Jimmy Page. Lita Ford. Jimi Hendrix. Prince. Annie Clark. Sonny Sharrock. Billy Corgan. Thurston Moore. Carrie Brownstein. Jack White. Slash. BB King. Pete Townshend. Marnie Stern. All of these guitarists are amazing – they are legends. But none of them made this list because they are either too old or too dead (RIP).
The guitarists here are under 30 years old. Some of them are household names (or are in bands that are household names), others are unknown. Some play rock music, some do not. Some are virtuosic, others are less concerned about speed and precision, and more into noise or attitude or something else. Some think solos are cool, others think they are passe. But these 30 alive and young guitarists represent The Guitar Right Now.
Ten years ago, a guitar was likely the first instrument people picked up when they made the decision to play an instrument. Now people are reaching for laptops and synths and samplers, and there is nothing wrong with that. These 30 young musicians, however, are carrying the guitar into the future and they deserve your attention.
Will the guitar survive? Will the electric guitar become the next lute? We do not know. In the meantime, these are the 30 Best Guitarists Under 30. We start with 15 today, and then finish up the final 15 tomorrow.
JACK ANTONOFF, 29
- Known For: Dating the creator of HBO's Girls, Lena Dunham, and for being the epically powerful power-pop guitarist with the band Fun.
- Essential Listening: That short but ripping solo from 'Carry On.'
DANIEL BACHMAN, 23
DYLAN BALDI, 22
DENNY BOWEN, 28
BRETT CAMPBELL, 26
GARY CLARK, JR., 29
- Known For: Sharing stages with BB King, Alicia Keys, and the Rolling Stones, and having the mayor of Austin, Texas declare May 3 to be Gary Clark, Jr. Day.
- Essential Listening: 'Ain't Messin Round,' the big single from his hit album, 'Blak and Blu.'
KATIE CRUTCHFIELD, 24
DAVE DAVIDSON, 27
MAC DEMARCO, 23
- Known For: Goofing off a lot, writing smart pop songs, and having one of the cleanest guitar tones in indie-rock.
- Essential Listening: 'Ode To Viceroy,' Mac DeMarco's laid-back ode to a bad habit that ends with a slick, wiry solo.
SADIE DUPUIS, 25
MIMI GALBIERZ, 26
BEN GREENBERG, 28.
DANIELLE HAIM, 24
- Known For: Making irresistible, agile pop with smart guitar lines with Haim, the band she started with her two sisters.
- Essential Listening: The rock and dance synthesizing title track from the 'Falling' EP.
PHOEBE HARRIS, 23
ANDREW HOCK, 25
Check back tomorrow for the second part of our 30 Best Guitarists Under 30 list. And please tell us who should have made today's cut in the comments.