Rolling Stone’s Top Guitarist List Is a ’Joke,’ Says Rick Beato

Famous YouTube music teacher and producer Rick Beato recently shared another one of his videos, discussing the matter of Rolling Stone’s recent “The 250 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list. Serving as an updated and lengthier list of their previous “100 Greatest Guitarists” rundown from 2015, the new article brought up a lot of comments, with fans, musicians, and even other publications addressing some of the omissions and odd placements.

To Rick Beato, the list is nothing short of “embarrassingly bad,” comparing it to Rolling Stone’s old review of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album back in the 1990s that gave the legendary grunge record 3 out of 5 stars.

“I can’t even fathom that Andy Summers is at 250,” Beato commented (transcript via Ultimate Guitar), “he barely made it.”

“Some of my friends are on there, who haven’t even been out on the scene for 10 years, and this is of all time! People have been playing electric guitar for 100 years!”

Rolling Stones' Idiotic Top 250 Guitar Players List

As expected, Beato admits that he was asked a lot about the list when it came out. The list got a lot of attention for featuring a number of indie rock musicians, as well as other musicians who are well-known songwriters but not particularly known as great or influential guitar players.

“There’s a bunch of indie rock on here,” he added, “where the people can barely play — even though I love their songs, but they can’t even play!”

Beato wasn’t bashing anyone (except for Rolling Stone’s editorial), and he doesn’t mind that certain musicians have gotten their shoutouts. However, he’s pretty dissatisfied that plenty of great guitar-wielding musicians were omitted. Addressing some of them, he continued:

“Here’s some of the people that are left off the list; George Benson is not on it, one of the grooviest guitar players I have ever heard…”

George Benson how to practice

“Feel, chops — everything in you want in a player. Matter of fact, I watch a video of George Benson improvising every couple of months just to remind myself how great somebody could be.”

Two other greats who he believes should be on it are also Al Di Meola and Yngwie Malmsteen. But neither of them is worth it, according to Rolling Stone.

“Al Di Meola, one of the greatest fusion players, acouistic — everything! Yngwie is not on there — what!? Is that possible?”

Al di Meola - Race with Devil on Spanish Highway

And then there’s also a few other important omissions, with Rick addressing the matter:

“Peter Frampton, maybe I don’t know anything, but he’s not on there — c’mon man! Peter Frampton’s incredibly influential, at least to every guitar player I know. Neal Schon from Journey? He’s like one of the most copied players out there! Tommy Emmanuel, is it possible he’s not there?”

As mentioned, some of the guitar players were on the list, which is fine. But Beato pointed out the weird placement, particularly with Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin:

“Pat Metheny is a 157? One of the most melodic players, greatest improvisers? John McLaughlin is 72? He was the guitar teacher of half the people that were at the top of the list!”

Pat Metheny Group - Are You Going with Me? - 1989

And then, probably the most unforgivable omission according to Rick:

“Joe Pass? Not only is he the greatest solo guitarist of all time, but he also had books that everyone my age learned how to play guitar from… He had a million records; I guess Rolling Stone never heard any of them — including ‘Virtuoso’, the greatest solo guitar record that came out in 1973.”

Beato kept listing guitar players, mentioning Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as Tom Scholz of Boston. But another one he particularly paid attention to in this critique was Guthrie Govan:

“I understand this; he doesn’t have many records out there,” Beato said reflecting on the list not mentioning Govan.

The GREATEST Guitar Solo EVER Recorded? Guthrie Govan Is Incredible...

Calling him a “monster,” Beato then added:

“People are literally terrified of Guthrie; they don’t even want to get on stage with him, he’s that good.”

Finally, there’s also Allan Holdsworth who’s not present on the list at all but is, according to Rick, one of the guys who influenced the highest-ranking players on Rolling Stone’s list:

“If you everyone that’s alive from the top of that list about Allan Holdsworth, they all say the same thing: ‘He’s the guy.’ How do you have this list without him? Neil Young? I love Neil as a songwriter, [but] he’s there as a guitar player — he plays one note solos! And they’re not like B.B. King one-note solos; he literally plays one note solos.”

R.I.P. Allan Holdsworth (1946–2017) [Allan Holdsworth - Guitar Solo]

In conclusion, Rick simply said:

“This list is terrible. It’s a joke.”

Another musician who addressed the lack of Holdsworth was also Living Colour’s Vernon Reid. Being featured on the list himself, at the 42nd spot, Reid was thankful to Rolling Stone but couldn’t help but comment that no Allan Holdsworth in there was “pure ignorance.” He also added:

“Holdsworth’s position in various Prog bands, his outsize impact on metal and hard rock guitar, and as a direct influence on EVH ALONE should qualify him. SMH.”

Soft Machine - 'Switzerland 1974' Official Trailer

Photos: YouTube screenshot, Public domain (Rolling Stone 2022)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.