I don't do a lot of "top whatever" lists but as an advanced mediocre guitar player I've always been fascinated by the instrument. So here goes! I asked my much more intelligent than myself twitter followers who they thought was the best country / roots guitarists of all time was and I got a lot of excellent responses. Though I used those responses as a source all blame of leaving Buddy Miller off is mine and mine alone.

These 10 masters squeeze magic from lumber and have changed the genre and influenced scores of followers. Country and roots guitarists don't hide behind fancy technology. Their stock-and-trade is built on clean tone and fiery or soulful picking.

Don't see your favorite? Drop them in the comments below.

10. Willie Nelson - An under-appreciated player. Willie's been playing this ode to his hero, Django Reinhardt, on his one-of-a-king acoustic - Trigger - for years.

9. Junior Brown - Junior is an absolute beast on his signature double-neck 6-string meets lap steel guitar guitar. He's dubbed it his "guit-steel".

8. Dave Rawlings - You may go to see Gillian Welch but you'll walk away knowing that it's Rawlings that brings musical depth to the duo.

7. Jerry Reed - most people knwo him as Cledus Snow from the Smokey and the Bandit films but Reed was a top-notch songwriter and guitar slinger.

5. Brent Mason and 6. Vince Gill - Some might say the whole point of this post was to show these masters at work. Who am I to argue?

4. Hank Garland - Garland wrote "Sugarfoot Rag" when he was 19. It went on to sell over a million copies. He went on to be a sought after Nashville session guitarist working with Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins, the Everly Brothers, Boots Randolph, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty.

3, Kenny Vaughan - You can't be a slouch and play with Marty Stuart. Vaughn has lent his talent to Staurt, Lucinda Williams, Rodney Crowell and others. He's also used his fiery tele to carve a=out a right respectable solo career.

2. James Burton - James "Master of the Telecaster" Burton is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. the latter of which his induction speech was given by longtime fan Keith Richards. Burton's session playing  has appeared on the work of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, John Denver, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Jerry Lee Lewis, Claude King, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Vince Gill, Suzi Quatro and more.

1. Chet Atkins - In his lifetime Atkins set a new bar for guitar players. His clear-time picking could shift from roadhouse to supper club in a the same piece. Influenced by Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt, George Barnes, Les Paul, and Maybelle Carter. He has nine Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year awards, and was inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Originally posted at TwangNation.com

Normaltown Records

Tags: Atkins, Brent, Brown, Burton, Chet, Dave, Garland, Gill, Hank, James, More…Jerry, Junior, Kenny, Mason, Nelson, Rawlings, Reed, Vaughan, Vince, Willie

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James Burton would be my favourite , i also loved Eddie Shaver, Lord rest his soul.

Shaver was a sure runner up for the list.

A great list Twang, but you missed one of my faves.....the great Pete Anderson

Also awesome. I see this forum as a "top 10 and counting."

Then let's keep counting......while not strictly country, there's not many guitar players who could light it up like Danny Gatton....RIP.  

Albert Lee. In a class with Burton IMO. Saw him burn Clapton off the stage many years ago as well.

I saw Albert Lee a few years ago, he was a featured guest in Sonny Landreth's band.  Sonny scheduled a few club dates while in town as part of Clapton's Crossroads show.  Sonny also had Harvey Mandell sit in for a song.  Quite a night for listening to guitars.


I had a parallel question a while back  http://www.nodepression.com/forum/topics/un-or-underheralded-guitar... which generated a pretty good list of names.

Kenny Vaughan is amazing and I think Kenny Greenburg is right there with him.  


Albert Lee. Agreed!

John Jorgenson - he has moved on to other genres, but his country work with The Desert Rose Band was as good as it gets.
Now that brings to mind Will Kimbrough and Jed Hughes!

DAVE ALVIN ! also top songwriter unlike the others here...11/11

An artist maybe not mentioned so far is Rick Miller with the North Carolina "trailer trash" spoof  band Southern Culture on the Skids.  Try Camel Walk from Dirt Track Date CD.



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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.