Who Is Your #1 Guitar Hero?

Today I’m in the Tone Taxi driving around the ski hill called Bridger Bowl. We’re talking about guitar heroes, how important they are, and how everyone has one! I’d love to know yours so leave a comment below. My all-time guitar hero is…

The ULTIMATE Guitar Practice Routine

Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!

I’d like to kindly welcome you to the Tone Taxi. This is a place where you ride along with me in my car, and we have a musical discussion, mostly stimulating musical discussion.

Now today, Joel and I are headed through the Bridger Bowl parking lot. We just decided to drive up to the ski area to see what it was all about. We just got a bunch of snow, and it looks packed, and it’s just a beautiful day. It’s like a winter wonderland out there, it’s unbelievable. I got the dogs in the back of the car. Today’s day in the Tone Taxi is extremely amazing.

What I’m here to talk with you about today is Guitar Heroes. As a guitarist, I think you have to have a guitar hero. My guitar hero really is a result of my dad because my dad gave me a stack of Johnny Winter records and he said, “Here.” This is when I was first getting into playing guitar. He said, “You need to listen to this guy,” and I did. I listened to him a lot, and I really wanted to do everything that he did because he was an amazing guitarist in my mind and definitely hero worthy.

Now, I got a little traffic issue here, sorry, got a little bit of a traffic issue, but we got through that one okay. It’s a busy day up here. What I really want to hear is who your guitar hero is. Please do me a favor and leave a comment below and share with me and everybody who your guitar hero is. I want to amass a serious list here of guitar heroes because I know there’s a lot of them out there. Thanks a lot for riding along in the Tone Taxi.


  1. Profile photo of Gary L
    Gary L

    Wow! Tough one. I graduated high school in 1970 and attended college through 1974. So, I am an unabashed classic rock guy. I have several guitarists that I love. Just to name a few;
    Jimmy Page
    David Gilmore
    Lindsay Buckingham
    Don Felder
    and last but certainly not least, Tony Polecastro

  2. Profile photo of Sean F
    Sean F

    Keef if why I play guitar and Pete Anderson is who got me to playin’ country.

  3. Profile photo of Tony P
    Tony P Post author

    I have been thoroughly enjoying reading all of these comments!!! This is awesome!!! Just plain awesome!!! So many great guitar slingers on here, it will keep me busy for days… every time I see a name I may have forgot, I start listening to them 🙂 Thank you everyone for leaving your comments!!!


  4. Profile photo of David H
    David H

    I was introduced to Pete Hullinger’s music by you a few months ago and was able to see him perform in what unfortunately was his last show. Sad news is he passed away Friday after having another stroke just two days after his Woodstock, GA performance. He was on top of everything that night.

    1. Profile photo of Bob R
      Bob R

      Pete Huttlinger was one of my all around favorites and a super nice person. His courage and determination in dealing with his illnesses was simply unbelievable. To know that he is gone is unthinkable. I still can’t quite believe it. The first time I met him in the lobby of Carnegie Hall in NYC signing CD’s after his first (and I believe only) performance there (his folks were in the audience). His style was unparalleled. I told him I though he was Chet (Atkins), Clarence (White) and Leo (Kottke) (my long time favorites) rolled into one. He said he had just met with Leo a few weeks earlier. Were on the same page. He will be missed.
      Bob R

  5. Profile photo of Roger V
    Roger V

    Hard to pick, so many favorites. I’m a golden oldie, my list of guitarists come from my early years, although they are both still active.Their position on my list varies with my moods and current obsessions. Clapton and Neil Young are always at the top of my list – 1A and 1B. They both have the ability to move me on almost everything they do. Very different styles, but incredible talents.

    The ones I’m listening to now are:
    1) Eric Clapton
    2) Neil Young

  6. Profile photo of Carol M
    Carol M

    I have alot of guitar favorites, and even a few ‘heros”, but my fav guitar hero would probably be Eric Clapton. After the tragic accidental death of his little boy, he kept going on, and even poured all that pain into a beautiful song- one that he would perform over and over again. Thank you, Mr. Clapton!
    My other hero is my guitar teacher, John. He is so cool and such a skilled musician, and a very patient teacher.
    Thanks John!

