Wednesday Question: Most Underrated Guitarist

Name an axeman who's criminally underrated.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
44

The rock domain can be a cruel place. Despite having both talent and skills, so many fine axemen out there don't get the respect they deserve.

A lot of it comes down to either having signature style or a hit single, or both. A lengthy debate can be started on the matter, but to focus on this week's Wednesday Question, it goes something like this:

Who is the most underrated guitarist ever?

Any guitar-related style applies, as long as the underrated factor is present. There's a vast array of obscure top-notch guitarist out there, so there's plenty to choose from here.

Same rules as always apply - only one suggestion per comment, vote up the ideas you support and vote down the ones you dislike. We'll sum up your votes by Friday and bring you another traditional UG Top 10. Show us what you got!

893 comments sorted by best / new / date

    madiroseday
    jerry cantrell
    The jazz Man
    Completely agree. Amazing song writer who's got such a twisted and unique way of writing
    Fats_McClure
    There should be some, "How far down people have to scroll to remember, 'oh yeah, this guy is great.'" factor. Maybe not the most mind blowing shreds, but i think jerry represents as one of those guitarists who reminds us that there is more to being good at the guitar than soloing.
    yogosan
    Again, underrated? Jerry Cantrell is not underrated. Alice in Chains were one of biggest rock bands of the 90's. Ubisoft would hardly use him to promote Rocksmith at E3 if he was underrated! He is extremely well known. He's not as well known as Slash, but he is not underrated. No way.
    yogosan
    Alice in Chains have sold approximately [b]25 million albums worldwide as a direct result of his guitar playing and of course Staleys vocals.How can be considered the most underrated guitarist. I love Alice in Chains, and this is just an insult to what Jerry has acheived with them.
    hudsonstradlin
    Alex Lifeson
    PRSTremontiSE
    Agreed, the man's incredible, but has always been overshadowed by his band mates. He deserves more love
    RCA1186
    THANK YOU I was going to post it myself if someone hadn't. It is truly hard to believe how underrated he is.
    Declan87
    Robert Fripp skip to 50 seconds in for some crazy alt picking - and he doesn't look at the guitar once until the end!
    ProgFripp74
    I love Fripp and King Crimson but as far as prog guitarists' go, everyone seems to jack off to him, myself included. Basically prog is underrated, not Robert Fripp.
    Salvo416
    This guy
    the_bi99man
    I really hope this guy wins the poll, and UG doesn't bother to look up his name, and he it's just "#1: This Guy".
    Manovvar
    people who have more important things to do and go out of their way to ignore this guy are fking d1cks. even if you're broke or too cheap of a cvnt to give a donation, at least acknowledge the guy's existence.
    Freels
    Brent Hinds
    Shaggy91
    Bill Kelliher. I gave you the upvote for mastodon, but Bill is never mentioned and he is a phenomenal player.
    Freels
    I can agree, and definitely respect you mentioning Bill. He deserves props. If I can only mention one, though, it's going to be Brent. Considering his side projects, at least the ones I'm familiar with (The Blood Vessel, Fiend Without a Face, West End Motel) the guy is an extremely versatile and creative player.
    Shaggy91
    Without a doubt, but he is always recognized as THE guitar player from mastodon. Bill is in the shadows and from what I have heard, he is beyond phenomenal.
    GtrVieth
    Oddly enough, Brent's hybrid picking is one of my biggest playing skill influences. I know he's not the only one that does that, but after learning Divinations I applied that to anything that needed finger picking, metal or not.
    Everlong729
    Chris Shifflet
    bradd101
    Agreed
    calezebedee
    100% agreed. He was awesome in No Use For A Name! and his own band CS & The Dead Peasants he writes so many awesome guitar parts for country western or whatever you want to describe that band as.
    Lp01
    I haven't heard any ff song in which he stands out, might be bacause of Dave's creative vision though.
    Everlong729
    Long Road To Ruin, Rope, any live version of Stacked Actors, a lot of the songs off of Echoes Silence Patience and Grace
    phidias13
    John Butler !
