Nowadays, more than ever, you can hear a lot of the members of the old guard saying that “there is no good music today”. For the rock-tinged folk, that is synonymous with the assumption that there are no excellent guitar players today.
In reality, there is a whole new guitar revival going on, with some of the players spearheading a new, radically different approach to the guitar-playing sounds and technique.
Today, we’re going to give you our picks of the best living and artistically potent guitarists of today. Let’s jump right in!
These are the best modern guitarists you should know:
The Animals as Leaders’ axeman has definitely cemented his place among the guitar-playing giants of today.
He set out on a mission to reinvent the technique of playing guitar, and my God did he do it! His addition of tapping, sweeping, “thumping”, and fingerpicking certainly left its mark on the modern guitar-playing style.
He is also well-known for some top-tier shredding abilities. When you add to that his usage of the eight-string guitars – you can’t even imagine the kaleidoscopic virtuosity of his playing style.
If you want to hear an incredibly unique guitar hero of today, you must check out Mr. Abasi’s work!
Watch this video of Tosin Abasi performing at Brutal Assault 21
Mr. Mansoor has become such a towering figure in the world of current shred guitar that it’s hard to believe that he has only been on the scene for about a decade!
One of the most impressive feats of this shred overlord is the number of other musicians that he has influenced over the years. Namely, his signature sound helped define the modern-day progressive metal sound. But even more importantly – the guy helped forge a whole new music genre!
As a lot of you know, Misha is one of the major influences behind djent. His techy, thrashy, and surgically precise shred style helped define one of the most vital metal genres of the past decade.
Lastly, one of the coolest things about him is his competence in different fields. He is a great songwriter, producer, and programmer, as well as a real gear aficionado.
If you want to hear some of Misha Mansoor’s chops, put on some Periphery. If you are a shredhead, be prepared to be blown away!
Watch this video of Misha Mansoor performing with his band
What’s to say about Joe Satriani that hasn’t been said already? His impressive career saw him shaping the guitar-playing language of the 80s. As the years passed, he continued to release great albums.
The best thing is, he didn’t rest on his laurels! All his output, as of today, has been pushing the envelope within the guitar-playing world.
Besides all that, during the 80s, he was a guitar teacher to some of the finest guitar players of that era! Namely, Kirk Hammet, Marty Friedman, and Alex Skolnick (just to name a few) all learned their tricks of the trade from Mr. Satriani.
The most impressive thing about Joe is his continuing quest for groundbreaking guitar expression that has lasted since the 80s, with no dips in quality! He is a true legend, and one of the all-time greats!
Watch this video of Joe Satriani performing live
Jared James Nichols
Although not as innovative as some of the other participants on this list, JJN is just as impressive! The fact that the guy managed to take classic blues and rock and do something refreshing with that – it’s just beyond comprehension!
The best thing is, he didn’t add anything truly new and groundbreaking, he just took what was already there and played it with such taste and authenticity. It really brings a whole new level of appreciation for those legendary genres!
What is unique about him is his “pick-less” playing technique. Better yet, his playing intensity does not suffer from that, but somehow he actually manages reach a whole new level!
Be sure to check Gibson’s Global Brand Ambassadors’ Instagram page, there is really a lot of ear candy over there!
Watch this video of Jared James Nichols performing live
John Mayer always had impressive chops. However, over the last decade, he slowly started getting away from this pop-tinged radio-friendly output and moved towards the guitar-nerd heaven-type stuff. Both things he did masterfully, we might add.
The taste, technique, and composition itself have all been a hallmark of his output in the past decade.
Since Mr. Mayer is the quintessential mainstream guitar hero, we won’t waste much time introducing him to you. We will just reassert once more how truly great he is!
The courage of following his own path in spite of the demands of the market and the public really shows his artistic integrity.
