1. Terry Kath- This man was simply the best guitarist in the world. A full-forced powerhouse of energy. Just as good as, if not better than Hendrix. Terry could play blues, jazz, and all that feedback stuff people love Hendrix for playing. Not to mention he had a superb voice. It's tough to say whether or not he'd still be playing with Chicago if he was still around today, but one thing's certain, the group certainly lost it's soul and became rather boring after Terry's death. Look up "South California Purples", "Mississippi Delta Blues", or just about any early Chicago song for proof of his outstanding playing.
2. Scotty Moore- This guy is the reason I picked up the guitar. I initially thought it was Elvis Presley, until I realized that Scotty's the one playing the guitar solos on all those great early Elvis records. This guy knows that simplicity is the key. Nothing is complicated, but it fits just perfectly into the songs. Look up the song "Trying to Get to You" by Elvis, that guitar solo is reason enough to love this guitarist's playing.
3. Elmore James- Without a doubt, Elmore James was one of the best bluesmen to ever walk the Earth. He is dubbed by many as the King of Slide Guitar, which probably isn't too far from the truth. Every slide guitar lick has probably been originated by Elmore, and not to mention that voice of his, which was one of the best blues voices in the world and still is to this day. Look up the song "Shake Your Moneymaker" for some proof.
4. Derek Trucks- Certainly the most talented guitarist of our time. Derek started playing with The Allman Brothers Band at age 9 (his uncle is Allman Bros. drummer Butch Trucks). Even at that young age he could play just like Duane Allman, look up videos of him at this age on YouTube, you'll be blown away. Derek is probably the only slide guitar player who plays with such precision. He can play the dirtiest blues songs you've ever heard and can even play Indian music better than most Indian people probably can. Look up "Chevrolet" for the blues, and "Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Madni" for the Indian music.
5. Buddy Guy- If you've ever had any doubt in the power of the blues, give a listen to Buddy Guy. Not only is he one of the greatest blues guitarists around, but he's one of the greatest guitarists around period. H**l give you the full range, soft-spoken solos that keep you waiting for that next note and then the loud, madman guitar solos. Without a doubt, he had an incredible influence on Jimi Hendrix with his flamboyant style and all the trickery like playing with his teeth and behind his back. Look up on YouTube Buddy Guy playing with Hubert Sumlin playing "Five Long Years", that is the definition of blues.
6. Frank Zappa- Never before has such a musical genius existed. Zappa was a very serious and disciplined composer, but also a fantastic guitarist. He is known for songs containing offensive and purely comic lyrics for the most part. His guitar solos were so much like songs in themselves that there are Zappa albums containing just guitar solos. Whether he's playing doo-wop, blues, jazz or experimental music, his guitar playing is always the stand out performance of these songs. Look up "Inca Roads", "Willie the Pimp" and "Zomby Woof" for some great solos.
7. Brian Setzer- I'm so impressed with Brian Setzer because he went from playing rockabilly (which isn't exactly the most difficult form of music to play) to swing/jazz, which any guitar player knows is a very complex genre for playing. Both the chords and the soloing itself is a very different thing in the jazz world. He is often overlooked on many lists, for what reason, I do not know. Look up "Mr. Surfer Goes Jazzin'" and "Mr. Jazzer Goes Surfin" for some crazy solos by Setzer.
8. David Gilmour- This is one of those guitarists whose tone can be easily recognized. Gilmour has always maintained a spacey sound, but still very bluesy. His guitar solo on "Money" is easily one of the best rock guitar solos of all time. His solo work is just as impressive as his work with Pink Floyd. Many people like Pink Floyd, but how many people really like it for the music? Gilmour's tone is one of the most relaxing guitar tones ever. Look up "The Blue" from his most recent solo album for a fantastic, soothing solo.
9. Brian May- If Scotty Moore was the reason I picked up guitar, Brian May is the reason I kept up with it. For the longest time, I thought Queen was the greatest band in the world, and Brian the greatest guitar player in the world. He's certainly an incredibly talented musician. From the classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" solo to the lesser known "Keep Yourself Alive", it would be hard to find a Brian May solo that would disappoint. Look up "Good Company" every sound you hear on there that sounds like a synthesizer is his guitar.
10. Denny Dias- A very overlooked guitarist, Denny Dias played on some of Steely Dan's greatest songs. He isn't on every album by Steely Dan, and that's a shame. Even more of a shame is that he doesn't play music anymore. His style was very unique, and looked an awful lot like Zach Galifianakis. Aside from how he looked, his playing was some of the best playing on Steely Dan records. Look up "Bodhisattava" and "Green Earrings", he has the first guitar solo on both songs, and they're equally amazing.