12. Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
The MusicRadar/Total Guitar Best in guitars 2017 polls have received over 136,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the guitarists and guitar gear that have excelled in 2017. Here, we present the best prog guitarists of 2017. First up we have Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Thom Yorke of Radiohead...
2017 highlight: 2017 was a notable year for Britain’s great contemporary prog heroes, playing host to the reissue of landmark album OK Computer, a headline slot at Glastonbury, nod for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and even a signature Fender model (sort of).
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11. Chris Letchford (Scale The Summit)
2017 highlight: The Scale The Summit mastermind unleashed In A World Of Fear this year, a veritable tech-metal feast, star-studded by appearances from guitar luminaries such as Nick Johnston, Angel Vivaldi and Jeff Loomis. Chris has been sharing the knowledge while out on tour, too, hosting masterclasses with eager fans.
10. Adrian Belew (Gizmodrome)
2017 highlight: One of the most in-demand ‘out-there’ guitarists in the biz, the King Crimson man somehow found time to hook up with fellow musical luminaries Stewart Copeland, Mark King and Vittorio Cosma to produce Gizmodrome’s remarkable prog-pop debut, injecting his idiosyncratic Parker Fly playing with a giddy sense of humour alongside some typically fluid leads.
9. Sam Vallen, Adrian Goleby (Caligula's Horse)
2017 highlight: Earlier this year, Sam told us that he’s made it his mission to fit ornamental chords into heavier music since penning his honours thesis on Steely Dan’s harmonic vocabulary back in 2013. Vallen and his fellow axeman Adrian Goleby certainly succeeded with latest album In Contact, which not only displayed an academic knowledge of voicings, but also some technically astounding lead runs.
8. Steven Wilson
2017 highlight: Mr Wilson had a bona fide smash on his hands this year with To The Bone. A potent blend of pop and prog, it offered perhaps the most mainstream work we’ve yet heard from the Porcupine Tree man, but remained chock full of standout six-string moments and drastic shifts in mood and timbre.
7. Mikael Akerfeldt, Fredrik Akesson (Opeth)
2017 highlight: We’re still reeling from the ’70s-informed prog brilliance of 2016’s Sorceress, but a run of live dates this year has only confirmed the success of the Opeth six-string duo’s continually evolving approach to performance and songcraft. They’re now set to hunker down to work on the follow-up, and we can’t wait.
6. Rory Friers, Niall Kennedy (And So I Watch You From Afar)
2017 highlight: Ranking among the best live bands in the world, instrumental or otherwise, ASIWYFA further cemented their sterling reputation with a return to the math-tinged post-rock with which they made their name on their fifth album. Besides sounding like a reverb pedal preset parody, The Endless Shimmering is positively rammed with killer pull-off licks and mad pitch-shifted runs, and we love it.
5. Andrew Groves (Arcane Roots)
2017 highlight: As their star rises, Arcane Roots’ ambitions only get grander – but courtesy of guitar-toting frontman Andrew Groves’ penchant for big riffs and widescreen soundscapes, the Kingston-upon-Thames trio consistently deliver, as evidenced on this year’s incendiary Melancholia Hymns.
4. Tosin Abasi, Javier Reyes (Animals As Leaders)
2017 highlight: We remain completely and utterly in awe of the talents of these two, and they’ve certainly been busy, touring relentlessly, and bringing their heady blend of djent, prog and shred to thousands. That’s in between Tosin releasing his own DVD and designing new models with Ibanez, of course.
3. Steve Hackett
2017 highlight: Remarkably, The Night Siren is Steve Hackett’s 25th studio album, testament to the incredible staying power of the former Genesis guitarist. He’s not afraid to celebrate his legacy, either, with the Classic Hackett Tour commemorating his work with his previous band and over three decades of solo work. Imagine picking that setlist!
2. John Petrucci (Dream Theater)
2017 highlight: 2017 has seen the world’s most popular tech-prog heroes celebrate the 25th anniversary of landmark album Images And Words with a mammoth world tour, causing Mr Petrucci to tear yet more holes in the space-time continuum courtesy of his million-miles-per-hour alternate picking. Universe be damned; we wouldn’t have it any other way.
2017 highlight: Steve Vai hailed him as “the future of exceptional guitar playing”, so it seems fitting that Aussie fretboard wizard Plini is the winner here. With trusty Strandberg* in hand, this wunderkind has spent 2017 touring the world and sharing the harmonically masterful workouts of debut album Handmade to a wider audience. Kudos, sir.