Watch this video of John Mayer performing live on the Today Show
Tim Henson and Scott LePage
Ah, the twin axe attack of Polyphia! These two have written some incredible songs, mashed together diametrically opposed genres, while still having some of the best chops in the guitar world of today.
Polyphia’s style is an eclectic mix of modern guitar shred, EDM bravuras, as well as hip-hop grooves. You really have to listen to it to believe it!
The guitar-playing duo of Henson and LePage claim that they had to tear down the shred style of old in order for it to continue to exist. They have come up with their own lick vocabulary that often mimics some EDM sounds rather than relying on (in their own terms) “boomer bends”.
If you want to hear what the future of guitar sounds like – try Polyphia!
Watch this video of Henson and LePage performing live
Imagine this – you haven’t released any album at all, but you have helped create a whole new genre! Ladies and gents – Mr. Mateus Asato!
The way he gained stardom in the world of guitar was mostly through his social media presence. His content often displays him playing some tasty licks in a very unique way. He and a couple of other guitarists have helped create the genre of neo-soul guitar.
Much more than a one-trick pony, Mateus often posts some incredible short videos in which he demonstrates his shred, funk, and finger-picking chops. His social media prowess really made him one of the best-known guitar heroes among the younger generation!
Watch this video of Mateus Asato performing live in Seoul
The Dream Theater axeman has been a fixture in the realm of virtuoso guitar playing for almost 40 years now. Best known for his incredible alternate-picking ability, he is the name pretty much synonymous with the genre of progressive metal. His incredible technique, songwriting, and producing skills are nothing short of legendary.
One of his most unique characteristics is his dedication to gear development. He has been a real trailblazer in the world of guitar manufacturing, amplifier development, guitar electronics innovation, and last but not least – guitar pedals.
Watch this video of Petrucci performing live at Rock In Rio 2022
The self-described “bedroom guitarist” is a real internet guitar superstar. The Japanese-born virtuoso boasts a 2-million subscriber YouTube channel.
The genre he mainly focuses on is math funk. He is also known for playing some jazzy pieces as well.
His format would be a one-minute-long video in which he plays an innovative self-composed lick, or does an imaginative cover of a well-known song.
He is a representative of a whole new generation of guitar players that take guitar playing to some new conceptual heights! If you haven’t already, you must check out Ichika!
Watch this video of Ichika performing in front of an audience
“Professor Shred” is probably one of the most versatile guitar players to ever grace the 6-stringed planks of wood. His eclectic mix of different styles includes prog-rock, shred, blues, jazz, fusion, and funk, just to name a few. He manages to mix all that in such a seamless way, that you would be completely justified if you said that he plays his own type of music genre.
He is well-known for his globetrotting guitar masterclasses that are attended by many. Besides the vast plethora of musical and guitar-related knowledge you can pick up from him, his masterclasses feature his own brand of whimsical humor which make the whole experience a really unforgettable event!
A tried-and-true modern-day guitar legend!
Watch this video of Guthrie Govan performing live
Save the best for last, huh? We don’t feel as if we have to talk too much about Mr. Vai’s legendary legacy. The man is one of the undisputed guitar champions of the golden era of the guitar.
However, we want to focus more on his recent output. His newer albums are as daring as all of his classic-era output. Besides that, he had been spearheading the incredible Generation Axe combo, while igniting his Vai Academy camps and releasing his book on music theory – “Vaideology” (link to Amazon).
If that wasn’t enough, the guy has been touring the globe over and over – delivering his trademark shows that are the guitaristic equivalent of shamanic initiation ceremonies.
Watch this video of Steve Vai performing live in Bristol
We can safely say that we are living in the era of the electric guitar renaissance. The new generation of guitarists has been standing on the shoulders of previous guitar giants and seem to be consistently pushing the creative and technical envelope!
With the advent of social media platforms, our beloved six-string has gathered the most exposure it has had for quite some time now.
So, don’t worry about the future of the guitar, just pick up that guitar and start jamming away!