  7. Profile photo of Eve D
    Eve D

    There are so many, but right now I’ll have to say Pete Huttlinger.

  8. Profile photo of John H
    John H

    Mark Knopfler is pretty amazing on electric guitar. It’s hard though…there are so many good guitarists! For acoustic guitarists….it’s got to be Doc Watson! Of course, Tommy Emmanuel is crazy good. I’m hearing him here in Boston in a couple of weeks! Can’t wait.

  9. Profile photo of jeff s
    jeff s

    I saw Tommy Emmanuel last night in Carmel CA and I gotta say, my hero is Tommy. After the show my son and I had a lively debate, virtuosity vs. commercial success/mass appeal and in the end, we both agreed virtuosity would be our choice. Tommy Emmanuel gets my vote.

  10. Profile photo of Joseph F
    Joseph F

    My #1 Tommy Emmanuel – & because of the linage that leads to him; Merle Travis & Doc Watson.

  11. Profile photo of Bernard G
    Bernard G

    George Harrison, underrated guitarist, specialist of fifties rock style and of course a great slide guitar player. But also very good on acoustic guitar. I place him apart from the others.
    Of course I adore many other guitarists : David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, John Fogerty ….

  12. Profile photo of Maik S
    Maik S

    Ed Sheeran …
    for me he is one of the best!
    and i dont mean the technik ore the solo playing ore what ever …
    i mean everything and what he do with his guitar, only with this one guitar!

    and (unbelievable for me what he do with his Guitar!)
    Antoine Dufour

  13. Profile photo of Marty

    Chet Atkins is still my first true guitar inspiration.
    Chester made a lot of the stuff us modern guitar players take for granted.
    I love my Chet Atkins Gibson and Epiphone guitar designs. His designs to combine playable acoustics that were then possible to record still stand as classics. He used Shadow Electronics, individual string pickups for better sounding tonalities from each individual string on the guitars that he designed (and Gibson and Epiphone built) and they sound awesome, even today. One of his last designs included a built in headphone amplifier so that he could play constantly and not disturb others.
    And contrary to how many people tried to pigeon hole him as a ‘country’ player, he played all genres on his guitars.
    Most of all, he loved playing guitar and he shared that love with everyone, his entire life!

  14. Profile photo of Dru

    11. Richard Thompson who in saw in concert recently. Amazing.

  15. Profile photo of Dru

    This is an ever changing list…
    1. Steve Howe
    2. Tony Rice
    3. Son House
    4. Joni Mitchell
    5. Johnny Winter
    6. Jimmy Page
    7. Nick Drake
    8. John Fahey
    9. Jeffrey Foucault
    10. Bonnie Raitt

  16. Profile photo of Alan P
    Alan P

    I’ve been inspired by many, with Mark Knopfler and Pat Metheny filling many hours of my musical landscape. But only one, has inspired me above all others and brought me ultimate joy that I know will last a lifetime……Jerry……Of course….
    Grateful Dead – Jerry Garcia tells a funny acid story

  17. Profile photo of John White - Canada
    John White - Canada

    I had this already played out in my head for when the question was to come up, it is macab but none the less…

    Alive –
    Jeff Beck, Buckethead, Macyn Taylor, Brian “Robbo” Robertson
    Deceased –
    Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix, Rick Gunn

  18. Profile photo of Michael M
    Michael M

    Tough question. No one above all others but Clapton, Stevie Ray, Dicky Betts, David Gilmour, Doc Watson and of course Joe Wash and Neil Young. Bridger Bowl, what a place. Had an epic wipeout on black diamond “Bucks Run”. Love that place.

  19. Profile photo of Peter B
    Peter B

    Keith Richards. Love that Open G stuff and the Acoustic stuff too. Love in Vain from Let it Bleed.

