Tony Iommi Named Best Metal Guitarist Ever

The Black Sabbath legend topped a poll by guitar maker Gibson. It's a great list, but could you do better?

Ultimate Guitar

Tony Iommi has been named the greatest heavy metal guitarist of all time.

The list by Gibson credited the Black Sabbath guitarist as a leader of the metal movement.

"Of all rock'n'roll's many styles metal is the most brutal. No matter the sub-genre, metal is held together by a reliance on loud riffing guitars and, of course, an inspiring lead guitarist", Gibson said.

"Tony's dark, distinct guitar textures in Black Sabbath helped spearhead the heavy metal movement. "Iron Man" and "Paranoid" boast some of the most memorable riffs of all time, with crushingly heavy choruses. His playing is immortalised through the generations of bands that have followed."

Iommi was followed by Metallica's Kirk Hammet and James Hetfield in joint second place, with Ozzy Osbourne's late collaborator Randy Rhoads making it to third. "While other guitarists of the era emulated Eddie Van Halen, Rhoades stepped out on his own, incorporating classic music into his passages. His untimely death in a freak airplane accident in 1982 remains one of metal's biggest heartbreaks", said Gibson.

Here's their full top 10 - though we recommend taking a look at the official UG top 10 rock guitarists, as voted for by you. Iommi only made it to 10th place there, but it had a focus on rock guitarists. We'll give you the chance to rank metal axemen in the near future.

Gibson's Greatest heavy metal guitarists:

1. Tony Iommi 2. Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield 3. Randy Rhoads 4. John Petrucci 5. Dimebag Darrell 6. Eddie Van Halen 7. Zakk Wylde 8. Adam Jones 9. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith 10. George Lynch

What do you think of the Gibson top 10? Is it good, or could you improve on it? Let us know in the comments.

