jimmy Page Rock Guitar Player
Jim Summaria, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)

“Hard” Rock is another branch that formed on the “tree” of Rock ‘n Roll. Amongst the slew of early stars within the genre, there are arguably none greater than the English band, Led Zeppelin. Having formed in 1968, this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group was fronted by vocalist and lyricist, Robert Plant. However, the band owed most of its musical composition credit to guitarist, Jimmy Page. With Jimmy as its primary composer, Led Zeppelin became one of the best selling recorded musical acts in history.

Before Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page had been a member of another super group, The Yardbirds, from 1966 to 1968. When this band fizzled, he started Led Zeppelin as an outlet to continue his masterful guitar playing. Jimmy’s rock guitar playing style is about as influential as it gets. Iconic Blues riffs, heavy distortion, smooth acoustic masterpieces, and soaring melodic solos are all pieces of Jimmy Page’s legacy. If you have ever heard the timeless riffs and grooves on songs like, “Black Dog” and “Stairway To Heaven,” then you’ve gotten a glimpse of Jimmy’s brilliance as a rock guitar player!

Want to learn how to play more like Jimmy Page? Check out this JamPlay guitar lesson from educator, Will Ripley!


Eddie Van Halen Rock Guitar Player
Carl Lender, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)

A list of critically acclaimed rock guitar players could simply not be written without the inclusion of Eddie Van Halen. In 1972, Eddie and his brother, Alex, formed the band, Van Halen (formerly Mammoth). “Van Halen” quickly became a well-known name in Los Angeles, and subsequently, the world. Over its active years, the band released 12 studio albums, collaborated with the world’s biggest starts, won both GRAMMY Awards and AMAs, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

The band as a whole, however, would not have reached such heights without their rock guitar prodigy, Eddie. Having cited an interesting lineup of early influences, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mozart, and Bach, Eddie was known to lock himself in his bedroom to play guitar for hours on end. Amidst his later rise to stardom, Eddie Van Halen became well-known for using the “tapping” technique to rapidly arpeggiate chords in his solos. An example of this his performance on Van Halen’s song, “Eruption,” which is regarded as one of the greatest rock guitar solos of all time.

To learn how to play like EVH, check out Andy Whitehead’s rock guitar course on JamPlay!

Prince Rock Guitar Player
penner, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Prince

This last entry on our list of of best rock guitar players ever might come as a surprise. Prince, who was one of the best selling musicians of all time, was a larger-than-life figure. His iconic persona, massive vocal range, and multi-instrumental virtuosity often distracted from Prince’s aptitude on the guitar. During his 41 year musical career, Prince became the recipient of many prestigious awards, including seven GRAMMY Awards, seven Brit Awards, six AMA’s and many more. Prince was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Though his guitar playing was often overshadowed, it did not fail to inspire a wave of next generation guitar players. His playing style could be described as intense, combining tasteful placements of bends, vibrato, and slides with distortion that always resulted in evocative performances.

Want to learn how to play more like your guitar heroes? Check out JamPlay.com! JamPlay has over 450 guitar courses from 120+ instructors, and online guitar lessons tailored to every skill level, music genre, and playing style. Click here to learn more.

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