100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know: Part 3

100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know: Part 3

Nominated and selected by the TrueFire community, the following ten players join TrueFire’s 100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know list in recognition of their extraordinary talent and musical prowess. They are listed in no particular order. Click here to see the full list and learn more about this series.


Derek Trucks

Derek TrucksWikipedia describes Derek Trucks as “a Grammy Award-winning, American guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. He is a member of The Allman Brothers Band and The Derek Trucks Band, which he founded at age 15. The Wall Street Journal has described him as “the most awe-inspiring electric slide guitar player performing today.”

Trucks first attracted the attention of the music industry as a nine-year old prodigy on the guitar, and by age 12, he’d worked with some of the biggest names in the music scene. He was sitting in with Buddy Guy and an increasing list of other famous musicians, touring with The Allman Brothers Band for a decade before finally becoming an official band member in 1999. That same year, he met blues singer Susan Tedeschi, and the two married in 2001, beginning a family.

Trucks continues to play with both The Allman Brothers Band and as bandleader of The Derek Trucks Band. In recent years, Trucks and Tedeschi have merged their respective bands when their schedules have permitted, billed as the “Soul Stew Revival”, drawing accolades from fans and critics.

Trucks is known best for his specialty as a slide guitarist, his stoic focus while performing on stage, his reverence for the legacy of roots and blues musicians, as well as his familiarity and integration of a wide variety of musical genres in his music.

Official Website: www.DerekTrucks.com

Performance Video:


Sungha Jung

Born in 1996 in South Korea, Jung can easily be called a prodigy. He has only been playing for about three years and you MUST see and hear this kid! His first cd was just released in 2011.

On his web page, Sungha writes, “Currently, I am taking drum lessons and teaching myself fingerstyle guitar. I used to not have tabs for the music that I played in my videos. I just listen and pick them up directly from the sound source in videos available on the internet. However, recently, I have started playing with original tabs whenever they are available to me by courtesy of the authors. My old guitar is custom made by Selma to fit my body size, and on it, Thomas Leeb wrote “Keep on grooving to my friend.”

I’m very grateful to those prominent guitarists who have had a great influence on my guitar playing. I’ll continue to study them and learn more about interpretation of music and various playing techniques.

My daily practice routine lasts for one to two hours when school is open, but I play up to three hours a day during the school breaks. It usually takes me two to three days to practice and videotape a new piece but sometimes up to a week for more difficult ones. Last, but certainly not least, I can’t thank Ulli Bogershausen enough for being my musical inspiration.

Official Website: www.SunghaJung.com

Performance Video:


Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y GabrielaRodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero) are a Mexican musical duo who specialize in playing fast, rhythmic acoustic guitars. The duo met in Mexico City while playing in a thrash metal band called “Tierra Ácida”. Growing frustrated with the limited scope of the domestic music scene, they moved to Europe, where they met considerable acclaim.

They took up residence in Dublin, Ireland, after hearing it was particularly welcoming to traveling musicians. Playing live gigs in various pubs and busking allowed them to practice their sound. They received their break when Damien Rice approached them to provide the support for the Irish music festival Oxegen. In 2005 they toured extensively in festivals around the United Kingdom and beyond.

Their 2006 self titles album includes covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Metallica’s “Orion”. The duo list Metallica as being among their key influences, alongside other heavy metal bands such as Megadeth, Slayer, Testament and Overkill. The other tracks are original works inspired by the places they have been and the people they have met.

They released a new album, entitled 11:11 in September 2009. Alex Skolnick of Testament guests on the album, as do Strunz & Farah. They have been musical guests, on “The Tonight Show”, “The Late Late Show”, as well as “Lopez Tonight.”

Official Website: http://www.RodGab.com/

Performance Video:


Brad Carlton

Brad CarltonBrad is one of those guys! You know the ones who make you hurt wishing you could play like they do; who make you wish you had paid more attention to all that music theory when you were younger; who make you wish you had spent time practicing the difficult pieces rather than glossing over them. Brad Carlton is a virtuoso guitarist who inspires others to advance in their own skill development. Not content with being known as a “top session player” and publically demonstrating his amazing guitar skills as a performer, Brad has chosen to impart his knowledge and skills to students of the guitar.