  20. Profile photo of Scott B
    Scott B

    There is an amazing list of guitar heroes already listed. I could see picking a number of those myself, as they have all been influences. But, I will suggest two, one already mentioned. (Mississippi) John Hurt was impressive, and I always thought with enough practice I could begin to sound something like that. The other one, and this surprises even me, is Willie Nelson. I saw him perform when he was in his 80’s and he could still perform well. He has that characteristic tone that you know is one of his songs. But, mostly just seeing someone who is in their 9th decade enjoying playing the guitar motivates me to keep playing. He is certainly not the most proficient guitarist on this amazing list collectively created by my predecessors, but still worthy of mention.

  21. Profile photo of Tim M
    Tim M

    ACOUSTIC (not so) short list – John Martyn, Nick Drake, RM Hubbert, Martin Simpson, Doc Watson, M.Ward, Joni Mitchell, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, John Fahey, Richie Havens…

    ELECTRIC (not so) short list – Duane Allman, Jimmi Hendrix, Peter Green, Dave Gilmour, Richard Thompson, Buddy Miller, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, BB King, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, John Lee Hooker, Cliff Gallup, Mick Ronson…

    So many amazing players, I can never pick just one, they are all No.1 for many different reasons.

  22. Profile photo of Keith

    I have to say Tommy Emmanuel. He is the most amazing finger-style player I have ever seen. The music just comes right through him…it is magical! He is amazing!

  23. Profile photo of Tina G
    Tina G

    Like the chip, can’t name just one.. Hendrix, Clapton, Dylan, Young

  24. Profile photo of Brian K
    Brian K

    Wow! Bridger Bowl. Back in the ‘70s Bridger was the first stop on my daily UPS route that took me north over the pass to Wilsall, south to Chico then back to Bozeman (250+ miles round trip not including my commute home to Beckman Flat in Gallatin Canyon). I still can’t believe I did that for three cold winters. Anyway, my guitar hero? Duane Allman certainly, but when I thought back to those days in Bozeman, David Bromberg came instantly to mind. He made it look so easy—you just had to learn to play like that. Jerry Jeff Walker on David Bromberg: “The reason man created stringed instruments. David touched them with a lover’s fingers and they moaned true love right back at him. Wood and wire and flesh spoke.” Thanks for all your inspiration Tony.

  25. Profile photo of Lee K
    Lee K

    for me, hands down, Brian May; love his melodic flair and musicality

  26. Profile photo of William v
    William v

    My guitar hero would be probably Nokie Edwards. He is probably the most under rated guitarist ever. I know him and he is really great! Catch him on You Tube

  27. Profile photo of jpcollins2

    Only one? I’d try to slip in Chet Atkins but if one and only one can be chosen:

    Muddy–leadbelly–no muddy–robert johnson–no muddy

    Quote “..you know muddy waters ‘vented electricity!”

    2015 000-15sm (based on Tony’s recomend) My 12-fret Holiday Present!!
    2005 D-15
    2002 Yamaha FG-350W
    2004 S6 CW GT
    My baby: 1897 Washburn Style 323

    Fender Strat ’99 MIM

  28. Profile photo of Ray W
    Ray W

    Like most here, picking one is just too hard. I would list Keb’ Mo’, Tommy Emmanuel, and Eric Clapton way up on the list. I also have a buddy named Steve who inspires and guides me but other than a thread here on TAC nobody has ever heard him.

    However, if the definition of a guitar hero is the one person who had the most influence on me picking up a guitar and deciding to learn to play, that would be my dad.

  29. Profile photo of simon thorpe
    simon thorpe

    Oh man,theres so many to choose from but the main reason I picked up the guitar was Stuart adamson,a Scottish guitarist from a band called big country,and the skids before that(late 70’s punk)he was so unique,definitely different from anybody else out there.Sadly he’s passed on now.If there’s anybody else on this site who’s heard of him,let me know,I’d be thrilled to share memories!
    Eddie van halen,Jimmy page,would probably be my top three,it’s only recently I’ve gotten into more acoustic music….

  30. Profile photo of Robert G
    Robert G

    The guitarist(s) that got me started on guitar were Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow and the way they played together. Later, people like Paul Simon, Leo Kottke, Mark Knopfler, Richard Thompson, Stevie Ray and Jimi, the list goes on…..