    Chickendirt
    if he doesn't make the list there's a serious injustice in the world. One of the best guitarists of the 00s. One listen to the album Three and anyone would agree
    hugo.moreira.71
    Prince... great guitar player.. just a little too excentric to be acknowledged by the general public I think
    maidenbridge666
    Nuno Bettencourt
    thepowerofmetal
    Good to see Richie Sambora and Nuno Betterncourt among the most upvoted. But we must have forgotten Criss Oliva of Savatage!
    goon316
    Is he really underrated? Dude is pretty well known for being absolutely amazing isn't he? I mean he even had his hands insured back in the day haha. One of my fav guitarist of all time. He is up there with one of the players that make everything he plays look so insanely easy until you try it and realize how ridiculous it is.
    Pretelethal
    Myles Kennedy.
    endorse_me!
    Myles is an awesome guitar player. People seem to forget that he is more than just a lead singer. He can shred along with the best and has an awesome bluesy feel and all while singing at the same time. He has also proved himself as an awesome songwriter. I think Tremonti is pretty well respected ans i really think he deserves it. But Myles should get a bit more credit
    Thrash Addict
    Rory Gallagher
    Thrash Addict
    Uli Jon Roth
    JAHellraiser
    I thought this said "Lil Jon Roth" and I thought to myself "oh ho that's funny, he took Lil Jon and added Roth and called him a guitarist" but alas, I realized it said Uli.
    metaldalz
    THIS!!! Also AB - Mike Tremonti is underrated...
    PRSTremontiSE
    Mark Tremonti (not Mike) has been voted guitarist of the year multiple times, he's pretty well respected
    teodordob
    Agreed! Mark isn't as underrated as Myles. Myles is an awesome guitar player with an unique style that puts a lot of soul and feelings in his playing.You should check his older bands to hear some more of him playing awesome bluesy,jazz lead.
    dewitt
    I think that Mark Tremonti is a little overrated if anything. His playing isn't unique at all, but Alter Bridge fans hail him as the greatest guitar player of the last quarter century.
    metalmaniac90
    If his playing isn't unique, please name me a legitimate guitarist that he appears to be mimicking. I always recognize his rhythm, and lead playing immediately.
    slush
    I'm pretty sure Myles was a better guitarist than Tremonti when AB first got together, but Tremonti shows marked improvement from one album to the next, so who knows?
    Holoogamooga
    And the Creed guys didn't even know Myles played guitar at that point. Mark just heard Myles noodling at some point later down the road and felt humbled as the lead.
    drivenunder4
    Myles makes me think of another INCREDIBLY underrated guitarist. Ian Thornley of Big Wreck and Thornley. Listen to his solo in Big Wreck's "A Million Days" then his solo in "Control".
    vash.kilgannon
    This! Myles Kennedy. Mark has gotten his praise more recent years but people seem to miss how amazing Myles is on guitar
    Parapraxis
    THANK YOU! This guys jazz fusion chops are insane especially when listening to citizen swing and his pre alter bridge era bands. Even Slash and Tremonti quote time and time again in interviews how much better of guitar player he is than anyone gives him credit for.
    fiend1476
    Jake E Lee!
    K33nbl4d3
    Absolutely. Coming after Randy can't've been easy and to be honest I'm not a huge fan of most of the songs on the albums he did with Ozzy, but the live stuff was phenomenal and Badlands had some totally killer tracks.
    arabmetallion
    This says it all really...
    K33nbl4d3
    To be fair, most of that solo's just flash. Only it's the best fuсking flash I've ever seen. Those moves, too! Incredible player.
    arabmetallion
    haha true that I still think there's some serious musicality in there like from 0.25 to 0.50 and at 1.45
    Xraiser
    Definitely, but I have to admit that he doesn't have the same chops nowadays. I think he mentioned in some interview that when he was with Ozzy his technical skills were the best. But yeah, I haven't seen any article here on UG when Red Dragon Cartel released their album. I don't understand why Jake is so overlooked.
