Top 25 Greatest Bands With 3 or More Guitarists

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the lovely people of UG community discussing the matter of the best band with three or more guitarists.

As noted, basses count as a separate groups of instrument to guitars.

We received a nice chunk of just under 300 comments and plenty of votes, all of which were summed up into a Top 25 rundown.

Before kicking things off, we'll note that honorable mentions include Caspian, April Wine, Whitechapel, America, Slowdive, Red Sparowes, Drive-By Truckers, Outlaws, Crippled Black Phoenix, and the post-reunion incarnation of Swans.

With that out of the way, the list awaits below.

25. Parliament-Funkadelic

Kicking things off, you folks voted the funk collective known as Parliament-Funkadelic at No. 25.

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24. Cult of Luna

Up next is the three-guitar attack of Swedish post-metal gang Cult of Luna. In their touring lineup, the band utilizes two vocalists and three guitar players - Johannes Persson, Fredrik Kihlberg, and David Johansson.

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23. G3

No introduction needed.

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22. ISIS

ISIS the not terrorist group occasionally utilized three guitars, securing the boys a No. 22 spot.

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21. Godspeed You! Black Emperor

So the recent UG votes and lists saw you folks giving Canadian post-rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor some love, and the trend continues on this week's rundown as well. The gang features 9 members, three of which play guitar - David Bryant, Efrim Menuck, and Mike Moya.

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20. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

At No. 20, you folks voted rock legend Tom Petty and his band, which also features Scott Thurston and Mike Campbell on guitars.

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19. Oceansize

Up next are the mighty Oceansize! These boys play a distinctive mixture of post-rock, math rock, psychedelic rock, space rock, and post-hardcore, and utilize three guitarists in their lineup - Mike Vennart, Steve Durose, and Richard "Gambler" Ingram.

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18. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Representing bonafide legends, Mr. Bruce Springsteen is up next with his E Street Band. Apart from Bruce, guitar players in the band also include Nils Lofgren and Steven Van Zandt. Did you know these guys still rock 3+ hour concerts despite Bruce being 66?

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17. The League of Crafty Guitarists

Hey, it's Bob from King Crimson!

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16. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Up next, give it up for David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young!

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15. Traveling Wilburys

Another spot, another supergroup! This time around we have Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne of ELO, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty, also known as the Traveling Wilburys.

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14. Kvelertak

Switching to more modern times, Norwegian metal six-piece known as Kvelertak takes the spot No. 14. The band features three guitar players - Bjarte Lund Rolland, Maciek Ofstad, and Vidar Landa.

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13. Explosions in the Sky

Spreading some good ole post-rock love, Explosions in the Sky from Texas are this week's Lucky 13! On guitars, Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith, and Michael James.

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12. Bad Religion

With Brett GurewitzBrian Baker, and Mike Dimkich, punk rock legends Bad Religion take the No. 12.

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11. Gipsy Kings

Taking a strong turn from the punk realm, the seven-headed guitar beast of Gipsy Kings is up next!

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10. Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder plays guitar, securing Pearl Jam a No. 10 spot! As estabon37 explained, "I think a LOT of people don't realize that Eddie Vedder plays guitar on at least half their songs. The first album was really the only one that promoted the band visually, and it's also the only one that features very little guitar from Eddie. I guess the people that really only know them from the super early stuff don't realize how prominent Eddie's playing and writing became during and after 'Vitalogy.'"

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9. Snarky Puppy

Spicing things up with some jazz, the Snarky Puppy gang is up next. This is a collective of almost 40 musicians, this gang landed on UG community's list of Top 15 Best Albums of 2015 with "Sylvia."

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8. Blue Öyster Cult

Maybe 3 cowbells would have been a better approach...

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7. Periphery

Jake Bowen, Mark Holcomb, and the almighty Misha - Periphery at No. 7!

Shotgunmerc noted: "Mark in particular is one of the most unique guitarists out there in terms of his writing; his chord voicings are strange but they always work. Misha's rhythmic style is also phenomenal; hell it helped pioneer a genre (for better or for worse). Jake's lead playing is also always on point; I was disappointed to hear that he wouldn't have many solos on the new record."