  31. Profile photo of Doug M
    Doug M

    I agree with so many of the posts, so let me be different. My vote goes to Steve Wariner…

  32. Profile photo of Mats L
    Mats L

    Neil Young was the reason (or blame) why I´ve started playing acustic guitar.Ill think my Hero´s are not considered as typical Guitar Gods (well not all of them) but Ive love Keith Urbans approach and Steve Ray Vaughn, Brian Setzer and a Swedish player called Malla (Mats Ronander)

  33. Profile photo of Tony D
    Tony D

    Like many comments before me, I am very polytheistic with my guitar heros- this is by no means a comprehensive list, just what is off the top of my head:
    1) Django
    2) Mississippi John Hurt
    3) Robert Johnson
    4) Stevie Ray Vaughn
    5) Jimi Hendrix
    6) Jimmy Page
    7) Steve Howe
    8) Jorma

  34. Profile photo of Mike M
    Mike M

    Chet Atkins CGP Though from your video I fell into that rabbit hole that is youtube and hours later wished that when I was a young chap that I could have seen and heard so much more. There was no computer plus we were too busy fighting off velociraptors back then.

  35. Profile photo of james f
    james f

    I thought this was an acoustic guitar forum. Mississippi John Hurt; Doc Watson; Merle Travis would be among my early heroes.

  36. Profile photo of TomD

    So Many,
    Really like a lot of those listed such as Tony Rice, Leo Kottke, Sharon Isbin. Let me offer Christopher Parkening, and a local-ish gentleman named Robert Bowlin. Robert’s won some national awards which is very cool; but I really like his arrangements! And of course how he plays those arrangements.
    Also enjoy Lindsey Buckingham because he just makes a wide variety of songs sound good!

    1. Profile photo of TomD

      PS- Thanks for the topic!!!!! So many cool options of artists to explore!

  37. Profile photo of David C
    David C

    It is impossible for me to pick just one …..

    Ace Frehley
    Dean Deleo
    Joe Bonamassa
    Robben Ford

    1. Profile photo of Dan Wemple
      Dan Wemple

      Went to school with Robben Ford. Didn’t know him well, but had guitar everywhere he went.

  38. Profile photo of Jason T
    Jason T

    Without a doubt – Jimi Hendrix! He’s the reason I picked up a guitar. So far ahead of his time. Gone too quickly….

  39. Profile photo of Robert B
    Robert B

    Favorite guitarists:

    1. Flamenco: Paco de Lucia ~ I went to the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain for 3 semesters and unconsciously began tapping my feet while doing homework and listening to Paco on the radio
    2. Bluegrass/Rock (think Pizza Tapes), Americana: Tony Rice – First heard him on the Pizza Tapes with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, love his perfomances with Peter Rowan, especially playing Ol’Santa Fe, and his Church Street Blues
    3. Classical: John Williams ~ his rendition of Asturias/Leyenda is the best (one of the most powerful pieces on guitar IMHO)

    4. John McLaughlin – especially early 70s with the Mahavishnu Orchestra

    Many, many others…

  40. Profile photo of Jeff K
    Jeff K

    Jerry Garcia for me, without a doubt. Everything about him: tone, melodic sense, inventiveness—you name it, he’s got it.

    Tony Rice is someone I’ve just started listening to in the last couple years, and he amazes me.

    Robbie Robertson gets on my nerves as a person, but as a player he’s just as tasteful as heck. Understated, underrated, and worthy of study.

  41. Profile photo of Thomas C
    Thomas C

    There are so many good guitar players to choose from, some are still alive & some are a gonna. Jim Croce, Frank Zappa, Rory Gallagher etc…..Ones still breathing like Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Jose Feliciano, Jeff Beck, Hank Marvin, Tony Polecastro, Ronnie Wood, Neil Young, James Taylor, the list can go on & on but I’ll leave it there with the hope that one day I will be on it, even if I’m last, but it’s not the fame I’m after, it’s the ability.

