GOAT hunt: Who is the greatest 1980 –1999 guitarist?

(Image credit: James Andanson/Sygma via Getty Images)

GOAT hunt: Who is the guitar GOAT? 

You heard us; which player, of all the greats that have made the guitar the instrument that's defined multiple generations of popular culture, deserves to be crowned the Greatest Of All Time? 

GOAT Hunt: Who are the Greatest Of All Time?

We're going to find out, using a white hot amalgam of internet technology and democracy. What could possibly go wrong? And yes, yes, we know - there is no universal ‘best’, and this is a ridiculous endeavour, but there are preferences and opinions, and it's time to register yours.

So, we're continuing the guitar rounds with the next wave of inspirational players from 1980 to 1999 and it's opened a world of new heroes and heroines the scenes of that era; from post-punk to grunge, shred, funk and beyond.  

In our list of contenders we’ve also looked at catalogue alongside influence; focussing on the recording and live legacy left by our pre 1980s players. And yes, many have had hugely successful careers post-1980 but we’ve honed in on their greatest creative eras here. 


Jimi Hendrix

(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns)

The greatest guitarists pre-1980 revealed

Which of them truly deserve to be selected to the final stage as we attempt to reveal and celebrate the true guitar GOAT? That’s now down to you.  

Vote below for the five players you consider the best candidates for GOAT-hood for the period of 1980 to 1999. 

And if we've missed out your pick or another worthy entrant, use the 'Other' field below to enter your own answer. We'll tot those up as well. No potential GOAT gets left behind! 

Once the dust has settled, the top 10 will go through to a final tear-up against their counterparts from the pre-1980 players round we recently announced and forthcoming 2000-20 round. 

May the best GOAT win.

Vote here - select up to 5

Says who?

While drawing up our shortlists, we've considered a mix of factors including, but not limited to, influence and innovation in their specific sphere, cultural impact and, yes, chops. 

You will find fusion kings in the mix, but they're arguably under-represented, and your classical maestros will doubtless feel aggrieved. Sorry about that.

Disclaimer: Please file this GOAT Hunt under the category A Bit Of Fun. We're here to celebrate the musicians that have inspired generations and continue to influence the very best music made today. 

While ranking them is - if you insist on being serious about it - reductive and stupid, we're going to do it anyway. Just for fun. And along the way, we're going to showcase the best of the best. 

Bring on the GOATs.

MusicRadar Team

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