16. Dan Auerbach
The MusicRadar/Total Guitar Best in guitars 2017 polls have received over 136,000 votes, and we’re now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the guitarists and guitar gear that have excelled in 2017. Here, we present the best rock guitarists of 2017. First up we have Dan Auerbach…
15. Steve Morse (Deep Purple)
2017 highlight: It’s been a busy year for Morse and his Deep Purple cohorts. Not only did the band release their 20th studio album, Infinite, which presented Morse on stellar form, but they also performed a rip-roaring live set on Radio 2 in celebration of the new album, as well rolling out cuts from their astonishing back catalogue.
14. Tom Morello (Prophets Of Rage)
2017 highlight: Morello is such a prolific musician it rarely feels like the man and his incendiary riffs are out of the spotlight. There was, however, something particularly special about Morello heading back into the studio with his Rage Against The Machine comrades Timmy C and Brad Wilk (plus Chuck D and B Real) for new band Prophets Of Rage. The star of the resulting self-titled album is Morello’s taught, grooving riffs.
13. Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear (Foo Fighters)
2017 highlight: We’re still playing the Foo’s new album Concrete And Gold regularly at MusicRadar HQ, but the real standout of the band’s year was that headline slot at Glastonbury 2017. Not only did the Foo Fighters prove they had the hits and the stage show to deliver a headline-worthy set, but it was further proof that the triple-pronged guitar attack of Grohl, Shifflett and Smear is a force to be reckoned with.
12. Rich Robinson, Marc Ford (The Magpie Salute)
2017 highlight: There were gasps of excited anticipation when ex-Black Crowes axe-slingers Rich Robinson and Marc Ford announced they were forming a new band. If the riff-rammed live album The Magpie Salute teased us with in 2017 is anything to go by, the new studio album, slated for an early 2018 release, is going to blow our socks off. Not convinced? Have a listen to the Crowes-esque Omission and come back to us.
11. Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Art Of Anarchy, Sons Of Apollo)
2017 highlight: While we were gutted that Bumblefoot wasn’t involved in the recent Guns N Roses shows, that meant that in 2017 we got a double dose of the virtuoso player. Art Of Anarchy released their fantastic second album The Madness early in the year, before Bumble headed full force into progressive metallers Sons Of Apollo. The band, also featuring Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan, is as astonishing as its line-up suggests and debut album Psychotic Symphony is astonishing.
10. Paul Gilbert
2017 highlight: Such is the prolific output of Mr Gilbert, there’s rarely a year that he doesn’t appear on these lists. This year the guitar master was occupied with recording and releasing a brand new album with Mr Big. Defying Gravity is the band’s ninth studio album and is a feast on the ears from the opening riff of Open Your Eyes.
9. Steve Vai
2017 highlight: Steve continued to headline guitar festivals around the world, as well as promote his electrifying new album Modern Primitive, but it was the announcement that the guitar wizard would be taking part in shows celebrating the music of Frank Zappa, complete with a hologram of the eccentric musician. We can’t wait to witness Vai tackling those tunes and jamming with his old pal.
8. Richie Kotzen
2017 highlight: After spending the past few years focusing on supergroup side-project The Winery Dogs, featuring virtuoso cohorts Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy, Kotzen returned in 2017 with latest solo effort Salting Earth. The 10 tracks that make Salting Earth are perhaps Kotzen at his most unadulterated – venturing from blues-rock, funk and jazz through to soul, and R&B pop.
7. John 5
2017 highlight: While he may be best known for his tenure with shock rock acts including Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, John 5 has also trodden his own path through a solo career that now boasts eight studio albums. The latest, Season Of The Witch released earlier in 2017, is one of his most spectacular yet. Accomplished, musical and bonkers in equal measure, it highlights a guitarist yet to reach his own boundaries.
6. Satchel (Steel Panther)
2017 highlight: Steel Panther might like to tell a few jokes, but there’s nothing funny about Satchel’s serious ability on the guitar. If you picked up this year’s raucous Lower The Bar you’ll already have heard the six stringer’s massive riffs on the Motley Crue-worthy I Got What You Want and the mighty Poontang Boomerang. Who’s laughing now?
5. Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins (The Darkness)
2017 highlight: This year’s Pinewood Smile was a staggering return to form for the Hawkins brothers’ twin-guitar attack. Everything they touch turns to rock and roll gold, and Buccaneers of Hispaniola and the high octane Southern Trains demonstrated that their dedication to all things rock has never been stronger.
4. Joe Satriani
2017 highlight: Headrush, the track that Satriani recently teased from his forthcoming sixth solo outing What Happens Next, has rendered us incredibly excited about the album’s release in early 2018. It’s classic Satch, and the addition of Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith is the icing on the cake. A personal favourite moment of ours was Joe’s involvement in the first ever World Guitar Day!
3. Slash, Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses)
2017 highlight: For Slash, the recent Gun N’ Roses shows have been like a homecoming, and night after night he’s been proving why he’s the greatest guitarist of a generation. For Richard Fortus, playing alongside the original line-up of the seminal rock band has been like a dream come true, and he’s approached the gig with his usual swagger and style.
2. Mark Tremonti, Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge)
2017 highlight: Most bands can only dream of playing the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London. In October of this year Orlando natives Alter Bridge played it twice, with the 52-piece Parallax Orchestra in tow. The result was the night of the band’s (and the fan’s) life. Tremonti and Kennedy handled the monumental gig like rock gods, shaking the famous venue to its foundations with their masterful riffs.
WINNER: 1. Brian May
2017 highlight: Brian was the clear winner in this category, such is the legacy of those classic riffs and that signature guitar sound. Together with Roger Taylor and Adam Lambert, Brian continues to keep the Queen torch burning bright, with massive shows stretching well into 2018. Elsewhere this year, Brian released a second album with British singer Kerry Ellis. Golden Days is the perfect blend of May at his rocking best, alongside more tender acoustic moments, including a stunning cover of Amazing Grace.