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6. Queens of the Stone Age

Since the "Era Vulgaris" album, Queens of the Stone Age have been utilizing a three-guitar attack of Troy Van Leeuwen, Dean Fertita, and Josh Homme.

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5. Radiohead

Thom Yorke is no a constant guitar in the band and we're on iffy grounds here, but we'll let it slide - Radiohead at No. 5!

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4. Foo Fighters

Bringing us a step closer to the Big 3, the Foo Fighters are up next with Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, and Chris Shiflett. You folks praised the "Wasting Light" album as an effort where the three-guitar approach was utilized particularly well.

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3. Eagles

At No. 3, Joe Walsh, Don Felder, and late great Glenn Frey - the Eagles!

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2. Lynyrd Skynyrd

The silver medal this week goes to one of the originators of the three-guitar attack and one of the first notable acts to utilize it in a highly effective manner - the Lynyrd Skynyrd gang!

ShredderMan1 noted: "I'm a huge metal fan and Iron Maiden's a close second but this is my first choice as well. Steve Gaines was a killer player and writer. I know they are not underrated by any means but for some reason I feel that way. Same with the Allman Brothers."

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1. Iron Maiden

At the throne of UG this week - Mr. Dave Murray, Mr. Adrian Smith, and Mr. Janick Gers - Iron Maiden! \m/

