The guitar needs no introduction, as it is one of the most sought-after musical instruments for musical fanatics, listeners, and musicians alike. It’s in a world of its own, as it has the ability to create soothing acoustic melodies to hand-banging rock anthems.

But who are the most influential guitarists of all time? We have compiled a list of the greatest and most famous guitar players, spanning from jazz and folk to hard rock and heavy metal.

1. Brian May (Queen)

Brian May is one of the founding members of the iconic band Queen, and he holds a spot as one of the most influential and well-known guitarists, songwriters, and performers of all time. As a youngster, he built his own guitar, named “The Red Special,” which he played in all of Queen’s albums. But his talents lie in more than just shredding the guitar. He has earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics and has set up multiple animal rights campaigns. You can hear his electrifying riffs and talent in over twenty different Queen hits like “We Will Rock You,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.” He continues to grace the rock world alongside Adam Lambert and lead drummer Roger Taylor.

2. Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix, born Johnny Allen Hendrix, was a legendary electric guitarist and one of the most prominent figures in music history. He got his first acoustic guitar from his father, and soon after, he joined his first musical group, The Velvetones. But he didn’t stop there – he went on to form multiple music duos and trios. Through the 1960s and the 1970s, he also built his own production company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He released popular hits like “All Along the Watchtower” and “Purple Haze.” Even after his tragic death in 1970, his music still brings together a swirl of rock, blues, and jazz to the music world.

3. Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin)

Jimmy Page is a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, and producer. He founded one of the most influential rock bands to ever exist – Led Zeppelin. His passion for guitar playing was ignited when he found a spare one lying in the house he lived in. After leaving his first band, The Yardbirds, he used his newly-acquired musical knowledge and formed Led Zeppelin. This innovative group would go on to sell over 200 million records and produce ground-shaking hits like “Good Times Bad Times” and “Whole Lotta Love.” Page’s music style introduced an early genre of hard rock and electric blues with sparks of folk and acoustics. He and Led Zeppelin set the stage for many rock n’ roll musicians that came after them.

4. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)

Eddie Van Halen was the leading songwriter and guitarist for the popular rock band Van Halen. He was born in the Netherlands, but his family soon moved to Pasadena, California, where he and his brother took music lessons. They soon ditched the classics and turned toward the rock genre. Van Halen’s earth-rocking success came with the release of 1984, featuring classic hits “Hot for Teacher” and “Jump.” The band continued to soar in popularity and release albums with their ensemble hard rock sound well into the 2000s and 2010s.

5. Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton was reluctant to go into the spotlight, but his eventual solo career marked him as one of the best guitarists and musicians in the rock genre. His music career took off in the 1960s as he strummed his instrument of choice with rock bands Cream, The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, and The Yardbirds. But he soon left those bands to pursue his true passion for rock n’ roll with a touch of poetic ballads, producing smashing hits like the rock n’ roll anthem “Layla” and the bluesy “Wonderful Tonight.”