    pjn7000
    Mike McCready, Pearl Jam
    eargastic.eli
    created an UG account just to like this! - check his solos on Pearl Jam's second album VS. - he managed to fit his guitar parts in all the songs incredibly in a pretty unique way (in a band of 3 guitarists) - he's written some ethereal riffs like Yellow Ledbetter or Given to Fly, etc - his works with Mad Season the list goes on I would vote for Johnny Greenwood, Mike Einziger, Jerry Cantrell and Allen Collins too
    link55588
    I forget what song it was but there is a video of him somewhere playing one of the solos behind his back and eyes closed for awhile, he was really into it.
    axld
    Hmmm interesting choiche... I've found his guitarwork to be not very memorable or original, then again I'm not the biggest Pearl Jam fan. Could you name a few songs in which you think he shows his true guitar skills?
    dewitt
    He's no slouch at all, but he's not underrated at all either. Pearl Jam fans think he's incredible while the rest of us see him as a decent guitarist. Nothing to put down, but not really anything t glorify, either. He's kind of sloppy really, but I actually like the way he plays usually.
    metaldalz
    Black, Black Unplugged, Do the Evolution, Alive, Even Flow... The whole "Ten" album... It's not all about the solos, it's the whole package, the Rythm, The Solos, The Tempo... Mike is an AMAZING and underrated guitar player. PJ would be nothing without him and Eddie...
    Izzyplatypus73
    I think Yellow Ledbetter is pretty neat. He's not a shredder by any means, but his lyricism through the guitar is what I think puts him apart.
    INstaNt-RocK
    Youtube him playing Maggot Brain live. The rest of the band just stand there going, "Jesus, even I didn't know he was that good!"
    entropicxdisson
    while we are talking about "Maggot Brain". Eddie Hazel is aside from David Gilmour and Hendrix probably the most emotional player of all time.
    yogosan
    On what planet is Mike McCready underrated? I love Pearl Jam, but c'mon, they are one of the most popular rock bands that have ever existed. They are still highly rated today. He might no be as well known as Kirk Hammett or someone like that. But you can't say he is underrated!
    howamidriving?
    people that don't believe he's an amazing guitarist really need to watch some live videos. he tends to really hold back in studio, but live the guy is on a whole different level
    ][v][ETAL
    cool choice... For me, although he is probably considered Overrated, I choose Kirk Hammett. I just feel like he isn't given enough credit for what he does. His cool solos are often overlooked because people choose to compare him to people like Malmstreem or Friedman.
    jaredturner95
    Luke Hoskins of protest the hero
    GeriatricNinja
    Definitely underrated. There's an interview with Jeff Waters where he mentions his son saying to him "no dad, you're not technical, Protest the Hero is technical!" For some reason it always cracks me up.
    GtrVieth
    Not sure if he's underrated as much as people just don't know about him
    murtoll
    Larry LaLonde from Primus. His style is so unique and he's is just ridiculously good
    Smigzy
    exactly who I nominated. I didn't think anyone would mention this guy. I wouldn't say he is the best ever but he has some great catchy playing with primus. I never hear anyone talk about him though
    paulyg
    Dan Spitz of Anthrax. I mean, out of all the thrash bands from the 80's, i think Spitz doesn't get the credit like some other players of the same era do.
    wylde85
    Nuno Bettencourt! I saw him last week for the 1st time and he's Amazing. Or Russ Parrish (aka Satchel from Steel Panther)
    Wicer
    Rory Gallagher. He has a large fan base but is always looked over as one of the top guitarists. Jimi Hendrix thought of Rory as the best.
    dave.coleman.54
    Agreed, he never got to international fame except among fellow guitarists (the fact that he refused to record singles didn't help) But I live in Cork (Rory's hometown) and here he's considered a hero
    Scavedge [VR]
    Ian D'Sa, Billy Talent. that's some rather unique stuff right there, and no one seems to give it much attention
    metalhead983877
    I agree, he is a very good and unique guitarist (at least, for a punk guitarist), but he is overshadowed by Ben Kowalewicz (the singer). Also underrated because he is in Billy Talent, who are often considered as a generic punk rock band because of the big hits like Red Flag or Fallen Leaves. For those who didn't really pay attention to his playing, I would recommend listening to the songs "Worker Bees", "The Navy Song", "Saint Veronika", "Crooked Minds" for example.
