This is really hard. Compared to this, picking a list of “best presidents circa 1910” is a piece of cake. But “four best rock guitarists”? Impossible.

But, it was the topic of our Monday Mt. Rushmore so, with the help of our listening audience we DID pare it down to just four. First, some of the guitar players that got a lot of support either from ourselves or our listeners but didn’t make the final cut.

Kirk Hammett
Dave Mustaine
David Gilmour
Randy Rhodes
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Tony Iommi
Carlos Santana
Jeff Beck
Jimmy Page

That last one, Jimmy Page, was really, really tough to leave off.

Here’s my list of guitarists that I thought would get a lot of support for Mt. Rushmore of Guitarists but didn’t:

Ry Cooder
Steve Cropper
Yngwie Malmsteen
Steve Vai
Robert Fripp
Duanne Allman

Finally, here’s the ultimate list of four…the Mount Rushmore of Rock Guitarists

  • Chuck Berry

This is the “George Washington” of the group. He’s the “father”, if you will, of our (rock) country. First in chords, first in riffs, first in the hearts of rock fans the world over. Eh…just don’t look up any of his celebrity sex tapes unless you want to skip lunch.

  • Eric Clapton

How do you not include on a list of guitar gods, the man who first inspired the term? In the early to mid-1960s graffiti started popping up across England proclaiming, “Clapton is God”. And that was BEFORE he’d been in Cream or had any of his massive solo hits. Yeah, he deserves his spot.

  • Eddie Van Halen

There’s a reason every metal band of the 1980s had a guitar solo that featured a technique called “tapping”. It’s because they were imitating Eddie Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen isn’t just an innovator, he’s a full-on INVENTOR. Check out the patents he holds here and here. Oh, and also here.

  • Jimi Hendrix

This face on the Mount Rushmore of Rock Guitarists was about the closest we had to a “gimme”. Just like Lincoln, there wasn’t much serious debate about NOT including him on the mountain. We didn’t check until AFTER we completed our list but it was nice to see that most lists of “all-time best rock guitarists” ALSO had Jimi at number one or two.