Best Fingerstyle Guitarists of All Time

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This is a blog about fingerstyle guitar legends and modern masters who continue to push the genre. Here you will find interviews, articles, and lessons dedicated to the art of fingerstyle guitar.

Fingerstyle was originally founded by Dan Bishop in 2009. It started as a way for me to document my fingerstyle guitar journey and experiment with various marketing techniques. Eventually it grew into a resource for fingerstyle guitarists around the world.

It has been an incredible ride so far! I’ve met some of my best friends through this site and have been inspired by the music of many of these talented musicians. I’m truly grateful for having the opportunity to share their stories with you.

Since I started in 2011, I’ve been fortunate enough to interview some of the world’s greatest fingerstyle guitarists. Many of them are legends, who were pioneers of the genre, and others are modern masters who continue to push the genre forward.

Below you’ll find links to all of the interviews I’ve published on, so far. If you enjoy these interviews, please consider supporting my website by subscribing to my YouTube channel or following me on Facebook or Twitter.

I hope you enjoy discovering new music and learning about the lives and careers of these guitarists as much as I do!

Fingerstyle guitar is a technique that uses the fingers rather than a pick or plectrum to pluck the strings. A true fingerstyle player typically uses the thumb and first three fingers of the right hand to play multiple bass notes, melody lines and chords at the same time. Many guitarists who primarily play with a pick also employ fingerpicking techniques, including Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. These players are not included in this list.

This list is meant to focus on those who use only their fingers to play the guitar, using their fingernails, fingertips or both. Some of these players use other objects (like coins or picks) to augment their playing style, but it is not necessary for inclusion on this list. An important part of this style is muting strings that are not played so as to avoid unwanted string noise that can interfere with the notes being played by the fingerstyle guitarist.

Fingerstyle guitarists such as Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel have made major contributions to country and bluegrass music. Others like John Renbourn and Leo Kottke have brought elements of folk music into their playing style. Still others like Michael Hedges have pioneered new approaches to playing fingerstyle guitar that have inspired

For his part, the iconic guitarist and songwriter has been a fingerstyle aficionado for most of his life. “I first started playing acoustic fingerstyle guitar when I was about 14 years old,” he shares. “There was a lot of that kind of stuff around at the time—John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Robbie Basho, and that whole genre. That’s what got me into playing acoustic guitar.

Guthrie Govan is known as one of modern rock music’s most celebrated players. The UK-based guitarist and composer is a fixture in Guthrie Govan’s wonderful Fender Signature model has a particularly interesting story behind it. “[Fender] approached me some years ago to see if I wanted to do a signature model,” he remembers. “I said I don’t think [my style] would translate well to an electric guitar; the whole reason I play fingerstyle is because I don’t have to worry about the guitar being too heavy or having a neck that’s too thick to wrap my left hand around comfortably.

Martin Simpson is one of the UK’s premiere fingerstyle players and has also written numerous instructional books on

‘Fingerstyle’ guitar is the style that most guitarists use to first pick up the instrument and play. In this style, the fingers (generally the thumb and first few fingers) are used to pluck the strings directly. The thumb plays the bass notes on the lower three strings while the fingers play melody on the higher strings. This style is also known as ‘fingerpicking’ and ‘thumbpicking’.

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to know that you can’t fingerpick an electric guitar – it has to be an acoustic. Also, since you’re not using a pick, you need to use good fingerstyle technique to avoid breaking your nails!

The origins of fingerstyle guitar are from Spain with players like Francisco Tarrega in the 19th century. However, the best-known examples of this style come from American blues artists from Mississippi Delta such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Son House. Because of their incredible popularity, Johnson and other artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson helped shape fingerstyle guitar into what we hear today. These early masters were influential for many future musicians including Eric Clapton who admitted that his own playing was influenced by Mississippi Delta blues artist Robert Johnson as well as Big Bill Broonzy.

Fingerstyle guitar refers to a technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers.

Michael Hedges and Pierre Bensusan are two of the best known fingerstyle guitarists.

Fingerpicking is generally considered distinct from plucking with a flatpick (which is generally called “flatpicking”).

Fingerpicking is also often used in folk, blues, and country music.

The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 compiled a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. The list, which included everyone from Robert Johnson to Kurt Cobain, was selected by a panel consisting of some of the biggest names in music. The list was published as part of Rolling Stone’s celebration of its 50th anniversary. The top ten is listed below.

1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Eric Clapton

3. Jimmy Page

4. Keith Richards

5. Jeff Beck

6. B.B. King

7. Chuck Berry

8. Prince

9. Eddie Van Halen

10. Duane Allman

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