5 Inspirational Guitarists, 5 Reasons Why & 5 Examples


Cream Crackered
Apr 30, 2012
Warrington, Nr Liverpool UK
So we all have a list of favourite guitarists. maybe it's not a set 1,2, 3 etc, but at least we know the ones who've inspired us in some way.

So, I want you to list 5 guitarists who have inspired you in some way, but... I don't just want a list! List your five and also give a reason as to why you find them inspirational - why they matter to you. If you can, post a link or embed a vid that's a great example of their playing.

I'll come back and add my five a little later today... Now work calls! :(
In no particular order:
BB King, because he says so much with so few notes
Jeff Beck, because his guitar is like a voice
Jimi Hendrix, because for me that is where the wonders of electric guitar began
SRV, because he oozed soul on stage
...then a bunch of others that shift in their importance to me from time to time, but I currently favour some classical players like Paco di Lucia and Liona Boyd.
1.) David Gilmour (Pink Floyd):

I don't have a set favourites list as such. There are guitarists who have inspired me massively and others who I admire but haven't really had any influence on me (knowingly). One guitarist who I can confidently say is a favourite is David Gilmour. He's the reaaon I began my guitar playing journey at the age of 16 / 17. Somewhat scarily it's nearly 20 years since I began that journey and I find myself on the verge of turning 35. David's playing still has a profound influence and I still enjoy his playing immensly.

So, what is it that I enjoy about Gilmour's playing? This is harder to put into words than I thought. It's something about the notes he chooses. Every note is perfectly placed. No OTT shredding, no sesnse that he's playing a lick just because he can. He plays to the music and those notes get to me in a way few other guitrists can. He's the dean of the less is more school but to say he's not a great technician would be wrong. Gilmour has his chops down, whether it be perfectly controlled bends, sublime vibrato or great tone. Gilmour's playing was the perfect marriage for the intensity of Roger Waters lyrics. I'd also say Gilmour is one of only a small number of guitarists who's playng you can identify in the first bar. Truly a great!!!

I'm going to do the obvious and choose Comfortably Numb as my example. The bridge and outro solos capture Gilmour at his majestic best! Scrap that, i'll add Shine On You Crazy Diamond into the hat too!

2.) Gary Moore:

Gary is one of those guitarists who can mix up all out fretboard fireworks with beautiful, melodic and well crafted lines. Some may disagree, but I always felt Gary was underated - particularly as a blues guitarist. He was able to navigate between blues, rock, metal and many other styles through his career. he'll be sorely missed.

My example is a cover Gary did called The Messiah Will Come Again. This is the Live In Montreux version. Spellbindng perfection!!!

3.) Mark Knopfler:

Mark is a fine, fine player who, like Gilmour, has the knack of playing only as many notes as is needed. Again, I can hear Mark in the first few notes regardless of what guitar he's playing. Mark has continued to pump out great music, whether it be with Dire Straits or solo. One of the all time greats IMHO.

My two examples are Romeo And Juliet and Tunnel Of Love. That outro solo on TOL is just perfection!

Last edited by a moderator:
4.) Joe Bonamassa:

I got into Joe a few years ago just after he released the Sloe Gin album. He, perhaps, doesn't quite have the signature sound some of the others have, but he's getting there. A great player and a great showman. He grows on me the more I listen to him and I urge you to check him out if you haven't already!

My example is Sloe Gin:

5.) Saul Hudson AKA Slash:

Anglo American guitraist Slash is perhaps the most iconic guitarist of the ones i've listed. We all know the image of the sunglasses, long curly hair and top hat. But what leasves the lasting impression is that Slash is also a great player. Whether it be classic riffs such as Sweet Child or Welcome To The Jungle or classic solos such as November Rain, Slash delivers.

One thing that ties all these guitarists together is that they all have a strong sense of melody. They don't just indulge in pointless shred for the sake of it. They can create great, memorable riffs and solos that will entertain us long after they're gone.

My examples for Slash are Sweet Child (How could I not!) and November rain:

I have to add a sixth to this list...

6.) Brian May (Queen):

Like the others, Brian has a wonderful, melodic sense. The tone he gets from his Vox amps and his Red Special is the stuff of dreams. Brians soaring guitar playing went hand on hand with Freddys vocals and stage antics.

Here's Who Want's To Live Foever, featuring a perfectly played little solo from Brian:

Last edited by a moderator:
Here we go.

Gary Miller, aka "Dr. Know" from the band "Bad Brains".

Gary has influenced an entire generation of your favorite musicians and guitar players, but is sadly almost unknown. Do like Beastie Boys, Metallica, Janes Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Slayer,Madonna, Living Color, Nirvana, Bush, 311, Helmet, Ministry, Smashing Pumkins, The Cars, Alice in Chains, Henry Rollins, Black Flag, Misfits,The Pixes, Anthrax, Mos Def, The Roots, Fugazi, Rancid, Green Day, No Doubt, or any of the bands that they have influenced? Then you pretty much owe it to Gary to check out his playing.

The staccato style of guitar playing for metal/hardcore/alternative players came from this man, there would be no such thing as a "mosh" part, there would be no "stage-diving", and Corey Glover would just be an actor. Metallica has lifted at least one major riff from these guys, and if pressed will totally admit it. The name Beastie Boys come from the groups adulation of Bad Brains, the story goes that they wanted a name with two "B's" in it like Bad Brains.

They continued The Clash's formula of adding reggae into the punk vernacular, and added a sense of funk/groove elements to it.
All hail Dr, Know!

Last edited by a moderator:
Joe Walsh

This guy, along with the next guy, are the reason I picked up the guitar in the first place. Hearing that solo on Hotel California saved my life. I love his lyrical non technical bluesy playing and his great riffs. I'm a sucker for riffs, even more than solos if it comes right down to it. I love his raw energy and performances. I find I really connect to his playing style more than any other guitarist. I also admire his personality and his humor.

Don Felder

Don is my other main hero, which along with Joe makes my favorite duo of all time. As I said above, hearing the solo on Hotel really saved my life and made me start playing. I love Don's fluid lead playing and the fact he is different playing wise from Joe makes it a great match. I always personally lean to the selftaught/raw bluesy guy over the technician but I love Don's playing and he, like Joe, always plays to serve the song.

Keith Richards

Keef is my rhythm guitar hero and my favorite rhythm guitarist. I love his groove and his innovative Open G 5 string riffs. I feel that he is the Grandfather of the Riff, and really paved the way for future riffmasters. He really has a great style and I love his tone. For me when I think of rock n' roll, it's hard for me not to think of the Rolling Stones first because they define RnR in every way for me. I love Keef, he's hilarious.

Joe Perry

This guy is probably the coolest guy in rock n' roll. He is a riffmaster for sure and I love his sloppy Page-esque riffs and his bluesy leads. He really defines rockstar to me and what a rock n' roll guitar slinger is. His tone is fantastic and Toys In The Attic is one of my top records of all time. Riffs like Walk This Way don't come often and they are so catchy. I can't think of a time that I have started into that riff and not had everyone go to their feet.

Jimmy Page

If Keef is the Grandfather of the Riff, this guy has to be the father. Jimmy really has a great way of playing and such a swagger and persona that is unmatched. His riffs and solos are iconic and hugely influential to me. As I said above, riffs are my thing when it comes right down to it. I love his leads as well, and solos like Stairway To Heaven are classic. Jimmy influenced many of my other heroes, such as Joe Perry who I mentioned above.

That's just SOME of my biggest heroes.
Last edited by a moderator:
Michael Schenker,Uli Roth,Yngwie Malmsteen,Eddie Van Halen,Randy Rhoads,Jimi Hendrix,Jeff Beck,Carlos Santana,Albert King,Albert Collins,Lonnie Mack,Michael Landau,Allan Holdsworth,Tony Iommi,Jean-Paul Bourelly,Jimmy Page.....tone and originality for all of them

Last edited by a moderator:
Segovia (and his students) for bringing the guitar Bach out of the gutter and opening a new world for us to explore.

Sabicas for his attitude and ability to stay true to his roots, showing folk music is as grand and as complex as any.

Wes Montgomery for setting such high standards of melody, comping and tone.

Jimi Hendrix for just being Jimi and paving the way for the modern electric guitarist.

Frank Zappa for not conforming to any rules and being so freakin' creative, doing whatever he saw fit.

Jeff Beck for making the guitar an expressive instrument like a saxophone. He always captures my full attention.

Sorry, that was six.
Yup, Jeff Beck...

Consisdered the guitarists guitarist by many. It's funny, I was talking about Rory Gallagher with someone on here yesterday and how I was late to the party. Same with Jeff. He completely skipped me by until I saw the Live At Ronnie Scotts gig. Guy completely blew me away and i've been a solid fan since.
Thomas McClary from the Commodores.

Never too showy (not including his wardrobe) and always in the pocket, Thomas was able to support some of Lionel's more country styled ballads and then turn around and deliver the funk!
He's another one of those great "little guitar" players, weaving in and out of traffic with a wicked percussive style. Check out his funky playing on "Sexy Lady" where he lets loose with some great phased leads, and his guitar solo on "Easy" is the definition "inspirational". When is the last time you had one of your solos sung back to you by a group of people many generations younger than your own children? Masterful playing!

Okay this is the one, when this happens to you, you know you wrote a GREAT guitar solo.

Last edited by a moderator:
Thomas McClary from the Commodores.

Never too showy (not including his wardrobe) and always in the pocket, Thomas was able to support some of Lionel's more country styled ballads and then turn around and deliver the funk!
He's another one of those great "little guitar" players, weaving in and out of traffic with a wicked percussive style. Check out his funky playing on "Sexy Lady" where he lets loose with some great phased leads, and his guitar solo on "Easy" is the definition "inspirational". When is the last time you had one of your solos sung back to you by a group of people many generations younger than your own children? Masterful playing!

Okay this is the one, when this happens to you, you know you wrote a GREAT guitar solo.

Last edited by a moderator:
Andy Gill from Gang of Four.

Andy has unknowingly influenced an entire generation of indie rockers, his biting tone (originally coming from a Carlsboro SS amp) and slashing, and at times noisy style of staccato playing laid the framework for the music of such bands as; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shellac, Franz Ferdinand, Hot Hot Heat, Radio 4, The Killers, Bloc Party, U2, INXS, and even R.E.M.
Gang of Four's super heavy sociopolitical message was hidden within music that was not quite Punk or New Wave, but an amalgam of the two mixed with ultra-danceable beats.
Give a listen if you are unfamiliar, their style has infiltrated popular music in a way nobody could have predicted. (unless you still own your first copy of "Entertainment")

Last edited by a moderator:
Joe Satriani- A monster shedder that keeps in melodic.

Eddie VH- The Chuck Berry of the 70-80s. He did stuff that everybody built upon.

Paul Gilbert- Because he plays the licks and phrasing that I hear in my head (but need someone else to execute).

Trevor Rabin- The times I've seen him play he puts me in a trance.

Ben Lacy- No explanation needed once you Youtube "Kasmir."

Above, Les said it can't be done. He's right.........how can I leave out Schon, Petrucci, Vai, MacAlpine, Bettencourt, Huff, M. Thompson, and, and, and,
Last edited:
Man this is tough, but I'm just gonna write the first ones that come to mind:

Tom Morello - brought doing crazy things with a guitar into the "mainstream"
Al D - I only got into him lately which is a regret. His use of rhythm is freaking awesome, and he's just an all round amazing player
Scott Henderson - there's a Tribal Tech track called "Niteclub" that I have listened to the solo of a zillion times, it's like perfection in a guitar solo for me!
Matt Bellamy - ok same boat as Tom Morello, also brilliant at getting creative with a guitar. A Kaoss pad in a guitar? Why not!
Jeff Buckley - probably wondering why he is in here, but he was actually a really good player. His ability to sing and play at the same time is just mind boggling (to me!)

Honourable mention to Tommy Emmanuel, well he's Australian and a bloody good player.

I'll try and find some good links when I have more time...
OK here's the Scott Henderson one, someone has graciously uploaded it to YT

Gotta go do stuff, will post more later!
Last edited by a moderator:
In chronological order...

Johnny Cash. For me, it all starts here - there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be a guitarist if not for him. Special nod to Luther Perkins - I’ve long said that I’m not chasing any one tone, but Luther’s tone is one that I’ve always wanted to get. Not to be my one and only, but just to be able to do it.

Ace Frehley. My entry into hard rock. Say what you will about the merch and stuff, but I was a big Kiss fan from about 1978 until Gene and Paul finally wore me down trashing their past. I saw his solo tour about a year and a half ago, and he was playing Kiss songs that Kiss won’t play, including a couple they added after he and Peter left - and quickly dropped.

Randy Rhoads. Yeah, I know - Eddie Van Halen. But Eddie struck me as one of those guys you just couldn’t emulate. When Randy came along, I realized you could take some of Eddie’s stuff and use it differently. Probably the guy I tried hardest to emulate. I mean, I worked on a lot of Ace’s stuff, but I really wanted to be able to play like Randy.

Frank Zappa. Wow - what an eye-opener. When Frank’s stuff finally kicked in for me, it opened up a whole new world. Very much overlooked as a guitarist because of the humor he brought. Among others, he led me to Steve Vai and...

Mike Keneally. Possibly the best musician I’ve ever met in my life. One of those guys you watch and think is there anything he can’t do? First exposed to him in Zappa’s 1988 band, lost touch with his stuff in the mid-90s, and have been solidly back in touch since about 2000. Zappa to Vai to solo to Dethklok - and plays keyboards for Satriani and occasionally Chickenfoot. I’ve seen and heard him do things that just make me shake my head. The only celebrity-owned guitar I ever bought - a Hamer Duo-Tone that I finally found video of him using (not in this clip).

To be continued...
Last edited by a moderator: