Trolling Stone? Clapton and May fail to make the top 30, and Andy Summers is at the bottom of the Rolling Stone Greatest 250 Guitarists Of All Time

Photo of Eric CLAPTON; posed in the foyer of the Broadway Hotel
(Image credit: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Remember when Rolling Stone published its greatest vocalists of all time list and people got upset? Well, prepare for it all again with its 250 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time. A ranking where Andy Summers is placed at 250, Billy Gibbons at 102, Mark Knopfler at 96, Wes Montgomery at 82! WES MONTGOMERY AT 82?! Don't even get us started about Django at number 70… 

Still, we doubt the icons will care, and there are some real positives in the list; spotlights are placed on newer talents like Chistone 'Kingfish' Ingram (200), Yvette Young (155), Mdou Moctar (90), Tim Henson (161)  and Tosin Abasi (99). Plus, Chuck Berry and Sister Rosetta Tharpe get their dues as a pioneers with high placings. 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

(Image credit: TV Times/TV Times via Getty Images)

The idea of who's best is always kind of ridiculous as a concept, and we really don't think the order here should take the focus away from the opportunity for listeners to discover new and unsung talents for the first time. However, a top 10 guitarists of all-time without Eric Clapton (35), Brian May (33) or David Gilmour (28) is either confirmation of Rolling Stone's continued lack of relevance to music for some, or its willingness to break the conservatism of the music press.  

"In making the list, we tended to value heaviness over tastiness, feel over polish, invention over refinement, risk-takers and originators more than technicians," says Rolling Stone, introducing the list. "We also tended to give an edge to artists who channeled whatever gifts god gave them into great songs and game-changing albums, not just impressive playing."

Here's the top 20 greatest guitarists according to Rolling Stone in 2023:

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Chuck Berry
3. Jimmy Page
4. Eddie Van Halen
5. Jeff Beck
6. Sister Rosetta Tharpe
7. Nile Rodgers
8. BB King
9. Joni Mitchell
10. Duane Allman
11. Carlos Santana
12. Jimmy Nolen
13. Tony Iommi
14. Prince
15. Keith Richards
16. Robert Johnson
17. Mother Maybelle Carter
18. Tom Morello
19. Freddy King
20. Steve Ray Vaughan 

Check out the full list / outrageous ranking at Rolling Stone

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.