  42. Profile photo of Ron H
    Ron H

    Fun episode! I would have to say Clarence White. With Jerry Garcia right up there too.

  43. Profile photo of Dan Wemple
    Dan Wemple

    I wouldn’t argue with any of the above, all great. I love SRV and BB King. But if I could pick a couple to play like it would be Chet Atkins, Barney Kessel and Jesse Cook. Of course getting down like Tony Polecastro would be very cool.

  44. Profile photo of Dave K
    Dave K

    Hey Guys – There’s so many great musicians out there. I continue to be influenced every day and I discover new influences often. One guitarist I always go back to, who always inspires, is Billy McLaughlin. I love his sound, I love where his playing takes me, I love his technique and I love that for a short period of time in the mid-90s I got to spend Tuesday nights at a local hotel bar watching him work on his chops. I also love his story and how he has overcame an illness which took his guitar playing away from him. Amazing stuff. Amazing inspirational guy. Check it out.

  45. Profile photo of leslie c
    leslie c

    I like latin music so late in my 30’s I became interested in Carlos Santana
    his playing speaks emotion, Latin Emotion.
    I like Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac. there are bass players who I enjoy
    Stanley Clarke, Jaco , Victor wooten. Marcus Miller.
    I like Roben Ford, Larry Carlton B B King, most of the early guitarists
    John Williams.

  46. Profile photo of James G
    James G

    Well…..lots of great guitar hero’s to go around, but I’m surprised no one mentions mine, Jerry Garcia. Fun topic for Tone Taxi, thanks.

  47. Profile photo of Gerry S
    Gerry S

    I can’t pick one guitarist as #1. It depends what mood I’m in I guess. Here is my favorites through my life.
    Joe Bonamassa, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Jimmy Page, BB King, Hooker, RL Burnside, Buddy Guy, Rory Gallagher, Roy Clark……

  48. Profile photo of Charlie D
    Charlie D

    Many heroes off the top of my head.

    Electric : Alex Lifeson, jeff beck, eric clapton, richie Blackmore, Johnny Winter, Hendrix, Jimmy Page,

    Acoustic: Richard Thompson, Martin Simpson, Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Andres Segovia, Joni Mitchell ( more for wrtiting and creative tunings!)

  49. Profile photo of Melisa R
    Melisa R

    Great question! So many…when I was a teen:
    Neal Schon (Journey)
    Neil Giraldo (Pat Benatar)

    Later on in life:
    Lightnin’ Hopkins
    B.B. King
    Buddy Guy

    Matt Costa
    And that guy w/ the beard, Tony Polecastro….

  50. Profile photo of Bruce B
    Bruce B

    Some that have already been mentioned by others, but deserve another mention:

    Tommy Emmanuel
    Eric Clapton
    George Harrison
    James Taylor
    Tony Rice

  51. Profile photo of François

    Has to be Jimi, mainly because he plays in a world of its own: two strings strung and you know it’s him playing.

  52. Profile photo of Mackeye

    I’d have to say James Taylor is my favorite Acoustic Guitar player. I’m new to being a guitar geek. I caught the bug while sitting at my sons attempt at learning guitar. I found myself picking up his guitar and trying to play the chords myself. It was geekdom at first tone. Anyways, I just got James latest CD for Christmas and find myself at his web page everyday.


  53. Profile photo of Dave H
    Dave H

    Peter Green. BB King once said “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”

    Top shelf live version of Jumpin At Shadows.

  54. Profile photo of Benjamin S
    Benjamin S

    Stevie Ray Vaughan on electric. On acoustic, Glen Campbell, James Taylor, and Sharon Isbin.

  55. Profile photo of Lou Q
    Lou Q

    My pick has to be Neil Young. Has been my hero for many years. Acoustic and electric, unique styles and great songs.

  56. Profile photo of Greg C. W
    Greg C. W

    That’s a tough one. In no particular order and for very different reasons:
    Eddie Van Halen
    Mark Knopfler
    Tommy Emanuel
    Steve Howe

    I’ve seen all of them with exception of Tommy. But I have tickets for his February 11th gig in Pennsylvania.

