100 Greatest Fingerstyle Guitar Players

Top 100 Fingerstyle Guitarists

100 Greatest Fingerstyle Guitar Players
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The sounds that come forth through fingerstyle guitar opens new avenues musically. This article showcases a list of best fingerstyle guitar players.

Fingerstyle is a technique where the guitar is played directly with fingertips, fingernails or with fingerpicks attacked to fingers. Unlike in conventional flatpicking where a guitarist uses the plectrum/pick to play notes, in acoustic fingerstyle playing it’s the fingers that do the picking and plucking. While fingerstyle guitar techniques are used in different music genres, some of the most varied fingerstyle finger techniques are found in the realms of folk, classical, jazz, country, percussive playing and blues. Most guitar players that are noted for virtuosic fingerstyle techniques started playing the guitar at an early age.

Types of Fingerstyle Techniques Associated with Acoustic Guitar

Different types of fingerstyle techniques are used by guitar players in the realms of music. For many guitar players, the fingerstyle technique is a natural extension of habituated playing developed into a varied technique or style. It’s the melody notes, accompanying chords and bass notes that are played simultaneously in many acoustic fingerstyle techniques.

Percussive guitarists use a techniques that involve tapping, harmonics, artificial harmonics, hammer-ons and pull-offs. Fingerstyle guitar has a unique sound because of the root melody notes being fused with chords and bass lines simultaneously. Majority of guitarists use fingerpicking techniques more prominently on acoustic guitars, and less commonly on electric guitars.

The right hand technique of fingerstyle guitar players varies drastically. Some of the most innovative guitar techniques and guitar styles are found in the realms of acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Many fingerstyle guitarists use each of the right hand fingers independently to create multiple parts associated with harmonic melody notes, chords, bass notes and percussion. Some fingerstyle guitarists employ different arpeggio patterns in which the notes of a chord are played in succession one after another as opposed to being played simultaneously. A variety of tapping techniques and percussive techniques are used by new acoustic fingerstyle guitarists to create sound dynamism and textural ambiance in their playing.

A diverse variety of extended techniques are employed by fingerstyle guitar players to create a wall of melodic musical soundscapes. Aside from chord changes, guitarists may also include pull-offs and hammer-ons in certain parts or sections in accordance with the musical arrangement. While there are standard techniques associated with fingerpicking and fingerstyle, there are no rules when it comes to employment of style of technique.

Fingerstyle guitar players are known to intersperse varied elements of chords, melody, bass line and percussive playing singularly, bringing a fresh wholesome sound.  The hallmark of a great guitar player or a virtuoso guitarist is adopting a free-form approach to the guitar that gives unique identity while becoming a signature style.

Showcased below is a diverse list of the best in the fingerstyle business.

100 Greatest Fingerstyle Guitar Players

  1. Michael Hedges
  2. Chet Atkins
  3. Tommy Emmanuel
  4. Adrian Legg
  5. Erik Mongrain
  6. Andy McKeee
  7. Mike Dawes
  8. Antoine Dufour
  9. Leo Kottke
  10. John James
  11. Don Ross
  12. Thomas Leeb
  13. Alex De Grassi
  14. Kaki King
  15. Pete Huttlinger
  16. Davey Grahm
  17. John Fahey
  18. Duck Baker
  19. Ewan Dobson
  20. Estas Tonne
  21. Preston Reed
  22. Charlie Byrd
  23. Michael Chapdelaine
  24. Doyle Dykes
  25. Trace Bundy
  26. Stefan Grossman
  27. Ed Gerhard
  28. Michael Gulezian
  29. Adam Rafferty 
  30. Sungha Jung
  31. Billy McLaughlin
  32. Martin Taylor
  33. Buster B. Jones
  34. Kenneth Carllile
  35. Joe Robinson
  36. Pierre Bensusan
  37. Calum Grahm
  38. Scotty Moore
  39. Masaaki Kishibe
  40. Kotaro Oshio
  41. Jack Rose
  42. William Ackerman
  43. Ralph McTell
  44. Don Alder
  45. T-cophony
  46. Kennedy Jones
  47. Pat Kirtley
  48. Muriel Anderson
  49. Earl Klugh
  50. Justin St-Pierre
  51. Elliot Morris
  52. Igor Presnyakov
  53. Tony McManus
  54. Reverend Gary Davis  
  55. Pat Donohue
  56. Justin King
  57. Merle Travis
  58. Scott Huckabay
  59. Peter Finger
  60. Robbie Basho
  61. Craig D’andrea
  62. Jean Bosco Mwenda
  63. Jerry Reed
  64. Nico Kasanda
  65. Maneli Jamal  
  66. John Knowles
  67. Peter Autschbach
  68. Jao Gilberto
  69. Antonio Forcione
  70. Marcel Dadi
  71. Jeff Linsky   
  72. Laurence Juber
  73. Doc Watson
  74. Eric Roche  
  75. Shun Ng
  76. Al Petteway
  77. Gordon Giltrap
  78. Jacques Stotzem
  79. Maury Muehleisen
  80. Peter Lang
  81. Terry Robb
  82. Victor Ntoni
  83. Sam Sallon
  84. Ernie Hawkins
  85. Jon Gomm
  86. Tim Sparks
  87. Brooks Williams
  88. Nick Jones
  89. Tobias Rauscher
  90. John Pearse
  91. Brian Rolland
  92. Richard Kiser
  93. Jimmy Wahlsteen
  94. Si Hayden
  95. Vicki Genfan
  96. Ben Lapps
  97. Gabriella Quevedo
  98. Woody Mann
  99. Knut Reiersrud
  100. Benjamin Woolman

Other Notable Fingerstyle Guitar Players

  • Trevor Gordon Hall
  • Jim West
  • Dylan Golden Aycock
  • Mississippi John Hurt
  • Phil Keaggy
  • Stefano Barone
  • Lucas Michailidis
  • Martin Simpson
  • Glenn Jones
  • Jake McGuire
  • Phil Heywood
  • Willy Porter
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Johnny “Guitar” Watson
  • Jorma Kaukonen
  • Gareth Pearson
  • Derek Trucks
  • Martin Sexton
  • Jim Messina
  • Bert Jansch
  • Dave Van Ronk
  • Edgar Cruz
  • Toulouse Engelhardt
  • John Renbourn
  • Daniel Joseph Schafer

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