There are probably a lot of opinions when it comes to the best acoustic guitar player. In this article, you’ll find a list of the ten players that I consider to be the best on the acoustic guitar.
You may have your own musicians that you like, and that’s fine. This list is open to interpretation, and it’s not set in stone. I feel that these artists offer a lot on acoustic guitar, and I enjoy listening to them.
Quick Look: Best Acoustic Guitar Players
★ #1 Best Acoustic Guitar Player Overall: Neil Young ★
- Best Rock Acoustic Guitar Player: Jimmy Page
- Best Country Acoustic Guitar Player: Johnny Cash
- Best Late Acoustic Guitar Player: Andre Segovia
- Best Current Acoustic Guitar Player: Tommy Emmanuel
All of these famous acoustic guitar players have a lot to offer. Some of them also play electric guitar as well as acoustic guitar. These artists have inspired me along my own musical journey. I hope they inspire you.
What Makes a Great Acoustic Guitar Player?
Several factors go into making a great acoustic guitar player. Naturally, the most common thing is mastery over the acoustic guitar. Whenever they play music, it makes you want to sit down and listen.
A lot of the time, lyrics also play a factor. Some of the best songs in the world use simple chords, but the lyrics convey an excellent message, so you want to listen to the song repeatedly.
I feel that great acoustic guitar players not only have mastery over the instrument in terms of their technical ability, but they also have mastery in terms of their songwriting and how they arrange the music.
10 Best Acoustic Guitar Players
Here is a list of some of the best acoustic guitar players of all time. This list is subjective, as it’s only my personal opinion. You may have players that you like too, which is fine.
I feel that all of these artists have command over the acoustic guitar and their singing and songwriting. They have been able to write songs that we can all relate to, and that’s why I like them so much.
1. Jimmy Page
- Best hit song: Stairway to Heaven
- Best album: Led Zeppelin 4
- Music type: Rock and blues
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Harmony H1260 Sovereign Acoustic
The best rock acoustic guitar player is Jimmy Page. He put both acoustic and electric guitar playing together to make some of the most iconic rock songs of all time. One of the best acoustic guitar musicians is Jimmy Page.
Jimmy Page was able to combine acoustic guitar playing with rock guitar solos. One of his most famous songs is Stairway to Heaven, which features excellent acoustic fingerpicking, strumming, and an excellent solo.
Many Led Zeppelin songs are also in different tunings, which gives a unique sound to his acoustic guitar parts. You can hear some of these unique tunings in songs such as Black Mountain Side and Going to California.
2. Neil Young
- Best hit song: Old Man
- Best album: Harvest
- Music type: Folk/rock
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Martin D-45
One of the top acoustic guitar players, in my opinion, is Neil Young. He also plays electric guitar, but his main guitar is acoustic. Songs such as Old Man or Needle and the Damage Done have excellent acoustic guitar arrangements.
He also has a unique ability to combine harmonica playing and his acoustic guitar work, which gives a unique feel to many of his songs. A lot of his music features simple strumming patterns, but his chord choices are excellent.
He also writes wonderful songs. Not only is his playing great, but he’s a great songwriter. He writes songs that resonate with you on many levels.
3. Simon and Garfunkel
- Best hit song: The Sound of Silence
- Best album: Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Music type: Folk
- Favorite acoustic guitar: SB3 Michael Gurian
One of my favorite music duos is Simon and Garfunkel. Their music is quite relaxing to listen to. One of my favorite songs from them is The Boxer. It features excellent fingerpicking patterns played by Paul Simon.
The song is relaxing and nice to listen to after a long day. Their music is popular because it’s easy to listen to and puts you in a good mood. The acoustic guitar playing and fingerpicking of Paul Simon is amazing.
If you’re going to play acoustic fingerpicking, I suggest you try some Simon and Garfunkel songs. Most of this music is quite challenging, and you’ll learn a lot by learning these songs.
4. James Taylor
- Best hit song: Fire and Rain
- Best album: Sweet Baby James
- Music type: Folk/rock
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Martin D-28
James Taylor is a very famous and accomplished musician. His fingerpicking, chord choices, and songwriting is exceptional. This is music you can listen to, and you’ll immediately be in a good mood.
He has won five Grammy Awards, and he’s one of the bestselling musicians of all time with over a hundred million record sales. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
If you want to learn how to play excellent acoustic guitar, listen to James Taylor songs. You’ll improve your guitar playing ability by a wide margin if you learn some of his tunes.
5. Johnny Cash
- Best hit song: Walk the Line
- Best album: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
- Music type: Country
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Martin D-35
Johnny Cash is one of the most famous country musicians of all time. While his guitar playing itself is not all that technical, his choice of chords and how he wrote songs were exceptional.
He used to play many droning bass notes along with his chords in songs such as Walk the Line. Through the course of his career, he won 11 Grammy Awards and numerous other achievements.
His guitar playing is instantly recognizable, and he wrote some exceptional songs. If you want to be a country guitar picker, have a listen to Johnny Cash, as he’s one of the best acoustic players of all time.
6. Bob Dylan
- Best hit song: Blowin’ in the Wind
- Best album: Highway 61 Revisited
- Music type: Folk/rock
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Gibson SJ-200
Bob Dylan is not known for great singing, but for his great songwriting. Many of his hit songs featured simple arrangements, but they have some of the most thought-provoking and great lyrics of all time.