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118 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Poor Isis. Not only do their fans feel uncomfortable about wearing their shirts, but they can probably never reform without facing a lot of scrutiny, unless they changed their name. It doesn't help that their band logo is stylized in all caps either.
    it's kinda shocking how many great 3+ guitar bands there are.
    And (traditionally) here's the rest of the list of nominations that were not able to get to the main list and honorable mentions - a lot of great bands utilizing 3 or more guitars - and now I think the list of such bands is almost full: Year Of No Light If These Trees Could Talk Vildhjarta ["Måsstaden" era] The Allman Brothers [occasionally] Frank Zappa [his live band lineups] The Wonder Years Built to Spill In Mourning California Guitar Trio Chelsea Grin Wilco Big Wreck Wovenwar Broken Social Scene Status Quo Collective Soul Mogwai Man Overboard Arcade Fire Molly Hatchet [1978-1984] Temple of the Dog Avantasia Zwan Zac Brown Band Switchfoot Pg. 99 Scorpions Alkaloid Sum 41 [new lineup] Boston Monster Magnet Superconductor Diarrhea Planet Mandroid Echostar Illyria Guns N' Roses [new lineup] The Human Abstract ["Digital Veil" era] Daughtry Andrew W.K. [his live band lineup] Breaking Benjamin O'Brother Amia Venera Landscape City of Souls Sinfonity King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Primal Fear So if you know more bands with 3 or more guitarists - feel free to add them below.
    King Crimson 's 1994–2003 lineup worth a mention IMO,Robert Fripp + Adrian Belew + Trey Gunn
    Also, some additions to the list: The Hellecasters Kingdom Of Giants
    Finnish DSBM band TotalSelfHatred does have three guitarists in their lineup as well. And if Radiohead is listed here because of Thom Yorke, then Ministry falls into this category too (Al Jourgensen plays guitar on some live songs)
    As much as I am a huge Billy corgan fan and a owner of the only zwan album they were far from a good band nevermind a great band.
    Honestly it was such a let down.Some good tracks but the guy is capable of much more.The idiots on here that berate him don't have a fucking clue of how good a song writer and guitarist/composer he is.A true genius.
    I absolutely cannot stand his voice.
    Isn't Billy Corgan have that Gothic vibe in his voice? I keep seeing people comparing Smashing with Gothic arena.
    "City of Souls" WAIT WAIT WAIT City of Souls??? This City of Souls?
    And personally I would like to add one more band - our local band called NOYE playing dark sludge/post-metal - originally they were a quartet - and their sound was a real apocalypse, pure darkness, but since 2015 they added the third guitarist - and now it's a total destruction through the wall of sound on their live shows. So here's the video - of course the sound is not so good (definitely you should hear them live to feel the whole atmosphere) - but here it is:
    It's kinda shocking that the Allman Brothers didn't get enough votes, too. I'm not upset they didn't, though, because that would've bumped Parliament off, and I think we'd all agree that a little more funk is always nice.
    ABB mainly stuck with two guitarists unless Gregg sat down to play an acoustic at a show, or a special guest joined, etc.
    Yeah, but they do it just as much or more than Radiohead.
    Not really - Thom Yorke plays guitar on the majority of songs most of their records (discluding Kid A and Amnesiac), so it's not exactly a rarity seeing him rocking a six-string.
    Dear UG Blue Oyster Cult have great songs besides Don't Fear the Reaper -a frustrated BOC fan
    My favorite is probably Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll. There's a lot of great guitar playing on that song.
    Veteran of the psychic wars is a great song.
    I played an acoustic version of Psychic Wars at an open mic a couple weeks ago. It went over huge. BOC is one of the most underrated bands ever. Way ahead of their time...
    In Thee is such an underrated song, and they are an underrated band
    I just got the box set and started off with Secret Treaties. It already reminds me how little respect they got in their career. Can't wait to watch the live DVD that came with it. And am I the only one who thinks that SNL sketch is all played out??? It might have been funny upon first viewing, but every other time I saw it after that, I thought it was just "meh".
    Michael Angelo Batio played 4 guitars by himself at the same time.
    and nobody gave a fuck
    Agree. The O.F.R. album by Nitro was is the first and only time I'd agree with the assessment that a guitarist did solos simply to show off how fast he could go. Utterly pointless, every one. Otherwise the album was pretty decent hair metal.
    So maybe not "greatest" but I feel King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is worth mentioning. 3 guitarists (some also doing vocals), bass, 2 drummers, and a vocalist/harmonica player/percussionist.
    >> "Thom Yorke is no a constant guitar in the band and we're on iffy grounds here, but we'll let it slide - Radiohead at No. 5!" For that matter, I think Thom is not a less constant guitar than Jonny with his keyboard magic and especially Ed with his... well, whatever it is
    Then you could add Def Leppard as well. Joe Elliot plays guitar live. I know Iron Maiden are number one but Bruce Dickinson played guitar during Revelations live back in the 80s.
    Thank you! Not many people know Bruce picked out the chords during the verses when they played that song live
    pleasantly surprised by the amount of bands I didn't know that had three guitarists. kudos for the Parliament nomination.. Atomic Dog is the shit!
    I think Springsteen was actually going with 4 guitarists in the video posted, because Tom Morello was in the band as well.
    I don't think many people realise he's been in the E street band awhile and has been on the recordings to boot.
    Plus his wife (Patti Scialfa) plays guitar on some songs, as does Soozie Tyrell.
    This article could also have been titled "25 bands you didn't realize had more than 2 guitars". I knew a few (Kvelertak, Skynyrd, CSN&Y) but some it had never hit me that they were more than 2.
    Where's Mogwai?! When they got 3 guitars going on full blast, fuzz full of doom, they are one of the loudest bands in the world. Too bad they just lost John.
    So happy to see the Gipsy Kings on here! Ultimate Guitar, you don't let me down!
    Rebel Scum
    Iffy grounds for Radiohead? Thom Yorke played guitar virtually all the time in pre-Kid A era Radiohead. Just look up some of the concerts on youtube.
    I agree. And because him and Jonny write most of riffs it is a kind of funny to say this, Uncle UG. He is more a guitar player in Radiohead than Ed.
    duane baldwin
    How is the Florida guitar army the outlaws not here. Only one southern rock band ! that was their whole shtick of having three guitar players
    Technically speaking The Beatles had 3 guitarists, although not all the time.
    That live version of Free Bird was fucking fierce!
    I roadied for Skynyrd for a year. When I moved to another band the guy that came and took my place was all bent out of shape about having to listen to Free Bird every night. A few months into the tour I ran into him at a festival and asked him how it was going.. His reply: "You know I was really not looking forward to this tour, but fucking Free Bird is actually a bad ass song when Skynyrd plays it. I can't believe how good these guys are."
    Iron Maiden makes cheesy grandma's music.
    Well most us must 55+ And live in Wisconsin cause they are one of the biggest bands on the planet.
    Says the guy who lists Foreigner as one of his favorite bands. That's legitimate grandma music
    Have you been sipping your mama's cough medicine again Couch Potato?
    aren't you that average metalhead people make fun of all the time? Tell your mom I said hi.
    That's like the pot calling the kettle black. I happened to take a peek at your profile photo and noticed that you look like "that average metalhead people fun of all the time." Tell your mom I said hi.
    Radiohead should be #1, Foo Fighters above them is especially an insult.
    I hope it makes you cry at night.
    It might if this wasn't UG where butt rock is fetishized.
    You mean like how Radiohead is #5 in a category that doesn't even fit them?
    Thom Yorke + Jonny Greenwood + Ed O'Brien = 3 guitarists. I meant more like bands that have pioneered jack shit and are boring as ass like FF and Lynyrd Skynyrd beating ones that are actually creative.
    This is actually a pretty good list for the most part. You have to be something special to really make 3 guitars work. Knowing what and when NOT to play is probably key.
    It is an absolute disgrace that Blue Oyster Cult, A Band that is completely disconnected with there fans and are not talented, are on this list and the Outlaws arent.
    Haha, I get it, cause your picture is Twisted Sister and you're saying that boc isn't talented. Haha, you're very funny
    Not talented? Never seen them live have you? I have never been to a BOC show where they didn't blow every band off the stage. Insanely talented. Sorry if your knowledge of BOC consists of Burning For You and Don't Fear The Reaper but their catalog is deep, clever, and intense. They may not be to your taste but calling them untalented? Nope, not even close. Now that I have disagreed with you, let me say you are 100% right on the Outlaws. Henry Paul actually has them back out on the road. I saw them in the middle of a 6 band bill at a festival last year and they smoked every band on that lineup. Should have easily been in the Top 20 along with Canadian band April Wine.
    Im well aware of their catalogue, going back to the Stalk Forrest and the soft white underbelly days, Before you start accusing people of only judging something by its cover, Understand that other people know just as much as you, Except they dont advertise it. Yes, They have an unbelieviable catalogue of over rated songs such as Mistress of the Salmon Salt, and Shes as Beautiful as a foot, Not to mention the unlistenable "The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria" Now that ive disagreed with you,. I can agree with you that they did one good song, Seven Screaming Diz Busters, Which as a matter of fact, has not been played live in over 25+ years. How do i know this, Hmmm, Must have been to a few concerts! With that said my anger towards the Oyster boys hit an all time high when the two original members (not sidemen) Jesse Python and Buck "Split lip" Dharma decided to deface a Gibson guitar that i brought for them to sign. They didnt sign it but instead wrote the phrase "No Ebay" on the back of the guitar and only had the two Sidemen, Richie "My only claim to fame is knowing Bumblefoot" Castellano, and Jules " My only claim to fame is knowing Popa Chubby " Radino. Im wondering, How many Blue Oyster Cult Concerts have you seen? Im sure its not more then the 30+ that ive attended, Now if your wondering WHY i went to over 30 BOC Concerts is because my dad is a lighting engineer for Concert Venues. and i can see Just about anyone who comes to town. and you dont need to see that many to know that they are an untalanted bar band players who are still wondering where Godzilla is after all these years. Damn at least change the songs in your setlist once every 20 years. My dad actually went to the black and blue tour, and No, Blue Oyster cult did NOT Blow away Black Sabbath And in case you were wondering The 5 BEST Live acts that ive ever seen are Black Sabbath, Guns N Roses, Dweezil Zappa, War, and Billy Joel, Not a surprise Split lip did not make the list
    April Wine should have made the list. While they weren't terribly popular, and their recordings never did them justice, they were a smoking hot live band and the first non southern rock band I ever saw with a triple guitar attack.
    Gentle Giant maybe, I think they always had at least 3 people who could play guitar good in the band anyways
    David Johansen? I think someone's mistaken... Unless there's another David Johansen I've never heard of...