    TaV0
    [b]Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth). I don't think they receive enough attention and praise. They both are very creative with their tunings and guitar styles; quite unique. And yup, I mention both of them in a single post because, well, they're great on their own, but together they're fecking incredible.
    Floyd Phoenix
    I always found Richie Sambora pretty underrated as a guitarist, maybe because a lot of people dismiss Bon Jovi as shitty pop rock music, regardless of Richie's awesome playing ability
    robo37
    Steven Wilson.
    Human371
    Yes! Steven Wilson even underrates himself, he's good! Such tasteful solos and a nice mixture of heavy riffs, clean chording, and psychedelic effect-y sections
    TheLiberation
    I think it's arguable whether SW is underrated, but still he's definitely got my vote. On a loosely related note, my nomination is by far Anders Nyström of Katatonia. An absolute genius in combining heavy riffing with cleaner playing and atmosphere (particularly with the use of space effects). The lack of recognition for him as both guitarist and songwriter is terrible.
    nicholas72611
    I'm gonna have to agree with Steven Wilson and Anders Nyström. Mikael Åkerfeldt and Devin Townsend too.
    smittyanthrax
    Jerry cantrell.
    Magnum5x9
    I nominate Mark tremonti. Absolutely stunning soloist and I don't see many talk about him here.
    yogosan
    Jerry Cantrell is not underrated.
    yogosan
    "In July 2006, British hard rock/metal magazine Metal Hammer awarded Cantrell the title of Riff Lord, at its annual Golden Gods Awards show, held at the London Astoria. He was apparently thrilled at winning the title, over several famous artists such as Slash, James Hetfield, and Jimmy Page." "He is ranked #38 out of 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of all time by Guitar World and recently ranked #37 out of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time also by Guitar World." Alice in Chains, the band he is the heart of, have won and been nominated for a tonne of awards, they have a massive fanbase which I am happy to be a part of, and finally they were massive in the 90's because of his distinct, bone-crunching riffs and Staleys vocals. How can you say that Jerry Cantrell is the [b]MOST underrated guitarist! The man has had an extraordinary career and has enjoyed the heights of fame that most people couldn't even fathom.
    smittyanthrax
    Ok going by your logic then another guitarist on here who has alot of votes is Johnny Greenwood.He plays in one of the biggest bands ever.He has also won awards and has made best of lists in guitar magazines.Should he be excluded too?I dont know where your from but where i come from alice in chains arent known at all.I think Jerry deserves a place in this list maybe not number 1 but at least in the top ten.
    yogosan
    I'm from Ireland, and losts of people know Alice in Chains over here. In the early 90's their music was played in clubs here! He is world renowned. You could say Cantrell has been too professional a musician. People like Hammett, Mustaine and Slash have earned extra notoriety because their bands are constantly in the public eye for all the WRONG reasons. People are constantly bickering over GnR, Metallica and Megadeth so it might seem as if they are more popular than Cantrell. Nobody has has a bad word to say about Cantrell, that's how good he is. Also, people are constantly comparing the likes of Metallica and Megadeth, constantly saying Zeppelin ripped off songs, etc. But Cantrell undisputedly created his own sound, genre even, that couldn't be compared to anyone. So you won't find fanboys having to defend Alice in Chains. And that's another reason his name doesn't crop up alot. Everyone knows Cantrell is f*cking baddass. But you won't find articles in UG saying, "Cantrell hasn't made a fool of himself in the last month" or "We are just reminding you that Cantrell is a guitar god". He has been a pro, and a role model who hasn't resorted to the lows that some bands/celebs have to stay in the public eye. In that sense, he is underrated. But as a musician he has inspired so many artists around the world, that I think it's wrong to say he is underrated. It's not fair on him and other lesser known musicians who havn't sold 25 million albums worldwide to say he is the most underrated guitarist ever. Phew!
    yogosan
    Also, "Greenwood was also ranked number 48 in Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Not underrated.
    kmitchell74
    Lindsey Buckingham is missing from this thread. The guy shredded electric guitar solos WITHOUT USING A FREAKING PICK. He is really underrated
    metaldalz
    APC - Billy Howerdel
    Kornholic
    Wes Borland
    N-D
    As I alrready said below - absolutely agree. Just because he plays in LB most people thinks he's bad, but actually he is a very talented guitarist with his own view on playing.
    robo37
    Definitely. Shame to see that something like this can only have 17k views.
    peachesenregali
    I'm only replying to this comment because I was waiting so long for the page to scroll down. Charlie Christian biatch.
    jordo246
    The whole Cruel Melody album is amazing, that little guitar solo he does in Coward gives me shivers.
    Abacus11
    Yes! His name always pops in my head first when I think of underrated guitarists. His work with A Perfect Circle and Ashes Divide is BRILLIANT. Billy Howerdel isn't flashy but his songwriting, sense of melody and layering make for some absolutely beautiful guitar playing. He always made me think of a 2000's version of David Gilmour - tasteful, imaginative and with a little bit of a metal edge thrown in for good measure. Yeah, I'm a fan.
    TomasVerdejo
    Jonny Greenwood
    conorpatt
    Ed O'Brien. Plays only one note, but still manages to remain far more original than any metalcore band:
    jainsley
    agreed, I think a lot of people overlook him because of the huge amount of processing they use.
    metallideth88
    George Harrison
    mrageinthename
    Mike McCready from Pearl Jam. Really, both him and Stone Gossard are underrated.... Let the PJ hate and the downvotes begin.
    yogosan
    George Harrison is not underrated. The Beatles are one of the most popular bands that has ever been. Surely by extension of that fact, George Harrison could not be deemed underrated!
    theclassicrock
    Yeah but everyone thinks of McCartney and Lennon. People think of the Beatles as a songwriting band not a guitar band.
    yogosan
    But surely the amount of album sales they have is the proof that he was well rated. When I think underrated, I think great guitarists who never became recognised. And for me, the Beatles does not fit the bill! We'll have to agree to disagree on this.
    PoloSG68
    Satchel from Steel Panther? This probably isn't the best overall solo, but the third bar or so of the chorus is the most beautiful arp phrase I've heard in aages.
    lg187
    not even that, but just what chords he uses...look at the riffs of Saint Veronika and Sympathy
    darrenram1
    Richie is an awesome guitarist. He's the one who inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place.
    N-D
    Hm, why downvotes? Inspiring someone to play a music instrument is a good thing.
    inflames66676
    Guthrie Govan
    jonathan.keeler
    I think if you look at 'underrated' as talent divided by popularity then Guthrie wins by default for being the most talented guitarist.
    little_boy
    I don't think Govan is underrated, just unknown to many people. After hearing something from him, I highly doubt anyone would dare to say he isn't one of the most talented guitarrists in the world.
    peachesenregali
    Who underrates Guthrie Govan? The man is an animal. Even people who hate his music would admit the guy is a beast, even if he is a cut and paste of all his favourite guitar players, showing no originality whatsoever.
    SleepFan
    Totally Guthrie. For amazing tone and playing I might suggest Jonatan Ramm of Graveyard.
    entropicxdisson
    Ihsahn from Emperor, the guy doesn't get enough credit becuase hurr durr "black metal is just playing sloppy and bad production".
    entropicxdisson
    Euronymous, he invented a whole new way of approaching metal guitar, and created the razor sharp (no pun intended) icy black metal guitar tone. I really wish that he wasn't crazy so he would still be alive. Just listen to this guitar solo. It's at the 20 mark. Varg says it was played "just for fun" because Euronymous was in the studio at the time helping him record Burzum's first album.
    voleurz
    Man I dont know how people can listen to that for any extended period of time.
    westley23j
    i was about to post the same thing. good god, even just from a production standpoint, saying that sounds AWFUL is an understatement.
    jvokes
    I remember the first time I tried to shred. I'd been playing guitar about 5 minutes. And I sounded just like that! That is some of the worst playing I've ever heard.And I like shredders. Listen to Trey Azagthoth if you want to hear it done properly.
    the_bi99man
    Invented a whole new way of approaching metal guitar, eh? Pretty sure there was sloppy shredding and bad tone before Burzum.
    leighfuge32
    I saw him play in London last weekend and he was incredible
    Smigzy
    Larry Lalonde-primus
    bangbang!!
    Johnny Marr. LOVE the magic jangly sound he creates.
    Crone Filler
    Johnny Marr has to be on the Top 10 for sure! Anti Guitar Hero, and unique style of playing!
    GrahamDowney
    Ricky Wilson - The B-52's
    60s&70s
    Guthrie Govan
    Jimjambanx
    Guthrie Govan is hardly underrated. Pretty much everyone who knows him agrees he's on of the best, when you got Paul Gilbert as your biggest fan you can't really say you're underrated.
    damillion
    How the hell is Guthrie Govan underrated? He's featured in almost every guitar magazine I own and he plays with Steven Wilsons band. He's a big name. Great guitarist, but hardly the most underrated.
    TaV0
    This is amazing. Bloody hell, it's been quite a while since I discovered someone this talented.
    entropicxdisson
    just for the whole removing the d and g strings and tuning down to play bass lines and guitar leads because the B-52's didn't have a bassist, that's innovation. Always loved his surf rock vibe too.The B 52's - Private Idaho ( Original Video Clip )
    GeriatricNinja
    Bruce Bouillet - the other guy in Racer X
    Barricade_28
    Neil Young, especially on electric guitar.
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    Bob Mothersbaugh
    cellofreak42
    Ray Toro - My Chemical Romance
    jasperado
    buckethead, tommy bolin, dweezil zappa
    mop10893
    Dan Spitz from Anthrax. He is never talked about among the Big 4 guitarists but he's great.
    cm-thrashing-45
    Gotta agree with Dan Spitz. No one ever talks about him despite being one of the only thrash guitarists back in the day who actually played in key.
    jaybrink10101
    His guitar playing is top kek, and his vocals...he can out-sing Jon Bon Jovi. In Wanted Dead Or Alive, I always sit their waiting for his backings.
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    mick ronson
    Krieger91
    Mike Einziger as well. Kind ofkept in Brandon's shadow, and just underrated in my opinion. His use of effects in unique, he can write some awesome riffs, his chord voicing can be awesome, and, from the Crow Left of the Murder album, writes some refreshingly different and immaginative solos.
    enquencle
    Definitely! Great solos, some pretty good riffs, and an amazing tone (These days). Just listen to the solo on Dry County. And his bluesy stuff is awesome. One of the top 3 guitar players of the 90's, for sure.
    KonanBarbar
    Warren Haynes - Gov't Mule
    Bocob
    Steve Morse
    juzza1
    Steve Jones
    hdj.talr
    Michael Bloomfield
    ETID666
    ty segall
    Izzyplatypus73
    Billy Corgan... He's always recognized for his songwriting, not his guitar. At least in my experience.
    CJSchecter96
    Brad paisleys a straight up beast.
    PoloSG68
    Greg Koch?
    crypto69
    Jeff Loomis
    TheHonestLiar
    John McLaughlin
    Rex Inclitus
    Any serious musician knows that JM is the man in Jazz particularly fusion like Gallagher is to blues. Hendrix was jamming with JM and was moving away from the pentatonic doldrums and Hendrix would have been playing vastly different material if he had lived more in line with jazz than blues. Under rated in the mainstream but definitely not in the music industry.
    Allysonb7001
    adam jones from tool
    hanneman66
    Mike McCready
    bcavanaghm
    ADAM JONES - TOOL his unique, immortal approach to the guitar isnt often mentioned. The guy plays his own brand of hard rock-metal full of eastern influences. Top ten all time imho.
    sdbrown89
    Devin Townsend, the sheer diversity of his guitar playing alone, from Ghost to SYL is pretty ridiculous
    KingV911
    Dustie Waring of Between the Buried and Me. Paul Waggoner gets all the praise, but Dustie is one helluva tight and aggressive rhythm player.
    connor494
    Johnny Greenwood
    Mr_izzy
    Prince
    DarkenedShrine
    Ben Weinman - Dillinger Escape Plan