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    Iommi is the greatest metal PIONEER! Not player!
    Yeah man I agree. I don't like these kinds of lists because the wording always makes some people angry. If you're gonna call it best metal players, it would probably go to thrash, death, or progressive metal players simply because of the complexity. I think Hammett/Hetfield belong at #2 if you consider them as influential players rather than technical players.
    Funny how they seemed to have left him off the list...
    Probably because he isn't that good. Ok. He's a good guitarist, but he's extremely overrated. Now how Marty Friedman was left off is beyond me.
    He is better than Hammet, I mean look at all the guitarrists of the Big Four and the thrash metal bands around them (including hetfield) All of them improved their skills with the guitar, Hammet in other hand, keeps playing just fast, with mistakes and with a lot of noise.
    Lol, you think slayer's guitarists are better than ok. The others I agree with though.
    wow Adam Jones made it on. i am very surprised, but rightfully deserved.
    would I be right in saying he's the david gilmour of the metal world? because at least to me they seen share that same taste for tonally intense and emotionally intense minimalist solo's.
    I bet John Petrucci could play circles around Hammett and Hetfield.
    Yet Dream Theater's music has never made me feel anything, while Metallica's music has. One might be a better interpreter, and the other might be better composers (both things are always a matter of taste).
    How could Dream Theater not make you feel? What are you, a stone?
    @crazysam23, you know, it just happens to people with lots of bands. I think it was in the last "It's the end of the week as we know it", that Zach was talking about bands that are appreciated by many people but didn't ring a bell to him . I remember he mentioned Bob Dylan, the Stones and other classic artists. We all have a great band that doesn't make us ring. And @troyofyort, it's not a matter of not liking technicality. I like King Crimson, I like Yes, I like Rush, I like Jethro Tull... Yet other prog bands that I've tried to listen just don't ring a bell in me. Like DT, Emerson Lake & Palmer, or Pink Floyd. It's not that I find anything wrong with their music, it's just it doesn't make me hot or cold. Just indifference.
    i agree sir. Led Zeppelin is obviously one of the greatest bands of all time, and i dont really care for them. i appreciate their talent and influence on many different artists but i dont care for em. i know, its blasphemy.
    @ kozmo4200 Exactly! See, Led Zeppelin are my favorite band, so when someone says something I might be tempted to cry "How on earth can you not like Led Zeppelin??? BLASPHEMY!!!" But I've learnt to be tolerant about other people's tastes, and I can perfectly understand that someone doesn't like, or even dislikes Zeppelin.
    That's something a lot of metal-heads can learn from. It always frustrates me that people can't respect each others taste. Like any argument you make will influence how someone else is feeling their or your favorite music?! Glad to see not all hope is gone. OT: It's difficult to point a 'best player', it's also a matter of influence. There are so many technically great players that are less composers, and the other way around. Wish people would stop making these lists, it's too subjective.
    Its cos of the technicality=no emotion mindset. Obviously has never listened to Surrounded, The Best of Times or Space-Dye Vest.
    I'm a big fan of both Metallica and Dream Theater, but when I listen to Dream Theater, I honestly feel everything. Yeah a lot of it is over the top technical stuff but so much of it is filled with emotion, like the album Scenes From A Memory. Just my opinion though.
    It is alright if you look Metallica more than Dream theater. But how could you not feel anything when u listen to Dream Theater?
    Sorry its "It is alright if you like Metallica more than Dream theater"
    its the vocals that ruin dream theater! the music is inc readable but vocals sux balls
    Maybe, it's just a matter of difference of musical tastes and preferences. As the great phrase said... To each, his own.
    Seniority I guess, Metallica was around a bit longer than Dream Theatre, and Black Sabbath was around before any of these bands were. It's a pretty good list, but I would probably replace George Lynch with Chuck Schuldiner.
    I'd replace Kirk and James with Chuck, he was a thousand times better than most of the guys on this list.
    try to sing and play battery at the same time. thought so.
    Chuck Schuldiner could play and perform vocals on songs like Crystal Mountain, which were quite complex too. What is your point?
    Yeah, but this is not TOP 10 most technical guitarists. In the end songwriting skills matter more than ability to play accurately billion notes per second. And by saying it I don't mean that DT are playing soulless music.
    well does the title say "top 10 most technically skilled guitarists in metal"? no, so what's your point? great guitarists are also influential, innovative and write memorable material. Hammett and Hetfield hit those categories though grouping them together is a bit silly especially whenn KK Downing and Glen Tipton aren't there
    I mean John Petrucci is good, and I'm a metallica fan, but van halen is a beast. He can shred circles around Petrucci and it actually sounds like real music.
    I used to be a Metallica fan until I started learning guitar. I realized that they're all poses. They use all down-picking so it will look fast and technical. You people should understand that there are lots of types of Metal, not just Death/Doom Metal and Thrash. John Petrucci is a good example. He uses real technique, he doesn't give a crap if it looks impressive or not, he cares about how it sounds. He plays with soul.
    They don't down pick because it makes them look like they are playing faster, they down pick because of a thing called dynamics.
    You cannot make the same chugging power chord, Metallica sound using alternate picking. Trust me, playing in a Metallica tribute band for almost 2 years and still playing 'Tallica songs way before it... I know. And saying that Blackened, Jump In The Fire, Master Of Puppets, Dyer's Eve, Battery, etc.. are just poses is fully retarded.
    What the hell, kid? First off, you're wrong on the downpicking thing - fast downpicking is difficult and it's used for the chunky dynamic sound. Secondly, all technique is "real" technique. I don't like Metallica because I think their songwriting is boring and there's no bass to be found anywhere.
    Multiple Metallica bashing in one post... Yet you have Metallica first in your favorite bands list. Awkward!
    You should try "...And Justice For Jason". Somebody placed their bass track in the mix so that you can hear it. The guy did a great job, you can actually hear what it was supposed to sound like.
    If you have to make a special track just to hear what the original was supposed to sound like, then isn't the original track lacking on something?
    Ok, know what? Yes, I do know I over-reacted but it's annoying as hell that everybody here thinks they're better than lots of others on this list. They are way overrated. And one thing I forgot mentioning, don't get me wrong, I do like Metallica, just not as I used to.
    "I had three students. Two got really good... and one... makes a lot of money with his band." -Joe Satriani
    One thing, who was he third student other than Kirk & Vai? I know is the one making money.
    Well, the count's beyond three by now, back then he said that I don't know which one he referred to.