Who is the greatest guitarist of all time?

An impossible question, not least because guitar is a family of instruments, and on how you define a 'guitar'. There’s a Hittite (Turkey) carving from 1400 BC of what looks very like a guitar. The name itself may be from Persia (sithar) via Greece, Andalucian Arabic and Spanish. And of course in the 20th century, we added ‘electric’. Guitar family instruments are associated with traditional and folk music the world over.

But here are a few of the greatest we know of:

Ravi Shankar, Indian sithar player adored by the 1960s hippy counter-culture and much admired by George Harrison...

George Harrison wrote this song, and here are Steve Winwood, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne all kind of saying that Prince is the greatest guitarist. Hard to argue. Also plenty of different guitars on show here. Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli:
I Got Rhythm (Past Perfect) #EuropeanJazz #1930s #1940s (youtube.com) 

French-Roma guitarist Django Reinhardt, working in Paris in the 1930s was a ‘breakthrough’ musician of his time, like Shankar, forming ‘Quartet du Hot Club de France’ in the 1930s with Stephane Grappelli.

Do we have room for Hendrix? Of course we do!

And standing on the shoulders of past guitar giants comes Sonke Meinen (who played in the UK for the first time in April 2024, at Zefirelli’s, Ambleside). Here he is playing his own tune ‘Sparklemuffin’ which shows you he knows how to write for guitar, as well as play it:

A final couple of bonus links for you... Here are respective histories of both the guitar in general (in four minutes) and another specifically on the development of the electric guitar: