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GOAT Hunt: The greatest guitarists 2001-2021 revealed

Plini
(Image credit: Future)
THE BIG ONE

Our GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Hunt is now in the final stages. Here are the results of our last era round before the all-time guitar great shootout.

And this is the one we were looking forward to - what players from the last 20 years did you rate as greats?

The 2001-2021 saw huge innovations in guitar tech; modelling especially, but what's telling is that blues still strikes a chord with you - alongside true modern mavericks.

Let's take look!

1. Joe Bonamassa

While SRV took the top spot in the previous era vote, the blues wins out again here - and what a choice. A prolific musician who knows as much about tone as the intricacies and passion of creativity, Joe Bonamassa is a worthy choice with the most votes. 

His more recent moves into production, a record label and multi-act live events prove he's a huge ally to the genre too; lifting other players up to realise their potential. 


2. John Mayer

What is left to be said about one of the most famous guitarists on the planet right now? He's infiltrated the mainstream, while waxing lyrical about string slack and Dumble amps. He writes concise mainstream hits, while playing explorative jams with Grateful Dead members. Even his signature model was a talking point. But above all for us and you, Mayer is an unusually gifted guitar player.

Even his detractors surely have to concede, this man understands the voodoo of how to apply encyclopaedic obsession to songcraft and emotive playing. 


3. Tosin Abasi

While the blues lineage of your first two favourites is undeniable, Tosin Abasi is a truly 21st century guitar hero. Whether it's melding bebop with metal Animals As Leaders, taking the percussive techniques of the Wooten brothers to new places or sharing the stage with Bettencourt, Malmsteen, Wylde and Vai, he's a trailblazer. 

Even the Abasi Concepts guitars he designs and plays are outside the box. A true maverick who has only just got started. 


4. Jack White

Another maverick who was tied with Tosin in the votes, pitch-shifting bluesman Jack White brought the true meanings of the genre to a new generation. His reverence for the past, while forging new sonic paths has typified his sonic journey in a variety of bands including The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather.

He's now following his muse as a solo artist, and every new note and gear choice remains fascinating. 


5. Derek Trucks

A man who can make a guitar truly sing, like Bonamassa, the humble Derek Trucks has moved from child prodigy to bonafide modern blues star. A player's player who keeps the flame alive with his searing slide work and commitment to being a team player – BB King knew greatness… 


6. Matt Bellamy 

Our first Brit, and one of rock's few stadium-conquerers to emerge in the last 20 years. Bellamy is a big picture man, with the tones and approach in making them to match. A man making global hits with Kaoss Pads and ZVex Fuzz Factory pedals built into his custom-made Manson guitars? What a time to be alive.

  

 


7. Jonny Greenwood 

No blues in sight here, and many will see the correlation from what Greenwood created in Radiohead with how Bellamy began. The Radiohead enigma has now become as comfortable behind a modular synth as tearing holes out of the sky with his Tele.

It's perhaps that composer's mindset that makes him so respected by other players. And helps Radiohead's sound to become the true essence of progressive.


8. Mark Tremonti

Flying the flag for metal here, with unwavering dedication to evolving his technique and songwriting, Mark Tremonti has now made his mark in three bands. 

Adding lead vocalist to a considerable skillset, we've never met a guitarist who is so enthused by improving their craft in the 21st century. And it shows whenever we hear him play


9. Gary Clark Jr

The blues is just one part of Gary Clark Jr's story and future; he can lay down licks at Antone's with the best of them, and his 2014 live album is testament to it. But his gift has been moving effortlessly between genres, following his instincts and reflecting truths with authority.


10. Plini

What an interesting mix of players your choices have been – some guitar truths will always remain powerful, but here we have someone who is truly forward-thinking. No wonder Steve Vai is a fan.

Plini's rhythm compositions feels singular enough, but then there's the fusion he explores over and between it that has brought progressive instrumental guitar music to new ears. We can't wait to hear where the Australian goes next. 


11. Eric Gales

It's perhaps fitting we start with Bonamassa and end with Eric Gales; a player who feels like they've been on the cusp of a breakthrough with audiences for a while now and will release a JoBo co-produced album (along with Josh Smith) on January 28 2022 called Crown that could change all that. 

As a guitar player it was clear he was dynamite 11 years ago when we first heard the appropriately-titled Relentless album; Gales is a jaw-dropping player who has reminded us of how thrilling the blues can be.