  57. Profile photo of Tony

    It’s hard to settle on just one. The 3 folks in my #1 spot would be Chet, Mark Knopfler, and Clapton.

  58. Profile photo of James H
    James H

    Spending my youthful years in the Detroit area I always thought Ted Nugent was the persona of bombastic rock guitar.Lots of basic chords and speedy pentatonic riffs,but the “Call Of The Wild” and “Tooth Fang And Claw” albums before he got really popular in the mid 70’s were his best efforts in his career on the music front.
    Always great live shows also.Could never hear anything basically for a couple of days after.Always sign of a good time!

    1. Profile photo of James H
      James H

      And it looks like Johnny Winter might be playing a Gibson Byrdland in those top images.

  59. Profile photo of Ken G
    Ken G

    So many guitarists have made their way through my ears through the years. But having listened to the yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes, seen him live a couple of times it is and will be Clapton, acoustic, electric you name it. He works for me that’s for sure.

  60. Profile photo of Harry Benson
    Harry Benson

    Like many people of my generation (I am 79, nearly 80) Chet Atkins was probably my favorite guitarist over the years, although there were others that I liked and listened to. Some of the early Rock players like Chuck Berry had a big influence on my taste in music (Johnny B. Goode is still my choice for the greatest guitar hit of all time).

    Early Rock got me into listening to Blues guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton, two of my favorites. I have been a big fan of good guitar players over the years regardless of genre. The great Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery comes to mind (back when I was young).

    Having said all this, acoustic guitars are still my first love when it comes to guitar music. Of my ten or eleven guitars, only two of them are hard-body electrics. I mostly play the acoustics.

    I don’t work as hard at playing as I should, but I love your website, Tony, and look forward to your posts.

  61. Profile photo of nowhere man
    nowhere man

    Fun episode. You might have seen my buddy Alex up there at the ski hill parking lot. I think he skied about every day that hill was open last year, and I’m sure he wants to do the same this year. Him and his nutty ski friends! As for guitar hero… I do love Johnny Winter. But I guess it’s SRV for me. I got to see him live a couple of times. Once I was so close to the stage my hearing was way down until the next day. This was at a pretty small place in Ann Arbor Michigan, when my brother was going to school there and I’d drive out from Chicago to visit. Holy cow, that guy’s right hand was a blur when he was doing his thing.

  62. Profile photo of Garrett

    My first concert was Prince when I was 7 or 8 years old in Minneapolis, but my first real concert that I had actually bought a ticket to and new what was going on was Dylan and The Dead. Bob Dylan played, and I was so bored. He sang his songs and it was, ok.

    But then the Dead came up with Jimmy Herring on lead guitar and I’ve never heard anything like that before, Now with Widespread Panic, Jimmy Herring is my guitar hero who I will travel many hours to see.

    Honorable mention goes to Derek Trucks.

  63. Profile photo of DeeDee L
    DeeDee L

    Wow! Beautiful ski resort. Lots of snow. Hope you stopped and went skiing. This drive is pumping me up to go skiing thx. Wooosssshhh. LOL
    Now, as far as guitar heroes I have two – 1. Ronnie Montrose (In spite of the way he went out, can’t take away from his guitar playing, and 2., Orianthi.

  64. Profile photo of Ryan D
    Ryan D

    For me, it’s a toss up between either Duane Allman and Michael Bloomfield. Duane, in just a few short years, melded blues w/ jazz and took slide guitar places that it hadn’t been before. Michael’s undying devotion to Chicago and ragtime American blues, evident on “If You Love These Blues, Play’em As You Please” was, and is, very inspiring to me. Plus, he did introduce a certain Mr. Johnny Winter to the world as evident on Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes. If you read the stories, they brought out Johnny to a luke warm reception. No one had seen Johhny before and his appearance was a but underwhelming to the crowd. After Al Kooper and Mike assure the crowd that “This cat can play!”, they launch into that epic jam w/ Mike and Johnny trading solos and Johnny’s bone-chilling vocals.

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