Joey’s Top 10s: Top 10 acoustic guitar players of all time

Joey counts down his top 10 acoustic guitarists of all time



There is no hiding when it comes to acoustic guitar; it is all skill.


The acoustic guitar is brutal; there is no distortion, overdrive or other effects that can save you when you are playing acoustic.

Acoustic music usually comes along with thoughtful, introspective lyrics, so expect some tearjerkers coming from these artists.

  1. Dave Matthews

Matthews is an icon from the 90s and early 2000s. His string heavy hits have led to legendary marathon-esque concerts with top-of-the-line backup musicians.

While maybe not the most technically talented, Matthews has some very complex riffs and some of the most iconic songs ever, including “Ants Marching” and “Space Between.”

  1. Neil Young

Like Matthews, Young is not the most talented guitar player of all time, but he is one of the pioneers of modern folk music. Songs such as “Harvest Moon” and “Old Man” have lived on since their release date.

A true master of storytelling through music, the songs that Young has written have and will continue to persevere.

  1. Paul Simon

Simon, part of the legendary duo Simon and Garfunkel, is very influential and has played in different styles and tunings.

  1. Chet Atkins

One of the undisputed masters of the fingerstyle technique, Atkins has inspired guitar players such as Don Felder formerly of the Eagles and has gone down in history for his acoustic guitar play.

  1. Robert Johnson

Arguably one of the most important musicians, Johnson is one of the earliest recordings of blues guitar that is available. Legend has it he even sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar skills.

His song “Cross Road Blues,” now known as “Crossroads,” has been covered by essentially every guitar player to ever pick up the instrument.

  1. Joni Mitchell

Along with Neil Young, Joni Mitchell is one of the pioneers of the Southern California folk sound. Mitchell has one of the most legendary albums of all time, Blue, and played a variety of guitars, such as acoustic and a very interesting lap guitar called the dulcimer.

Mitchell also has one of the most recognizable voices in music history.

  1. Bruce Cockburn

This anecdote might be more fable than reality, but during an interview with Eddie Van Halen, when a reporter asked him who the best guitar player of all time was, Van Halen responded with something along the lines of “I don’t know, ask Bruce Cockburn.”

Cockburn is known for his fingerpicking technique and his protest songs told through acoustic guitar are very nicely written.

  1. Nancy Wilson

The intro to “Crazy On You” is really the only thing you need to hear to cement Wilson as one of the best acoustic guitarists of all time.

  1. Jim Croce

Jim Croce has so many well-written songs, mostly above love and loss, but they are all played so beautifully.

Songs like “Walkin’ Back To Georgia” and “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song” are two of the most beautifully heart-wrenching songs that I know; Croce is able to unfold these complex emotions and thoughts so eloquently through not only his words and vocals, but his guitar too.

  1. James Taylor

I think that Taylor has mastered the instrument and is one of the best songwriters ever. His popular songs do not do him justice.

Everyone has heard “Fire and Rain,” but I think that “Copperline” is his masterpiece. A lot of his songs are about his upbringing in Boston and later North Carolina. If you listen to the messages in his songs, there is something that everybody can relate to, you just have to find it.