Join us for our traditional look back at the stories and features that hit the spot in 2022
Best of 2022: It can be a thankless task putting yourself out there to become a guitar influencer– the court of public opinion sometimes attracts the cruel and callous as even big guitar artists have found. But put the work in (a lot of work), sprinkled with the X-factors of winning attitude, grace, humour and the ability to wax lyrical about the 54th overdrive pedal you've tried this month… well, big things can happen.
The previous two years' winners appear here again but neither made the top three, instead we see upcoming content creators getting recognition. That's promising news and suggests that the democratisation of guitar content creation is still something to be celebrated.
1. Ola Englund
The former accountant and 2019's winner gained an impressive share of the votes this time around. Somehow Ola has continued to grow his metal-leaning channel while being a pro musician and running a successful guitar company (Solar) too.
Ola's serious about consistent, quality content with his multiple show formats, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. It makes for an addictive mix and he's been reeling in the guests this year too as the interview side of his craft evolves via Coffee With Ola.
His output is relentless; making content in reaction to big events in metal seems obvious but it's challenging. Ola always manages to find an entertaining way to do it, from learning Metallica's new single on camera, to finding out from Zakk Wylde that Ola's Pantera videos helped him to learn the songs. But no matter how good his access is or how big his channel gets, there's always the sense Ola is one of us: a fan of guitar, first and foremost.
“You need to find your own voice and ideas - with its own unique spin," Ola told us about his tips for others who want to make their mark online. "That’s what the audience clings onto; they want real people that they can live through. They want to be part of something - be true to yourself because people can tell if it’s an act. Help people out, be part of the community and give information. I did it all by being... me.”
2. Ayla Tesler-Mabe (Guitareo)
Ayla Tesler-Mabe plays guitar in the band Ludic, but it turns out she's also a natural guitar teacher.
"I don't really think knowledge belongs to anyone," Ayla says. "I just think it can make everyone's lives a little better." It's this inclusive tone and approach that is connecting the Guitareo channel with players.
There's the option to sign up to Guitareo's paid subscription online guitar lessons, but there's no obligation and there's a regular stream of free content that never feels like previews and Ayla's lessons are a key to the value here.
The guitar world can sometimes get exclusive and aspirational in a way that can turn newcomers off, Ayla makes us all feel welcome to gain some insight with her lessons.
3. Mick Taylor and Dan Steinhardt (That Pedal Show)
Former Guitarist magazine editor Mick Taylor and GigRig founder Dan Steindhadrt embrace the idea of a community that all good channels need, but they lead their tribe unapologetically down the rabbit holes of wet-dry rigs, underdrive, more-is-more pedalboards and everything else only the other guitar nerds at your pub gig might possibly notice.
Which is entirely the point; these things matter to a lot of guitar players, and if it makes us feel inspired about our sound it might just reflect in our playing. And it's this quest that keeps players coming back.
In return the duo somehow manage to continuously stay on their own terms while finding new angles on the subjects of pedals, amps and guitars. And no, that doesn't include digital modelling; TPS is valve-driven.
4. Rick Beato
The What Makes This Song Great series made last year's poll winner's name in the YouTuber arena, but Rick's channel has now become a go-to destination for his musician interviews – where they actually talk about the creative process – alongside insightful takes on music news.
Rick doesn't just have the knowledge of a talented musician and producer, his broad tastes allow him to appeal to viewers beyond many genre divides. His enthusiasm is at the heart of it all; it's infectious.
5. Andy Ferris (The Guitar Geek)
That enthusiasm we just mentioned is an essential trait of any guitar channel host, but Andy's approach shines especially brightly right now. His relatability is aided by a focus on gear a lot of us can actually save up and afford, rather than the elitist 'look what I've got' trap some others fall into.
Instead of misleading clickbait, there's genuine honest hooks with Andy's videos and an ease on camera with guitar that's clearly, ahem, struck a chord with you in your voting.
We'd also urge newcomers check out his Guitar Stories podcast series with Ibanez's Dr Dan, where the duo speak to a range of industry figures with genuinely insightful results.
6. Justin Hawkins (Justin Hawkins Rides Again)
Who knew that Justin Hawkins wasn't just a natural frontman for a rock band, but would emerge as fantastic YouTuber too? Affable, funny, timely, poignant and somehow both opinionated while always being fair… Justin's topical reaction videos kept delivering for you this year.
He's also the master of the click-magnet video title, but the key is delivering on the promise. And his insight – whether it's chord structures or the pitfalls of the industry – is always on the money.
7. Matt Webster (Let's Play All)
Matt's recipe for his channel is simple, and perhaps that's the secret, but delivering it is a task few would be up to.
Song lessons on (mostly) '90s alt rock delivered by a superb player and friendly teacher, alongside choice pedal demos (and often both at once) allows us to not just nail songs some of us grew up with but to also hear new gear in a great context.
If you're a Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, QOTSA, Smashing Pumpkins, RHCP, Soundgarden, STP and Alice In Chains, head Matt's way!
8. Colin Scott (CS Guitars)
There's a lot of people who are great at gear demos running successful channels out there, but Colin Scott brings a mixture of insight, honesty and humour to his videos that's addictive.
His 'science of loud' approach, mixed with a player's mindset is genuinely educational and there's whole episodes devoted to this side of things, and though he doesn't post as regularly as some (shock horror: many YouTubers have to diversify or work day jobs to make a living) Colin's videos are always worth your time. And for us his product videos are a lesson to budding YouTubers in how to make great 'paid promotion' guitar content.
9. Rhett Shull
Rhett's channel has really come into his own in 2022 as he's mixed up studio and location content (he's even building his own recording studio). The result is a pro player with a consistently strong output that benefits from his experience and insights.
He brings in some special guests from time to time including Rick Beato and Tim Pierce, but Rhett's honest musicians' perspective is the star here.
10. Paul Davids
Your top choice from two years ago just joined Rick Beato in the three million subscribers club – yep he's massive now. And the guitar community's slickest Dutchman continues to succeed with his intimate and high production style, even when he's demonstrating reverb in a nuclear reactor.
Will he run out of ideas for videos? No chance – the wonderful world of guitar will never stop inspiring content creators.