Top 50 Greatest Metal Guitarists

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Ready to rock with the best metal guitarists ever? From old-school legends like Tony Iommi to modern shredders, we’re exploring their amazing music. Join us for a journey through the world of epic riffs and killer solos!

1. Tony Iommi

From:Birmingham, England
Born:1948
Age:73 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Black Sabbath
Favorite guitar brand:Gibson
Interesting Fact:Overcame finger injury to create lighter guitar strings, contributing to his unique playing style.

Tony Iommi is a pioneering guitarist known for his work in Black Sabbath.

Despite a finger injury that led him to detune his guitar, he developed a dark and heavy sound that became a cornerstone of heavy metal.

2. Eddie Van Halen

From:Amsterdam, Netherlands
Born:1955
Age:65 years old
Genre:Hard Rock
Band:Van Halen
Favorite guitar brand:EVH (his own brand)
Interesting Fact:Revolutionized guitar playing with tapping technique and co-founded the band Van Halen.

Eddie Van Halen is an iconic guitarist who introduced groundbreaking techniques like two-handed tapping.

He co-founded Van Halen, a band that dominated the hard rock scene, and his innovative style continues to influence generations of guitarists.

3. Dimebag Darrell

From:Dallas, USA
Born:1966
Age:Passed away in 2004 at the age of 38
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Pantera
Favorite guitar brand:Dean
Interesting Fact:Known for his intense riffs, he was tragically killed on stage during a performance.

Dimebag Darrell’s powerful riffs and energetic stage presence were central to Pantera’s success.

His untimely death shocked the music world when he was shot on stage, leaving behind a legacy of aggressive and influential metal guitar playing.

4. Randy Rhoads

From:Santa Monica, USA
Born:1956
Age:Passed away in 1982 at the age of 25
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Ozzy Osbourne
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson
Interesting Fact:Combined classical music influences with metal, played in Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band.

Randy Rhoads was a prodigious guitarist known for his classical-tinged metal style.

His short but impactful career included his time with Ozzy Osbourne, where his innovative playing laid the foundation for neoclassical metal guitar.

5. Jimi Hendrix

From:Seattle, USA
Born:1942
Age:Passed away in 1970 at the age of 27
Genre:Psychedelic Rock
Band:The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Favorite guitar brand:Fender
Interesting Fact:Renowned for his experimental style and use of effects, he is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Jimi Hendrix’s mastery of the electric guitar led him to explore new sonic territories, combining rock with psychedelia.

His performances were marked by jaw-dropping techniques and an unparalleled ability to manipulate his instrument’s sound.

6. Kirk Hammett

From:San Francisco, USA
Born:1962
Age:60 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Metallica
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:Known for his horror and sci-fi inspired solos.

Kirk Hammett’s lead guitar work with Metallica has left an indelible mark on metal music.

His melodic yet intense playing style has contributed to Metallica’s iconic sound.

7. James Hetfield

From:Downey, USA
Born:1963
Age:59 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Metallica
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:Co-founded Metallica and known for powerful riffs.

James Hetfield is the co-founder and rhythm guitarist of Metallica, known for his distinctive rhythm playing and songwriting contributions that have shaped the band’s legacy.

8. Kerry King

From:Los Angeles, USA
Born:1964
Age:59 years old
Genre:Thrash Metal
Band:Slayer
Favorite guitar brand:B.C. Rich
Interesting Fact:Recognizable for his aggressive and fast solos.

Kerry King’s lightning-fast solos and heavy riffs were instrumental in defining Slayer’s ferocious thrash metal sound, making him an iconic figure in the metal community.

9. Jeff Hanneman

From:Oakland, USA
Born:1964
Age:Passed away in 2013 at the age of 49
Genre:Thrash Metal
Band:Slayer
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:Co-founded Slayer and known for songwriting.

Jeff Hanneman was a founding member of Slayer, contributing greatly to the band’s songwriting and delivering aggressive, unrelenting guitar work that helped define thrash metal.

10. Dave Mustaine

From:La Mesa, USA
Born:1961
Age:62 years old
Genre:Thrash Metal
Band:Megadeth
Favorite guitar brand:Dean
Interesting Fact:Started as Metallica’s guitarist, formed Megadeth.

Dave Mustaine’s tenure with Metallica marked his entry into metal, but it’s with Megadeth that he became an influential frontman and guitarist, known for intricate playing.

11. Marty Friedman

From:Washington, D.C., USA
Born:1962
Age:60 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Megadeth, Cacophony
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson, ESP
Interesting Fact:Became a J-pop idol in Japan after leaving Megadeth.

Marty Friedman’s journey from Megadeth to becoming a J-pop sensation in Japan showcases his versatility.

His fusion of melodic sensibilities with technical prowess has made him a respected figure in guitar circles.

12. Zakk Wylde

From:Bayonne, USA
Born:1967
Age:56 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Black Label Society
Favorite guitar brand:Gibson, Wylde Audio
Interesting Fact:Known for his signature “bullseye” guitar design.

Zakk Wylde’s powerful, Southern-influenced style and his long-standing association with Ozzy Osbourne have solidified his position as a revered guitarist and frontman, particularly through his work with Black Label Society.

13. Ritchie Blackmore

From:Weston-super-Mare, England
Born:1945
Age:78 years old
Genre:Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Band:Deep Purple, Rainbow
Favorite guitar brand:Fender, Gibson
Interesting Fact:A co-founder of Deep Purple and Rainbow.

Ritchie Blackmore’s innovative and iconic guitar work helped shape the foundation of hard rock and heavy metal.

His work with Deep Purple and Rainbow showcases his mastery of both rock and classical influences.

14. Yngwie Malmsteen

From:Stockholm, Sweden
Born:1963
Age:60 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal, Neo-Classical
Band:Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Fender, Marshall
Interesting Fact:Known for his lightning-fast neo-classical style.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s extraordinary technical proficiency and classical-inspired compositions have made him a standout figure in the neo-classical metal genre, influencing countless guitarists with his dazzling speed and precision.

15. Michael Schenker

From:Sarstedt, Germany
Born:1955
Age:68 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:UFO, Scorpions
Favorite guitar brand:Dean, Gibson, Flying V
Interesting Fact:A founding member of Scorpions and later UFO.

Michael Schenker’s impactful career spans from his early days with Scorpions to his work with UFO.

His distinct and melodic playing, along with his signature Flying V, has left a lasting mark on the world of rock and metal.

16. Angus Young

From:Glasgow, Scotland
Born:1955
Age:67 years old
Genre:Hard Rock
Band:AC/DC
Favorite guitar brand:Gibson
Interesting Fact:Known for his schoolboy uniform and energetic performances.

Angus Young’s iconic schoolboy uniform and explosive stage presence have been synonymous with AC/DC’s hard rock sound, where his bluesy riffing and searing solos have left a lasting impact.

17. Malcolm Young

From:Glasgow, Scotland
Born:1953
Age:Passed away in 2017 at the age of 64
Genre:Hard Rock
Band:AC/DC
Favorite guitar brand:Gretsch, Gibson
Interesting Fact:Co-founder of AC/DC and a driving force behind the band’s sound.

Malcolm Young’s rhythmic precision and foundational guitar work were instrumental in shaping AC/DC’s sound.

His innovative rhythm playing and strong songwriting contributions remain a testament to his legacy.

18. Alex Lifeson

From:Fernie, Canada
Born:1953
Age:69 years old
Genre:Progressive Rock
Band:Rush
Favorite guitar brand:Gibson, PRS
Interesting Fact:Known for his textural playing and atmospheric solos.

Alex Lifeson’s contributions to Rush encompass a wide range of styles, from intricate progressive rock to ethereal soundscapes.

His ability to blend technicality and emotion has solidified him as a respected guitarist.

19. Dave Murray

From:London, England
Born:1956
Age:67 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Iron Maiden
Favorite guitar brand:Fender, Jackson, Gibson
Interesting Fact:A long-standing member of Iron Maiden.

Dave Murray’s melodic and harmonized guitar lines have been an integral part of Iron Maiden’s sound.

His partnership with Adrian Smith has given the band a distinctive dual-guitar attack that has influenced many.

20. Adrian Smith

From:London, England
Born:1957
Age:66 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Iron Maiden
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson, Fender
Interesting Fact:Left Iron Maiden and returned, contributing to the band’s success.

Adrian Smith’s departure and subsequent return to Iron Maiden showcases his importance to the band’s legacy.

His versatile playing style, from intricate leads to powerful riffs, has helped define Iron Maiden’s sound.