“Brad is living proof that monster players don’t all live in the big music meccas. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, our home city, he’s our hired gun – the guy we call in to perform the tough lessons when the author is not available. Brad, who has been teaching and leading his own bands for more than 20 years, prides himself on his versatility. His rep in the region is that he can play anything. Brad brilliantly performs an extensive lesson on Eddie Van Halen licks an exploration of London blues along with interpretations of Vernon Reid, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mike Stern and even some 18th Century parlor guitar.”

Official Website: Brad Carlton’s TrueFire Profile

Performance Video:


Edgar Cruz

Edgar CruzEach year Edgar Cruz performs over 200 concerts and has played throughout America, Europe and South America. He has been a headliner at The Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, TN since 1995 and is a strong icon at most festivals in Oklahoma including Festival of the Arts, Paseo Festival, Sunfest, Global Oklahoma and more. Those who have witnessed Cruz’s performance immediately become entranced at the precision, speed and complexity with which his fingers strike the strings of his guitar to create a symphony of sound unusual to just one instrument.

Cruz offers an incredible live repertoire of “The Greatest Hits of the Guitar”. Malagueña, Classical Gas, Bohemian Rhapsody, In the Mood, Dueling Banjos, Hotel California, A Classical Medley, Latin favorites and Medleys On the Fly are just a few examples. Audience participation, clapping, singing, dancing, snapping, “oles and yee-haws” are all encouraged. Sixteen CDs and 2 DVDs are currently available. They cover moods from Latin, Classical, International, Rock, Jazz, Mariachi, Romantic, Christmas and originals. Future works include a Live Video and more of the fore mentioned.

Edgar has been named the Oklahoma’s Top Performing Artist and/or Acoustic Guitarist for over ten years by the Oklahoma Gazette. He has received numerous civic acknowledgments for his contributions to various charitable events.

Official Website: www.EdgarCruz.com

Performance Video:


Michael Angelo Batio

Michael Angelo BatioVoted the ‘#1 Shredder of All Time’ by Guitar One Magazine. Voted one of the “Top 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time” Guitar World Magazine. Michael won the Guitar World Magazine 15th annual readers choice award in the BEST SHREDDER category. The article appeared in the April 2009 issue.

Michael started playing the guitar at age 10. He is from Chicago, Illinois and has a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been signed to Atlantic Records with the band “Holland” and Rhino/Warner Brothers Records with the band “Nitro.” He started his own record label titled M.A.C.E. Music, Inc. in 1993 and was one of the first music companies to go on line in 1996.

Michael (also known as MAB) is one of the originators and pioneers of the entire “Shred” Guitar genre. He showcased guitar techniques and innovations, for the first time, on his early instructional programs as well as in live performances, that are now considered “standard techniques.”

Michael invented and was the world’s first player of the twin-necked, left and right-handed Double-Guitar. He plays the guitar right or left-handed. He also invented his signature stage move called the “MAB Over-Under” technique.

Michael has performed over 1,700 shows in 46 different countries since 1993 and toured the world performing guitar workshops for Dean Guitars, touring with various bands and as a solo artist.

Official Website: www.Angelo.com

Performance Video:



Pat Kirtley

Pat KirtleyKirtley’s first exposure to guitar, at age 5, was hearing guitarist and composer Spider Rich (writer of many tunes for Chet Atkins, including Yakety Axe) in a small recording studio where Kirtley’s father worked. He began learning at age 8, taught by two uncles who were influenced by Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, as well as pop and country music of the day.

He won the 1994 National Thumbpicking Contest in Mountain View, Arkansas. That same year, he released his first CD, Kentucky Guitar. The next year, 1995, he went to Winfield, KS and became the National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion in the Walnut Valley Festival competition.

1998 saw Kirtley releasing two more CDs, Irish Guitar and Rural Life, containing his own solo guitar compositions, and arrangements of pop and traditional tunes. His CD “Just Listen” (2000), featured collaborations with Tommy Emmanuel, jazz guitarist Craig Wagner, and Nickel Creek. Kirtley’s 2002 release, Brazilian Guitar, focuses on Brazilian Samba and Bossa Nova styles recorded with an ensemble setting. Here Kirtley’s sound comes from the nylon-string guitar instead of his usual steel-string.