The music of Bob Dylan is about life, and people relate to a lot of these songs. If you want to learn how to write songs, listen to Bob Dylan’s music. He’s one of the best acoustic guitar players of all time.
7. Gordon Lightfoot
- Best hit song: Sundown
- Best album: Sundown
- Music type: Folk/rock
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Gibson B-45 12N
Gordon Lightfoot doesn’t play a lot of technical guitar music, but his strumming patterns fit his music well. It’s not so much his playing ability, but how he arranged his songs, chord choices, and exceptional singing.
These are songs that you can strum along with on your guitar. I’ve enjoyed playing many of his songs in the past. Sundown is probably my favorite Gordon Lightfoot song.
8. Robert Johnson
- Best hit song: Crossroads
- Best album: The Complete Recordings
- Music type: Blues
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Gibson L-1
When it comes to acoustic blues music, no one can touch Robert Johnson. He’s one of the largest inspirations in my own music career. Many of his songs have been covered by famous artists and helped make blues music popular.
There are not many recordings of Robert Johnson around, but the music he produced is exceptional. One of my favorite songs is Crossroads, which was covered by the band Cream in the 1960s.
9. Doc Watson
- Best hit song: Deep River Blues
- Best album: Southbound
- Music type: Country/bluegrass
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Gallagher G-50
Doc Watson was a master of the acoustic guitar. His fingerpicking style is exceptional by any measure, and he has a lot of great songs. He was able to combine his fingerstyle guitar playing with exceptional songwriting.
His playing is quite complex, so you’ll learn a lot about arranging chords and playing fingerstyle guitar when you pick up a Doc Watson song. Deep River Blues is one of my favorite songs.
10. Joan Baez
- Best hit song: Diamonds and Rust
- Best album: Joan Baez
- Music type: Folk/traditional
- Favorite acoustic guitar: Martin 0-40
In the 1960s, folk music was quite popular. One of the best players of that time is Joan Baez. She is an exceptional songwriter and guitar player who composed many great songs.
One of my favorite songs is Diamonds and Rust, a haunting and beautiful piece of music. You’ll learn how to arrange and compose songs when you listen to Joan Baez.
Types of Acoustic Guitar Music
There are several different styles of acoustic guitar music. Here are the best acoustic guitar players of all time within these various categories.
Bear in mind that some of these selections are subjective and my own opinions.
Rock Acoustic Guitar
In the 1950s through the 1980s, rock music was one of the most popular genres. While rock is often associated with electric guitars, plenty of acoustic guitars are used within the rock genre.
In this genre, I consider Jimmy Page to be one of the best players. He was able to combine electric guitar playing with great acoustic tracks as well.
Folk Acoustic Guitar
Folk acoustic guitar is a type of music that usually revolves around exceptional songwriting. It’s usually about our culture. In the turbulent 1960s, folk music was quite popular with people protesting the Vietnam War.
One of the all-time best folk acoustic guitar players is Bob Dylan. He wrote some of the most recognized songs in this genre. You can’t talk about folk guitar music without mentioning Bob Dylan.
Country Acoustic Guitar
The acoustic guitar is often used in country music along with fiddles and other instruments. The strumming of the acoustic guitar is what makes country music so enjoyable. We call the basic chords we learn cowboy chords.
There are many different players within the genre of country music. One of the best acoustic guitar players, in my opinion, is Johnny Cash. He wrote some great songs, and he’s one of the most famous country artists of all time.
Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar
Fingerstyle acoustic guitar is any guitar music that’s played with the fingers. This style of music is quite popular, but it’s harder than regular acoustic music to master.
One of the best players in this genre is James Taylor. He’s been able to combine his grade songwriting with his fingerstyle guitar work. He has written some exceptional pieces that you want to have a listen to.
Classical Acoustic Guitar
Classical acoustic guitar music is played on an instrument with nylon strings. This type of music is usually played with the fingers. This is a hard genre to master, but it’s well worth the effort to learn it.
One of the best players within this genre is the great Andre Segovia. He was able to master the classical instrument and wrote a lot of inspiring music.
Best Acoustic Guitar Songs
Here’s a list of some of the songs that I consider to be the best acoustic guitar songs. These are pieces that have inspired me throughout my own life. I consider them to be great songs and well worth learning.
Fire and Rain – James Taylor
Fire and Rain is an exceptional song by James Taylor. This is one of my favorite acoustic guitar songs of all time. Taylor talks about the death of his girlfriend in a plane crash in this song. This piece is something we can all relate to.
Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
I consider Stairway to Heaven to be one of the best songs ever written. It’s a great combination of acoustic fingerpicking, strummed acoustic guitar chords, and amazing soloing. This song has everything and sounds great.
Old Man – Neil Young
One of my favorite songs is Old Man by Neil Young. While the song isn’t technical to play, it sounds great due to his chord choices.
This is an easy song that most people should be able to pick up and play right away. I also like how Neil Young combines acoustic guitar playing with the harmonica in many of his songs.
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Who do you consider to be the best acoustic guitar player? We all have our opinions on music and the players that we like. These players are all exceptional and well worth a listen.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions and share this article with your friends. I hope you enjoy playing acoustic guitar as much as I do. Now, pick up your instrument and start strumming.