21. Tony MacAlpine

From:Springfield, USA
Born:1960
Age:62 years old
Genre:Progressive Metal, Fusion
Band:Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Ibanez
Interesting Fact:Known for his technical prowess across multiple instruments.

Tony MacAlpine’s proficiency on guitar, keyboards, and other instruments has made him a versatile musician in the realms of progressive metal and fusion, where his intricate playing and compositions have earned him acclaim.

22. John Petrucci

From:Kings Park, USA
Born:1967
Age:56 years old
Genre:Progressive Metal
Band:Dream Theater
Favorite guitar brand:Music Man, Ernie Ball
Interesting Fact:Co-founder of Dream Theater and known for technicality.

John Petrucci’s intricate playing and innovative use of technology have propelled Dream Theater’s progressive metal sound.

His combination of technicality and emotion in both playing and songwriting has inspired countless guitarists.

23. Joe Satriani

From:Westbury, USA
Born:1956
Age:67 years old
Genre:Instrumental Rock
Band:Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Ibanez
Interesting Fact:Taught guitar to Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett.

Joe Satriani’s instrumental prowess and unique style have made him one of the most influential guitarists in instrumental rock.

His teaching has also played a role in shaping the careers of other renowned guitarists.

24. Steve Vai

From:Carle Place, USA
Born:1960
Age:62 years old
Genre:Instrumental Rock
Band:Solo artist, David Lee Roth
Favorite guitar brand:Ibanez
Interesting Fact:Known for his innovative playing techniques and effects.

Steve Vai’s exceptional technique and groundbreaking use of the guitar’s whammy bar and effects pedals have led to his reputation as a virtuoso.

His collaborations with Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth further highlight his influence.

25. Chuck Schuldiner

From:Long Island, USA
Born:1967
Age:Passed away in 2001 at the age of 34
Genre:Death Metal
Band:Death, Control Denied
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson
Interesting Fact:Pioneered death metal genre, known for complex riffs.

Chuck Schuldiner is considered a pioneer of death metal, known for founding the genre with Death.

His intricate and innovative guitar work pushed the boundaries of extreme metal, leaving a profound impact on the genre.

26. Mikael Åkerfeldt

From:Stockholm, Sweden
Born:1974
Age:48 years old
Genre:Progressive Metal
Band:Opeth
Favorite guitar brand:PRS, Gibson, Fender
Interesting Fact:Known for his versatile vocal and guitar styles.

Mikael Åkerfeldt is the founder of Opeth and a master of both guttural death growls and melodic singing.

His guitar work effortlessly navigates between intricate acoustic passages and heavy riffs, defining Opeth’s progressive sound.

27. Ihsahn

From:Notodden, Norway
Born:1975
Age:48 years old
Genre:Black Metal, Progressive Metal
Band:Emperor, Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Ibanez
Interesting Fact:A prominent figure in Norwegian black metal, known for his innovative compositions.

Ihsahn’s career spans from the influential black metal band Emperor to his expansive solo work.

His ability to blend black metal intensity with progressive and avant-garde elements showcases his musical depth and creativity.

28. Fredrik Thordendal

From:Umeå, Sweden
Born:1970
Age:52 years old
Genre:Progressive Metal
Band:Meshuggah
Favorite guitar brand:Ibanez, Strandberg
Interesting Fact:Known for his intricate rhythm work and polyrhythmic style.

Fredrik Thordendal’s contributions to Meshuggah have redefined modern metal guitar.

His use of complex polyrhythms and extended-range guitars has pushed the boundaries of technicality and groove in progressive metal.

29. Adam Jones

From:Park Ridge, USA
Born:1965
Age:57 years old
Genre:Alternative Metal
Band:Tool
Favorite guitar brand:Gibson, PRS
Interesting Fact:Often uses visual art in conjunction with his guitar work.

Adam Jones’ atmospheric guitar work with Tool is complemented by his visual artistry, resulting in a multisensory experience.

His use of effects and ability to create sonic landscapes have helped define Tool’s unique sound.

30. Synyster Gates

From:Huntington Beach, USA
Born:1981
Age:42 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Avenged Sevenfold
Favorite guitar brand:Schecter, PRS
Interesting Fact:Known for his technical solos and distinctive stage presence.

Synyster Gates is the lead guitarist of Avenged Sevenfold, recognized for his virtuosic solos and flashy style.

His blend of technical skill and showmanship has contributed to the band’s popularity in modern metal.

31. Slash

From:London, England
Born:1965
Age:57 years old
Genre:Hard Rock
Band:Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver
Favorite guitar brand:Gibson
Interesting Fact:Known for his iconic top hat and bluesy rock solos.

Slash’s distinctive style and memorable solos have contributed to the success of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver.

His partnership with his Gibson Les Paul is synonymous with his rock ‘n’ roll image.

32. Martyr

From:Leiden, Netherlands
Born:1982
Age:41 years old
Genre:Technical Death Metal
Band:Visceral Disgorge, Hideous Divinity
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson, Ibanez
Interesting Fact:Founding member of Hideous Divinity and known for technical playing.

Martyr’s technical proficiency and contributions to technical death metal bands like Hideous Divinity have established him as a prominent figure in the extreme metal scene.

33. Kai Hansen

From:Hamburg, Germany
Born:1963
Age:60 years old
Genre:Power Metal
Band:Helloween, Gamma Ray
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:A key figure in the power metal genre and founder of Gamma Ray.

Kai Hansen’s influence on power metal is immense, both as a founding member of Helloween and the driving force behind Gamma Ray.

His melodic and energetic guitar work has shaped the genre.

34. Herman Li

From:Hong Kong
Born:1976
Age:47 years old
Genre:Power Metal, Metalcore
Band:DragonForce
Favorite guitar brand:Ibanez
Interesting Fact:Known for his blazingly fast and melodic guitar solos.

Herman Li’s lightning-fast solos and harmonized melodies are a signature of DragonForce’s power metal sound.

His technical prowess and energetic stage presence have made him a recognizable figure in modern metal.

35. Gus G.

From:Thessaloniki, Greece
Born:1980
Age:43 years old
Genre:Heavy Metal
Band:Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:Known for his collaboration with Ozzy Osbourne and Firewind.

Gus G.’s work with Ozzy Osbourne and Firewind has showcased his versatile guitar skills.

His blend of traditional metal elements and modern techniques has earned him a reputation as a skilled guitarist.

36. Mark Morton

From:Jacksonville, USA
Born:1972
Age:51 years old
Genre:Groove Metal
Band:Lamb of God, Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson
Interesting Fact:Known for his creative riffs and songwriting.

Mark Morton’s contributions to Lamb of God as the lead guitarist have shaped the band’s signature groove metal sound.

His versatility and impactful guitar work extend to his solo projects and collaborations.

37. Kim Thayil

From:Seattle, USA
Born:1960
Age:63 years old
Genre:Grunge, Alternative Rock
Band:Soundgarden
Favorite guitar brand:Guild, Gibson
Interesting Fact:A key figure in the grunge movement and known for unique playing.

Kim Thayil’s guitar work with Soundgarden played a pivotal role in the grunge movement, characterized by his intricate use of alternate tunings and unconventional playing techniques.

38. Stephen Carpenter

From:Sacramento, USA
Born:1970
Age:53 years old
Genre:Nu Metal, Alternative Metal
Band:Deftones
Favorite guitar brand:ESP, Ibanez
Interesting Fact:His seven-string guitar playing influenced the nu metal genre.

Stephen Carpenter’s distinctive seven-string guitar work has been integral to Deftones’ unique sound, blending heavy riffs with atmospheric textures and contributing to the evolution of nu metal.

39. Jeff Waters

From:Ottawa, Canada
Born:1966
Age:57 years old
Genre:Thrash Metal
Band:Annihilator, Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson, Gibson
Interesting Fact:Known for his technical guitar playing and Annihilator.

Jeff Waters’ virtuosic guitar work with Annihilator has made him a respected figure in the thrash metal scene.

His skillful playing and songwriting contributions have earned him a dedicated following.

40. Chuck Billy

From:Alameda, USA
Born:1962
Age:61 years old
Genre:Thrash Metal
Band:Testament
Favorite guitar brand:Jackson, ESP
Interesting Fact:Known for his powerful vocals and rhythm guitar.

Chuck Billy’s distinctive vocal style and rhythm guitar work with Testament have contributed to the band’s status as one of thrash metal’s pioneers.

His deep growls and commanding presence are integral to Testament’s sound.

41. Gary Holt

From:Richmond, USA
Born:1964
Age:59 years old
Genre:Thrash Metal
Band:Exodus, Slayer
Favorite guitar brand:ESP, B.C. Rich
Interesting Fact:Known for his involvement in Exodus and later Slayer.

Gary Holt’s powerful riffing and energetic stage presence have been integral to both Exodus and Slayer.

His unique playing style and songwriting contributions have left an indelible mark on thrash metal.

42. Vernon Reid

From:London, England
Born:1958
Age:65 years old
Genre:Hard Rock, Alternative Rock
Band:Living Colour
Favorite guitar brand:Various
Interesting Fact:Known for his innovative approach to guitar and diverse musical influences.

Vernon Reid’s versatile playing style with Living Colour has incorporated elements of rock, funk, and jazz, showcasing his creative use of effects and pushing the boundaries of what a guitar can sound like.

43. Dan Donegan

From:Oak Lawn, USA
Born:1968
Age:55 years old
Genre:Nu Metal, Alternative Metal
Band:Disturbed
Favorite guitar brand:Schecter, PRS
Interesting Fact:Known for his use of various effects and technology in his playing.

Dan Donegan’s blend of heavy riffs and electronic elements with Disturbed has contributed to the band’s modern rock sound.

His innovative use of effects and technology sets him apart as a guitarist in the nu metal genre.

44. Jim Root

From:Des Moines, USA
Born:1971
Age:52 years old
Genre:Alternative Metal
Band:Slipknot, Stone Sour
Favorite guitar brand:Fender, Jackson
Interesting Fact:Known for his work with Slipknot and Stone Sour.

Jim Root’s heavy and aggressive guitar work with Slipknot has become a defining element of the band’s sound.

His versatility is further highlighted by his work with Stone Sour, showcasing a different side of his playing.

45. Jeff Loomis

From:Apple Valley, USA
Born:1971
Age:51 years old
Genre:Progressive Metal
Band:Nevermore, Solo artist
Favorite guitar brand:Schecter
Interesting Fact:Known for his complex and technical guitar playing.

Jeff Loomis’ virtuosic guitar work, marked by intricate solos and technicality, has garnered recognition in the progressive metal scene.

His contributions to Nevermore and his solo career showcase his mastery of the instrument.

46. Roope Latvala

From:Helsinki, Finland
Born:1970
Age:53 years old
Genre:Melodic Death Metal
Band:Children of Bodom
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:Replaced Alexi Laiho in Children of Bodom.

Roope Latvala’s time with Children of Bodom showcased his versatile guitar playing, contributing to the band’s distinct sound.

His work as a member of Sinergy and Stone performed in tandem with his work in COB demonstrates his impact on the Finnish metal scene.

47. John 5

From:Grosse Pointe, USA
Born:1971
Age:51 years old
Genre:Industrial Metal, Hard Rock
Band:Solo artist, Rob Zombie
Favorite guitar brand:Fender
Interesting Fact:Known for his innovative playing techniques and solo work.

John 5’s creative approach to guitar, incorporating elements of industrial and rock, has made him a sought-after musician.

His solo career and collaboration with Rob Zombie have allowed him to showcase his versatility.

48. Devin Townsend

From:Vancouver, Canada
Born:1972
Age:50 years old
Genre:Progressive Metal, Ambient
Band:Devin Townsend Project
Favorite guitar brand:Framus, PRS
Interesting Fact:Multi-instrumentalist known for a diverse range of styles.

Devin Townsend’s musical career extends beyond guitar, encompassing vocals and production. His innovative guitar work and diverse musical projects have earned him recognition as a progressive and experimental force.

49. Alexi Laiho

From:Espoo, Finland
Born:1979
Age:Passed away in 2020 at the age of 41
Genre:Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal
Band:Children of Bodom
Favorite guitar brand:ESP
Interesting Fact:Founder of Children of Bodom, known for shredding solos.

Alexi Laiho’s legacy as a founding member of Children of Bodom is marked by his blazing solos and melodic death metal compositions.

His distinctive playing style has influenced a generation of metal guitarists worldwide.

50. Michael Amott

From:Halmstad, Sweden
Born:1970
Age:52 years old
Genre:Melodic Death Metal, Death Metal
Band:Arch Enemy, Carcass
Favorite guitar brand:Dean
Interesting Fact:Founding member of Arch Enemy and known for melodic leads.

Michael Amott’s founding role in Arch Enemy and his work with Carcass have solidified him as a key figure in melodic death metal.

His melodic guitar leads and songwriting have played a significant role in shaping the genre.

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