Kirtley is a renowned and experienced guitar teacher who addresses not only composition and techniques, but focuses on personal attitude, development of good practice habits and techniques. In 2006, Kirtley was honored as the newest inductee to the National Thumbpicker’s Hall of Fame.

Official Website: myspace.com/patkirtley

Performance Video:


Ben Lacy

For the past few years Ben has been drawing huge crowds to the Brian Moore Guitar booth at NAMM. Thousands of awestruck conventioneers have watched him move effortlessly from Led Zepplin…to Stevie Wonder…to Van Morrison, not just playing the guitar parts…playing all the parts, at the same time. Snapping and slapping nasty bass grooves, stabbing inspired chord voicings, thumping staccato drumbeats and playing sassy solo lines…all simultaneously. But this isn’t just a circus trick. It’s pure inspiration crafted with superhuman precision and Mojo to burn.

Downbeat, one of the world’s foremost jazz magazines for over half a century, called Lacy “a true multitasking machine.” The review in the March 2003 issue went on: “To mere mortals it might seem that there’s a twosome going at it. Lacy’s impressive technique is built upon complex slapping, hammer-ons, and rhythmically devised chord progressions.”

Modulus said, “This soft-spoken musician is possibly the most exciting thing to happen to guitar playing that we’ve heard in the last ten years.”

The February 2007 issue of Guitar Player Magazine named Ben as one of the Top 100 Unsung Guitar Heroes. 20th Century Guitar’s August 2006 issue said: Ben Lacy has done what few guitarists have done in history. Not just digest the styles of the past. Ben has raised the bar a notch. Maybe two.” This is one player you do not want to miss!

Official Website: www.BenLacy.com

Performance Video:


Robert Conti

As a performing jazz guitarist for nearly five decades, Robert Conti is ranked in the top handful of the world’s greatest players by knowledgeable musicians and fans. His skill and a vast repertoire keeps him in demand to perform at numerous venues from Jazz Clubs and festivals to First Class Hotels including The Bellagio and Paris Las Vegas and ongoing Corporate Events in California and Las Vegas.

In addition to his live performances, other career highlights in the last decade include: the 2009 introduction of Conti Archtop Jazz Guitars – a high quality instrument with emphasis on affordability for the majority of guitarists: multiple performances at NAMM, All Star Guitar Night, and Guitar Player Magazine’s 40th Anniversary VIP Party: the CD release of “To The Brink!” recorded in Las Vegas: a major cover story in the prestigious Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, of which he is also a regularly featured columnist.

While there are many excellent jazz players, as you probably discovered, there are very few who can effectively teach their acquired skills to others. As self-evident, Conti’s playing skills will dazzle any audience. However, in his role as an educator, it is his ability to place his skills under your fingers that places him in the forefront of highly successful jazz educators.

Official Website: www.RobertConti.com

Performance Video:


Walter Trout

Walter TroutWalter Trout’s 20th album is called Common Ground, but for the visionary roots singer, songwriter and guitarist that’s more than a title.

It’s where Trout’s compelling music resides — in a territory that unites the worlds of blues, rock and pure sonic adventurism, where inspiration and technique meet to create a unique, soulful language. In a sense, the title also describes Trout’s personal geography. Although he lives in California, he spends much of his life on the road bridging the U.S and Europe, where he’s so well-known and respected that the United Kingdom’s BBC Radio One placed the Stratocaster master at number six on their list of the Top 20 guitarists of all time. Legendary BBC disc jockey, Bob Harris, in his book “The Whispering Years” calls Trout: “The world’s greatest rock guitarist.” (p. 186)

Trout’s soaring warm guitar matches the plainspoken tenderness of the lyrics of Common Ground for a performance that sounds truly inspired, especially in the song’s concluding solo where Trout makes his six-string speak with the eloquence of a traveling tent revival preacher.

In 1981 Trout joined the remaining members of the formative ’60s blues-rock group Canned Heat. But the real turning point in his career was his five-year tenure with British blues giant John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers beginning in 1984.

Official Website: www.WalterTrout.com

Performance Video: